Guest Author - Julixa Newman
Every parent has played games to get their toddlers to eat; the choo-choo game, the airplane game, and any others we've invented along the way to get the kids to take a mouthful of food. Keeping a toddler adequately fed is a challenge in many homes, let alone getting them to eat healthy. Combine those issues with having twins, and it becomes a recipe for chaos.
Twins have the luxury of watching each other as they grow. They watch each other get out of bed, they watch each other cry, they watch each other learn, and they watch each other eat; or not eat in many circumstances. It is a fact that twins learn a lot from watching a child the same age go through the same experiences as themselves. In many instances, they mimic their twin, sometimes creating laughter, sometimes tears, and often a challenge for parents trying to feed the two of them. I have compiled a few tips below to aid parents of twins keep their sanity while feeding their young partners in crime.
1-Hide the yucky part. Just as the fine chefs on the Food Network, appearance and whimsy play a part in getting your twins to eat. Luckily, if one is having fun, the other will at least give it a try. Chicken on stick is a neat idea my children enjoy a lot-you can even make it safe with popsicle sticks. It seems picking up the stick makes it seem more like dessert-so whatever you can pop on a stick, go for it! If you've made the family pasta, save a few noodles from the sauce, and let them have a few to unravel, tie in knots, and maybe even eat a few!
2-Don't stress if they don't eat a ton. I took one of my 2 year old twins for a checkup recently, and mentioned to the pediatrician that she rarely eats as much as her twin. The pediatrician set my mind at ease by telling me that she could be filled adequately by eating an amount of food the size of a golf ball! Besides, forcing a child to eat everything on their plate could set them up for eating too much later on when they actually begin to appreciate good food!
3-Pick your battles! If your twins usually balk at meat, and you've made stuffed pork chops for your family, perhaps you offer them a bite to see if they'll try it, and then concede to something you know they like so you can get their dinner over with and begin yours! There is enough nutrition in cereal with milk, soup with a cooked egg in it, or even leftover rice in the fridge. You can make a quick fried rice with chopped up pieces of the dinner you've made, or leftover chicken from last night as well!
4-Mix it up. Instead of counting on a successful meal where the twins eat everything (good luck), it is a lot easier, and more comforting to know that they have had their nutrients throughout the day. Doesn't it seem like yesterday that they enjoyed boiled squash? That's how fast their tastes change. Purchase a wide variety of snacks in small portions to see if they like any of them. A small container of celery, apples, carrots, pretzels, even mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail! Something about taking their own fork to the table with their own personal bowl of fruit can be very interesting!
5-Make them feel important. We purchased a small children's Step 2 picnic table that we leave in our dining room next to the real table. Sometimes we set it up with a small plastic flower vase, or a small nightlight in the wall right next to it with the overhead lights dimmed. Talk about divas! Sometimes I think they will eat ANYTHING in this setting when I see how excited they are, but there are those times they'll look at each other, then look back at me with a resounding "YUCK!"