Normally we do a lot of snacking during the day when we are at home. I'm the kind of person who eats when I feel hungry, but also when I'm bored. I'm trying to keep Bailey from picking up that habit so this week I made a meal schedule out for us. The entire day of food is planned out so we don't do that I'm-bored-so-I'll-see-if-there's-something-good-in-the-fridge thing.
I decided to do this for a couple of reasons. The first is that I read on a parenting blog that kids who grow up with structured meals tend to eat healthier. I would love to credit the blogger, but I can't remember where I came across it. I'm sure it was one of those pins I clicked on and read but didn't repin.
Anyway, the blogger said that parents should decide when, what, and where meals are, and the children should be in charge of how much and whether they eat the foods offered to them. This means that you as the parent get to say, "Lunch is at 1:00 and we are having macaroni and cheese and carrot sticks and you will eat in the high chair." This leaves the child free to decide how much of each food they want to eat and whether they want to eat only macaroni or only carrot sticks... or nothing at all. Even if they child decides to eat nothing it's okay because most children will eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. It also gives the child the opportunity to make healthy food choices on their own.
Another tip I read on the blog was to give three meals and two snacks per day. As I said we are used to snacking pretty much all day. I've changed the schedule now so that we have breakfast as soon as Bailey wakes up, a snack about halfway between breakfast and lunch, and then lunch right before nap. After her nap I give her another snack and then we eat dinner when Aaron gets home from work. I did add an extra tiny snack/dessert about 45 minutes before bedtime. It's working out beautifully so far.
Another factor that led to my decision to restructure our meals is that Bailey has been waking up earlier than usual, crying. I couldn't determine the cause of the crying and was worried that it might be headaches caused by pressure building up in her head when she sleeps. The pediatrician told us that could be a sign of shunt malfunction which is something I'm constantly watching for.
I mentioned the early wake ups and crying to my friend who has twin 5 year old boys and a 2 year old boy as well. She said that sometimes kids don't know the difference between a tummy ache and just being hungry. Bailey is at an age where she's not quite capable of telling me what is wrong just that something is wrong. She cries and I just have to guess the cause of her crying. I realized that we have been eating dinner rather early lately. Perhaps Bailey has just been waking up hungry.
The last reason I changed things up is that Bailey seems to have a tremor. I'm not positive of the cause, but I have a feeling it might be a blood sugar issue. At first it was only when she woke up from her nap on days when she napped before lunch. She would be standing in the crib shaking when I went to get her up. This past week at Nana's on Tuesday my cousin (a nurse) noticed it as well, and said she had never seen a child shake like that before. Tuesday had been a stressful morning for me as my phone had broken on Sunday and my replacement came in the mail on Tuesday. I had been on Nana's landline with U.S. Cellular customer service for over an hour trying to activate my replacement phone and had forgotten to feed Bailey a snack between breakfast and lunch.
So I'm hoping that this new, more structured meal schedule will help with Bailey's tremor/blood sugar, and help her get more restful sleep at night. I'm also trying to feed her healthy snacks that include protein and complex carbohydrates. She seems to like the combination of cheese, pretzels, and grapes for her morning snack, and I've been giving her peanut butter and carrot sticks or fruit salad (which is really just a mix of whatever berries we have in the house) in the afternoons. I'll let you know how it goes this week.
Here is the meal plan.
Breakfast- yogurt and cheerios
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner- lemon chicken Romano and spaghetti marinara
Breakfast- scrambled eggs and toast
Lunch- Nana will provide lunch
Dinner- Yaya will provide dinner
Breakfast- apple cinnamon oatmeal
Lunch- bourbon chicken and sharp white cheddar cheese sandwiches (I got some really delicious deli meat on sale this week)
Dinner- chicken cordon bleu casserole
Breakfast- cherry berry smoothies
Lunch- leftover chicken cordon bleu casserole
Dinner- sweet corn and bacon skillet mac and cheese (from Iowa Girl Eats... I've been dying to try this!)
Breakfast- grilled ham, egg, and cheese sandwiches
Lunch- chicken salad and crackers
Dinner- barbecue chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and french fries
Breakfast- strawberry cheesecake streusel muffins
Lunch- leftover barbecue chicken sandwiches
Dinner- loaded potato and buffalo chicken casserole
Breakfast- raisin scones
Lunch- grilled ham and cheese sandwiches
Dinner- Admiral will provide dinner
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