Here is the fourth in a series of blog posts based on Pamela Druckerman’s “Bébé Day by Day/” The following excerpts are taken directly from Chapter 4:
Imagine a planet where family mealtimes are pleasant, children eat the same foods as their parents, and few kids get fat. That planet is France. But none of this happens automatically. The moral of the French food story is: treat your child like a little gourmet, and he will (gradually) rise to the occasion.
26. There are no “kid” foods: Parents almost never let their kids become picky eaters who survive on mono-diets of pasta and white rice.
27. There’s one snack a day: French kids typically eat only at mealtimes and at the afternoon snack, called the goûter. It turns out that if the kid doesn’t snack much, she’s actually hungry by mealtimes, so she eats more.
28. Don’t solve a crisis with a cookie: First, you’re not rewarding her outbursts, so you’re not encouraging her to whine again. Second, you’re teaching her not to eat just because she’s upset.
29. You are the keeper of the fridge: In France, kids don’t have the right to open the refrigerator and take whatever they want.
30. Let kids cook: We all feel more invested in foods that we’ve had a hand in preparing.
32. You just have to taste it: Kids have to take at least one bite of every dish that’s on the table. Present the tasting rule to your child as if it’s a law of nature—like gravity. Oversee this process without acting like a prison guard. Be calm and even playful about it.
34. Keep foods in the rotation: Even if a certain food isn’t a hit, make sure it keeps coming back. Ultimately, your child won’t love all foods. But she’ll give each one a chance.
35. You choose the foods, she chooses the quantities: A child knows when she’s had enough. Serve small portions, and don’t pressure her to finish. The goal isn’t to cajole enough nutrients into a child’s mouth at every sitting. It’s to guide her into becoming an independent eater who enjoys food and regulates her own appetite.
42. Eat chocolate: Don’t treat candy like kryptonite, or try to pretend that refined sugar doesn’t exist. Instead, teach them that sweets are occasional pleasures to enjoy in controlled doses. On birthdays and at school parties, parents tend to give kids free rein. We all need some time away from the regular rules.
43. Keep meals short and sweet: Don’t expect young kids to stay at the table for longer than twenty or thirty minutes. When they ask to be liberated, let them go. With age comes longer meals.
*Due to length, I trimmed down each point and excluded some points entirely.