Battling a toddler over 3 bites of chicken is a battle many of us have fought and often lost. If your toddler becomes nearly impossible to feed, check out these 5 tips below to ease your pain. Plus, there is a bonus #6 that is sure to change your perspective.

Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.

1. Let them get hungry.

Often times when we have power struggles with our toddlers surrounding food we feel like they ‘must be hungry’. We tend to give them snacks to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. Children need to know what hungry feels like. It gives them a read on a natural rhythm for their nutritional intake. If they are always grazing, they’ll miss out on having a sense of eating because you are hungry.

This is not to say you shouldn’t feed your kids for a day. This is merely saying, offer them a meal. If they don’t eat it, there is not interim food until the next planned meal. 3 meals a day should suffice. Some choose to do 3 meals and 1-2 snack times. You do you.

The bottom line is they are more likely to eat things they didn’t like last time they tried or new items if they are hungry when you sit them down.

2. Let them feed themselves.

Whether you are a baby led weaning style parent, prefer a spoon with jarred baby food or something else, let your child have some autonomy towards what he or she eats.

If you want to feed them with a spoon, give them a spoon also. Let them feel like they are doing it. Not only is it fun for them but it will set good habits in motion.

3. Let them be.

Unless they are blowing out their birthday cake and you want to watch, give them some space. Eating food shouldn’t be something that makes them feel like they are on stage. If anything, it sends the message that you want them to eat vs them establishing a sense of food is fuel and something we do routinely throughout the day.

Obviously, make sure they aren’t choking but begging or 3 more bites or saying let me see you take a bite is actually a recipe for more power struggles.

4. Let them join the prep.

Include your children in the grocery shopping and the food prep. Maybe ask them to pick one vegetable they know and love and one they want to try. Give them the ability to help you pick healthy choices.

In time, power struggles will diminish if they are involved in this stage. A few extra minutes in the grocery store could mean no more table battles. Simply shifting their need to control to them choosing the veggies vs what they will or won’t eat could mean empty plates and stress-free meals.

5. Bonus tip, let go.

Last but not least, this is something you need to remind yourself… You may not like this but we all need to hear it.

It is your job to put the food in front of them. It is not your job to decide how much they eat.

In fact there are 3 areas that our toddler and children do have control over, always.

We can’t make them pee/poop. We can’t make them sleep. We also can’t make them eat. We can try, but they do have control here.

We can set them on the potty regularly and eat go their cues to assist them. We cannot make them go, though.

We can put them in their room after a calming bedtime routine and set the expectation thy need to stay in there. We cannot make them sleep.

We can choose what they are served at home and how much… but we cannot make them eat it.

Many struggles occur over here three topics. We are in control of all else’s but when we start trying to control these things, tantrums begin and things get chaotic and stressful.

Rather than fight a fight you cannot win. Focus on what you can control. The selection of food, the atmosphere and the timing. Be consistent and keep them involved.

Deep breath momma, you’ve got this.