A few of you have asked how it’s going since we quit morning snacking in the daycare.
In a word: Terrific!
There was an adjustment period for Rosie, at 17 months the smallest both in age and physically. Promptly at 10, our former snack-time, she would run to her high chair and bang on it. When that got no response, she’d wallop the fridge. (Not a lot of words for our Rosie just yet, but she communicates just fine, thanks!)
Was this genuine hunger, though, or just habit? Even if it was hunger, was it mild, so she could wait till lunch, or severe enough that I should feed her? I wasn’t sure how the non-snacking would go with the under-twos, after all. I was willing to bend on this one for them.
Yes, this would mean different expectations for different groups of toddlers, but we already have that, don’t we? The Big Kids use the toilet upstairs. The Middles use the potty in the living room. The Babies are in diapers. Big Kids don’t have to hold on to the stroller when we walk, Middles do, and Babies ride. Big Kids put on their own snowsuits; Middles need more help, and I put the Babies snowsuits on them. There are lots and lots of these types of distinctions in a day. I wasn’t worried about perceived injustice. Which is not to say a three-year-old might not see injustice, of course, but I was quite prepared to defend the difference in just those terms: “She’s a baby. You’re big.” And, secure in my role at The Boss At Mary’s House, I didn’t worry about a whole lot of back talk, and tantrums? Don’t happen here. (Well, with very, very rare exceptions.)
Still, I wanted to know if this was just habit. My compromise was to give her one of her sippy cups of milk at the prior snack-time. Rosie is quite the milk baby. Left to her own devices, I’m sure that her diet would still be 90% milk. (The remainder being comprised of crackers and pasta, natch.) Her parents and I have talked about her minimal ingestion of solid foods, but they were not quite ready yet to reduce her milk intake. So. Milk at 10:00, and water with lunch at 11:30.
It worked like a charm. She’d suck that milk back in two minutes, and then be on to the next thing. The added bonus? With milk separated from meal by an hour and a half, and only water in her sippy cup, she was eating more.
On the second week, she had stopped asking for milk. (How does mostly non-verbal Rosie ‘ask’ for milk? She runs over to her backpack, hanging from its hook in my front hall, and pounds the wall beneath it, yelling “MUH! MUH!” Crude, but effective.) No more running and pounding and yelling. Just play.
What to do about that milk? I now give it to her after lunch, during the snuggle-and-story time that precedes nap. Perfect! Added bonus: she doesn’t always finish her milk. This has been the nudge she’s needed to make the mental transition to viewing solids are her ‘real’ food.
Grace, who has been going through a major growth spurt (2 cm between Christmas and Jan 25), was also asking with more than normal intensity after snacks. She, however, being three and a half, could understand my explanation. She’d have a drink (of water) at ten, and then a good, solid lunch. Either she’s accustomed to the new pattern, or the growth spurt has tapered off — likely both — but after three weeks she was no longer mooching for food mid-morning, either.
I know I had parental buy-in from her parents, even with the growth spurt factored in, because when I explained it, mom’s response was, “Great! She’ll be nice and hungry for dinner!” Which got me thinking: “nice and hungry” is an expression I heard routinely from my parents, and from the parents of my friends, when I was a child. But it seems to me that these days, you don’t hear that very much at all. Instead, you see parents scrambling for the crackers. Hmmm…
Another bit of parental feed-back came in last week. I thought I’d told all the parents of the change in eating patterns, but it seemed one had missed it. (Probably I told dad in the morning, and he forgot to relay it to mom.)
Mom asks me at the door: “How’s Jazz’s eating here? Because she’s eating WAY more at home, and with WAY less fuss.”
HA! An unaware subject validates the experiment! Or at least, confirms that the results extend beyond my home. Woo!
So I explain the new no-morning-snack regime, and mom is very impressed. “Excellent! We are absolutely going to do that at home!”
It’s been four weeks now, and I declare the experiment a success. It is no longer an experiment, it is simply How It Is. Children in my home will get a three-course lunch, and then a light, healthy, sit-down late-afternoon snack. That’s it, that’s all.