Foster parenting, is parenting without a manual, blindfolded.
But it doesn’t have to be.
And I want to share with you a few ideas to make it easier. In this blogpost I want to share with you a few ideas regarding food struggles with a toddler.
When new foster kids arrive in your house, and they are too young to tell you what they like to eat, but old enough to have an opinion, it can be very hard to find out what they like to eat. Sometimes they use food as a power struggle, they don’t want to eat until they get what they want (for example they want their mommy, and will fight about the things they can fight about – food for example).
It is important to quickly build up a relationship with your foster child so he/she will start to accept you. Foster children may not be used to healthy dishes yet, and because some of them have health problems or are obese, it may entice you to strictly serve healthy food to your foster child. Some kids may be okay with this, but for some this makes the transition to your family even harder. Because their house is new, their bed is new, your family is new, and the food is new too.
Try to find some foods in the beginning that they recognize and are comfortable with, and that you are comfortable with serving to them.
We had a 2 year old staying at our house, and she didn’t want to eat anything we offered. Then I helped her look into all our cabinets to find foods she wanted to eat, but she didn’t want to eat anything. She didn’t recognize any of the foods. The next day I took her to Walmart (many foster children know Walmart) where we looked on the shelves to find something she recognized, and there we found the yoghurt she liked.
The first few days she ate the yoghurt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This was not only about having her eat. This was also a process of her building trust in me. After a few days she started to try other foods that we were eating and in a few weeks she was eating a rich palate of foods, and… she didn’t want to eat yoghurt anymore. I guess she had enough yoghurt for a long time, ha!
It took her a few weeks to eat with us, but in the mean time our relationship got stronger, and she trusted us providing food that she wanted and needed. So, try to work on building the relationship, and start with what your foster child is comfortable with, then slowly work on increasing her food choices. Some kids may not have any issues at all, while for some children, food may always be an issue.
I hope these tips will help you and your foster child start to enjoy meal times as a nourishing time for his/her body and your relationship.
Search for professional help, if you feel your child is not eating enough, or food continues to be a struggle.