Christmas day is a day of little routine. Whether you are weaning a baby, feeding a toddler or an older child – it is likely that you won’t have your usual feeding schedule. Don’t aim for perfection, do what you can for you to enjoy the day as a family. The excitement, new toys, early starts, big breakfasts, snacks and perhaps excited grandparents will likely mean that your child will not sit and eat much at meals.

Here are my top tips:

  1. Lower your expectations: It is one day. It is not the day to try and make any changes or achieve anything food wise. Go with it. Forcing your child to eat brussel sprouts is not going to achieve anything for you or them.

  2. What are they used to: The past 20 months have meant that most of our children are used to eating only with us, in our kitchen, with the same plates, utensils, noises, smells etc. If you are going to another house for Christmas it will probably be unfamiliar to your child. This will mean that they will be less likely to eat. Stay relaxed & go with it. If you have to give them more snacks and toast before bed it is not a failure. Go with it.

  3. Usual utensils: If you are going to someone else’s house for a few days you could bring your child’s favourite cup/ plate/ utensils. The familiarity will help them relax a little at meals.

  4. Give yourself a break: If the thoughts of feeding your child surrounded by family stresses you out – think about what would make it easier for you. The more relaxed you can be the better. Could you text in advance and say – ‘baby has had plenty to eat at home so I won’t be expecting them to eat much at dinner’, or ‘Looking forward to seeing you all, I just want ‘my child’ to enjoy themselves so please don’t comment on what they eat’ or ‘ ‘my child’ is so excited with their new toys I don’t think they will sit for long at dinner’, ‘‘My child’ is teething, I don’t think they’ll eat much’. Or when you arrive just say – ‘I don’t expect ‘my child’ to have much at dinner, they’ve been snacking all morning’.

  5. Don’t pitch children against each other: It is not a competition. If cousins are eating more or less than each other it is not a refection on anyone or anything. Just don’t comment!

  6. Make it easy for someone else: If you’ve some stressed parents joining you, do what you can to help them relax, they probably need it.

  7. Aim for a good breakfast: Before the madness kicks off, offer their usual breakfast and take it from there.

  8. Get some fresh air: If you need to – wrapping up and getting a quiet few minutes outside with your child will help you reconnect before a meal. If you’re feeling stressed get out(side)!

  9. Having foods on the plate it enough: Many parents worry about their children not trying everything on their plate. Actually, having the food on their plate is enough. You offer, they decide to eat it. Perhaps say – ‘No pressure, leave whatever you don’t want’.

  10. Halt the salt! Especially if your child is under 1 otherwise they can have whatever.

  11. It’s been a heck of a year. You deserve to enjoy a few days in whatever way that works for you. Don’t allow the foods that reach your child’s stomach influence your enjoyment of your Christmas. If things don’t go the way you’d like then lets work together in 2022!