As parents, we’re taught time and time again about the importance of consistency in a child’s life–like following a bedtime routine, we know that this helps children sleep better. When it comes to our little ones’ meal and snack schedules, a schedule can have a positive impact on appetite regulation and even support a healthy metabolism (2,3). So, it shouldn’t come as a major surprise that having some consistency around the actual food you’re giving your kiddos has its benefits, too.
Of course, we know the good that comes from variety. Each fruit, veggie, protein source and fat has its own unique benefits and nutrients to help fuel our kiddos’ bodies, so varying up mealtime is a good thing. But there is also something to be said for consistency, and the two can actually co-exist for each other’s benefit. Here’s why consistency is key:
Consistency encourages exploration
Serving new foods to our little ones is essential, but it’s important to remember that kids often feel overwhelmed by too much new on their plate. You’ll actually likely see more of a positive reaction (smelling, touching, maybe even taking a little bite of that food) from serving a new food alongside a familiar meal (1). Try not to make a big deal about the new food, introduce it in a low stress way and avoid the “just one bite” narrative. It’s helpful to have a conversation with your child about what it looks like and if they try it, what it tastes like. Is it salty? Chewy? Sweet? The more low stress discussion there is around a new food, the more positive associations your child will create.
Comfort in consistency
Let’s say your child is starting preschool or staying at grandma and grandpa’s house for the first time, it is likely comforting for them to see that you’ve sent a meal that they enjoy and recognize. Too much change can feel overwhelming, so this consistency can be comforting.
Guarantee the goods
You’ve tried giving your little one broccoli in about 35 different ways but every single time, he refuses to even give it the tiniest taste. Yet, he will have spinach thrown into a smoothie or mixed into egg muffins. Instead of driving yourself crazy about the lack of broccoli in his diet, focus on the great nutrients your babe is eating consistently (in this case, nutrients like vitamin A, K and folate) and your fool-proof ways to get them in!
Easier for us!
We all have our go-to meals that we can make in bulk or under 30 minutes without much thought. If we know our little ones like it, it takes the pressure off. Find those balanced meals your babe enjoys and you don’t mind making, for a less stressful, more pleasant mealtime.