Q: My mother-in-law watches my son a few days during the week. I leave food for him but she often returns it saying he didn’t like it and feeds him something else, much less nutritious. What should I do?
A: There are two different scenarios: the occasional fun time with grandma or where grandparents watch kids more frequently and take over as caregivers. In the second scenario, it’s important to establish consistency with feeding.
First off, instead of making comments here and there, you’ll want to make time to talk to her. That means sitting down and really getting your point across.
I would start off by telling your mother-in-law what a great job she’s doing and how much you appreciate her help. You can tell her how important it is for you and your husband to raise your son to eat well and that you’ve been reading up on the subject.
Give her the why behind your requests. Explain the importance of structure at mealtimes — eating meals and snacks at the table. You can also tell her that it’s important to offer a variety of food even when kids don’t eat it because the exposure helps with acceptance.
Maybe as a compromise, you could ask her to plan lunch as long as she gives your son the snacks you provide. Or it can be the other way around (you provide the lunch and she the snacks). You might even assign a snack time where your son will be served something sweet like ice cream or cookies. Let her know you don’t want to deprive your child, you just want to offer nutrition-poor foods less often and nutritious items more frequently.
You can always send her resources on the subject of feeding. Check out the topics on this site and send her articles to help her understand.
It’s not easy to talk to other caregivers about feeding but it’s really important. Good luck!