Surviving the Holidays With Picky Eaters
Jamilah Lemieux: This episode contains explicit language. Welcome, sir. Mom and Dad are fighting Slade’s parenting podcast for Thursday, December 8th. The Holiday Food edition and Jamilah Lemieux, a writer contributor to Slate’s competing parenting column, and mom to Naima, whose nine and a half and we live in L.A..
Zak Rosen: I’m Zak Rosen. I make the Best Advice Show podcast, and I am the dad to Noah, who’s five, and Amy who’s two. We live in Detroit.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I’m Elizabeth Newcamp. I write the Homeschool and Family travel blog. Dutch, Dutch. I’m the mom of three Littles Henry who’s ten, Oliver who’s eight and Teddy who’s six. We live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Jamilah Lemieux: Today on the show, we’re going to talk about how to navigate feeding your kids around the holidays.
Jamilah Lemieux: Elizabeth speaks with registered dietitian and author Megan McNamee. Some of you may be familiar with her work. She’s half of the Feeding Littles team. She and feeding therapist Judy Delaware off her courses, have a cookbook and run a popular Instagram account.
Jamilah Lemieux: So Megan is here and she’s going to offer some advice to help you and your family get through the holidays. Then on Slate Plus, we discuss what to do when someone criticizes your parenting style. Here’s a sneak peek of what you’ll hear if you had a slate. Plus.
Zak Rosen: I wish I had the grace to say it like that.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I just feel like that gives them more buy in than they even deserve for the most part. Like, this is a choice I make. Like you’re in the line with the grocery store. I don’t know you.
Jamilah Lemieux: All right. We’re going to catch up on our week in parenting, but not before a quick break. We’ll see you here in a second. All right. Let’s get this thing started. Zach, do you have a triumph or a fail for us today?
Zak Rosen: It’s a fail. We noticed a couple of weeks ago. Noel was, like, holding her ear intermittently and complaining about some your pain. We thought maybe it was like an earwax buildup. Just hope that it would go away. It didn’t go away. We took her to sheriff’s clinic. You know, Cher is a physician, and one of her colleagues looked with an Otis Scope. Didn’t see anything troubling. So we were just like, all right, this maybe it’s just earwax again, I don’t know. But, like, the pain wasn’t so bad that it was like. Like she was still going to school. It was just kind of sporadic.
Zak Rosen: And then this weekend, we went to our friend’s birthday party, which was at an indoor pool. The party was on Saturday. And then like starting Monday morning, the pain seemed to be getting much worse. It got to the point where, like I picked up from school. Yesterday afternoon. And I walked up to the gate and I just saw her. It was almost as if like her shoulder was glued to her left ear, like she was just literally just like cover covering the ear. And I felt so bad. I’m like, Oh my God, how did I send her to school with this ear pain?
Zak Rosen: We got a doctor’s appointment for this coming for like four days from now because the pediatrician was really busy. But once I saw her standing like that, that poor thing, I was like, No, we need to. We need to take her in now. And fortunately, there’s a clinic that’s actually open Monday afternoons in in our area, because taking her to the E.R. like we were, we just thought, like, man, we’re going to be waiting. Like pediatric hours right now are especially crowded. This doesn’t seem to be an emergency, but we took her to this clinic yesterday evening. Sheer took her.
Zak Rosen: And it turns out that what it probably is, is otitis externa, which is also known as swimmer’s the ear, which is just like an inflammation, painful infection of the outer ear. And like starting yesterday and into today, the pain for her has just been excruciating. She’s just been like writhing and it’s been the saddest thing to see. Compounded by shear that needed to call like ten pharmacies to get the antibiotic and the steroid, which like so few of them had, which scared the shit out of me.
Zak Rosen: Finally, we got her the medicine, but it wasn’t for like 24 plus hours after she started to really feel the serious pain. So just this feeling of helplessness of just like, yeah, we’ve been giving her Tylenol and Motrin in the interim, but just like, not being able to do anything for her as she’s just like seriously screaming in pain, not persistently, but for like, you know, five and ten minute bursts, having a hard time sleeping. We just felt so bad for her.
Zak Rosen: We finally got the ear drops on her, like a couple hours ago. She’s home right now. She stayed home from school. She was here, too. So I haven’t heard any screams since we since we started recording, thank goodness. But I think it might take like a couple of days for the drops to to really start taking effect, but. They are just that the feeling of helplessness when there’s. There’s not much you can do for your kid is one of the most heartbreaking things I can feel. And this is such like a micro example of it, but my heart goes out to all the parents who have like seriously chronically sick kids who just have to, like, sit there and hold their kids in pain when there isn’t something in the short term they can do for them. This is just like an example of. Just. Just that. That terrible feeling. So I hope she’s going to be doing better in the next couple of days. But swimmers here, man, it’s no joke.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: But there’s something about the ear, I think, because it’s like connected to so much that it just is really painful.
Zak Rosen: You have so close to that brain.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I do not to make light of your poor daughter’s situation, but I do feel better knowing that you’re married to a doctor. And you still think I’m the diagnosis, right?
Zak Rosen: Oh, yes. I see what you say. Yeah.
Speaker 4: No, I just like.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: For those of us.
Jamilah Lemieux: Who write.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: For us mere mortals dealing with sickness, I feel like what we can take is like, Listen, even if you were a doctor, you may not always know what’s going on with your child. And it’s okay. Like, it’s. It’s all right, guys.
Zak Rosen: Totally. We are fallible.
Jamilah Lemieux: We okay? Yeah.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: So, thanks. Thanks. Here for making us all feel like better parents.
Jamilah Lemieux: Absolutely.
Jamilah Lemieux: Elizabeth, what about you? Do you have a trial for a fail?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I don’t know whether it’s a triumph or a fail, but we discovered yesterday that Teddy’s teacher has basically they’ve been having, like, a series of miscommunications. Okay, so he Teddy goes to school one day a week at a homeschool academy that’s like just up the street from our house. And admittedly, we have been gone a lot. So, like, next week is the last week of this term or whatever of Homeschool Academy. So he sees this teacher once a week, but probably less than that. You know, I think when kids talk to teachers, you just I just always kind of assume like, well, we don’t believe everything he says about his teacher and his teacher is not going to believe everything. That’s what he says about us and about her family. Right. Like, that’s kind of the understanding, right?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: This is a six year old and it’s Teddy. So it started that Jeff went to pick him up. And we often take our backseats, which is like our Dutch cargo bike because it’s not to too far from there. Pretty much everyone else uses the carpool line just the way that it’s set up. But because we usually take the bike, we couldn’t take the bike this week because someone left a piece of barbed wire over the bike path and we drove the backseats over it and it takes a special tire. It’s a giant mess. So Jeff drove to pick him up, but then left the car. He like parks the car and walks to get him because Teddy is kind of expecting us to walk up.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: And the teacher came up and said, Your son is insisting that he’s Dutch. And Jeff was like, Well, yeah, I was born in the Netherlands. And she’s like, It just occurred to me that you bike here. And he was really excited in class on, on Monday because the the Netherlands had beat the USA in the World Cup, the men’s World Cup. And so he was like talking with his little school friends about this. And she was like, Huh? I keep telling him he’s mistaken. Just like, No, no, no. He’s he’s like, We’re not Dutch, but he was born in the Netherlands. And he he, you know, we call him like our little Dutch baby, like things like that.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: So okay, so we sort of wrote it off. We got an email later where she says, like, here are some other things he’s been saying that I now for consideration, I think might be true, one of which he had told us on this we were out on this full moon walk or we like go into the woods with a full moon and we walk because you can kind of see the path and we look for animals were always too loud to see any animals.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: But on the walk back, he had said, I want to tell you about my day. Something weird happened. He had brought in like one of the pictures from our polar bear trip to show the class. And he, you know, one of the students said, like, is this real? And he was like, yes, this is a real polar bear. And the teacher was like, well, yes, this is a picture of a real polar bear. But Teddy didn’t see the polar bear. And Teddy’s like, I did see the polar bear, like, we took this picture and, you know, she was like, Oh, yeah, you printed the picture from the Internet. And he’s like, No, I saw I took this picture. Yeah. And then he brings out, you know, in his six year old mind, he brings out his like, notebook is like nature’s notebook. And it’s like, See, I drew a picture of the polar bear, you know, like, how how else can I demonstrate to you? I was there. I drew the polar bear. My mom took this picture. So she was basically emailing us saying like, I now think that maybe I have been telling Teddy that none of these things that he’s telling us are true, when in fact, maybe they are.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: So I think, you know, to me, I felt sort of like, well, this is my fault, because when I have called him in or when I’ve email with the teacher, I’ve just been like, fine, we’re going to be gone. Like, I don’t spend a lot of time. And because none of the other parents, like, get out and talk at carpool, I don’t really talk with the teacher like my other two kids. The way drop off works is that we’re all kind of standing around and the teacher comes out. So there’s more opportunity to say like, Oh, he’s going to be gone and this is what we’re doing, or exchange him information. But because of the way this homeschool academy works, there’s just none of that. And I think for a lot of people, it’s just a this is one day a week that I that the kid is kind of gone, you know, and they’re not really trying to foster community among the parents and and the students in the same way that a that a more traditional school might be.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: So I do feel like oh maybe I should have been more specific. But she’s I mean, she said like, I’m going to apologize to Teddy because we don’t want him to feel like he’s not believed when he says these things. But I just feel bad. I feel he sort of was like, Yeah, whatever. But I feel bad about the whole thing and what I could have done to sort of, you know, be like, Oh, here are some things you should know about this kid that he might talk about.
Jamilah Lemieux: I just wonder what other things she might be questioning.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Well, it is. Teddy. It’s possible that a lot of the.
Speaker 4: Things he says is.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Not true.
Zak Rosen: About you Jamilah. Try him for fail this week.
Jamilah Lemieux: I have a big old fail for today. So I said to alarms for myself in the morning. Thinks this is the current wake up time and changes every now and again. But I set one for six and then I have one set for 610 and then at 610 what I do is I set an alarm for 635. I don’t know why I don’t just set the 635 alarm. You sound like my wife going for it like this. Why isn’t it set right now? But that’s just what I do thinks.
Zak Rosen: So you’re manually setting the 635 and 600?
Jamilah Lemieux: And I’m like, okay, I got until 610. If I’m feeling a little daring, I might give myself until 626 us because I wake nine up. When I wake up, I might give us until 645. You know, we’ve got to be out of the house by about 750. So I today did not set the 610 alarm.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: So when the 610 alarm went off, that was you did not set the next.
Jamilah Lemieux: I did not set the next alarm and it made me wonder how has this not happen sooner? Because this is a terrible system.
Zak Rosen: System. Yeah.
Jamilah Lemieux: So I’m revising that and I will be setting a 635 alarm before bed tonight. Should we make you you know, you just do it right now. That right.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Right now. So anyway.
Zak Rosen: So what time and what time did you wake up?
Jamilah Lemieux: I woke up at 7:00.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Did you make it?
Jamilah Lemieux: And she was about 10 minutes late. Oh, I mean, it was the noise. Yeah. Who could have been worse? But, you know, we were late yesterday, so. So not starting the week off. Great. Yesterday we were like in Central. Yesterday I gave us extra sleep. We were both tired and I was taken asleep. Gummy. And she took it later than I thought she should have. And she assured me she was like, Mommy, I’m. I just can’t sleep, you know? And I was like, Oh my gosh. You know, like, well, that’s bad, you know? But I was just like, I think it’s a little bit late in the evening for you to be taking this, you know, and against my better judgment. But a serving is one or two. So I’m like, okay, she had one really sick. I have one. But sure enough, in the morning she was still a little tired. So I gave her an extra 30 minutes to sleep, which meant that she was and ended up being about 15 minutes late for school. So it still didn’t do too bad. But we’re now two days in a row, baby. We’re that family.
Zak Rosen: It’s okay, Jamilah.
Jamilah Lemieux: It’s all right. All right. Well, on that note, let’s take another quick break. And when we come back, we will dive right in to our interview.
Jamilah Lemieux: All right. We are back. Elizabeth, tell us, why did you want to speak with Meghan?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Okay. Well, one of the many, you know, perks of this job is that when you’re having a problem, you can go out, find an expert and make them talk to you about the thing and claim that you’re doing it for everyone else. So here we are, where this period between basically Halloween and New Year’s to me feels like a burden of food, right? Like one, I’m consumed by trying to make sure that that my kids are fed that that we are doing a good job, that we’re also enjoying, like all these holiday traditions. And then we introduce family members and friends and all of these other people who have different thoughts on food. And I wanted to kind of mentally prepare myself with how to deal with holiday food and kids, just like what mentality do I need to be in? Going forward, as we have these meals and we encounter sweets everywhere, to have a really healthy, positive relationship with those my kids and food.
Zak Rosen: Cool. I need this interview just as much as you do, So thanks for doing it.
Jamilah Lemieux: Absolutely.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I hope you enjoy it. And here’s our conversation. Megan, I’m so excited to have you on the show. Would you mind telling listeners who you are and what you do?
Megan McNamee, Megan: Sure, But my name is Megan McNamee. I am a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and I specialize in pediatrics, in maternal child health, an eating disorder prevention. And I am co-owner of Feeding Littles.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: We’re so excited to have you on the show because I. I just feel like we source questions from listeners and probably sleep and feeding the two. We get the most questions about kind of regardless of the age. Why is feeding kids so hard?
Megan McNamee, Megan: That’s a really good question. I think partially because we don’t learn a lot about it. We don’t have necessarily a lot of techniques to draw back on when we were little. Most of us, you know, remember, we have to clean our plate to be excused from the table or we have to eat our veggies to get our desserts. And these don’t necessarily help kids learn how to be proficient eaters. It just kind of sets them up to maybe eat more than they need or potentially hate peas that they were forced to eat at the table.
Megan McNamee, Megan: So I think it’s challenging because kids are naturally suspicious of new foods starting somewhere between 12 and 24 months. It’s considered a normal part of development. Nobody really tells you that. And so when it happens, you think you did something wrong, you think, you know, you messed up. I think there’s such a big pressure put on parents now to make a quote unquote, make our kids eat well, because we we value nutrition so much differently than we used to. Like, I don’t think this was a stress for our parents nearly as much as it is for us. A lot of you listening might have parents that really value nutrition, and we’re really encouraging of you trying new things and stuff. But my mom does not remember this level of stress around it that a lot of our a lot of our clients experience.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I find now there’s stress and like so much stigma attached to it. And I feel like any time I’m forced to have a conversation with my children about nutrition, that I’m doing it, that I’m just doing it wrong.
Megan McNamee, Megan: The intent is what matters. None of us are going to be perfect with this. If you remember to keep weight and appearance out of the discussion about nutrition, then that’s 99% of it right there. So we were taught to eat well because it would, quote, make you thin. Or you could only eat certain things if you had a certain type of body. If we stay away from that kind of messaging and we connect food back to how our kids function and feel, then that’s that’s the battle right there.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: We’re obviously headed into the holiday season. So I want to talk a little bit about handling food situations that come up a lot during the holidays. And the first, at least for me, is kind of this idea of like potlucks and shared foods. I feel like when I’m at home and I can control the situation, right? Like I have foods that I know the kids eat, that I know are good fuel for their body, and I can make sure that that is presented on on a plate. You know, if they’re carrot lovers, there’s there’s always carrots kind of available, those sort of things. Do you have tips for now you’re at, you know, your in-laws house or you’re out of, you know, holiday party and this is going to be your kid’s meal. But none of the food is familiar.
Megan McNamee, Megan: Yes. And that’s so tricky. And keep in mind, too, that holiday meals can be very overwhelming for a picky eater or just a newbie. Right. Because it’s completely different. Sights, sounds, tastes, textures, everything. So it’s okay if your kid literally just eats the bread and butter for dinner or the mashed potatoes. I know people worry about that, like, oh my gosh, no kid can survive on bread and butter for a meal. Trust me, they will be just fine.
Megan McNamee, Megan: I think more than worrying necessarily about, you know, if it’s balanced or are they going to try all these different things. Try to focus more on the experience. We want to teach our kids at holiday gatherings. And holiday meals are their family, their tradition, their how we celebrate each other. We do go through certain rituals that are special to our family. And even if you’re not ready to eat those foods yet, involve them in the cooking if you can, or teach them about how you like to cut the turkey or show them grandma’s favorite stuffing and what you know, what it looks like, what it smells like, they might not be ready to try it, but just focus more on the experience than the actual food and eating it in that food itself. And they’ll have positive connections to it. And the next time you have that meal again, they might be a little bit more willing to try, but it’s not the end of the world. If they don’t want to eat it right now, it’s not forever. They’ll probably love it when they’re a little bit older.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s great advice to remember, too. It’s like just one one of the times they’re getting food in this day.
Megan McNamee, Megan: It’s okay. It’s okay if they freak out. It’s okay if they have to go to bed before the whole meal happens. Like you just have to do what you need to do to kind of get through that day sometimes with little kids. Yes, it’s great if there’s a familiar food for them, but it doesn’t have to be that one, you know, super nutrient rich food that they love. It can be literally anything that that they want and enjoy. And like I said, if they. I just want that mashed potatoes which also have nutrition in them. Like, awesome. Have some mashed potatoes.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: What do you do about the sweets that are everywhere this time of year? This is something I struggle with because I feel like no matter where we go, people are offering the kids have a piece of candy, you know, like everyone’s got a little candy basket. Everyone, every meal now is going to have all these desserts. How how are you handling that? How should we be handling those moments?
Megan McNamee, Megan: I think our culture has taught us that, like sugar is evil and you shouldn’t have any of it. And some of you listening might completely agree with that. And this might sound crazy to you, but food is more than just nutrients that go into your body. Food is a very strong psychological component as well. And when we tell ourselves that we’re not allowed to have something, the first thing we want, the first thing we go for is that thing we’ve said is off limits.
Megan McNamee, Megan: So there’s some structure on this. It’s not like, hey, let’s just give them candy all day, every day, because they won’t function well that way. They won’t feel good well that way. And that’s not a normal way to live. You don’t probably eat candy all day either. You know that you need fuel and energy to go about your tasks. So what we recommend is, you know, you get to still decide when to serve that food so you don’t have to serve it with every meal if you don’t want to.
Megan McNamee, Megan: Now, if you’re going somewhere, though, and it is served, just try not to make a big deal out of it. Don’t make it a fight. Don’t make it something that you bargain over, that you bribe them over because what you actually inadvertently do is you elevate that food to something really special. If you say, well, you have to eat all of your food to get this candy, then all the other food is in and the candy is very special, right? You’re also kind of teaching them to ignore their internal cues of fullness when you do that, if they’re not hungry for every single bite on their plate yet, they know they have to eat it to get something they really want. Now they’re going to start ignoring that. They’re going to ignore what their body is telling them. So instead, make it make it neutral.
Megan McNamee, Megan: So you go to grandma’s house and there’s cookies. You can even serve a cookie with their meal. It sounds counterintuitive, but it actually helps alleviate some of that special quality of that food and makes everything kind of on the same playing field. They’re going to eat the cookie anyway. Why does it matter if they eat at the beginning, middle or end? And you might be surprised. Oftentimes, kids will just they’ll eat it a few bites and then they’ll go on and eat other things on their plate. It’s just not nearly as special when we don’t elevate it so much.
Megan McNamee, Megan: But in efforts to reduce sugar in our kids lives, what sometimes we end up doing is making it something they sneak or hoard or binge because they see it as so off limits. So including sugar in your kids diet in a neutral way, just serving it when you decide to serve it and don’t serve it when you decide not to, actually helps them learn how to manage and be around sugar because they’re not going to be under our roofs forever. And my kids are older now. They’re nine and seven. They’re not old, old yet, thank goodness, because I feel like they were just babies a second ago. But they’re on their own for a lot of food decisions now. I care as much about my kids relationship to food as I care about what they eat.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Do you have any tips for mealtime? Attention focusing on the meal again, something that may be easy to control at your house. When you’re plating, things are putting them on the table, or you have your typical culture of how you’re going to eat a meal as a family or whatever that looks like. It seems like now we get into the season where that that changes and sometimes having, you know, the meals are a little bit longer. Do you expect the kids to sit the whole time? Do you expect them to try everything on their plate? Like what kind of little rules or thoughts can we have? Or is it like it’s holiday, whatever?
Megan McNamee, Megan: That’s a great question. And I think it really depends on the culture of your family. Realize first and foremost that most toddlers, if you have a really young kid, they can only handle sitting in the high chair for five, maybe 10 minutes. And that’s not because they’re unruly or bad or anything wrong with them. That’s just how they’re naturally hard wired because they’re designed to want to move. So the clock starts when you put them in the chair. The more opportunity they have to kind of get the wiggles out right before you put them in the chair and then having the meal ready right when you eat, the better. So I know it’s kind of annoying because you want to contain them, but you can literally have them do a little job for you, bring napkins over to the table. Maybe they they bring the ketchup over or whatever source you’re using, as long as they can’t break it and hurt themselves, that gives them a job. It gets them interested in the meal and then allows you to kind of get everything finalized before you sit them down to eat, because that’s when you know that you’re going to have the best attention for the next 5 to 10 minutes max.
Megan McNamee, Megan: If you’re at somebody else’s house, it can be hard because their rules might be different than yours. And that’s okay. And it’s okay for kids to learn like, hey, we do this differently somewhere else. We still recommend not forcing kids to eat even if you’re at grandma’s house. You know, obviously we consider it polite to try all the foods on our plate. He doesn’t get that. And we don’t want them to try or be forced to eat something that they’re just not ready for. It can be tricky with other people that don’t get this. And you can say things like, you know, we’re not forcing him to eat where we’re putting it on his plate. We’ll see if he eats it or not, but he gets to choose what goes in his body or, you know, if you have a really aggressive, you know, uncle or someone that’s making them eat, you can just say it’s okay. You know, it’s okay. I only expect them just to sit here for a little bit. They don’t have to eat everything on their plate. They’re not ready for that. We’re working on it. It’s okay.
Megan McNamee, Megan: Sometimes people just don’t know any different. And that’s what they did with their kids. And they just kind of think that that’s what you want done to by put yourself in your kid’s shoes. It’s a completely different environment. They might not have a lot of familiarity with these people. The food tastes and looks absolutely differently than it always has. It’s kind of scary and overwhelming, and it’s okay if they’re not into it right now.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I have three kids and one of them is in food therapy. Some of the things you’re saying ring really true to me because he’s been really encouraged to just like or I guess really we have been encouraged to to allow our middle child to just like, play with the food, like just tolerance of it on his plate are things that that we have been working on and having, you know, other people that are over to dinner that are like, why is he making a face out of food? And it’s like, well, that’s where he’s having it on his plate. Like having to explain, like, these are things that we just are doing differently to nurture that relationship with food, even when people think it’s weird.
Megan McNamee, Megan: And even if you’re not in feeding therapy. That is one of the things we teach in our course. We literally talk about how there’s multiple steps to eating, and the first is actually allowing the food to stay on your plate. And that’s a big win for people who have really picky eaters who wouldn’t even go near something, wouldn’t even want it near them if they allow it to stay there. That’s one step closer to actually eating it potentially one day.
Megan McNamee, Megan: And we were taught it’s not polite to play with your food, don’t mess with your food. But actually kids learn about their world through play and touch and experience. So when they get a chance to play with their food and explore with their hands, even if they don’t eat it just yet, that’s yet another step along the path to learning how to eat it one day. If your kid’s willing to play with it, they might put it in their mouth. Maybe they’ll spit it out again, but at least they’re getting there. So you can remind, you know, your family members at the table. Hey, we’re just we’re working on it. And you can blame it on us. You can blame it on, you know, you didn’t Megan feeding. Let’s just say that this is good and we’re we’re on a path right now. It’s okay if you just plays with his peas and he doesn’t have to eat it.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: How how do you know where that line is between like, I need extra help and this is normal?
Megan McNamee, Megan: I think that a parent’s gut instinct is probably the most important, the most powerful out of everything. There’s obviously some things that, you know, Judy would look at in assessing a child, and they can explain a few of them. But I mean, I just talked to a mom this week who said at her one year appointment she was telling her doctor, my baby is only eating period foods. He won’t tolerate anything different to your appointment. Same thing, three year appointment, same thing. And the doctor kept saying, well, just keep working on it. Just keep working on it. Well, that at that point, you know, I would have said by 12 months, if your baby cannot tolerate any other texture, that should be something that we would look at at some professional would look at. Definitely by two. Oh, my gosh. By three by now. You know, she she has a four year old that can’t eat anything except peri textures. And that’s so defeating for her because she knew there was something wrong and she wasn’t getting the help and support she needed.
Megan McNamee, Megan: So with that being said, if you feel like you need a second opinion. Not just from your pediatrician, but from anything you’re dealing with, with your kid. It’s okay to seek another another professional’s expertise if you are feeding therapy and it’s not sitting with you, well, it’s okay to try somebody else. But I think that it’s extremely powerful for a parent to trust their own instincts here because they know their kid better than anyone else.
Megan McNamee, Megan: If your child eats less than 20 total foods and I use this example that Judy always says Cheerios would be one food honey Nut Cheerios would be a second food. So people will say, oh, my gosh, they don’t eat that many foods. And then they think about it and they go, okay, well, they would eat white bread, they would eat wheat bread, they would eat bagels, they would eat, you know what I mean? Like, they can come up with at least 20 foods if they’re under 20 foods. That in and of itself, Right.
Megan McNamee, Megan: There is a sign that you might want to start asking for extra help. If they seem extremely intolerant of certain textures, they struggle to touch something with their hands or put a certain texture in their mouth. That’s another indicator. We might want to get some extra help if they’ve had any oral motor issues, chewing problems, swallowing issues. You know, maybe they were born prematurely and they had feed early feeding issues early on that just don’t seem to be getting that much better. It’s okay to ask for help. And Judy always uses the analogy, You know, if you break an ankle and you were struggling to walk again, you would go to physical therapy. It’s okay to ask for help if you feel like things are not working and if they’re trending in a direction that just keeps where they keep getting more and more selective. If meal time becomes this major stress for you, it’s absolutely something to talk to somebody about.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Megan That’s such good advice. And I it goes so well with sort of the theme, I think even just of our show that we’re always saying like it is, it’s not your fault you didn’t cause this. If you think something’s wrong, like reach out, get more help, get more people on your team. And feeding adults is actually a wonderful place to start. If any of this has sounded like, Oh, this is a struggle. So we’re going to link in the show notes to your website. But where else can people follow you? Find you.
Megan McNamee, Megan: Sure. We’re just feeding littles on all the socials, if you will. Tick tock. As you know, as a older millennial, I’m still hobbling my way over there, but Instagram is where you’ll find most of our stuff at Feeding Littles. And then we also have Feeding Littles dot com. If you want to check out any blog posts, courses, products, etc..
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I highly recommend it definitely is one of the things that helped us towards moving towards finding that food therapy was the right option for our middle child. So Megan, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been such a pleasure.
Megan McNamee, Megan: Awesome. Thank you so much.
Jamilah Lemieux: And that’s it for our show. Don’t forget to join us on Monday. We have a very special visitor, our former friend Dan Cloisters, joining the show. He’s always our friend. And former host Dan Kois will be joining us on Monday. And while you’re at it, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts so that you never missed an episode. This episode of Mom and Dad or Fighting is produced by Rosemary Belson and Christine, Taiwo Mack, Angela for Zak Rosen and Elizabeth Newcamp. I’m Jamilah Lemieux. Thank you for listening.
Jamilah Lemieux: Okay, Slate Plus listeners. Let’s get into our final conversation for the week. Criticism is one of those things that keeps popping up from time to time on the show. For those of us who in some ways parent in public as part of our job, criticism comes with the territory. But for the average parent who is not in the public eye, who is dealing with unsolicited criticism and advice, it can be hard to deal with. So we were inspired to talk about this after reading an article in Romper, which will leave in the show notes. But Elizabeth Zak, one of you want to give us a quick rundown?
Zak Rosen: Sure. This is a piece called How to Handle It when Someone Criticizes Your Parenting. It’s by the writer Jennifer Paris. We get some real examples of how to deal with criticism. And I think that the important thing is like parsing where the criticism is coming from. Like if it’s coming from people that we we love and trust and who are in our inner circle, it’s very different from some. Moron, you know, in line at the drugstore who’s, like, giving their opinion. So it kind of passes the difference between those two types of criticism. But I think that the main thing that that we can learn from this piece is like, what do we do in the face of it? What do we say when someone criticizes our parenting and then what’s like underneath it when we are triggered by someone’s criticism? Like, what does it say about how we’re parenting?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I was surprised by how forward the like suggested responses were. They were polite versions of Back Off. My Child is Loved.
Jamilah Lemieux: Yes.
Zak Rosen: But you think they were forward?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I thought they were very like I guess again, though, maybe just because we’re faced with so much like everyone has an opinion on what the three of us are doing, I, I just normally don’t. I know the article talks about like you need to set this boundary, but for the most part, I just don’t even think that it’s like worth me getting up the energy to set a boundary with people. Like if I’m in the store and someone says something to me, yeah, my brain is just like.
Jamilah Lemieux: Whatever.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Fuck you.
Zak Rosen: And maybe your mouth is like that too.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah, maybe. But I think my mouth is just like, All right. Like, I don’t care. I don’t care.
Zak Rosen: I mean, and for people who haven’t read it yet, like some of those responses that. That they suggest are I’m parenting the best I can, my partner and I choose to parent this way. I hear you. But my parenting is up to me and my partner. I really need to make it clear that I don’t want any thoughts, ideas or criticism from you about my parenting. I wish I had the grace to say it like that.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: I just feel like that gives them more buy in than they even deserve for the most part. Like, right. This is a choice I make. Like you’re in the line with the grocery store. I don’t know you.
Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah, I think these are more appropriate responses for somebody who’s, like, in your life. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jamilah Lemieux: A parent, a colleague, you know, somebody who’s just overstepping their boundaries but maybe doesn’t get, like, the long, drawn out conversation about it. You know, you just kind of need to throw up that boundary segment really quick. But I do think something about I’m parenting the best I can is kind of liberating. Like that’s pretty.
Zak Rosen: Disarming.
Jamilah Lemieux: And I haven’t had you know, everybody’s had like a reproachful glance in the grocery store, you know, So maybe an older woman looking at you like you can’t control your kid. But yeah, I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t had anyone straight out say something, you know, to me. But you know who wasn’t a family member or like, maybe specifically my mom. But I think, you know, if I were in that situation and I kind of lost control and somebody was coming at me, I love the idea of disarming them with I am parenting the best I can.
Zak Rosen: We were out to dinner the other night at this restaurant, this Lebanese restaurant that is kind of like this massive ballroom. And so it was like tons of tons of space for the kids to run around. And so what do you think of this? I have a five and two year old. Two year old is especially, you know, got a lot of energy. And I just thought them, like run around kind of like they were on a track.
Jamilah Lemieux: Where where are you? Did you say a restaurant?
Zak Rosen: We were. We were at a restaurant, Yeah. It wasn’t very crowded. What would you what would you think of a parent who’s, like, letting their kids basically get a workout meal?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: He’s parenting the best he can, okay?
Jamilah Lemieux: Cursing the best he can. That’s what I honestly would think.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: That’s the kind of restaurant. Is it? Is there other tablecloths?
Zak Rosen: No. Tablecloth. It’s like it’s kind of like.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: A golden.
Zak Rosen: Lebanese diner, like Middle Eastern.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Cool. Were they disturbing other diners?
Zak Rosen: No. I mean, I don’t know. That might be disturbing for some people to have a kid run by them as they’re enjoying their chicken shawarma plate.
Jamilah Lemieux: But what, they allowed that?
Zak Rosen: No, I don’t think so. They were really, really cute. Does that. Yeah, I think that helps. But of course, I’m biased.
Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m torn on this.
Zak Rosen: Give it to me.
Jamilah Lemieux: I’m tired, I think. I’m like pro free kids. I like kids running wild and being free. And I wish there were more spaces for them to do that. But I do understand how the dining experience could be interrupted for some people by that. You know, like I personally probably would not be bothered by it. You know, I can imagine other people are. I can tell you that if I were out having dinner that every black person at my table would probably be thinking I could never let my kids do that. You know, because there’s just like that fear, like, I never want anyone to say anything tonight in my life. That’s like one of my biggest fears is like some other adult or authority figure is going to want to confront her, you know? So like, she has a friend who sometimes can be a little loud in public. And I’m always so like, Yeah, yeah, I s So I don’t know, I don’t think I would let my little one run in the restaurant.
Zak Rosen: I want to hear our listeners best parent criticism stories like I want to hear about like the the monster who who criticized you in the meanest way. And I want to hear how you handled it.
Jamilah Lemieux: Me too.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Or if you use the phrase this is how my party choosing to raise our child. I want to know if it disarmed the other person.
Zak Rosen: Yeah.
Jamilah Lemieux: I’m also a fan of. I will let you know when I’m looking for advice.
Zak Rosen: Well, that’s pretty passive aggressive, too. But in a in a in a great way. Like, that’s something that I would say, too.
Jamilah Lemieux: Yeah, that’s.
Zak Rosen: It. You’re not going to. You’re not going to let it. Not going to let them know when you want it. That’s. That’s just like a cunning way of saying that to fuck off. Right?
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Yeah, I agree. We want to hear your stories, though.
Jamilah Lemieux: Yes. Please send us your stories to mom. And dad is Slate.com. Maybe you’ll hear them here on the show.
Elizabeth, Elizabeth Newcamp: Send us voicemail. Don’t just write in. We need you to tell us a story. Send us a voice memo.
Jamilah Lemieux: The voice memos requested. You’ve heard it. All right. Thank you. Slate plus listeners, for your support, and we will talk to you again next week.