As toddlers become more independent – move into their own room and lose a railing on their crib, they often also realise some new found freedom that they have. For many, this often comes with trying to make their bedtimes later. As they come up with reasons to stay up later, often food is brought into the mix: “I’m thirsty” or “I’m hungry” often are two of the major delayers which many parents often worry about and struggle with addressing. Don’t worry if this is happening to you, you are in good company.
In these situations, mealtime schedules are very important. As your child drops milk feeds, and eats more meals, often the bedtime feed is one of the last to be dropped. This is important to be dropped to decrease the risk of your child being dependent on milk to sleep as well as for good oral hygiene. Once on a routine is set, hold your boundaries.
If your child says “I’m thirsty” have an idea of what is acceptable for your family. In my house, after dinner, water is allowed, but that is all that is allowed until breakfast the next morning.
If your child says “I’m hungry,” remember to draw your boundaries – it’s okay to say, the kitchen is closed and will not be open again until the morning. Just remember, if you say this, this applies to everyone, so you cannot have a late snack or you will have some challenging explaining to do to your child if you are caught.
It is extremely important to be consistent. If you are not consistent, your child will be very confused and may end up regularly trying to test boundaries if he has the idea that the boundaries are possibly flexible.
Managing boundaries is different for everyone. Some parents have an easy time with setting and holding boundaries, some have difficulties. With feeding your child, it is important to have boundaries and to hold firm on them so your child knows what to expect.