Fact. Healthy children cannot starve in 6 hours.
They will get hungry, sure, and whingey and clumsy, but they won’t actually starve.
So why are we so insistent about plying our kids with snacks every two hours? Why do we cook the four year old a sausage when the rest of the family is having roast chicken?
I see it all the time. Families setting for an hour long drive to the beach that might take an hour and a will pack boxes of crackers. Mums dropping their kids for play date will send along a few finger buns – ostensibly as a ‘thank-you-for-having-her’ gift, whereas really it says ‘she’s- going-to-get-hungry-and-I’m-not-entirely-sure-you’ll-feed-her-adequately.
It’s a rare toddler you see in a stroller without a packet of something crunchy to keep them happy as they cruise around the shopping centre.
I’ve done it myself. Mainly with my eldest, and I wish I hadn’t. He was the worst eater of my three; and at age two was addicted to Vegemite sandwiches.
It happened gradually… stealthily. A Vegemite sandwich was his favourite lunch. Fair enough, mine too. Then he began to ask for a Vegemite sandwich instead of cereal and fruit for breakfast. Not so bad, I thought - generations of Australians have grown up on Vegemite sandwiches. Not like I was giving him KFC chips and gravy for breakfast. But then, he started saying no to dinner. Pasta, meat, vegies, no no no. He’d hold out for a sandwich. I’d invariably relent and give him one – no mother wants their baby to go to bed hungry.
I asked the community nurse for advice. ‘Don’t make a big deal of it,’ she said, ‘Offer small quantities of other foods, it’s common for toddlers to be fussy.’
I might as well have thrown the other foods straight into the bin and eliminated the middle-man.