SFP 49: SPECIAL EPISODE: Exactly How I Feed My Kids [Your Questions Answered]

How do you feed your kids

I recently explained exactly how I feed my kids [read the post here]. I loved the enthusiastic response that I received from readers and members of the Simple Families community. Because of the overwhelming response, I decided to do a special podcast episode to answer all of your feeding questions. Without further ado, here are the questions–and tune in for my answers.



  1. What do you do when a child refuses to come to the table for a meal? Patina
  2. Can you please explain the theory behind why no talking about food at the table? Gina
  3. What kind of foods do you serve at lunch, including any packed lunches? We homeschool, with 2 days at basically a co-op, so we do both. At lunch they get to pick their lunch (within limits), but dinner I cook more for me and my husband (and his allergies!). I try not to cook for lunches much, though – more work than I want to do most days! Kate
  4. How long does mealtime last for you? Do you set a timer? If my daughter doesn’t eat, when is it time to take her plate away? She could literally sit at the table for two hours! Thank you Denaye! Nicole 
  5. Loved this! Denaye, when did this system become solidified for your family? I have a 13 month old that’s a fabulous eater. We exposed him to a variety of foods early and haven’t ever felt the need to force him to eat. However, snack times can be tricky: he will sometimes only nibble on a snack and seem done but an hour later be ravenously hungry. Maybe I’m not timing snacks right? Erryn
  6. What about kids with sensory issues that affect palate and smell? Heather
  7. Help me understand how to keep my son at the table and engaged long enough to eat. He’ll be up after he’s eaten enough to take the edge off hunger, and expect to come back to the same plate when he feels hunger again an hour or two later. We started this way, no refined sugar. Honey and maple syrup in very limited quantities. No candy. No desserts at home. Fruit as our sweet. Once he was out of the high chair though, all bets were off, and I became the parent that begged my child to eat. Not the parent I want to be. Kristen
  8. Would love your tips for preparing greens/veggies for tiny tots who only have a few teeth. I’m in a rut. Kaitlin
  9. Sometimes we’ll put each side dish out on the table for dinner so they can take as much as they want to eat. How do you deal with kids who take too much and then decide they are not hungry for it which then gets wasted? Mandy
  10. My son is very busy, how do you deal with kids that like to get up and down from the table during dinner time? I want him to understand that it’s family time, and say, if we’re at a restaurant, that it’s not time to run around, but sit and spend time with us as a family even if he’s not hungry. He’s only 2. Mandy
  11. May I ask how you deal with children who only will pick only one kind of all the dishes (e.g. bread) you put on the table? Will you stop her/him from doing that? Trine
  12. Our hardest meal is dinner time. When I pick my daughter up from daycare she is ravenous! I pick her up between 5:15-5:30 pm , we try to have dinner by 6:30 (sooner if my husband gets home early and can start dinner prep while we are on the way). I offer her a snack in the car and I limit the amount because I know dinner is approaching, but she screams and cries when she finishes her snack. Usually this lasts for several minutes, sometimes even until dinner is being served. If I give her more snack, she hardly touches dinner. It’s often a rough part of our day. I can’t seem to find a middle ground. Sarah
  13. Thanks for this post! My 21-month old is a snackaholic. She demands snacks anytime she’s in her stroller and sometimes I can’t get her into the stroller without offering a tiny snack. Any advice on how to reverse the bad habits of relying on snacks to stay happy in public? Much appreciated! Claire
  14. Hi, I believe we have a good healthy meal plan in our home, although admittedly the snacking can change. I am curious if you don’t coach them to eat, do your kids eat the vegetables, because my children would choose the rice and chicken for example and leave the veg? Or how do you prepare the food? Lisa
  15. Thank you this is so helpful! I have trouble getting my kids to drink enough water. They literally will not drink as much as they need. They were cranky and had very dark urine so I think they were dehydrated on a daily basis. We were a no juice household for a long time, but I’ve recently started adding some juice to their water and they drink a lot more and seem much better off. Do you have any good ideas for getting kids to drink enough plain water? I hate having to add juice! Justine
  16. I would be curious which green vegetables you are serving, and in what format by age. I’m follow a mostly-baby-led-weaning approach, and I’m not far from your feed schedule. All food is consumed at the table except if we are out for a picnic or in the stroller for a long duration. But I struggle sometimes with offering age-appropriate green sources for a new one year old… spinach in a healthy muffin? Leaves of lettuce from my salad? We do some zucchini and peas but the leafy greens are stumping me especially. And asparagus can be so stringy/hard to get down, likewise with broccoli unless I’ve absolutely killed it with steaming. Amye
  17. I’m curious about this too – what do you do at bedtime if dinner was “light” and they’re complaining of hunger? I can’t support sending a child to be hungry, especially if its not a delay tactic but a true feeling. Advice is appreciated! Amye
  18. Thanks for this article. We follow most of these philosophies as well but I’m wondering if you could comment about what you do when kids complain about being hungry at bed time and they hardly touched dinner? Also we don’t do dessert in our house except for special occasions but grandma usually does. Do you allow your kids dessert if they haven’t eaten (it would just st be making room but making them eat and then offering dessert seems like even more of an overload). Thanks! Christine
  19. What do you do with food that’s put on a plate and not eaten? Do you ever bring it out at the next meal or offer it as a snack? Kristin
  20. Hmmm, see if I just made my son’s food (16 month old) and put the plate down, he’d just dump it by flipping the plate or bowl. He is so distracted every time we sit at the table, pointing and asking for this and this and this, putting his hand up if we try to feed him. Do you just assume he’s not hungry then or he wouldn’t do any of that? It’s so frustrating but I just have a hard time believing, “oh well he must not be hungry”, because what if they ARE hungry but also curious and playful and just exploring what happen when you flip a plate over? How on earth do you get your kids to “focus” for a second at the table, to eat without any problems? I just don’t understand! Ack – help! Kari
  21. I was always taught that children under 3 should be allowed to eat anytime, because if they want food then they are hungry. However, my son loves to just snack all day and then doesn’t eat much for lunch. Kari

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.