I’m a child expert and this is why I’ll NEVER say no to my kids or tell them to ‘finish their plate’

EVERY parent knows that while kids are adorable, you do need to keep them in check with every mum enforcing certain rules and regulations in their homes.

And while rules such as finishing your dinner or having a strict bedtime might be commonplace in most homes parenting expert Heidi Skudder we should be rewriting the rule-book.

A parenting expert has revealed why you should never force a child to eat their dinner

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A parenting expert has revealed why you should never force a child to eat their dinnerCredit: Getty
Heidi Skudder has been working as a parenting and baby coach for a decade

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Heidi Skudder has been working as a parenting and baby coach for a decadeCredit: Sarah Kate Photography

The parenting and baby coach has been helping mums of newborns and toddlers navigate their early years for over a decade, and with two sons herself, knows a thing or two about raising kids.

And contrary to popular belief, Heidi says that the tried and tested method isn’t always the best one.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous digital she says: “There are so many parenting methods from ‘back in the day’ that mums are still relying on.

“But they are completely outdated, there’s so much more we know about parenting now, and we need to move with the times, and that means establishing new parenting rules.”

Here Heidi reveals the things she would never tell her kids to do, and the parenting tips you should be switching up…

Don’t wait for them to be too tired

I see it all the time, parents will try to keep their babies up for longer during the day in the hope that they will sleep the whole night through – but I’m afraid it just doesn’t work like that.

If you go to sleep overtired you’re more likely to have a disruptive sleep and wake up early.

Babies need to have good quality day sleep in order to help them sleep at night time so if you see them dozing off during the day don’t panic!

Stop rocking them to sleep

Bedtimes are one of the biggest stresses for new parents, and the internet is saturated with advice on the best way to get your little ones to sleep through.

While initially I would advise rocking your baby to sleep, from about six months old you can leave babies to fall asleep on their own.

If they settle to sleep on their own they are far more likely to self-soothe in the night if they do stir and be more confident to go back to sleep without you rocking them.

Let them cry

A lot of mums worry about the crying that comes with making changes, whether that’s eating, sleeping, whatever it is.

It is important to remember that when you make changes there will ALWAYS be a protest especially when it comes to bedtimes.

And when it comes to implementing a new bedtime routine you can either ween your children off you slowly, or you can allow them to cry for a few nights and nip it in the bud much sooner.

With this method you let them cry for a few minutes and then go in and reassure them that you haven’t left them and then leave again.

It takes a couple of days but then they will be sleeping on their own much quicker.

Don’t beat yourselves up over bedtimes

Roughly aim for the same bedtime each night, but when I say roughly I mean roughly. 

Having a set bedtime does help to establish an internal body clock, but say you aim for a 7pm bedtime it doesn’t matter in the slightest if it ends up 6:30, 7:30 etc.

And having a routine and a set bedtime does not mean that you can’t have a life – if you want to go out then by all means go out.

If you do decide to treat yourselves to a family dinner out then this can actually help your kids to become more flexible outside their bedtime routine.

Don’t eat separately 

Most of us don’t fancy tucking into our dinner at 5pm, and so most of us will have a separate meal to our kids, but this is going to do you no favours.

Eat with them, this is what we call role-modeling, so they can learn from you and copy you eating.

Let them be fussy

When it comes to dinner times, my number one rule is stay calm.

If your toddler is refusing to eat something, don’t try and fight them, if you stay neutral you avoid drama,  making them more likely to pick up their food.

It’s very natural to want to feed your kids up, but the less pressure you put on them the better.

And remember the more you worry the less likely your toddler is to eat. Any pressure that you put on them to eat means that they’re likely to do the opposite.

Never make them finish their plate

To punish a child for not finishing their meal, tells that child not to listen to their body, and that it’s the adults who decide how their body feels.

You’re not taking into account that the child feels full, and if their tummy feels full this could lead to huge implications such as overeating in the future.

There’s no need to say sorry

I think forcing your child to say sorry is a huge mistake.

If a child hits another child the norm is to tell them to say sorry, but it’s just an empty word that has no meaning to the child.

Normally parents make their children say sorry because they are embarrassed on their behalf, but for the child’s benefit you are much better asking them how they were feeling, tell them why it was wrong and then chatting about an alternative way of dealing with anger.

Ration your ‘no’

Parents find themselves saying no so often that it can often become white noise to their kids.

I would keep the word ‘no’ for dangerous situations or occasions when you really need their attention and when you say it, say it forcefully so there is no mistaking that you’re serious.

Save ‘no’ for when you really need it, and the rest of the time use different language to put rules and boundaries in place.

And the one old-fashioned method you should be using

Baby-led weaning is very popular now, but in my opinion there is nothing wrong with the old fashioned approach of blitzing up some broccoli and giving them some puree.

I’m a big fan of doing a bit of both and not stressing. 

You don’t have to spend half-an-hour making pea fritters, you could just give them some of your food, just remember to remove the salt and the spice.

Be realistic, you might see parents making beautiful works of art out of their bay’s food, but if that’s not for you then don’t worry.

In other parenting news, these are the baby sleep techniques that really work according to experts.

And these are the baby names rising in popularity.

Plus an expert reveals the two types of child & the right way to discipline each one (and what happens when you get it wrong).

Mom shares how to stop your baby from crying when you’ve tried EVERYTHING

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