Meal time can be one of the most difficult time to deal with toddlers. Not only can they ruin their own meal, they can ruin it for everyone else. It’s when they can make a bigger mess than almost any other time during their day.
How do you stay sane during meal times with your toddler? Here are a few helpful mom tips.
1. Be patient with new food
If your toddler exclaims they don’t like something, don’t give up on serving that food. For younger children, it can take up to 20 times of trying a new food before they will accept it. Don’t let your toddler determine your entire food menu.
2. Check the food temperature
This is especially important if the food has been microwaved. Stir well to avoid any sudden hot spots that will burn your child’s mouth.
3. Don’t force your child to finish their plate
Give them small portion and allow them to eat until they are full. This will help train them to eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re done.
4. Make meal time fun
Give your toddler a special cup, plate, bowl or placemat. You can even go shopping with them and let them choose their own. They will be so excited to use “their” plate every time you eat.
5. Sit at the table together as a family
This rule can be relaxed as children grow older, but toddlers must learn dinnertime etiquette before they can learn when it’s okay to relax it. It’s important to have a routine they can follow and people they can learn from. Let your toddler watch you and your spouse as you ask politely for things you need, try everything on your plate, and take your dishes to the sink when you’re done. They now have something to model.
6. Finger foods are especially good
Young toddlers may not have the motor skills to handle forks or spoons yet. Avoid the mess and the frustration by serving finger foods often in their early months and moving to food that requires tools later.
7. Respect what your child likes and dislikes
If they reject something, don’t force them to eat all of it. Do encourage them to take a bite of it to see if they like it or not. Make sure you have some old favorites available just in case. If your toddler refuses to eat anything on the menu, they can have a peanut butter sandwich.
Image Credit: Ben McLeod