Toddlers are capable of successful mealtime behavior and the earlier you start, the better.
We all know that family dinners are important for many reasons. Starting to eat together as a family early in your child’s life is a great way to get into the family meal routine. But for many families, mealtime can be stressful. Young children may be picky or have trouble sitting for meals and that can make meals more work than fun for parents. If you are experiencing mealtime mayhem, here are some things you can do:
*Limit “grazing” opportunities for your child. Children don’t need access to snacks all day. Often, children fill up before meals when snacks are offered on an unlimited basis.
*Keep meals in the kitchen or dining room. When snacks and meals are offered in other parts of the house, there is little incentive to eat at the table.
*Feed your child at the same time that you eat. Mealtime loses something when you are eating at a separate time than your child.
*Feed your child the same meal that you are eating (or some part thereof). The best way to create a picky child is to cater to his exclusive tastes.
*Try to make it fun. Fun plates or a mealtime game can sweeten the deal and make mealtimes special.
*Train your child to sit through meals early and only allow him to get up when everyone is done. This is hard work but worth it. It may be a good idea to have an alternate activity available if your toddler is done before everyone else – a book or some small toys can work.
I once heard of a mom whose toddler refused to sit and eat to the point that she had to have him in front of the tv, strapped into a seat, in order for him to eat anything at all. As hard as is was to break this cycle, it was important that she put her foot down and retrain him to eat at the table with no tv. Toddlers are capable of successful mealtime behavior and the earlier you start, the better.
Let Them Fly!