Toddlers are known to be picky eaters. Mealtime in our house is far from the ideal image of a family smiling at the dinner table. I’m pretty sure my son only ate red grapes and avocado for a month, now he won’t eat either.
Our son is two, and mealtimes are a gamble on what will make it into his mouth and then into his belly. We’ve made big progress on making mealtimes less stressful and here are some tips I’ve learned to make mealtimes more enjoyable.
Offer safe foods to fill up on
This has been life-changing advice. I always make sure to serve something familiar that he loves. I try and change up the size, shape, or flavors, but it’s something he knows he likes and I know will fill him up.
Keep introducing new foods
I try to include at least one food he doesn’t eat yet or hasn’t tried at each meal. Keep the portions small to not overwhelm him and not waste food. It can be frustrating to see the same foods left on the plate, but keep serving them. Familiarity will only help! The first time he picked up the broccoli felt like a win. He spit it out almost immediately, but at least it was attempted!
Playing is winning!
Encouraging exploration is a great way to help your child (and you), not dread mealtimes. Ask them ‘how does it smell or feel?’, ‘Can you stack them?’, ‘Doesn’t it look like ____?’ I’m not saying start a food fight or forget table manners, but it might help take the pressure off and feel like more fun!
Control what you can
Isn’t this universal parenting advice? It’s my job to decide what is served, and it’s their job to decide what to eat. Toddlers are constantly told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, so let them decide what to eat.
Involve them in meal prepping
I pull up our learning tower to the counter for meal prep and he helps me mix, pour and serve the meals. It’s great for bonding, but it also helps him see what goes into cooking and sometimes helps him express more interest in eating what we have.
If you have questions about your child’s nutrition, talk to their pediatrician or reach out to a children’s dietician. I learned most of these tips from these great accounts:
@Kids.eat.in.color @Feedinglittles @yummytoddlerfood