Sometimes meal time with a little one can be challenging to say the least. Toddlers are beginning to enter the picky-eating phase and every meal time can start to feel like a chore. In between trying to convince them to eat a new food and picking up thrown peas off the floor — it can definitely be a not-so-fun task at times.
But, with a few tips, hopefully you can make meal time a much more enjoyable experience for both you AND your little one! Check it out!
7 Solutions For Toddler Meal Time Drama
Toddlers and meal time often don’t mix. There can often be whining, food throwing, and frustration. But, hopefully these seven tips will help you make meal time much enjoyable for you AND your toddler.
1. Sneak in extra nutrition
These days, my child is opposed to anything that remotely bears the color green or a leafy texture, so I make sure to sneak in extra nutrition with a daily smoothie. When I know she is getting a nutrient packed smoothie in the morning, I am less apt to worry about the struggles over other healthy foods throughout the day – plus, she loves them. Adding a banana to any smoothie can hide just about anything.
Orange Berry Smoothie recipe via Lauren Hartmann at Babble.com
2. Find fun tableware
When my daughter gets to sit down to a meal and enjoy it on fun tableware, she is suddenly so much more interested in what is on her plate. Invest in some fun table settings that your child will like, such as this Dumbo 5-piece Melamine Set, and it will make meal time that much more fun for them.
3. Have a picnic
Toddlers are suckers for novelty. Instead of a typical meal at the table, try to change things up by eating picnic style on the ground. While it’s still warm out you can do this in your yard, but during the colder months, your toddler will think it’s just as cool to picnic indoors!
4. Find nutritious portable foods
Sometimes the meal time struggle with toddlers is simply a matter of them not wanting to sit still for long enough to eat. This is when I employ pouches and other portable foods such as these homemade snack bars. That way she can stop for bites in between playing.
Coconut Apricot Snack Bar recipe via The Little Things We Do
5. Don't give in
Toddlers will be picky; it just happens sometimes during this stage of development. This does not mean that you should start only giving them whatever they will eat. If my daughter had her way she would eat nothing but carbs and cheese all day long, but it’s not balanced. While I’m not into forcing her to eat things that she doesn’t like, I am not willing to only give her foods she “likes.” If she doesn’t like a particular food that’s OK. I typically give her a few different options at each meal and allow her to choose what she likes from what I am offering. Over time she will learn to like more things as she is reintroduced to them.
6. Get excited
When you are excited about something, your toddler will likely get excited about it as well. This isn’t a 100% hard and fast rule, but for the most part, if you can get excited about meal time and make it fun (i.e. let them help make it, sing a song about it, applaud them for trying something new) they will probably get more excited about it too.
7. Don't make it a fight
I’ve learned in my experience working with toddlers that it’s best to pick your battles. I spoke with my doctor about my daughter’s picky eating, and she said that the best thing I can do is to make meal time enjoyable. That doesn’t mean that I allow her to eat everything she wants or let her throw tantrums. It means that I offer and introduce things, and then if it’s not working and she’s melting down, I wait until she’s calm and then excuse her from the table. Eventually she’ll learn to like veggies, but first I don’t want her to associate meal time with struggle.