Mealtimes can be hairy with toddlers and babies at the table.
Literally and figuratively speaking.
Hair in the food or vice versa? A common occurrence. Where doesn’t food end up?
Seemingly, most often the biggest challenge is to actually, y’know – get some of it down their hatch.
Get them eating themselves.
Eating enough of all the food groups. Yea right, I know.
But it is possible, and you don’t necessarily have to break a sweat over it. Enough of that goes on during the clean-up.
4 Ways To Make Mealtime Easy
1. Don’t try to rewrite the book. Cook simple, healthy meals. Start them young and make eating colourful, fresh, local fruits, veggies and meats a regular occurrence. We only have pre-fab food as rare treat or when we’re on the road. Even then we aim to pack food from home. Feed your baby what you’re eating, whether you’re doing purees or taking the baby-led weaning route.
2. Menu plan. I can’t stress this enough. Households be busy. Moms and dads be busy. If I plan at least 5 out of the 7 meals we’re going to have that week, with the ingredients in house? Making sure that most of them don’t require major prep and cook time? We’re golden.
3. Simple can also get boring, so don’t be afraid to get a little creative. Be adventurous in the kitchen. Trying a new recipe doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend a lot of time doing it. Some of our protein staples are chicken, fish, legumes and wild meats. There are a plethora of ways to cook and marinate these without a lot of time and energy put in. Tacos, fajitas, stir-frys, simple 3 course dishes with whole grain and steamed green sides. All made toddler friendly by using fun plates, bowls and cutlery. Most dishes can be cut up into toddler-bites and made appealing by design to a baby or a toddler. Make a face out of their meal! Sing songs about it. Oh yes, there are mealtime songs.
4. Make mealtime family time. Even when they are young. This requires eating dinner much earlier than you may be accustomed to. Eating together teaches little ones to follow and learn by example. Mealtime becomes something they enjoy, rather than a chore. They get to be with the good ole’ parent(al) units. Which, when they’re young, is all they want. We can talk about our days, engage in giving thanks, conversation and joke telling. We can work on our manners. Even with those early eaters who just love to throw their food on the floor.
Do you covet mealtime to be a family event? How do you tackle your wild banshees (babies and/or toddlers) from reigning supreme sans manners?
Selena is a crafty, culinary mom. Creative Director. Social Media & Branding Consultant. Part-time big-mouth & frequent foot-eater. Daily Babble.com contributor. Proud of her Anishinaabe roots.
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