Mealtimes with a toddler can be stressful. You want to ensure they get a balanced diet while also allowing them to assert their independence. Find out how to strike a balance and get your toddler to enjoy mealtimes.
Feeding a toddler who’s in the midst of developing their own personality can be a challenge! But it can help to try and spend a bit of time thinking about things from your toddler’s point of view – they’re simply trying to express their newfound independence.
They need space to assert their own choices and make new discoveries, yet they need to feel they still have the security of a routine.
Finding ways to make mealtimes more fun should distract your toddler and help them to look forward to their food. This article explores the creative ways in which you can do this, and will help to provide you with a little inspiration.
Encouraging your toddler to enjoy mealtimes
The older your toddler grows, the more their personality develops and right now they’re probably trying to find ways to express their individuality – which can make feeding very interesting! Involving them with mealtimes and making food fun can help you overcome any problems.
Toddlers need routine
- Stick to a regular routine of meals and snack times. Just remember not to plan a meal immediately before a nap as your toddler may be too tired to eat
- On top of their three regular meals, offer your toddler two or three small healthy snacks during the day. Rice cakes, plain biscuits, a small sandwich, fruit, a yogurt or a little cube of cheese are all ideal. Research toddler meal ideas to make mealtimes more interesting.
- Too many drinks can fill your toddler up and leave less room for meals. Give them water instead and try to get your toddler out of the habit of carrying around bottles they can constantly drink from
- Give your toddler the chance to decide when they’ve had enough. They’ll know when they’re full and when they’re hungry and their intake of food should even out across the day
Make mealtimes fun
- Be creative; serve food in interesting shapes and sizes to encourage play. Use cookie cutters to cut out star, heart or animal shaped sandwiches. Pasta spirals or alphabet letters can keep them entertained
- Bring meals to life by arranging your toddler’s plate into a fun face or naming foods. Broccoli and cauliflower pieces resemble small trees – call them a ‘fun forest’. Or host an indoor picnic on the floor with a rug and snack to share
- Try to be relaxed about mess. Your toddler is likely to eat more if they’re allowed to feed themselves. Try giving them some hummus as ‘paint’ and a carrot stick for a ‘brush’ and let them decorate their plate as they eat
Get them involved
Involving your toddler in the process of shopping, cooking and choosing what they want to eat will give them a chance to express themselves – something that’s very important at this age.
- The supermarket can be a place to learn and explore; ask them to spot fruits and vegetables they know and give lots of praise when they get it right. Make sure you remind them during their meal that they’re eating the fruit or vegetable they so cleverly found
- If they’re old enough, let them help you prepare their meal by giving them a toddler knife to chop veg with. If they’re too small to get fully involved with cooking, sit them nearby so they can watch and listen to you from their highchair as you talk them through what you’re doing
- Toddlers enjoy being given the chance to make decisions, so ask them to choose which vegetables they’d like with their meal or give a selection of drinks to choose from.
If you’d like some advice on your toddler’s mealtime routine give our Careline team a call on 800 6458 6262 (UAE)/ +971 4 420 9489 (Other countries) between the hours of 9am and 6pm Saturday to Thursday.