Toddler mealtime fussiness is a very, very real deal. And it’s striking down moms all over the world. Before you had kids, you dreamed about nice family dinners where everyone was smiling as they enjoyed tasty, nutritious meals. But that idyllic image was shattered the first time you sat down to have an actual meal with your toddler.
The real-life experience was everything BUT what you envisioned, heck, it fell more like the seventh circle of hell.
It’s true: mealtimes with tots are challenging, to say the least. They refuse to eat certain foods, play with their food, throw it around the room, and cry when it doesn’t look, taste or smell the way they wanted it to. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are some simple yet effective steps you can take to encourage more enjoyable mealtime experiences with your little humans.
Tips to deal with toddler mealtime fussiness
1. Establish rules and a routine
Kids do great when they’ve got a solid routine. That’s why you need to lay down the law when it comes to mealtime rules and routines. Simple things like no playing at the table, and not getting up until your done can set the stage for success. Yes, these rules can be hard to enforce, but it’s important to stay firm. When your kids know what to expect and when to expect it, it can help curb toddler mealtime fussiness and keep their behaviour in check.
2. Lead by example
In most cases, parenting is all about leading by example. If you want your kids to eat good, healthy food, you need to lead by example. Even if that means indulging in veggies and salads although you’re not a massive fan.
3. Give them a handful of healthy choices
When you offer your kids a variety of wholesome foods right from the start, you’ll teach them to opt for healthier foods in the future. Give your kid different shapes, tastes, colours and textures with the food you prep for them and always have things available in bite-sized chunks that are easy for little fingers to grab. Perhaps you can try using divided plates so that you can introduce your tiny human to several different foods in one sitting. Plates that have separate compartments are also great for fussy eaters that HATE it when their food mixes or touches another element on the plate.
4. Let the kids help with meal prep
As soon as they’re able, allow your kids to step up and offer a helping hand in the kitchen. Your toddler can help (or just watch) with meal prepping. This helps them understand the amount of effort that goes into cooking and teaches them more about the different ingredients used in the process.
5. Unplug at meal times
This one kind of goes without saying, but there shouldn’t be any electronics at your dinner table. The TV has no business being switched on during mealtimes, and the same applies to your phone and the tablets. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, you all need time to focus on your family and zone out from the digital world.