Mealtimes for toddlers
A dinner date with the whole family
Mealtimes are about more than just food. They’re a wonderful opportunity for the family to sit together and bond. This can be a hugely enjoyable piece of quality time for all of you as your little one grows. Not only are they important for their behavioural and social skills, they also encourage good motor skills and eating habits too.
By creating a sense of family connectedness, you’ll be helping them learn how to communicate. It’s also a good chance for them to see how to behave at the table before you venture out (more on that later).
We all know they can be little mimics at this age. If they see you using cutlery they will want to copy – this is a very important motor skill for them, so it’s great that they’ll start to learn this early.
And perhaps most importantly, mealtimes together should be fun. So embrace the bit of inevitable mess and enjoy your many meals together.
“His table manners are even better than his dad’s now.”
More please. Or less.
It’s a tricky balancing act at this stage. Every toddler is different and will eat what’s right for their needs. Plus, it’s not uncommon for them to go through stages of fussy or faddy eating.
The best thing is to start with small amounts of healthy eating options. A bit of variety helps too. This way, your toddler can choose how much they want to eat and won’t be overwhelmed by large portions and lose their appetite.
If they’re full, they’ll soon let you know. Don’t worry about trying to get them to clear their plate. This can lead to food refusal and you don’t want them to be anxious at mealtimes.
“You still find peas under the table, but now it’s one or two by accident rather than a whole plate load on purpose.”
Toddler mealtime tantrums
You’ll have seen tantrums already, and mealtimes are no different. It’s quite common as they start to test the boundaries of their independence. Remember that one refused meal isn’t the end of the world. Stay firm and don’t offer snacks as a replacement, or they may think that tantrums are a way to get what they want. Click here for more advice on tantrums and how to deal with them.
Eating out with a toddler, with no reservations.
A change of scene can make mealtimes feel fun and exciting as well as being a treat for you and a break from the kitchen.
Choose somewhere you know to be child friendly (the presence of high chairs is a good sign) and book an early table if you can. The restaurant won’t mind and you can avoid a busy restaurant full of other diners in case your little one does have a few wobbles at the table.
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