How to Make Meal Time Fun for Your Toddler
and their personality. This is also the time when they begin to make choices all on their own, starting with how they feel about meal time.
Making meal time fun for your toddler will strengthen the bond between you two as well as ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. Here are a few ways to make sure your toddler will enjoy their meal time:
Include a Variety of Food
Your toddler can get bored of the eating the same food, just like you. Encourage your child to try new things by putting a variety of food on their plate, so that when they get sick of one food, they can try another.
Give Your Toddler All of the Attention
While it is typically customary to eat as a group, try spending your toddler’s meal time focusing entirely on them and eat by yourself later. Meal time is a caregiving time where you should give the child a lot of attention, letting them enjoy their independent play more. It is difficult to eat and also be present, so try focusing on your child and saving your own meal for later!
Once your child is a bit older and has found more of their own independence, you can make the transition to a complete family time to eat.
Serve Their Food Creatively
Try bringing some fun into your child’s food by serving the different food items in interesting sizes and shapes. For example, try using a cookie cutter to shape a sandwich into a heart or a star shape. Pasta is another malleable food that can be cooked into letters, spirals, and many other fun shapes. Arranging the food differently can also make it more appealing, like making a smiley face on the plate using the various food items.
Because these creative concoctions can take a little extra time to prepare, it can help to prepare them ahead of time and save them for when it is time to eat. Acan come in handy in this case as you can prepare the meal ahead of time and stash it away for later use. Since this is all about presentation, using brightly colored serving dishes is also a plus!
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Plan Their Meal Times Regularly
Young children are dependent on routines and use patterns to begin figuring out their schedules, so try to maintain a regular snack and meal schedule from day to day for your child.
Here are a few healthy snack options to feed your child in between meals:
- Fruit pots
- Rice cakes
- Cheese cubes
It is also smart to avoid offering your toddler too many juice drinks throughout the day, as this may fill them up so much that they don’t want to eat when it is meal time, leaving you to deal with their fussing. Instead of juice, offer them water. Water will encourage them to get used to not carrying around a bottle of juice to sip on constantly, thus freeing them up more for healthy foods.
Try Offering Smaller Food Portions
Try letting your toddler decide for themselves how much they should eat at each meal. Too much food on a plate may seem daunting and discourage your child from eating, whereas if you start them off with smaller portion sizes, then if they finish their plate you can simply give them some more.
If there is a vegetable or other food that you know your toddler does not like, try just including one small portion of that among a variety of other small portions of food. For example, one pea or a small cube of sweet potato.