1. Your toddler will make meal times about as fun as a root canal.
2. You will receive advice on fixing this problem from friends, family, and the lady behind you in line at the grocery. LOTS AND LOTS OF ADVICE.
When Annie started to become less cooperative at meal time, we definitely heard our fair share of advice. This was great, of course, because knowledge is power, but some advice was less helpful than others (“Put ice cream on top of the veggies!”) Luckily, among the duds were a lot of tremendous (and useful) suggestions! Here are a few that worked with Annie:
Involve Toddler In Preparing Food
No, I do not suggest that you put your toddler in charge of dicing tomatoes or manning the grill, but involving them in preparing their food will make them more likely to eat it. One easy way we do this is by having Annie hand me the cereal box, tell me when to pour the cereal, and then “remind me” what the last ingredient is. “It’s milk, Mama! Milk!”
By the time Annie has her spoon in hand she is excited to eat. Involving her in the process has given her a sense of ownership over the food, and as a result she is less likely to refuse food she had a hand in making.
Don’t Take It Personally
Toddlers can be maddening… They will yell “No!” at what you offer, toss it on the floor, feed it to the dog, you name it (as long as what you name is something annoying)! The key is to stay cool. Yes, you just spent time preparing their food, but a toddler could make a stink-face at food prepared by Wolfgang Puck. Remaining calm and collected will send the message that you are in charge, and avoid turning meal time into a combative toddler vs. parent situation.
It can be tempting to give in to the “Mama? Food? Please, Mama?” pleas between meals, but doing so means that at meal time your little havoc maker won’t be as hungry as he or she should be. We’ve found that a hungry Annie at mealtime eats a lot more (and complains a lot less) than a snacking Annie.
Every Meal Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
Trying to make every meal the ultimate meal in toddler nutrition is exhausting and will lead to parent burnout. Your kid wants Mac and Cheese? Let ‘em eat Mac and Cheese. Just make sure the next meal is more well rounded. But making every meal a battleground isn’t good for you or your toddler.
Have you tried these tips? Think they would work for you?