Being a parent can be difficult at the best of times. You want to do the best for your toddler, but unfortunately your best efforts wont always please everybody, especially your toddler.
Being a parent doesn’t come with a job description and a mentor to guide you through the tough times, which is why I have dedicated this article to giving you parents a handful of simple but effective tips to get your toddler eating properly with no terrible twos temper tantrums.
Meal times can often be difficult with a toddler, especially when they are not interested in healthy food and would rather snack on crisps and chocolate.
But as a parent you have a responsibility to make sure your toddler grows up strong and healthy and has the best possible start in life.
So what can you do to get your toddler eating properly?
Tip one – Get your toddler interested in food.
Nothing is more boring than having the same salad and vegetables put on your plate and being forced to eat them.
So why not increase your toddlers interest by getting them to grow their own salad and vegetables?
You don’t need to go and invest in an allotment for this. It can be done in the garden, or even on the windowsill.
Start by getting a few small pots and some seeds (of vegetables or salad you know they will eat) and talk your toddler through why you are doing this (so they can see where there food comes from etc). Let your toddler fill the pots with soil, put the seeds in, water the soil and explain what will happen. Make sure you encourage your toddler to water the plant every day to keep their interest and attention.
Stories and books that involve what you have planted can also back this up as it will again help to increase their interest and remove the ‘not knowing’ factor of where their food came from.
Once you have got their interest, why not try growing something different? Perhaps something your toddler has never seen before and see what they think.
Tip two – Give your toddler the choice of what they want to eat.
A lot of toddlers want independence and when they don’t get it, you see the terrible twos temper tantrums. You can change this quite easily.
At meal times give your toddler two choices of meals. These meals should be two healthy meals that you are willing to cook. Try to make them fun and interesting; for example, have different colours on the plate or make the food into different shapes.
Giving your toddler the choice means they no longer feel forced to eat the food. Because they have chosen it, they will want to eat it.
Also let your toddler play with the food. For example, if they don’t want their four squares of sandwiches you made them, give them a child’s knife and let them cut the sandwiches themselves.
Tip three – no snacking between meal times
Giving your toddler snacks will not help your toddler because they wont eat their proper meals as they will be too full.
Instead, have three meal times that you stick to. If your toddler is hungry between these times (and it is not to close to the next meal time) let them snack on healthy snacks such as fruit. These snacks are much healthier for your toddler and the energy and nutrients they get from them will last longer than that from sugary sweets and snacks.
Sticking to the no snacking rule means your toddler will be hungrier at meal times and will eat a lot more.
Tip four – Remove the pressure at meal times.
If you were made to sit at the table until you had eaten all your food how would you feel? How would you like if the only conversations at meal times were about food and how you had to eat all of it?
I’m guessing you wouldn’t like that, and neither does your toddler. A lot of toddlers wont eat because they feel forced in to eating,
The best way to overcome this is to remove this pressure. By all means encourage your toddler to sit with you at the table during meal times, but the trick is not to talk about the food you are eating. Instead, ignore any attempts to eat (or not eat) by your toddler and have a normal every day conversation.
Try talking about how everyone’s day has been, the weather, what you are doing tomorrow or at the weekend, but make sure everyone else is eating. This way your toddler doesn’t feel under pressure to eat and will be much more willing to copy everyone else and eat what is in front of them.
Tip five – Don’t force your toddler to eat.
If your toddler is not hungry and doesn’t want to eat their meal then don’t force them. If your toddler shows no sign of wanting to eat once you have all finished, leave there food out (in reach of your toddler) for another half an hour. Explain to your toddler that if they don’t want to eat their food then that is OK, but they wont be allowed anymore snacks until their next meal (or the next day if they don’t want their evening meal). It is important that you stick to this as your toddler will push you to see how far they can go.
The only thing to make sure of when you use this technique is that your toddler has enough to drink. Your toddler is only small and can get dehydrated very quickly, but at the same time make sure they don’t have too much to drink before meal times and fill themselves up.
If you stick to your guns and don’t let them snack they will learn to eat their meals. If you don’t then you are going to have a lot more stressful meal times to come.
For more tips on getting your toddler to eat and for more advice on overcoming your toddlers behaviour problems, have a look at www.tamemytoddler.com