8 Tips for Avoiding a Battle at Mealtime
Some toddlers need help focusing on their meal in order to eat. Here are some suggestions to help your child make the most of the meal.
  1. Have a meal and snack routine. A meal and snack routine will help your child get into a regular pattern of eating. Parents often tell me that their child could go all day without eating. Having a routine of 3 meals plus 1-3 snacks will allow your child the opportunity to eat more.

  2. Use a highchair or table to have meals. Using a highchair or a table and chair does two things. First, it helps your child focus on the meal. Running around and just taking bites of mom or dad’s meal is too distracting. Second, sitting your child in a seat that is "just their " gives them support through the body. They can use their arms and hands easier for self feeding and they can actually chew better because of the support.

  3. Hold liquids until the end of the meal. Toddler tummies are small! Hold off on anything to drink about 1/2 hour before a meal or snack. Let your toddler eat before giving liquids when possible. Use their tummy space for food.

  4. Make mealtime a happy time. This is really important. Have everyone at the table use positive talk about the food. No “I don’t like this” or “That looks yucky.” That can really influence our young children. Remember they are hearing what we are saying long before they can talk.

  5. Eat with your child. Eating with your child at table will help them focus on their meal. They will see their mom or dad enjoy their meal too.

  6. Don’t pressure your child to eat. Trust me, it doesn’t help. Mealtime will become a control issue.

  7. Use child portions. Let your child ask for more.

  8. Fingers may work best. Children may eat more if they feed themselves with their hands. Put a child spoon or fork on their tray for practice.

Early Head Start 
Nutrition News

April 2007

From your nutritionist, Ann