When you have a toddler in the house, getting them to eat – and eat healthily – can often be a struggle. The first step to overcoming this struggle is to instil a positive attitude towards eating and food in your child. Tennille Aron shares some tips on simple phrases, said during mealtimes, that can help to create a positive attitude towards food.
With busy days and even busier nights, sharing meals together as a family is an important time to bond. Sitting around the dinner/lunch table is also a fantastic opportunity to nurture a positive attitude towards food and particularly eating healthily.
Here are a few examples of how you can foster a good attitude towards eating in your tots by using a few simple phrases.
“Eating more snacks will ruin your appetite for dinner.”
One of the most common reasons for little ones not being hungry at mealtimes is because they have eaten too many snacks throughout the day. Try to limit snacks, especially about an hour or two before big meals. If they do get very hungry, you can give your toddler small amounts of healthy snacks, such as a piece of fruit or a carrot, but nothing that will make their tummies too full.
“Come and help me in the kitchen.”
Getting your children involved in preparing meals is a great way to make them more excited about mealtimes. Allowing your little one to help mix the salad or pour some ingredients into whatever you are cooking will make them eager to try the finished product. You can also get them to help set the table in preparation for lunch or dinner. If you make meal preparation a fun experience, this will help to create a positive attitude towards food in general.
“Dinner will be ready in five minutes.”
When your child is absorbed in playing a game or watching a programme, it can be a struggle to get them to the table for a meal. A good trick to is to give them prior warning that dinner will be on the table. So, about seven minutes before dinner is served, remind them that dinner will be ready soon. In this way, they can prepare themselves for eating dinner at the table with the rest of the family.
“You don’t have to eat if you are not hungry.”
Giving toddlers the option to eat or not is a great way to hand the control over to them. However, even if they are not hungry, they should still sit at the table with the rest of the family during mealtimes. Not only does this demonstrate the importance of family time, but seeing all the food on the table in front of them might entice them to eat something.
“You don’t have to finish all your food, but you must at least taste everything on your plate.”
It’s not always the best idea to force your toddlers to finish their food, however it is important to encourage them to try everything on their plate. This will give your child the opportunity to taste new flavours, tastes and textures. They might even find something they really enjoy and end up eating all of it.
“Keep your bum on the chair.”
Most children love to wriggle around while they are eating, and this is not ideal as it can be dangerous and is often very messy. By simply mentioning something about this at mealtimes, you can get them used to sitting properly at the dinner table and eating their food. This is good table etiquette and is a great habit to get into very early on.
“What are you eating today?”
Once your meal has started, it is important to talk about what you are eating, especially when you are introducing a new food to your toddler. This makes dinner more interactive and your child becomes familiar with all the food on their plate. However, this should not be the main focus of your mealtime discussion, as it can put unwanted pressure on your children, especially if they are fussy eaters.
By making mealtimes a positive and fun experience, you will help your children look forward to mealtimes as a time when they get to engage with their family in a fun way, while also enjoying a delectable plate of food.