While they’re still developing their motor skills, not to mention table manners, toddlers’ mealtimes can be a messy endeavour. Between grabbing wet foods by hand and swiping plates off the table, it can sometimes feel like a struggle to make sure that the food you provide your child is going into them, rather than all over the floor! Keep reading to find out our top tips for keeping mealtimes calm and productive!
Routine is Key
One of the first and easiest ways to encourage your child to have good eating habits is regularity. Try to plan for mealtimes to be at the same time every day, so that your child can learn when to expect food and even to start feeling hungry when the time comes round! Try to limit snacking between meals as much as possible to help your toddler recognise the difference between feeling full and hungry, and associating the need to feel full with mealtimes.
Eating meals as a family helps to model behaviour for toddlers, who learn by observation and mimicking, so it’s the ideal moment to show your child what appropriate table manners look like. Eating together is also a great opportunity for positive reinforcement and bonding with your child - make sure to encourage them when they’re doing it right! Remember, it’s a learning process…
Take it Slow
Introduce new foods to your toddler gradually, as young children can be overwhelmed by too many new things at once. Remember, it’s not only the food that is new and exciting; crockery, colours, smells, attention from others - mealtimes can be a sensory overload for your little one! Try introducing foods one at a time and seeing how your child responds to each. Make a big deal of things that they like to promote their own enthusiasm for it!
Lock it Down
Much like cats, toddlers find endless joy in swiping plates, cups, and anything not bolted down off the table or feeding chair! A simple fix to this is trying to secure your plates with blue tac, so that flailing arms don’t send them flying, however this is not a fail safe system and can lead to unfortunate surprises. Anti-slip bowls and plates are the perfect investment, they stick strongly to whatever surface you place them on and are sturdy against little hands, but easy to remove with just a bit of water and pressure. Check out our full Mealtime range for fun and functional accessories to help keep your mealtimes organised!
If after you do all of these things you find that mealtimes are still unmitigated chaos - don’t panic! Keep setting the best examples and maintaining routines, and with a little bit of time and patience everything will fall into place!