Toddler mealtime tips
Set proper boundaries now to avoid bad behavior later-
It is important for your toddler to learn to eat in a specific location. Always insist on your toddler eating in the highchair or booster seat at the table for safety and to establish a good habit. Snacks should also be eaten at the table or special designated space like a mat on the floor. No exceptions should be made. Kids quickly learn to hop in the chair or sit on the mat to eat.
Avoid eating on the run which promotes bad habits such as:
- The child doesn't learn hunger and satiety (fullness).
- The child doesn't learn to manipulate food well (doesn't get to use utensils).
- Nutritional intake suffers when quick convenience foods take the place of full meals.
- Safety and neatness are compromised.
Be aware of children's need for snacks due to hunger. Be careful NOT to provide so many snacks to keep them quiet or to fill the time! They won't eat their meals, especially if they snack or drink in the hour before a meal.
Meals should be pleasant, unhurried, without distractions, without TV, and electronic devices.
Eat with your children. Children who eat alone become difficult and picky eaters because they lack mealtime attention and eating role models.
Kids eating with other kids is a good example of positive peer pressure. Children are more likely to try new foods, stay at the table longer, and eat better in general when sitting with friends.
Adapted from Nurturing with Nutrition by Dr. Melanie Bezarte and Lucille Beseler, RDN
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