The Land of Food with Toddlers

How is mealtime at your house? Enjoyable? Frustrating? Do you wonder why your toddler eats well one day, and the next hardly anything at all? Do you wonder why your child cries when the peas touch the potatoes? Or the cup is the wrong color? Last week she loved carrots. This week carrots are yucky. Will she survive? Will you?

Your child needs to know she has some influence on her world. She loves to copy what you do: using a spoon, a fork. She feels confident when she can learn everything about mealtime. Squishing the food with her fingers, eating all by herself. She becomes frustrated when she can’t play a part in taking care of herself.

You also feel frustrated. Do you remember how nice and satisfying it was when your baby used to eat everything? You worry when she doesn’t eat enough. You are embarrassed or angry when she makes a mess. Do you remember learning table manners as a child? Or when you had to sit at the table until you ate all the broccoli? You look forward to the day when meals can be relaxing and enjoyable for the whole family. So, think about how you can both get what you need. Offer two nutritious choices. Make meal time relaxing and leave the rest up to her.

When a child feels like she is making some decisions, she will come to eat as much as she needs. She may not eat well at every meal but will be hungrier at the next meal. She will appreciate that you are providing good food and trusting her to know when and how much to eat. She’ll say: “Look at me! I’m strong and can do things myself.”