When to get your baby started on solids is a pretty individual decision. However, by the time they’re toddling about, they’re usually eating solid foods of some kind. By that age, they often start to talk too, which isn’t always great when it’s time to sit down for dinner as they’re quite distracted. Figuring out how to do dinner with your toddler is yet another parenting obstacle to overcome, but most parents work it out eventually. There are a few different things you might want to think about to make it a pleasant time for you and your toddler. Here’s how to have a relaxed dinner with someone who still eats with their hands 90% of the time.
Make Eating Fun and Relaxed
Dinnertime can get pretty stressful for both parents and toddlers. Parents get worried if their children don’t eat as much as they think they should. The more they stress out about their child not eating, the pushier they can get and the more they can make their child feel anxious too. Even when you feel frustrated, making mealtimes relaxed and fun can help to reduce anxieties surrounding food. There are lots of things you can do, from putting fun plates together to talking and singing as you eat. Food should be fun, not a chore.
Sit At the Table with Your Toddler
A lot of parents feed their toddler at separate times to when they have their own meal. It makes sense when your toddler might be eating a lot earlier than you in the evening. However, if you can, eating at the same time makes meals a family affair. It can help to encourage your toddler to eat if you’re eating too, and it gets you started with eating as a family. For smaller toddlers, finding the best high chair for their height and weight is often a good idea. As they get older, though, they can transition to a booster seat on a normal chair.
Get Nutrition and Portions Right
One of the things you might find tricky is making sure your toddler gets the nutrients they’re supposed to. Some parents also find it tricky to get the right portions, often feeding their toddler too much. If you’re unsure, there are plenty of guides you can find online that help you with what and how much to feed your toddler. It helps to use toddler plates, and perhaps even sectioned plates or bowls to remind yourself of the different food groups.
Give Them What You’re Having
Planning separate meals for a toddler can be tricky, especially if you have other children. But you can often give them what you’re eating, although you might need to make some small adjustments. For example, if you’re cooking something and want to add salt, leave it until the end so you can take out a portion for your toddler before adding it. You can also give them some extras on the side if you want to make sure they get all the right nutrients.
Eating with a toddler can get messy, but it’s all part of the learning process. If you need any advice, ask your pediatrician or another professional for help.