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Tips for Mealtimes with Your Child

Little Bellies? Little Changes!

The amount of food, and different types of food that children are willing to eat can be a stressor for many families. Here are a few tips we often provide families who are concerned about their child’s food choices!

1.) Consider the location and style of your mealtime routines. Do you all sit together? Do you talk, laugh, play games, sing songs, or make jokes during meals? Think of ways to make mealtimes a more interactive experience for all household members to increase a child’s interest in meals and capture their attention so you can model eating habits.

2.) The more structure you add to meals involving time, set up, and materials available (utensils, dishes) the easier it will become for your child to know what to expect and how to access things they need to eat.

3.) By giving smaller portions of food, you are encouraging your child to complete their meal before they leave the table. Many parents are concerned about the amount of food their child is eating. Keep in mind: it is the parent’s responsibility to provide food, and the child’s responsibility to decide if they are full.

4.) Introducing new foods can be challenging, for both parents and children. Consider a rule of 3: three sides per meal, only one of which is a new food, and no more than 3 new foods tried per week. You may need to start very small, by eating the food yourself, or placing it nearby and visible, off your child’s plate. Slowly work up to 1-2 bites on their plate – remember, your child eating one bite should be the last step!

5.) Exploring food with your child can be a challenging feat, take solace in the fact that all toddlers typically go through a phase of more restricted eating patterns, and the food they wouldn’t eat last month may suddenly become their new favorite!