Top Tips for a Happy Mealtime

Mealtimes for many parents or carers can be a stressful part of the day. But please do not lose hope! The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to guide you through some of the ‘Dos and Don’ts’ with our top tips for a happy mealtime for you and your toddler!

The Dos for a happy mealtime:

  • Eat with your toddler as often as possible
    • Chat to your toddler and make each mealtime sociable and enjoyable
  • Always offer one of the foods you know your toddler likes
    • Offering something you know your child will eat at each meal will allow them to enjoy mealtimes while having the opportunity to see what everyone else is eating, so they can get more comfortable with foods before trying them
  • Encourage your toddler to get involved in the food preparation and shopping experience
    • Getting your little one to help out with things such as setting the table is not only useful to you, but it will also encourage your toddler to become familiar with new food! Interacting with new foods without any pressure to eat them will help your toddler to develop the confidence to try them in the future
  • Praise your toddler and the food
    • Toddlers respond positively to praise from their parents and carers so tell them they have done well when they try something new. Making positive comments about the food you are eating will also make your toddler more likely to try it themselves. Toddlers learn by copying adults (as well as other toddlers!) so this is a really important part of introducing new foods in a calm environment, which is not always easy!

And, the Don’ts…:

  • Ignore the signals
    • Try not to push your toddler to finish everything on their plate or to keep eating. Mealtimes will be a happier experience if you acknowledge when your toddler signals he or she has had enough. Refrain from prompting them to eat more than they want. Trust your toddler to eat to their appetite
  • Have distractions on in the background
    • Always try and eat in a calm and relaxed environment if you can. Toddlers can only really concentrate on one thing at a time, so turning off all distractions such as games or TV, and removing toys from view will help them to concentrate on their food and the mealtime itself
  •  Stress
    • We know this can sometimes feel difficult! But it’s worth remembering that if mealtimes are stressful for toddlers, they are more likely to become anxious and lose their appetite. Don’t feel guilty if one meal doesn’t turn out so well – we all learn from these events! Put it behind you and approach the next meal positively

Did you find these top tips for a happy mealtime useful? Why not share with your friends? See our Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers guide if you want to find out more helpful tips!

Further Reading

  • Halloween is one of the most exciting activities to celebrate for toddlers! The anticipation of dressing up in their favourite costumes and going trick or treating can be a thrilling experience, however as a parent it can be difficult to find the balance for your toddler between joining in the fun and maintaining a healthy diet. This Halloween we wanted to provide healthy, easy to make snacks that will help avoid a sugar overload while maintaining a festive atmosphere that your toddler will love! Each snack has been created for little tummies to enjoy.

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  • September means the end of the summer holidays and a return to nursery or preschool. If you send your toddler in with a lunchbox, making sure that this is varied and balanced can feel like a challenge. Our Guide to Toddler Lunchboxes is here to help, with our top tips and suggestions. Continue reading

  • With the summer holidays approaching, you may find yourself eating out with your toddler more than usual, where they may be tempted by a variety of drinks they may not have seen before. But what’s suitable and what should be avoided? Keep on reading for our guide to sweet drinks for toddlers, so you can plan appropriate drink options for warm sunny days!

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