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htplap-54-family_meals

A guide to family meals for toddlers

Wondering how you can enjoy family meals for toddlers? Eating together is a lovely way to bring everyone together and to teach your toddler about healthy eating. They may not always be as relaxing as you’d like though! Here are some family meal ideas with toddlers to keep dinnertime a drama-free zone.

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  • Have the whole family eat at a table, at the same times every day, as much as possible.
  • Even if your child has already eaten, sit him at the table, and if he’s showing signs of hunger, offer a selection of finger foods to choose from.
  • Make sure your toddler is sitting up comfortably and is included in the meal.
  • Toddlers are little copycats and you are their idol, so make sure they can see you clearly so you can show them how it’s done.
  • Give them smaller portions of what you’re eating on unbreakable plates.
  • Ignore silly behaviour (throwing food around, shouting, banging on the table).
  • Praise good behavior (eating, enjoying, trying to use spoon and fork).
  • Talk to them about the meal, its taste, colors, smells, and textures.
  • Don’t focus all your attention on them—it’s a family meal after all.
  • Don’t worry if they don’t clear their plate.
  • Do offer a variety of healthy foods, for little one and the whole family.
  • Don’t offer alternatives if they refuse what’s on the table.
  • Don’t have unhealthy snacks, sugary drinks or sweets on the table.
  • Don’t switch on the TV or have phones or screens during mealtimes.
  • If eating out, try avoiding peak times in case your mini-food critic acts up.
  • Make sure the restaurant is child-friendly with highchairs, child-sized meals, and child-friendly plates and cutlery.
  • If they have a tantrum in a restaurant or café try taking them outside or to a quiet corner for a moment. They could just be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of a busy environment.
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