Wednesday, March 12, 2014

5 Tips to Make Mealtimes Meaningful

Eating is a big part of life!

The joy of food and of sharing mealtimes with friends and family is something that begins in infancy and continues into toddlerhood.

What I wish toddler mealtime looked like... (Photo Credit)
What toddler mealtime really looks like. (Photo Credit)

But sharing mealtimes with a toddler can be difficult. Very difficult.

Mealtimes with my toddler go something like this:
Give toddler food in a bowl on highchair.
Food gets dumped onto tray.
1/2 of food ends up on the floor.
1/4 of food ends up on toddler's body and in hair (somehow it gets into her diaper as well...)
1/4 of food actually ends up in her mouth. 

With mealtimes being a little crazy and messy, it is easy to forget that mealtimes can and should be meaningful

At mealtimes, parents can teach their children the importance of nourishing and taking care of their bodies and can strengthen relationships with their little ones.

Here are 5 tips to make mealtimes with your toddler more meaningful:
  1. Remember mealtimes are about more than food. Mealtimes provide a great opportunity for parents and toddlers to make meaningful connections.
  2. Create routines/traditions around mealtime. Whatever the tradition or routine may be (blessing the food, sharing a "happy moment" of the day, telling jokes, putting on some fun music, etc.), having routines around mealtime makes things predictable and comfortable for your toddler and can be lots of fun. 
  3. Turn off the TV and put away all other screens (phones, laptop, iPad) during mealtime. These are distractions that can take away from meaningful family interaction. They can also distract toddlers from actually eating during mealtime. 
  4. Avoid mealtime power struggles. Provide your toddler with opportunities to make choices during mealtime. Do you want the blue cup or the green cup? Do you want your spaghetti on a plate or in a bowl? Would you like peas or carrots? Remember that you decide the food options your toddler chooses from, and they decide how much to eat. (More on this here).
  5. Make mealtimes fun! Make up fun food titles for your meals, include dips to dunk food into, get your toddler involved in food preparation and setting the table, cut food into fun shapes. (More tips here and here).
How do you make mealtimes meaningful with your toddler?

Additional Resources:

1 comment:

  1. My aunt's family has established a routine at the dinner table that I want to continue with my future children: Each person shares a "highlight" of their day and a "low point" of the day as well as something they did for someone else during that day. I enjoy listening to their comments, especially the great things they do for other kids at school or for each other and I also enjoy participating! It definitely has helped this family grow closer to one another and has helped them learn to serve others! Thanks for this great post!