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Top 10 Mealtime Hacks for Toddlers

A Guide to Happy Mealtimes

1. Problem: Toddler Hates Coming to the Table
Solution: Introduce a Mealtime Routine

Before I had kids, I used to say things like “I won’t be too structured with my kids. I will be chill and just go with the flow.” Like I said, that was before I had kids. I quickly learned that toddlers thrive on routine and our household was much more chill when my toddler followed a schedule and a predictable routine.

  • Provide a consistent mealtime routine so your child knows what will happen next
  • Put on music or a playlist that your child associates with mealtime
  • Give a 5-minute warning that lunch will be starting soon
  • Talk about what you are making for lunch and what it looks and smells like
  • Sing a hand washing song to transition from play time to mealtime. Make it fun! "This is the way we wash our hands." (Tune: here we go round the Mulberry Bush)

2. Problem: The Battle of the Bib
Solution: Think Outside the Bib

As a...

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10 Tips: Reducing Mealtime Distractions

To Distract or Not to Distract? That is the Parent Question

Many of the children that I have worked with over the past 20+ years as feeding therapist require distractions in order to eat. Period. In many cases, these kids will not eat at all unless they are watching a device or playing with toys/books during feedings. These kids typically need distractions because they are anxious eaters or have sensory processing issues that make mealtimes a very unpleasant and difficult task. Parents often express guilt, remorse, and concern about their child’s need for distractions. Parents resort to distractions in order to “get the food in”, as they are in a place of genuine concern, because if they remove the distraction their child may not get enough calories to grow and thrive.

Here’s my position on using distractions:
  1. I would choose distractions over force-feeding any day of the week.
  2. Distractions, used appropriately, can allow an opportunity to introduce a new...
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The Struggle is Real: 14 Tips to Tackle Mealtime Power Struggles

A mealtime is meant to be a positive experience; a time to take a break, come together, share our culture, and communicate. Mealtimes and food are about giving and receiving love. We show our love through food. It is central to our lives. We celebrate with food and bring food when someone is grieving or in need. When a child has feeding issues, mealtimes can become a source of stress and frustration for parents. Often parents tell me that they dread mealtimes with their child. They describe dramatic and lengthy meals along with exhausting power struggles over food intake.

Ongoing mealtime power struggles can actually contribute to picky eating and food refusal. Pressuring kids to eat is often unintentional, but it can lead to reducing a child’s likelihood to eat. Successful mealtimes are built on trust. If a child feels stressed and anxious at mealtimes, they may want to feel like they have some control…and this often comes in the form of food refusal. Your child may...

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