8 Tips for a Pleasant Mealtime with Toddlers (& book review)

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Mealtime by Elizabeth Verdick

Mealtime is a common source of stress for parents as toddlers can be quite fussy—and messy—eaters, but mealtime is the perfect opportunity to teach young children two major personal and social skills: nutrition and table manners.

Mealtime, the latest board book in the Toddler Tools series by Elizabeth Verdick, offers simple suggestions to engage little ones in a happy, healthy time at the table. Here are eight tips for parents and caregivers to set the stage to guide toddlers toward healthy eating and positive mealtime routines—and to make time shared around the table pleasant for all:

  • Know your goals. Mealtime is an opportunity to teach young children two major life skills: nutrition and table manners. Both skills take time and practice. The table is a busy place, and it’s not always possible to focus on both skill sets at once. It’s more important for your child to grow and be healthy—so put the greater emphasis on eating nutritious foods. Keep the message simple and repeat it often: “We eat our fruits and veggies to grow up strong and healthy.”
  • Set some rules. When your child is young, teach the “Always try one bite” rule. Encourage your child to take at least one bite of an unfamiliar or unwanted food, and then leave it at that. If your child doesn’t like the food, don’t force the issue. And don’t give up either—the very next time you get your child to try a bite of that same food, he might like it!
  • Have reasonable expectations. Long family dinners with great food and conversation can be wonderful—but not always achievable. Making meals simple, kid-friendly, and healthy is plenty. As your child grows, mealtime will become a bit more manageable. Accept that, for now, chaos comes with the territory.
  • Get your child involved in meal prep. Toddlers are naturally curious and full of energy. As you make a meal, let your child help with simple tasks—tearing lettuce for the salad or putting a spoon by each plate. Then make a big deal about how your child helped cook and set the table.
  • Practice praising your child. Did she taste a new food? Or remember to use a napkin? Or get through a whole meal without spilling her drink? Notice each small triumph and remember to say, “Good job.”
  • Create rituals and routines. Have children wash their hands before coming to the table. You can also use mealtime to teach simple manners like “Please,” “Thank you,” and “May I be excused?” Depending on what works for you, you might signal that mealtime is a special time by lighting a candle, saying grace, or briefly holding hands at the table. You might even encourage your child to “Kiss the cook.”
  • Give your child some undivided attention. One way to get toddlers to enjoy meals and sit still for an extended period of time is to give them your full attention. Ask them questions. Listen intently to their answers. When you make the table a nurturing place, your child will come to appreciate mealtime as a special time together.
  • Keep it short. Toddlers tend to eat and run—literally. At this age, they’re wiggly and active and may not be able to sit at the table for long. Instead of making your child stay until everyone has finished, let him get up and play so the rest of you can linger. Just make sure he clears his plate first.

Inside page of Mealtime by Elizabeth Verdick

My Review: Like most board books, Mealtime was able to capture my toddlers attention in no time. This particular book covers (if you hadn’t guessed) mealtime. Everything from washing our hands, eating healthy, saying Please and Thank-You, and even clearing our plates. My daughter enjoyed pointing out the various things that she already recognizes: bananas, barrettes, eyes, and of course – eat! (Which is how she refers to all food)

Mealtime is the newest addition to the Toddler Tools series, which are meant to help ease the many trying “times” that are a part of every toddler’s day. They can be shared before (or during) the desired “time,” or whenever toddlers need encouragement with routines. Visit Free Spirit Publishing to choose from hundreds of excellent books for toddlers-teens or view the entire Toddler Tools series by clicking the button below.

The Free Spirit Toddler Tools Series

As much as I try to teach certain things to the kids, I’m always amazed at how quickly they pick up things after seeing it in a book (or on tv) and think this series would make a great gift for your little ones or for expectant Mothers!

About Misfit Momma aka Missy

Quirky stay-at-home Mom of 4 attempting to find her place in this crazy world. Read more About Me.
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7 Responses to 8 Tips for a Pleasant Mealtime with Toddlers (& book review)

  1. Roechelle says:

    I’m your newest follower from the Alexa hop:) check me out at http://hugatreewithme2.blogspot.com whenever you can

  2. TJ says:

    Wow, very helpful! Thank you! Also, hopping by from the Alexa Drop Hop. Let me know how it works for you! Hope it helps to drop your rank. Have a great weekend!

  3. Cute book! Thanks for sharing.. visiting from PITM
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  4. Rosa says:

    Hi! New Follower here. Just visiting for the Alexa Drop Hop!

    ? Happy Blogging!
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  5. jamieS says:

    Hi, just visiting from the Alexa Blog Hop…

    ~JamieS@ Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
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  6. casey byrd says:

    With my little girl, persistence and stubbornness (on my part) paid off .. she wouldnt eat broccoli, carrots, or squash, but now eats all three!

    CrazyCasey (lol) checking in, reporting for duty for the Alexa Drop Hop on A Measuring Flower’s Alexa hop! Please stop by & visit me too, my blog is Locomotion of Expressions. I have 19 LOW ENTRY giveaways (on my right sidebar in my archives) for A Wild Soccer Bunch, Vedette, {eter Rabbit Organics, FreckleBox, Boon, TieBuddies, Advertising (6 mo on my blog), KidStrong healthy hydration drinks, PiggyToes Press (kid’s) William & Kate book, Top Trainers DVD set, Perfect Energy supplements, Canvases, PowerCapes, HairMAX Set, Evora + probiotics, Monkey Butt, Certain Dri, and StopPain .. *phew* (LOL!) I just realized how much that is. Ha! Anyways, try your luck, you never know you might win. Also, I do have a linky that changes the first wed of every month.

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    Sorry this is such a long ramble! (If your still with me) Thanks for the time and consideration. Most importantly, try to comment back. See ya sooner & later in the great big blogosphere! Thanks again! ~XO~ CaseyColette
    Oh yeah, and new gfc follower GKBCCB ! Thanks!

  7. Great – thanks so much for these.
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