Get your picky eater to come to the table and stay there for a meal

Below are some of the reasons your toddler may not be interested in mealtimes. We discuss them, among others, in our online class where we will offer parents everyday strategies to not only keep their little ones at the table, but also help them eat better.

1. He feels isolated in the high chair. At some point toddlers realize that they are provided with different seat than the rest of the family and some of them do not like it!

2. Being at a dinner table is associated with pressure to eat or try new foods. Even covert forms of pressure such as making loud “Mmmm” and “Yum” in an attempt to get your toddler to eat may elicit the opposite reaction from what you were hoping for. A toddler who is pressured to eat will not want to be at the table. He needs space to start feeling safe around new and less liked foods and the best support you can provide is in the form of no-pressure role modeling. Also note that most kids start eating less during toddlerhood and meal skipping becomes more of a norm than an exception.

3. Food served at mealtimes is too challenging/boring. I often see this trend in families: foods served for a snack tend to be of a “fun” type, like pretzels and flavored yogurts, while meals consist of strictly wholesome choices like meat and vegetables. Children get this pattern fairly quickly and prefer to fill up on snacks before or right after the meal than stay at a table for dinner.

Fun Salad Recipe

Making mealtime foods a little more exciting encourages kids come to the table and enjoy meals more. Here is a fun salad recipe that my kids and kids of my friends and clients love. I noticed some time ago that anything served on a stick was eaten by my kids with more enthusiasm than when it was served on a plate. So why not to serve a salad on a stick, I thought?

Of course, you can use any combination of vegetables and cheese that your kids prefer. For ours, we chose pitted kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese. To prepare the marinade mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of chopped herbs and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Pour over the skewers before serving. For younger children, you may use toothpicks with cut-off sharp ends for additional safety.

Suggested combinations for the salad on a stick:

  • spinach, mozzarella and strawberries
  • ham, pineapple and spinach
  • tomato, mozzarella and basil
  • cantaloupe and ham
  • cooked pasta, olives and tomatoes
  • watermelon, feta and mint (pictured above)

Need more help with feeding your toddler?

Natalia’s online class is jam packed with evidence based mealtime strategies and easy recipes to help parents start enjoying mealtimes with their toddlers and feel good about feeding them nutritious foods. Every parent subscribed to the class will get 24/7 access to two dietitians for two weeks who will be answering all their specific questions for a fraction of the price of a one-on-one counseling package. Learn more here and make sure to use Yumbox30 to get 30% off the price of the program.

This post is the first in the series on feeding toddlers by Natalia Stasenko, a pediatric dietitian, mom of two and founder of Tribeca Nutrition. As a recognized pediatric nutrition expert, Natalia has been featured in Parents Magazine, Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine, Kiwi magazine, Huffington post and other media outlets.

A year ago Natalia founded an online nutrition class for parents of babies and young children at Feeding Bytes. Natalia’s latest project is an online course on feeding toddlers, Feed Your Toddler with Confidence. This two week program, starting on June 15th, is for parents who are tired of mealtime battles and need simple solutions to get their toddlers to eat better now and have a healthy relationship with food in the future.

Natalia is also offering 30% off the online class to Yumbox followers with the code Yumbox30. You can learn more and register here.

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