The world is full of rules when it comes to toddler eating time. They should sit here, eat that, not play at the table, wait until they have finished their food until they get down etc. etc.
The first two are enough to make any toddler’s brain explode, add the rest in the mix and you’ve got potential mealtime Armageddon.
My view is that you’ve got plenty of time to teach your children mealtime manners and etiquette…like for example, within the years that their brain is actually mature enough to comprehend why on earth any of that is important.
Trying to do any of that during toddlerhood is pretty much a kamikaze mission in my eyes, especially with an uber strong headed toddler, like the one I happen to have knocking about at home.
I also believe that the importance of nutrition and how your toddler is nurtured throughout the day far outweighs the rules which we expect them to live by when it comes to eating. After all, it is widely recognised that the nutrition our little ones receive in their early years can affect not only their development but also their health for years to come.
If you are lucky to have a toddler that just sits nicely and shovels food in their face every mealtime then let me say now I am INSANELY jealous. But we are all dealt different hands, and have to work things accordingly.
With that in mind, when my toddler no longer wanted to sit in her booster seat, we ate pretty much anywhere else until the issue resolved itself one day. When she wants to get down mid-way through a meal, we continue the meal elsewhere around the house so she can satisfy her toddler itchy need to be on the move. When it just isn’t an eating day, we read books over dinner or stand up at the window to look for cats. When vegetables are a no-no, we will sit down on the kitchen floor and having a pea eating race out of the sieve. All just so she can be encouraged to eat the good stuff.
It’s true, I have probably become the queen of removing obstacles and creating distractions to ensure eating time is less of a battle of wills by having an attitude that at this juncture, it’s not how but what you eat, and for that, I am totally unapologetic, even if I have made the most ginormous rod for my own back. However, I DO draw the line at letting her watch TV as a distraction at mealtimes, unless she has been ill and not touched a peep for days because that for me is too big a can of worms….
The crux is – I just don’t have it in me to put my child to bed without having so much as sniffed their dinner when it’s one of “those days” (unless there is a very good reason i.e. they are sick), something that to my utter dismay has been suggested to me both in person and on forums. Because, last time I checked we weren’t living in Victorian times!
Do you bend or throw out the rules at meal times to ensure your toddler gets optimal nutrition? Or are you literally tsk-tsking as you read this?