fbpx

Six Sneaky Tricks to Get your Toddler to Eat Dinner

Six Tricks to Get your Toddler to Eat DinnerI cannot pinpoint the exact day that it happened. I can only tell you that sometime after my toddler turned two, what I made for dinner was hardly ever right.  I’d make a meal that he loved the week before, but tonight, it’s plain wrong.  He looks down at his plate, gives me a look that says “What the heck is this?” and then he tells me “all done” without even taking a bite!

Nothing makes dinner more stressful than spending the entire meal trying to get your toddler to eat their food.  So my husband and I have started trying to make dinner as relaxing as possible.  We make dinner time about connection instead of focusing on eating.

If you have kids that struggle at dinner, here are some tricks I use:

We don’t talk about eating the food

My instinct wants to praise him every time he takes a bite.  However, I am sure my own people-pleasing tendencies started when I was a child.  I lived for the praise which led me to not trust my body and to overeat.  My brother was a picky eater, and my parents struggled to get him to eat.  Me? I ate all my food every time.  It made me feel like I was a “good girl.”

I don’t want my child to believe that his value changes based on how much he eats or doesn’t eat. I want him to listen to his own cues and trust his body.  That is why I avoid telling him “one more bite” or “you have to at least try a bite.”

Exposure

Most new foods are automatically “yucky” to kids.  When I put a new food on my son’s plate, I assume the first time he won’t even touch it.  I will just tell him what the food is and leave it at that.  The second time I serve that item, he will probably just poke at it.  Maybe he will even try a lick.  He might save that for the third time, but the moral of the story is, if he sees that food enough times, eventually he will get curious enough to try a bite.

I also try to serve at least one familiar food.  Believe it or not, one of my kid’s favorite foods is broccoli.  If I’m serving a new meal for dinner, I try to include broccoli on his plate.  If he eats all his broccoli and asks for more, I’ll tell him “I see you want more broccoli, but that’s all the broccoli we have for tonight.” He can then make a choice to try something else on his plate or just be done.  At the very least, he ate something and I’ve exposed him to new foods.

Fun Utensils

Toy Story Utensils for DinnerI bought my toddler a Toy Story fork and spoon, and he couldn’t wait to use them! He also has his own special dishes and placemat.  On days that he’s not super excited about his utensils, I bring out the cute little tongs I got for him.  The tongs make dinner extra fun and are great for fine motor skills!

Musical Chairs

No, we do not actually play musical chairs at dinner. I’m not THAT fun.  Some days all he needs is a change of scenery, and moving to a different chair than the one he normally uses makes dinner more exciting.

Silly songs

My husband can tell you I make up the best songs.  Okay, they’re actually not that great but my kid loves them.  That’s all that matters, right?  Singing these songs eases any tension and relieves the pressure around eating.

Sometimes mom’s plate just looks better

Or her fork. Or her spoon. Or her bowl.  I have to make our dinner look the same as much as I possibly can.  If I’m eating from a bowl, he has to have a bowl.  There are also times that he doesn’t want his Toy Story fork.  He wants mama’s fork.  A simple switch (and supervision), and he goes to town on dinner.

Honestly, there are some days where none of this works, and he just chooses not to eat dinner.

That’s when I have to use my mom instincts.  Did he have a later afternoon snack?  Was it a bigger snack than usual?  Does he have a belly ache? I have to remember that it’s his body.  I can guide him in the right direction, but I can’t physically force him to eat.  As soon as I start making mealtimes a battle, the more he’s not going to want to eat.

I remind myself that this is not an emergency, and we will try again tomorrow.

Do you have any tips to get your toddler to eat dinner? Share them in the comments or on our Facebook page!

 Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox.  While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms events and promotions!!


 

Guide to Indoor Play in the Cedar Rapids Area

0
Discover the excitement of indoor play places in the Cedar Rapids area! From imaginative playgrounds to interactive zones, there's a world of adventure waiting for kids of all ages. Whether it's a rainy day...

Embracing the Joy of Raising an Only Child

0
As parents, we often find ourselves navigating through a sea of societal expectations and well-meaning advice when it comes to raising children. Among the many discussions surrounding family dynamics, the choice to have just...

40+ Date Night Ideas | In & Around Cedar Rapids

5
Looking for a vibrant night out in Cedar Rapids? Explore over 40 diverse spots, ranging from cozy cafes to lively bars, and everything in between! Whether you crave a chic 5-course dining experience, a...

Kids Eat Free or Discounted | In & Around Cedar Rapids

0
Below is a list of restaurants that offer special promotions for free or discounted kids' meals! Please feel free to leave a comment below of your favorite restaurant(s) participating in such promotions so we...

Coffee Shops | In & Around Cedar Rapids

0
Embracing the beautiful chaos of motherhood in Cedar Rapids? Dive into the heartwarming journey of parenting amidst the vibrant coffee culture that graces our city. Explore cozy coffee shops where laughter blends with the...
11,824FansLike
7,786FollowersFollow
382FollowersFollow
230FollowersFollow
940FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
 
Join our community.
Be the first to know about new resources, can't-miss happenings, and new blog articles! 
Yay, we're so glad you're here! Keep an eye on your inbox