Mealtime: Making it more pleasant and nutritious
Here are some practical suggestions for helping your children to enjoy eating nutritious food at mealtimes:
- Have meals and snacks at regular times, which helps children's bodies learn to expect when they will be fed.
- Offer your children only nutritious snacks between meals which won't let them get too full. This includes carrot sticks, apple slices, peanut butter on celery, and fruity yogurt.
- Encourage your children to feed themselves as much as possible, whether with fingers or utensils. Praise them for the attempts and for eating well.
- Try to relax about the amount your children eat, and which foods they eat. This keeps the tension levels down and makes mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.
- Try to give your children several things you know they like at meals, as well as something you'd like to introduce them to. But don't worry if they don't eat the new food. Sometimes it takes several exposures before little children learn to like a food.
- Let your children tell you when they are full. But before they leave the table, make it clear that they will not be allowed to return for snacks until some reasonable time has passed.
- Try to make sure your children have eaten at least a little solid food before giving them a drink. Drinks can be very filling.
- And, try not to nag your children about eating. Avoid being very disappointed or angry when they don't eat much of what you have prepared. It will be easier for both of you over the long run, if you can take their refusal somewhat lightly.