How to Overcome Mealtime Battles!

Are you finding mealtimes challenging? or are you worried that your child is not eating enough?

At one stage or another, children will go through a fussy eating phase or may show some challenging behaviour around mealtimes. However, if this becomes a habit, worry or a frustration for the family, then it is important to understand the reasons behind it and how best to approach the situation.

  • Ensure that they are hungry enough: make sure that your child is actually hungry for mealtimes, avoid too many snacks in between meals or too close to a meal. Limit fruit juice or milk so that they are coming to the table with an appetite.

  • Find the balance of milk and food: at around the age of 9 months you will see an increase in the amounts of solids your baby now needs, and you may need to drop a milk feed. Milk is still very important, but having a balance of milk and solid food is so important to be sure that they are getting all of the nutrients that they need for growth and development.

  • Establish a routine: children love routine, and it helps to structure their meals, sleep, play and milk feeds. Choose the right time for your child to eat, ensuring they are not too overtired and that there is enough time between the last food or milk feed. Aim to keep a consistent time for meals so that your child begins to understand what is expected of them and when.

  • Keep meals simple and fun: if you are spending too much time cooking elaborate meals for your child to refuse or you find you are wasting a lot of food, aim for simple, nutritious foods that build on what your child already enjoys. Allowing your child to get involved in cooking or preparing foods, will also give them more of an incentive to eat it.

  • Create a positive and relaxed environment: if mealtimes are relaxed and you are calm then your child is much more likely to feel the same. Focus on positive attention and praise around the table rather than the negative. Sometimes taking a step back and allowing your child to independently eat, not feeling the pressure to finish a meal, will allow your child time to explore foods and tastes and control their own intake.

Author: Sophie Jones, Parenting Advisor

Anger managementLunch boxMeltdownsNutritionNutritionistParentingRoutineSelf-controlSelf-regulationTantrums

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