From Yuck to Yum: 5 Tips on Making Your Tot Love Mealtimes

by - September 02, 2019


Before anything else, let me say that my son is not perfect and I don’t believe I have this toddler-feeding-techniques mastered. This post was written with the intention of helping first-time-moms like me by simply sharing what we practice with our son. What worked for us might not work for you and it’s all just a matter of trial-and-error, right?

Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

Imagine this:

You’re at a restaurant, you’ve already ordered your favorite dishes and you’re all set for a night of fine dining. The waiter arrives with your food and you can already smell the salmon and –

What’s that noise?

It’s your kid. He’s ripping off his seat belt and is ready to dive headfirst from the high chair to the floor. He’s not in the mood for baked salmon and fine dining. He demands to do anything else except eat.




So how do you turn this scenario around and make your toddler love mealtimes?

1. Let Your Kids Know that Mealtime is Fun 

Food is best shared over good conversation and laughter. If your kids are not yet old enough to talk, they would only feel left out (and bored!!) if you and your husband are too caught up talking to each other. Make mealtimes fun by having family conversations that involve them! For example, teach them about colors by pointing out the different colors of the veggies in your food or teach them about numbers by counting the spoonful they still need to finish. For older kids, stories about their day at school, their new toys, or things they like are conversation starters. Whatever age your child may be, having family conversations during meal times take out the boredom from it. It also helps parents build a solid connection with their child. Just make sure you don’t chew with your mouth full, though. Lol



2. Let Your Kids Feel Like they are Part of the Crew

Early on, we already practiced eating with our son. At 6 months, he was already eating with us during Every. Single. Meal. Time. We didn’t set aside a different time for him to eat. Letting our kids feel like they are part of the crew and not forcing them to eat alone make them feel that eating is not just a chore that they have to accomplish, but a natural, usual thing that every human being does. A high chair is not a required item to buy, but I felt that it helped a lot in letting my child know that we are all eating together. He also has his own set of utensils so that even though he still doesn’t know how to use them properly, we allow him to play with them. Without even teaching him what a spoon and a fork are for, he already knows what they’re for and would often imitate us. 



3. Let Your Kids Be Kids and Allow them to Make A Mess

We practiced Baby-Led Weaning with our son from Day 1 of his solid food journey. It's not easy and it would often get messy as he tries to squish and mash his food with his bare hands. While his dad would often get horrified by the sight of the messy floor filled with half of our son's food, I would always reassure him that it's just part of the process. Allowing our kids to experience their food with all of their senses teach them important lessons about texture, taste, as well as familiarity with different kinds of food. When kids are given a sense of freedom in the dining table, they have the tendency to view mealtimes as fun and an opportunity to explore - as they are wired to do at this age. 



4. Let Your Kids Taste Fruits and Veggies First

Aside from Baby-Led Weaning, we also practiced Tamang Kain (Complementary Feeding) from Day 1. We didn't allow him to taste processed, pre-packed food before he turned 1. This also meant no salt and pepper as well as other condiments before he blew his birthday candle. This is a bit challenging for most parents to practice as it takes time and dedication to prepare natural food instead of just taking out a pre-packed baby food. It also takes LOTS OF PATIENCE in explaining to everyone else that our son is not yet ready for biscuits, lollipops, french fries and the likes. Letting your baby taste and explore the natural taste of fruits and vegetables before anything else leads to higher chances that they won't be picky eaters as toddlers as they won't develop a preference for tasty food early on. 



5. Let Your Kids Communicate with You

While a regular mealtime schedule with the family is important, sometimes, we also have to listen to our kids. Is he too full to eat? Is he too hungry to wait for his turn? Breastfeeding and drinking formula might also affect their appetite for food. If they are already too full from drinking milk, chances are, they won't be as excited to eat as they should be. For babies under 1 year old, it is recommended to offer the breast or formula first before offering food as their main source of nutrition must come from the milk. But for toddlers 1 year old and up, it is best to offer food first before milk. Kids must start getting their nutrient needs from healthy food instead of milk. Nevertheless, it is important to let your kids communicate with you. And as parents, we must listen to them but also assert our authority without making them feel like they don't have any choice. 

Listening to their preferences as they grow older is also important. Do they prefer having their veggies chopped in chunks rather than sliced thinly? As simple as these things may be, allowing them to communicate with us make them feel like they are part of the process. 



***

Overall, creating a positive mealtime atmosphere is the secret ingredient to make your tot love mealtimes. There is no one-way process to making this work, so be ready to explore, discover and dive into the trial-and-error system with your child. Also, modelling a positive attitude towards food and mealtimes is a huge factor in making this work. Make sure that you also enjoy the process and let them see and know that you do! Kids are basically imitating machines and would reflect back what you show them. So be sure to prep your apron and your huge megawatt smile first and foremost for your next mealtime, momma! You can do this.






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4 comments

  1. These techniques are all true. 😍 Thea came to a point na naging picky eater talaga sya, at sobrang hirap for me na pakainin sya, as in. SOBRANG HIRAP. There are times na nasisigawan ko na sya sa inis ko kasi ayaw nya kumain 😔 Im sorry to say this pero totoo, naging ganun ako kay Thea. Pero thanks to God ginabayan nya ko, nalabanan ko yung pagiging short temper kong tao, at mas naging pasensyosa ako pag dating kay Thea lalo na pag mealtime. And all of the techniques above ay nagawa ko kay Thea, and it is really a big help for me. Ang laki ng changes. 😊😇 She is now more excited to eat than before. Lahat tlga dumadaan sa proseso, kaya mga mommies pasensya lang kay Baby tlaga 😊💕 Thank you Mommy Kristine for sharing this article to us. This is a big help to many moms who struggles on how they can make their child love mealtimes. 😇💕

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  2. Wow I'm so proud of myself hahaha, galing Tama pala ang ginagawa ko, lahat yan mommy ginagawa ko na eh, kaya si zion marunong kumaen na mag Isa ang kalat nga Lang, ayaw Nia din kasi talaga nagpapasubo pero OK Lang makalat naeenjoy Nia naman ang mealtime, he also loves veggies

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  3. Parang si Zia lang, sobrang picky eater din nya, minsan hindi kona alam kung anong ipapakain ko sakanya. Kaya masasabi ko na yung iba jan ay nagawa kona din syempre bilang mommy kaung hindi mo mapakain si baby dahil sa pagiging picky eater nya hahanap ka ng ibang way upang maengganyo sya kumain during her mealtime.. sa ngayon sinasamahan kona din ng Vitamins na pampagana upang mawala yung pagiging picky eater nya at mukhang effective naman dahil habang lumalaki sya nagiging palaban na sya sa pagkain

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  4. Hindi naman picky eater 1stborn ko pero hindi siya magana kung kumain, very helpful eto Mommy Tin, salamat.

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