Mealtime Routines For Toddlers
When your child was a baby, you were probably told countless times that bedtime routines would help her sleep better -- an important part of keeping her healthy. So it should come as no surprise that routines for mealtime will also help instill healthy eating habits, create stability in your household, and provide comfort.
The Journal of the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends establishing regular meal and snack times for children between 9 and 12 months old.
When your child becomes a toddler, you'll want to establish regular times for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Doing so will eliminate preparing multiple snacks and meals at inopportune times, since they'll learn to expect when their next meal is coming. Plus, studies have shown that having the same routine will enhance your child's willingness to try new foods. Offer a few healthy options at each meal, and allow your toddler the freedom to choose what she'll eat.
During the meal, engage and encourage conversation. And realize that your toddler may not have the stamina to sit for a lengthy meal. Be reasonable about your expectations and how long each meal will last, initially shooting for 15 minutes.
Finally, make good hygiene part of the experience. Have your child wash her hands prior to the meal beginning and again when it's over.