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Getting your toddler to eat during meals

By Freddie Brister May 30, 2012

Encouraging your toddler to eat is often a power struggle. Toddlers are easily distracted and have trouble sitting still during meal time. They are just beginning to explore their world and exercise their independence in little ways. They may not have much freedom yet, but eating is one of the few things that they can control. Letting your toddler choose his food isn't such a bad idea. It may even help both of you if your let him pick from healthy food choices.

Toddlers are stubborn. It is in their nature to contradict whatever you ask them to do. Threatening them with punishment won't work either. It is best to use a diplomatic approach when feeding your child. You can still get him to eat his vegetables but do it discreetly. Toddlers may be stubborn but this doesn't mean they can't be outwitted. Parents just need to be a little creative in order to get their child to eat. With a little patience, you can get your toddler to finish that bowl of veggies.

A lot of parents would agree that their toddlers aren't eating enough. A toddler would eat one decent meal, and would pick on his other meals for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, they never seem to go hungry or run out of energy. Refusing to give them snacks won't work either. Unfortunately, toddlers won't eat something unless they want to. A bowl of green peas is still a bowl of green peas, no matter how you serve it.

Surprisingly, most toddlers get enough nutrition from what they eat. Your child should be alright as long as he is gaining weight and developing normally. Toddlers don't need as much calories as we do. A daily caloric intake of around 1,300 should be enough for their age group. The reason why many parents are anxious about their toddler's diet is because they overestimate the amount of food that they should be eating.

You can get your toddler to eat during meals by serving right-sized portions. Cut regular servings in half or quarters. Ideally, your child should be able to consume at least a quarter of whatever you eat. Bread, fruit and eggs should be sliced in half before serving them to your toddler. Instead of serving him a whole bowl of cereal, try to give half-filled bowl instead. You can encourage him to try new kinds of food by offering a tablespoon first. Make sure he gets at least 2 tablespoons of vegetables in every meal.

Bribing your toddler with sweet treats or other small rewards is discouraged. Offering a piece of chocolate for every three tablespoons of carrots might work temporarily. However, this tactic only teaches your child the wrong values. There's nothing wrong with serving a slice of chocolate cake after meals, but using this as a reward for eating well only creates the notion that the cake is more valuable than the meal itself.

Set a good example for your child. Let your toddler sit with you at the dinner table. It's good for a toddler to see his family eat a nutritious meal together. Educating your child about the benefits of healthy eating is important. Just make sure not to overdo it. Remember this the next time you catch yourself repeatedly praising your toddler for every bite of broccoli that he eats. This silly approach will probably make your toddler hate veggies even more.