Terrible twos at the dining table: advice on establishing healthy eating routines with your toddler.
Your two-year-old's growth rate has slown down, so she really doesn't need as much food as you might think she does. She's also extremely opinionated about what she'll eat (and where she'll eat it and when she'll eat it, as well as in which bowl she'll eat it). First bit of advice we offer? Pick your battles.
Face it: you can't win. If you give in to these picky habits quietly, your child won't fight for them as hard. Insisting on your way will only make the battle that much more important to her. That said, don't ask her what she wants to eat: that's way too much power for a little person to handle. You make the selection from reasonable, kid-friendly foods.
Make sure your child eats at the table. People who eat at a set time and place usually get the best nutrition and are in the best physical shape. Establish this good habit early. Keep meals out of the car or bed and away from the TV. If your child won't drink much milk, give her calcium in the form of cheese or yogurt. Sh3e should be weaned off the bottle entirely now.
Dodge a food fight. If your two-year-old refuses to eat anything you put in front of him, outright confrontation won't get you anywhere. Try these methods instead:
- Remove him from the table and try again in a couple of hours, at the next regular mealtime.
- Start with a nutritious snack, such as cheese and crackers or fruit. Put it on a tray and join him.
- If he still refuses, put him down again and stop worrying. No healthy child, even a two-year-old, has ever starved himself.
Coordinate with day care. Ask your daycare provider about your child's eating habits during the day. Children learn from different care environments, and there is a lot of leeway in children's diets. If possible, stop in for lunch with your child from time to time.