Mealtime Tips for a 3-Year-Old

Mealtime Tips for a 3-Year-Old

Your 3-year-old may be more willing to try new foods than he was last year. He'll probably like certain foods because of their color or shapes, and he may be more open to accepting foods presented in a new or interesting way, such as on a special dish or in an unexpected shape. Your child will also enjoy helping out in the kitchen, as long as you're patient with his limited assistant skills. Unleash your creativity and make mealtime about fun, family, and building lasting traditions.

Eating together as a family. Three-year-olds learn so much about eating and socializing at the dinner table. Studies show that children who eat at least one meal a day with their families have better vocabularies, as well as better diets. Keep the TV off, and all screens put away, during mealtimes and talk instead. Have meals at regular times, and at a regular place, such as the kitchen or dining room table.

Table manners. Your 3-year-old is really ready to learn table manners. Teach him to say "please," "thank you," and "may I." He can and should help set the table. He's likely to enjoy the habits and rituals of family meals.

Dealing with constipation. Constipation can be a problem at this age, and it's often caused by consuming too many dairy products and not enough fruits, vegetables, and water. If your preschooler is having painful, hard stools or doesn't have a BM for a day or two, change her diet right away. If the problem isn't corrected in a day or two, call your healthcare provider for advice. Your child may become reluctant to use the toilet if this goes on too long.

These guidelines should make things a little easier.

  1. Take steps to wean your child from her bottle, if you haven't already. Drinking from a bottle at this age could make it difficult for her to learn proper eating habits at home and at school.
  2. Avoid using food as a reward or bribe for good behavior. Studies show that this pattern leads to short-term decreases in eating and long-term battles.
  3. Avoid small, hard foods such as hard candy and chewing gum that could get stuck in your child's windpipe.

Bon appetit!


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