Around the time a toddler turns two years of age, mothers begin trying to acclimatize them to the idea of eating at the dinner table with the rest of the family—but sometimes to no avail.
A child’s refusal to eat the daily meal, in spite of its nutritional value, and their insistence on sandwiches, milk or juice often lead to undernourishment. How can they be encouraged?
- First, know that your toddler is now beginning to enjoy expressing what they want, so they will be drawn to some colours, shapes and flavours and will refuse others. The result of this self-expression is often a refusal to eat the food that has been prepared.
- You must gently but firmly insist that they sit at their seat to share with the family the daily meal, for the sake of benefitting both their growth and health.
- Try putting their favourite milk in some of the meals—macaroni, for example. This will encourage them to share your food. Additionally, put their favourite fruit or sweet in a dish close to them so that they know they will get some after lunch.
- It is all right if their playmate or a doll they love accompanies them to their place at the table. Let them seat their playmate or doll nearby and act as though sharing the lunch or dinner meal.
- Set a few required nutritional rules for mealtime that everyone in front of them must follow: for example, we must always eat at least one kind of vegetable and one kind of carbohydrate or grain.
- To avoid scaring them or making them feel they are being punished by being forced to eat, do not greatly increase the amount of food placed on their plate. You may gradually increase it to acclimatize them to the idea of sharing food at the table.
- You may also turn to some cartoon programs that guide children towards proper nutrition. They will be happy to imitate their favourite characters who eat meals with their families.