So this week in toddler meal world I thought I would divulge a few of our table rules. It may just be luck of the draw with the kid but maybe you will have a light bulb moment or know of a similar way rules help you kids. We are heavy proponents of routines. K and I are both very analytical. Hell, we are engineers in the purest form. We love structure. And not to be all “my kid will conform..blah blah blah”, he thrives on it too. He asks for nap. Bedtime is like clock work. He is even trained to put his toys down when we pull off the exit to daycare after many mornings of tears over not taking them into daycare. We have regressions but we just stick to our guns and he is back in the swing of it. This is also the reason we don’t do a lot of routine changes. Late nights. After school activities. Activities during naptime. Maybe we are fuddiduddies but we don’t like losing sleep. 🙂
Our dinner routine has changed over time. He used to need to eat pretty early on as an infant but now we can hold him off to get a family dinner on the table most of the time around 6 PM. So currently it goes like this
5:00pm: we get home and start distractions. We go outside. We play cars in the kitchen. Wrestle. Tea party. Color. Read.
5:30pm: We might start hearing he is hungry. (He doesn’t say hungry..he still signs and says “uh uh”). We tell him it is coming. Whining ensues. We look for a new activity. Pinterest has saved my ass here many a time.
6:00pm: Dinner on the table. Now during dinner there are certain things expected.
- Rule #1: If he wants more of something, he has to say please AND eat more of his other foods. I think this addresses some questions about them eating only the fruit and wanting more and nothing else. This didn’t happen over night. We just keep doing it. This is when I started getting over the “o he will be hungry” feeling. If he wouldn’t eat other bites, he was done. End of discussion. Now all I have to say is “If you would like more raisins, you need to have some more bites of chicken, peas, and cheese”. Usually works like a charm.
- Rule #2: If a fit is imminent, we take everything away. We avoid throwing food this way. This is where I am fan of high chairs. He can’t go anywhere. My kid…he has anger issues. When he isn’t getting his way, he goes ape shit. When it is bad enough, he has to get down and go to time out. He avoids this at all costs. We say “would you like to finish you dinner or go to timeout?”. He starts scrambling for that plate.
- Rule #3: You have to wait for mommy and daddy to finish before you can get down. we are still working on this one. Some nights, he plows through his food and we are still eating. We are trying to teach patience but it isn’t always working. Work in progress.
- Rule #4: No TV until after dinner. This was a big break through for us. First off, letting him watch TV and then trying to get him to the table was a pain. Tantrum city. Second, it is incentive. He knows that when he finishes his dinner, he can watch 20-30 minutes of TV. This seems to really motivate him and serve as a constant reminder. “You can’t watch TV until you eat all your chicken and veggies”. Some call it bribing, I call it surviving.
So what are your mealtime rules? Here is our week in toddler meals…