1. Give your toddler choices. Whenever Aiden starts throwing a fit at dinner and food starts to fly, I try to put myself in his shoes. He can't communicate exactly what he wants, which is frustrating. He has control over very little in his life. He wants what he wants and he wants it now. When I think about him as a tiny person and consider how he is feeling, it helps me to deal with his tantrums. He isn't just being mean and making a mess for me because it's fun for him. He is doing his best to communicate something that is going on in his brain. Because of that I always find it better to give him choices. I let him pick which color spoon he wants to use. I let him pick if he wants to use a spoon or a fork or heck, even both at the same time. I use divided plates to give him options on what he gets to eat first so he feels he has some control over the meal I've stuck in front of him to eat. I even let him choose a toy to keep with him on his tray. Fun placemats can make meal time more fun too. We are currently using this one.
2. Make meals a fun family bonding time. Sit down at the table together and actually include your toddler in the meal. Serve him what you're serving. Involve him in conversations and don't talk over him! Children pick up more than you think and they know when they aren't being included. I've noticed that if my husband and I are talking back and forth or if we are on our phones (which we try not to be) that Aiden starts getting frustrated. He wants to be included. I know that meal time is always going to be an important family time in our house so why not set that precedent now.
3. Use products that are Toddler friendly. That means two things: easy to use and easy to clean. Here are a few products that have made my life easier at meal time...
Fun feeding Fork & Spoon set (Pictured above)
These utensils are easy for little hands to hold. They are contoured and easy to grasp even with messy fingers. They are also fun, bright color, which is always important and they are BPA free! I have washed these many times over the last few months and they are durable too. They are my go to utensils for Aiden right now!
Garden Fresh Storage Pots These little storage pots have been a life saver for me. I use them to store any fresh veggie or fruit purees I make. They are also great for dipping sauces or storing leftovers. I've taken yogurt to-go in these as well as homemade applesauce and fresh blueberries for snacking. I love that they come with lids to seal in and preserve flavors and nutrients. These are freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe and hold approximately 2 fl. oz. each.
Ezpz Mini Mat This mat is pure genius. I love that it is a divided plate, but one that STICKS to any surface including a high chair tray or table! Gone are the days of my toddler throwing his plate (and all it's contents) on the ground. I have the mini mat, which is tailored to a baby. The plate is divided with purpose...the eyes and smile of the plate are portion sizes perfect for your infant/toddler 4 months and up. I have my eye on the happy mat, which is geared more toward toddlers 9 months and up as the portion sizes are catered to toddlers. It is also easy to pack up for travel and it comes with a reusable bag you can pop in your diaper bag.
What other tips do you have for making meal time with your little one more fun for everyone?
*I was given these product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.