5 Tips for Mealtime with a Toddler

I feel like I’m constantly reading “tips” articles or whole books, dedicated to helping me to navigate the hectic, tiring, hilarious and fulfilling job of parenting a toddler. One of the areas that I’ve needed a lot of coaching, is mealtime.

My daughter Harper is a bit of a comedian. When we’re running low on time, it always seems like that’s when she decides that she’s going to do nothing but joke around at the table. At first, I found it difficult to keep her focused, but I’ve developed some skills in the toddler mealtime department- so below are my top 5 tips for feeding a toddler.

1) Offer Choices. I had heard this one before- mainly just in reference to vegetables (and it amazingly, DOES really work for vegetables! See the original article I read on babble here). But when I say offer choices, I mean from meal planning “Harper, do you want waffles with blueberries today or bananas and cheerios?” “Do you want chicken and broccoli or soup (anything even remotely liquid-y is “soup” at this point) to sitting at the table deciding what to eat first (or even which piece of chicken to eat).

I’ve noticed that by actively engaging with her, and making the meal about her choices, she’s more likely to eat than goof around. Of course, not every meal plan is based on Harper’s decisions (I’m not a short-order cook!) and that’s ok- even when the choices are small (like which fork to use today), it works!

Mealtime tips for toddler2) Allow them to experiment. Yes, as adults, we KNOW that broccoli dipped in ketchup MUST taste awful. But for a toddler who’s just learning about food, this combination seems perfectly reasonable, and potentially delicious. I had read somewhere that allowing your kids to be adventurous with their food early makes them more open to trying new things later- so when my daughter decided to dip her broccoli into her ketchup, I decided to let her go for it. To my surprise, she kept doing it… and finished her broccoli. So my new motto is, as long as its not dangerous- go ahead and try it!

3) Hold the milk. My daughter is obsessed with milk. I’m pretty sure she would drink a gallon a day if I let her, so its become increasingly important to only serve water with dinner. If I give her milk, she WILL drink it all before touching her food and she WILL request more because she’s used to having a beverage with her meal. Offering water allows her to focus on the food while still having something to wash down her ketchup-covered broccoli with.

4) Make Healthy Foods fun. We’ve embraced the smoothie bandwagon at our house. We’ve worked everything from kale to soy milk, to blueberries to spinach into our smoothies, and refer to them as ‘milkshakes’. Harper loves them.

Are we lying to her? No. There’s milk in there (soy milk). So they’re sort of “milkshakes”. But the point is, she’s enjoying a treat and we know that she’s getting the vitamins she needs. Its a win-win.

Along the same lines, but another great discovery: it really does help to refer to broccoli as “trees” and play a game where your kiddo pretends to be a dinosaur eating the “trees”. Whoever came up with that is brilliant!

5) The classics are still good. Does every meal time need to be well thought-out and restaurant-quality? No. Don’t put pressure on yourself to win Top Chef at every meal. Sometimes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich really is the perfect lunch. And sometimes, grilled cheese and chicken soup is just what the doctor ordered. In my opinion, these old standards are necessities in the mealtime rotation- both for my sanity, as well as in the name of being a kid!

Got anything to add? What makes mealtimes work in your house? Do you have any great toddler-friendly recipes to share?

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Toddler Time – Dragons, Snakes and Pirates- OH MY!

For the past 2 weeks, our little girl has woken up in the middle of the night for seemingly no reason. It always comes at about 3 am- and she always asks to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed for the rest of the night.

I’m not really sure what causes these mid-night wake ups. This is a totally new trend for her. She used to sleep through the entire night (Yes, I know I’m very lucky!) Sometimes, when she wakes up though, she says things like “The snake bit me!” or “The dragon bit me!” or “The pirates, Mommy- the PIRATES!”. I have no idea where 2 of these 3 nightmares comes from though. First, she’s never seen a real snake. And I’m pretty sure she’s never seen a real dragon. Also- she’s never seen a snake or dragon even in a book or show or movie (though I know where the pirates come from…which became obvious when she said “AND CAPTAIN HOOK!” one night).

Besides cutting “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” out of the rotation of weekend treats, I’m not sure what to do about her nightmares. Since I have no idea where they’re coming from, it’s not as simple as skipping a certain book or a certain TV show. Its odd to me that she somehow 1) knows about snakes and dragons and 2) has enough of a knowledge of them to know that they’re scary things, and yet I don’t know where she was exposed to them. I’m not even sure removing these things is the right way to handle the situation, even if I knew how to remove them. I just tell her that there are no snakes in our house and that there’s no such thing as dragons and Mommy and Daddy will always keep her safe. It seems early though, for her to be having nightmares.

Is this the average age that these things start to happen? What were your kids afraid of at 2 years old?

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Toddler Time – They Grow So Fast!

My daughter is in the middle of a growth spurt.

It’s really funny how I can spot these from a mile away. First comes the eating. Then comes the snoozing. Then come the crankies. This latest growth spurt began when my picky eater (as of late) began requesting snack after snack after snack: “Mommy, I mowgurt?” “Mommy, I quacker?”, “Mommy, I Fwies?” (veggie fries). Meals were gobbled up, cup after cup of milk and water requested. Snack after snack granted.  After a couple days it became clear that we were in the middle of a growth spurt.

Traditionally, after a week of calorie-loading, my little girl has then gone on a sleeping spree. Early bedtimes, late wake-ups, longer-than-usual naps. This is actually the really great part of the growth spurt, because once I see that it’s coming, I get my “to-do” list ready and prepare to be amazingly productive.

But then come the crankies. Growing is hard work (hey, they don’t call them “growing pains for nothing), so I can completely understand this phase of the growth spurt, and my only contribution as a mom is to be ready with snuggles when she wants them, give her space when she doesn’t, and watch her for the times when I need to break out the baby Tylenol (the growth spurts that involve cutting teeth are often the ones that require those “big guns”).

Once the crankies are complete, little lady is noticeably bigger. And of course, then follows the painful part for mom: Packing up all those clothes that no longer fit!

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

Travel Tuesday – Traffic. With a Baby.

With this past weekend being a 3-day weekend, I should have known that I’d be in for it if I went out on the roads. Sometimes though, there’s just no getting around it: you have to get from point A to point B, and you have to drive there. When baby is on board for a road trip though, there’s nothing that can throw a parenting curveball better than traffic.

You think you’ve got everything you need: Plenty of snacks. Plenty of drinks. Plenty of diapers (if your baby is still using them). I used to think pulling over to the side of the road to change a wet diaper during traffic was a pain. But what do you do when your potty-training toddler needs to GO and there’s no exit to be found? You’ve got quite a parenting conundrum on your hands at that point, and luckily, I haven’t had to find out the answer. My brief panic at the mere thought of what to do in that situation, has me coming up with a plan of prevention: make stops often and at regular intervals, even if the need isn’t apparent, so that in case of the unexpected, the dreaded potty situation will be less likely to occur. Fingers crossed that my plan works.

But it’s not just potty issues that can have moms stressing when it comes to unexpected traffic. Traffic can also be a concern for nursing moms. Babies have to be in their car seats, in the back seat when the car is moving. That’s just a fact. So it necessarily follows that the car needs to stop in order for mom to nurse. If your baby is sleeping peacefully for the first part of your trip, and then you get stuck on a highway where there’s no movement whatsoever, your options are pretty limited when baby wakes up hungry. This actually DID happen to me when my little one was 5 months old. I was driving with a friend who was visiting the Bay Area for the first time, and what I thought was going to be a quick, 30 minute drive turned into a 2 and a half hour ordeal. I stressed, and cried along with my little one, trying my hardest to get to an exit as fast as I could (it ended up taking a very LONG 20 minutes). Once we made it to the exit, I found a place to safely pull over, got in the backseat and nursed. (Yet another moment where I was grateful that I packed my nursing cover!)

Of course, with proper planning both of these crises can be averted. Regular potty breaks. Plenty of pumped milk on hand (and a travel bottle warmer for babies who are finicky about milk temperature, like mine was). I wish I could say I’m perpetually well-prepared, but even when I think I’m well-prepared, it always seems like there’s something I forget. As a first-time mom, I really am just learning everything as I go (at least I’m a quick-study). I’m just glad that I have a sense of humor for the times that modern life hands me a teachable moment. I’m sure there will be many more.

The opinions expressed by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Bebe au Lait or any employee thereof. Bébé au Lait is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Bébé au Lait Bloggers.

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