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.

Travel Tuesday – The Long Haul

I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about traveling with little ones. And yet one fact escaped me, one very important fact that could change the face of travel with an infant forever. Something that has the potential to make it ENJOYABLE… What is this wonder, you ask? The airplane BASSINET!

A friend of mine just booked a multi-leg, multi-country vacation. And coming along for the ride is his infant son.  In chatting about the trip, he mentioned: “Yeah, I was excited that we were able to secure one of the airplane bassinets”. HOLD ON, I said, Back that up.  Did you you say, “Airplane Bassinets”? What does that even mean?

Apparently- on some long-distance flights, airlines offer bassinets in front of the bulkhead seating. It would have to be a super long distance flight (think international, not domestic), because these bassinets are only offered on certain types of aircraft.  Which, being the domestic travel diva that I am, is probably why this fact escaped me. But this revelation totally blew my mind. And after Googling to find out what these bassinets look like, I’m even more impressed.  They’re pretty sturdy looking! No longer will I feel limited to domestic travel only with baby… with the possibility of a bassinet for international travel, the world is now our playground! (Ok maybe not our playground– but certainly more accessible than before!)

Have you traveled with a baby in an airplane bassinet? Were they as amazing as they appear to be? Please share your experience!

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.

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