Regular meal and snack times help establish a healthy family routine:
- Offer meals and snacks 3 to 4 hours apart at the same time every day
- Limit the duration of meals — about 20 to 30 minutes or 15 if your child is not eating
- Avoid unscheduled snacking between meals
- Provide only water between meals
- Always feed your child in a high chair or at a table
- Encourage your child to eat what the family is eating, even if it's a small amount, rather than cooking a separate meal for him
Pick recipes, grocery-shop, and cook with your kid – he is more likely to eat the food he participated in preparing and you'll have help in the kitchen!
With a toddler:
- Introduce names of ingredients at the grocery store
- Add pre-measured ingredients to recipes
- Hold down buttons on kitchen appliances to help out
With a preschooler:
- Describe tastes and textures and discuss the meal
- Measure and weigh ingredients
- Stir ingredients
Start with small portions and let him ask for more. When introducing new foods, give your kid a choice about which new food he is going to try and make sure to couple it with a favourite.
- Serve age-appropriate foods and portions
- Introduce new foods one at a time
- Teach eating to fullness by serving small portions repeatedly and offering a new helping as soon as the previous one is consumed
Play with foods—serve a sandwich in the shape of a heart or use food to make fun faces or animals on your child's plate.
- Encourage independent feeding and tolerate age-appropriate messiness
- Forget the “Clean Plate Club” and encourage your child to take a bite of everything on his plate. The more often he tries it, the more likely he will be to eat it willingly
Kids will often follow your lead and are more likely to enjoy a variety of foods if you do.
- Feed your child with the family so other family members can act as role models
- Praise self-feeding skills, but maintain a neutral attitude about your child's food intake
- Never pressure your child to eat
- Try to serve food without emotion
- Don't beg, plead, or bargain with your child to try something
- Discourage disruptive behaviours and distractions such as toys, books, tablets, or TV during meals
- If a food is rejected by your child, don’t get hung up on it and try again another day