Discover the Key Steps for Stress-Free Mealtimes - Tried and Tested!

As a mother of two girls and a pediatric dietitian, my true passion lies in helping families rediscover the joy of eating together. I've developed five practical strategies that have proven to be effective in addressing picky eating and mealtime battles, both in my professional practice and at home with my own children. These strategies have been my secret to staying calm and in control during mealtimes.

I'm thrilled to share these strategies with you and eager to hear your feedback on how they work for your family. Let's dive in and transform your family's mealtime experience!

 

Master the Art of Stress-Free Mealtimes with These 5 Easy Steps.

 

Step 1 - Setting the Mealtime Stage

Instead of preparing your child's plate in advance, let them come to the table with an empty plate. This encourages independence and minimizes mealtime drama from the start.

Picky eaters often feel overwhelmed by food, especially during dinnertime when everyone is tired!

They love to feel in control, so presenting an empty plate allows them to come to the table willingly and engage more readily with the meal.

Ensure your child has a footrest for comfort, reducing fatigue and providing better support for their core, helping them stay seated at the table longer. 

Step 2 - Family-Style Serving and Empowerment

Empower your picky eater by serving meals "family style" and letting them dish up for themselves.

While you decide what foods are on offer, your child decides what and how much to eat.

Always include two preferred foods as part of the meal to put your child at ease.

If your child needs assistance, offer options like, "Would you like a small scoop or a big scoop?" to maintain their sense of control. Even if they are hesitant to dish up for themselves, involve them by asking them to dish up for you.

Step 3 - The First 10 Minutes - No Commentary and Maintaining a Poker Face

This step is vital and often challenging for parents. Avoid making your picky eater the center of attention during the first 10 minutes.

Engage in light conversation unrelated to food to put your child at ease. Maintain a neutral facial expression, like a poker face.

Create a relaxed atmosphere, taking the pressure off, so your child can relax and become more open to trying new foods and participating in the meal.

I have found this step absolutely invaluable and the feedback from families have reinforced this for me.

Step 4 - The Last 10 Minutes - Gentle Encouragement, No Pressure

When your child is relaxed and enjoying the mealtime atmosphere from step 3 but still not eating or eating very slowly, gently encourage them to become curious and engage with the meal.

Use these "gentle nudging words" to promote meal engagement:

  • "Let's guess how many bites it would take to eat one green bean" (eat one yourself).
  • "How many peas can you fit onto a toothpick?"
  • "How does the carrot feel, is it bumpy or smooth?"
  • "What would make it better? Does it need a sauce, butter, or more salt?"
  • "Can you please dish up some ___ for me?" (let your child play waiter)

Step 5 - Wrapping It Up - Kitchen Closed After 20 Minutes

Avoid mealtime exhaustion by limiting meals to 20 minutes and signaling the end with "kitchen is closed."

Prolonged mealtimes are taxing for both parents and kids and reinforce the idea that mealtimes are not enjoyable.

Use the phrase "kitchen is closed" and have your child take their plate to the kitchen. This clear endpoint helps establish boundaries around mealtime duration.

Mealtimes should be a special time filled with joy, connection, and good food for your family. These five strategies are your secret sauce to turning mealtime battles into fun family dinners.

I invite you to give these tips a try and see how they make mealtime a breeze in your household. Remember, it's not about being perfect, but making progress. Be patient with yourself and your kiddos as you dive into this journey to make mealtime happier and more relaxed.

 

Here are a few products that will help make mealtimes easier:

1. Footstool to help your child stay at the table for longer - use the code CURIOUSCARROT for a 10% discount! 

2. Divider plate for family style serving - we absolutely love these and they have been very popular on our website. 

3. Child safe knife - use this to get your child hands on with food without the stress! 

 

I can't wait to hear your thoughts and success stories once you start using these strategies. Feel free to share your experiences, questions, or any extra tips you might have. Let's create a supportive community of parents and caregivers who are all about enjoying great food and quality family time at the dinner table. Together, we'll bring back the pure joy of eating together as a family!"

 

Important: Our recommendations and products are intended for children over 3 years of age. 

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