Toddlers often have their own ideas about how meal times ought to go - including, but not limited to, spaghetti on the ceiling and mashed potato face paints!

Try out some of these tips to help your little ones build a good relationship with food, develop healthy eating habits, and make food preparation and meal times go a little more smoothly.

Don't force your toddler to eat

Don't force a toddler to eat a meal or snack if they aren't hungry. This could cause them to associate meal times with anxiety and negativity. A toddler will not let themselves starve if they are being regularly offered healthy nutritious foods. If you are concerned that your toddler is not eating enough, discuss it with your GP.

Always offer veggies at dinner time

If your toddler refuses to eat vegetables, there are countless ways to disguise them in other delicious foods. But you should continue to put vegetables on their plate at dinner time as well, even if they never touch them. Doing so helps them understand what a balanced diet is made up of, and also gives them continuing opportunities to taste them.

Eat with your toddler

Try to make the time to sit at the table and eat with your toddler throughout the day, not just at dinner time. Talk with them about things they like while you eat. This turns meal time into a positive experience for them, and demonstrates the social side of dining.

Try frozen peas and corn

If your toddler doesn't like peas and corn, try serving them frozen. This excites their senses and may encourage them to have another try.

Prepare dinner while toddler naps

Instead of trying to prepare dinner while toddler gets up to mischief, try getting as much as you can done while they take their nap. Chop vegetables, prepare casseroles or pasta bakes so they're ready to pop into the oven, etc, to minimize prep time in the evening.

Use scissors to chop food

Have a set of kitchen scissors handy for chopping up things like spaghetti. Scissors are great for chopping all kinds of food one handed while holding a baby or toddler.

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