Dinner with a toddler doesn’t have to be a battle zone. It is possible to have a meal with a toddler without food flying through the air, loud opinions of the fare, or all-out mutiny. It is a given that small tykes are messy, loud and fleet-footed, but by the time dinner rolls around, the tykes tend to slow down a bit. Combine that fact with a little sneakiness and dinner with a toddler can be an interesting experience.
Parents are tired after a long day at work, but nor more tired than a small child after a day of bouncing off the walls. The child will be glad to spend time with parents at dinner because s/he hasn’t seen them all day. Choosing a meal that will please the toddler is as simple as giving the child a choice. Keep the picture from boxes of meals so the child can visualize what s/he’s about to eat. Give her/him a choice between Swedish meatballs and chicken Marsala, both with whole wheat pasta and perhaps California mix vegetables. It is a fact that children wear much of their food, but choices like these make the stains easier to get out.
Children love to grab veggies or wings, dip them in something good and then mash it into their faces. Preparing a meal of slices of squashes, cucumbers, tomato wedges, broccoli and cauliflower along with strips cut from pork chops, steak (thinly sliced) or chicken will give the child fresh veggies as well as protein to dip into ranch or onion dips. If the food flies, it won’t hurt as much as flying wine sauce, nor will it stain whatever it lands on.
Toddlers love pasta. They love pasta even more when it is surrounded by anything red or oozing. Squashing their spoons down into the sauce, they can make their pasta float, move around and look otherwise entertaining. Spaghetti is a wonder to a small child. Think about it. Here is a noodle longer than their arms that can be wrapped around their spoon, twirled around their fingers and slurped through gleefully waiting lips. Spaghetti is red. Anything red catches a kid’s attention quickly. Mix the two, and you have a recipe for sartorial disaster. Red also doesn’t wash out of clothing easily. Parents wishing to enjoy a spaghetti dinner with a toddler need only cut the sauce by two-thirds in one pan cooked for the child, while they enjoy the full meal cooked in another. See, sneaky pays off sometimes.
Small children don’t have to be limited at the dinner table, but a little thought about the meal will help. Non-messy foods presented in a clear choice for the child will go far toward a nice meal. Giving the child healthy foods s/he can make a small mess with gives everyone pleasure and gets healthy foods into their bodies. Picky eaters can be accommodated with this method as well.
Joann Palmer is an active mommy blogger. She loves to blog about parenthood and how simple things like a cuddle buddy blanket could calm down your child and occupy them for at least 5 minutes. Whenever she has free time on her hands, (which is never) she enjoys Yoga and red wine.