The team at SARRC put together five bite-sized tips for parents of children who face challenges during mealtimes. Our top five tips may help create a better bond and reduce stress surrounding breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Provide choices. Whether it’s what chair to sit in, the color of the plate, the food they will eat, or the reward they receive for eating a new food, it helps your child feel like they are a part of mealtime.
Start a mealtime routine. Set meal times and a location for meals. Routines help provide clear expectations.
Limit snacking and grazing. By limiting snacking and grazing throughout the day, your child will be hungry and ready to eat when mealtime comes.
Set clear and realistic expectations for the meal. Make a plan going into the meal and let your child know what is expected. It’s helpful to know when to eat, how much to eat, and what the reward will be for following through on the expectation. Address one skill area at a time. For example, if you would like your child to sit during mealtime, focus on just increasing the length of the time they stay at the table. Put something on their plate they love – maybe even a special treat – to encourage the new skill!
Make meals social! For most, eating is a social experience, and it should be even for the pickiest eaters. Whether you’re eating or not, sit with your child and participate in the mealtime experience; it’s a great time to chat and catch up on your day.