14 unwritten rules of toddler mealtimes

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters

Toddlers are funny little beings. One thing’s for sure, they know what they like and don’t like and they’re not afraid to let you know. Even if that means throwing themselves on the floor and railing in the loudest voices they can muster.

Every parent has to feed their toddler three times a day. And that sounds like a simple enough task. But toddlers have very strict rules about their mealtimes and can get quite livid if things don’t go their way. To make things worse, the rules of toddler mealtimes can change, without notice or reason, at any given time. Before you became a parent you never knew you could ruin someone’s day by giving them the wrong coloured bowl.  Or by letting a garden pea roll into a dollop of ketchup. Now you’re a parent of a toddler you mutter ‘You’re not the boss of me’ while also meeting your toddler’s mealtime demands like an underpaid sous chef.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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Green things are entirely suspicious

Spinach, lettuce, green beans, broccoli. We’re entirely suspicious about anything green. It looks unlikely that we will enjoy eating it. Why on earth would you put it on our plate? Be gone green stuff. There’s no way we’re eating you.

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If there are hidden onions in our food we will find them

OK, OK so we can’t locate our other shoe when we’re late to leave the house but if you try to hide a microscopic piece of onion in our meal we will find it. And then spit it out. And refuse the entire dish. Don’t even try.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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Don’t try to fob us off with funny foods

We LOVE pasta pesto and the chicken casserole you make. If you very DARE to jazz things up and change the recipe even very slightly we will notice and refuse to eat. And we don’t negotiate. Ever.

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All meals should be served in the correct bowls or plates

Meals should be served up in the preferred coloured bowls or plates. Don’t even attempt to fob us off with a blue bowl because our green bowl is dirty. To do so is simply unacceptable. Also we demand our favourite fork. Oh , and if we suddenly decide that our brother’s bowl looks better we’ll want that one instead.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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No food can touch any other food on the plate

The peas should under no circumstances touch the ketchup. The fish fingers should never brush up against the potatoes. If even one solitary grain of sweet corn should encroach upon other food on the plate then expect armageddon at toddler mealtimes. Let foods touch one another at your peril.

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Just because we loved it yesterday doesn’t mean we like it today

Yes we loved your lasagne last week but don’t expect us to like it this week. We’ve suddenly decided it’s vile. And slimy. And YUK. Take it away. Take it away. We want nuggets.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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If in doubt, go beige

You might have trawled Pinterest for healthy and nutritious toddler recipes but, honestly we like beige foods the best. If you feel a bit guilty as a mum for yet again heating up frozen foods in the oven then just re-brand them as ‘Freezer Tapas’.

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Every food is better with ketchup

It’s the elixir of life. Give it to us at every meal. It makes everything taste better. We recommend that you never EVER run out of ketchup and maybe pop a bottle in your handbag just in case we need it when we’re out and about.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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Half our food will end up on the floor

Eating is a messy business. Isn’t it? For every mouthful we take another blob of food drops on the floor. SO much fun. Actually it’s also fun to smear food into our hair when you’re not looking. It just feels so good.

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Puddings go in a separate stomach

Yes we could hardly eat more than a few bites of pasta but when it comes to pudding, suddenly we’re ravenous. Bring on the ice cream. It goes into a separate stomach. Honest.

By the way serving fruit for dessert is entirely unacceptable and should be banned.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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We will always spill our drinks

You can take every precaution you can think of but we will always find a way to spill our drink at each and every mealtime. If you put it in a spill proof beaker we will find a way to prise off the lid when you’re distracted and pour it all over the table.

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We always ALWAYS need a poo just as we sit down to eat

Or, more accurately, just when Mummy or Daddy lifts their fork up to eat. Sorry about that. When a toddler’s gotta go, a toddler’s gotta go. It’s just a bit funnier if we pick the most inconvenient time.

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toddler mealtimes - fussy eaters - picky eaters
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One night a week we won’t eat dinner, just because…

What’s the fun in eating dinner every single night? We want to keep mum on her toes so once a week we’ll just refuse to eat. Aren’t toddler mealtimes fun?

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When getting ready for bed we’ll complain that we’re still hungry

When we’ve refused to eat dinner and every alternative meal you’ve offered us, we will start getting ready for bed and then decide that we are ravenously hungry and need to eat right now. Only crisps and cupcakes will do. Don’t try it on by offering us anything else or we’ll have a tired, hungry meltdown.

One thing’s for sure, toddler mealtimes are always an adventure. We hope that by following these rules you will have know what to expect. Until the rules change at any time that is. Good luck!

 

See our article, 8 ways to deal with picky eaters for new ideas on how to deal with toddler mealtimes. We make no guarantee they’ll follow them!