- Get her to help prepare her own meals. Two- and three-year-olds love making a mess with food and if you let them fool around with their food before their meal, they are less likely to do so during it.
- If your child throws a tantrum at the table, try not to focus on it too much. Make less eye contact with her and divert your attention elsewhere.
- Don't fill her up with drinks and snacks instead of meals. Plenty of water between meals is healthy, but litres of sugary drinks are not (and they'll leave her feeling too full to eat).
- Don't try to get your child to eat when he's over-tired.
- If they refuses to eat, end the meal don't make her sit there for hours.
- Don't rush meals, allow children who are slow eaters plenty of time to finish.
- Offer fussy eaters a good variety of colours and textures on their plate this can make food seem more tempting and interesting.
- If your child rejects something once, don't be afraid to offer it again, and again. Tastes change quickly, sometimes even daily.
- If they don't eat their meal, don't give them an after-meal treat.
- Above all, try to make mealtimes fun. Whether or not your child eats, it's still a great opportunity to have a good chat and enjoy each other's company. Just ease off and give her a little space and time, and see how they progresses. Even if they don't eat anything today or tomorrow, they probably will next week.
The good news is that your worries are probably unnecessary; research shows that parents underestimate the amount their toddlers eat. Although the quantity of food your child consumes may seem tiny to you, remember that an 18-month-old child only requires about half the calories needed by an adult, and it's normal for toddlers to eat a little on some days and more on others. What is important is that the food you give them should be of some nutritional value, so even if your child insists on living on toast one week and grapes the next, there's evidence that, left to their own devices, they will eat a balanced diet in the long term.
Studies show that family mealtimes are becoming a thing of the past, with more and more of us eating on the run or staggering meals to suit everyone's busy schedules. But toddlers need structured mealtimes so that they can get used the idea that, at certain times of day, they should sit in a certain place and eat a meal.
You've made a huge plate of veggie risotto, crammed with spinach and peas, a sense of pride and relief appears on your face as you watch the entire plate being devoured. Don't get too excited, they were probably just really hungry. Getting them to work up an appetite before meals can make a big difference.