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Toddlers are not developmentally ready for dinnertime

by Nikki Montgomery

Josh and I decided a long time ago that when we have children we will eat dinner at the table together every night. We have stayed true to our word. Mia is 22 months old and she would rather be playing than eating dinner. She doesn't like trying new things and for a while all we could get her to eat was chicken now she won't touch it unless it's in the form of a nugget. She loves spaghetti so she'll sit tight on spaghetti night, and as soon as she's done she yells, "I'm done! Down!" even if she's only had two bites. 

Our Pediatrician says this is totally normal. He says she'll eat when she's hungry kids don't starve themselves. He suggested setting a timer the normal length of our dinnertime and once that timer goes off take the food away and don't give her anything else the rest of the night. 

An article I read today disagrees with what our doctor is saying. The author suggests letting your child graze because 2 and 3 year olds are not developmentally ready for mealtimes like older children and adults. Kids should be allowed to just snack all day on healthy foods. She also suggests that strapping them into a high chair and not letting them get up is emotionally unhealthy for toddlers. 

Something else she brought up is that your child may not be hungry for dinner at the same time as you so try giving her a meal earlier or later. Then while you eat your adult dinner sit her at the table with you with a bowl of her favorite fruit so she still gets the idea of together time.

Mia will sit at the table as long as there is fruit there to eat, but she'll always choose the fruit over whatever is on her plate. Apparently she doesn't have this problem at lunchtime with the sitters. They always make her favorite foods though and if she doesn't like something they make her something else.

What do you do to get your toddlers to eat dinner? Do you let them graze or do you try to sit down for family dinners?

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