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Seven things to think about
1. Offer the same food the rest of the family is eating, but in an easy to-eat form. Tear a chicken breast into pieces. Serve a little pile of sweet spaghetti squash or rice. Mash a baked potato.
2. Choking is a serious hazard for children under three. Avoid serving your toddler whole nuts, large beans, popcorn, whole grapes, wieners cut in circles, or large berries. Always supervise your toddler's meals.
3. If your child wants to eat only jam sandwiches at lunch time for a week, let her. Keep offering a variety of foods, and eventually the food fad will pass.
4. Children eat food that is familiar to them, so if your family enjoys spicy curries or pickled fish, don't hesitate to serve a small helping to your toddler. She may not eat it immediately but, with enough exposure and with your example, she will eventually enjoy it. Introduce new foods one at a time.
5. Don't rush the child through her meal. Food is just one more thing for her to explore. If her dawdling gets in the way of family routines, serve her meal a bit ahead of the rest of the family.
6. If your toddler joins you at the table, you can ease the need for cleanup by putting a vinyl place mat under her plate. She will likely still need a bib. Serve only small portions at a time; let her ask for seconds. That way, she won't be tempted to hurl the leftovers onto the floor.
7. Begin the process of teaching manners, but don't turn the table into a battleground. What are your minimum standards at the table? Maybe you expect everyone in the family to contribute to mealtime conversation. Maybe you want to discourage openmouth chewing. Maybe you would like every family member to participate in saying grace. Make sure you are not expecting more from your easily distracted and increasingly wilful toddler than she is able to give, or mealtimes will become a power struggle.