Now that the school holidays are over and back-to-school is well underway, the relaxed picnic dinners of summer make way for “proper” meals and structured mealtimes. Which can create a perfect opportunity for transitioning your toddler to family meals. But if the thought of smooshed food on the floor, temper tantrums and fussy foodies exhausts you, take heart (and some tips!) from innovative baby brand GizmoTots.

Touted as “making mealtimes fun”, GizmoTots has everything you need to ease the transition from toddler meals to family mealtimes, from suction placemats to divided bowls. Founder, Ryan O’Neill shares his tops on making mealtimes for the whole family – even the littlest foodies – easier:

  1. Start small

When babies first start to feed themselves it’s advisable to start with only a few pieces of food at a time. Putting a bite-sized piece of soft fruit or cooked vegetable in front of a baby or in their fingers when they are ready to eat helps the child stay on task. Give each piece of food to the toddler one at a time.

  1. Sit at the table

When possible, always ensure the toddler is sitting at their highchair or the table. Sitting upright is important to prevent choking but it also helps to feed the child in the same place so they can learn the association between food and eating. Focusing on the task at hand without distractions helps the process too.

  1. Patience!

It takes time for toddlers to learn themselves and it can be extremely frustrating when it doesn’t go to plan or when they even take a step backwards. Mess is unfortunately a part of the process but it can be reduced by using a silicone plate that sticks to the table or high chair so toddlers at least can’t throw or knock over their whole plate.

  1. Demonstrate

Children learn so much from observing. While toddlers are learning to eat it’s especially important to sit down for meals when possible and focus on eating together, even if it means the adults eat with their fingers to demonstrate the process. Minimise TV and technological devices while eating so there are less distractions and this gives kids the opportunity to watch how everyone else eats.

  1. Make kids excited for meal times

Cutting foods into shapes is a tried and tested technique to disguise food from fussy eaters. While it can help make meal times more appealing, it can be very time consuming. Having special plates, cutlery or glasses for your toddler helps make meal times special and something they will look forward to.

Getting creative at mealtimes or with school lunchboxes? Share your creations with us @havenhub.

Courtney Robinson

Courtney Robinson  

Courtney Robinson is a Gold Coast mum, passionate foodie, whole foods recipe creator and personal trainer certified in holistic digestive health and nutrition. Follow @athletist_ or visit athletist.com.au for recipes, workout tips and training hacks.