Written by Doctor G

Eat on a toddler schedule

Q: My 18 month old son is a great sleeper but not the best eater. He’s good at daycare (I assume because he’s one of the crowd) but at dinnertime he is disinterested. I have heard that the best thing to do is eat as a family/in a group but with my husband’s work schedule and my chore schedule its difficult to accomplish. Any other suggestions for how to get him interested in eating when family mealtime is unfortunately not always an option? I was thinking of making dinnertime later but how much time can I allot between snacktime and mealtime? Also his disinterest seems to translate into throwing his plate on the floor! HELP!

Mollie, in Pittsburgh

A: Mollie, don’t stress about dinner. It is the least important meal of the day nutritionally – for all of us. As a matter of fact, if we all ate like toddlers (good breakfast, good lunch, snack every couple or 3 hours and not much dinner at all) we would have far less obesity in our society.

Now, don’t let your toddler choose the menu! If we all ate mac’n’cheese and fruit and drank chocolate milk for EVERY MEAL we would have even more obesity. That said, adults need a balanced diet each day. Toddlers should get a balanced diet over the course of each month. Food “jags” – where the kiddo only wants one of three foods for days on end – are developmentally normal.

Sitting down to dinner as a family is a healthy habit to build by the time he is in middle elementary school for sure. For now, if your child is eating well during the day and not eating much at dinner, that is fine. And if he throws his plate, he’s done! Next meal no big-boy plate, get a “safe” plate that suctions to the table for a meal, then give him a chance with the big-boy plate again with gentle reminders about not throwing.

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1 thought on “Eat on a toddler schedule”

  1. This is very helpful advice! Thanks for addressing the obesity issue as well. Off to buy a suction plate!

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