In my role as a picky eating advisor there are some questions that come up again and again. “How do I encourage my child to stay at the meal table?” is one of them.
There are many reasons why a child may find this difficult. For example, toddlers frequently have a short attention span and so sitting still can be a challenge. It may be about comfort both in terms of how they are sitting and in regard to the food. Or we may just be fighting years of habits.
It is also important that our child IS able to sit at the table. Long-term it will be really helpful for resolving picky eating and helping them to eat variety. So, let us look at some of the things to think about and actions to support our child to sit and stay at the table.
How to help a picky eater stay at the table
Creating a great environment is my number one tip when it comes to children wanting to stay at the table. There are many ways we can work on this, and many of them are fun.
Before we sit down
Even before we get to the table, there are a few things to work on. In fact, some of these can be as, or more important than what happens at the table:
1. Prepping – having our child involved in the meal is a great way to create pride and a sense of investment. This could be anything from helping to decide what is on the menu, to washing, chopping or prepping ingredients, to preparing the salad or sprinkling some salt on the carrots. If it is a madly busy day, then pouring the dressing on the salad may be all we can manage, but it still gives our child a hand in making the meal. Which, when we sit at the table becomes a point of conversation and thanks/pride.