1. Children learn a lot by example. If you want them to pick up good habits sit with them and show them good habits, it may be too early for your dinner, but try to eat breakfast and lunch with them and sit with them at dinner time.
2. Interact. Use mealtimes to talk to your child. For younger ones count their mouthfuls, tell them about what they are eating and talk through the colours with them.
3. Use age-appropriate utensils and cups. Don’t be scared to let them have a go – yes, it’s going to be messy, but how else are they going to learn?
4. Take your time. Don’t rush through your food then start on dessert but still expect your child to eat his savoury just eat together.
5. It’s good to reintroduce foods children don’t like every now and again to see if their tastes have changed, but if you have a good eater who genuinely doesn’t like one or two things, don’t push it as you can turn meal times into a battle which isn’t worth fighting!
6. If you’re eating out stay calm. Be prepared to take age-appropriate toys that can be quietly played with at the table and don’t forget bibs and water cups. Don’t get stressed if you’re anxious about their behaviour – you can guarantee they will play up more!
7. It’s never too early to encourage please and thank you! After every meal, once you have cleaned hands and faces, say ‘thank you’ e.g. ‘Thank you for my lovely lunch, please may I get down?’ The more you say this the quicker they will pick it up and repeat it after you then start saying it themselves.
8. If food is being thrown on the floor explain in a firm voice this is unacceptable and give them a warning that it will be removed if it continues. Remove it and meal time is over with nothing else until the next mealtime.
9. Listen to your child’s ques. If they have had a decent amount and then start to refuse it take it that they are full. You know yourself how uncomfortable it can be when you squeeze that last mouthful in so don’t do it to them.
10. Make it fun keep your child interested in food by giving a varied diet and always introducing new things!