It is unmistakable. Your toddler has declared his independence and loves to test boundaries. Despite these normal developmental changes, they still crave and thrive on routine and structure. Setting a feeding schedule will not only help your child to eat better but will also make mealtimes less stressful and enjoyable!
What are the benefits?
Your toddler will learn that eating happens every 2-3 hours or so (older kids can go longer) and that kitchen is closed outside of those times. No more grazing all day long. Eating around the clock will hinder your child from recognizing their hunger cues. So don’t be afraid to let your child get a little hungry before mealtime. If they start whining for snacks, try doing something interactive together
Will understand what it feels like to be hungry, and that means they’ll be more inclined to eat whatever is being served
Will be more likely to eat until satisfied. YES to learning to self-regulate!
minimize power struggle between parent and child
- Also provides a sense of security when they eat very little or skip a meal bc your child will know that they will have another chance to eat soon.
Once again, I emphasize division of responsibility - you offer the meals and snacks at the same times each day, and your kids decide what they want to eat and how much
Now you can be flexible with the schedule, but you don’t want to be too loose. Allow wiggle room and try to keep meals/snacks within 30 minute time frame around the usual time.
Sure, life happens and the schedule might get thrown off a bit, and that's ok! Simply get right back into it. Also, remember every child is different. Mine is perfectly fine with 3 meals and one snack. yours might need one in between each meal.
Here are some specific examples of our past and current eating schedule:
@ 23 months
@ 26 months
@ 28 months
You can see that our mealtimes stays pretty much the same but our snack times continue to change slightly. As mentioned, my toddler brings his appetite during mealtimes, and more often then not, he is content with just one snack. What's most important is to find a feeding schedule that works for you and your family and stay consistent!
If you're struggling to encourage your child to eat their vegetables (or other food), be sure to check out this post!