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If you love your toddler, you want them to grow. But growing requires dinner and dinner is not something that a lot of toddlers enjoy. My daughter starts her hunger strike every day at around 3PM and doesn’t eat again until the morning. And while my mom recently gave me the very helpful advice that I just need to feed my daughter “a dinner that she likes,” I had to remind her that my older sister used to fall asleep at the dinner table every single night rather than take one bite of food. Memory can be a tricky thing.
This is how to feed a toddler dinner in 18 easy steps…
1. Prepare a meal you know your toddler will like; Buttered noodles (no sauce!!!), chicken (it can’t look like chicken!!!) and peas (not touching anything else on the plate!!!).
2. At the last minute, because you are a masochist, you decide to put a microscopic piece of salad on their plate so that they can broaden their palate and, you know, grow.
3. Place dinner in front of your toddler and instantly regret the salad and start praying to the trifecta of toddler gods, Dora/Daniel Tiger/Elmo, that they won’t see the salad. Please don’t see the salad little angry person!
4. They see the salad.
5. Some version of hysteria breaks outs and you have two choices now. A) Abandon ship and salvage the rest of your dinner and sanity. B) Be a firm and proper grown-up person and try to teach your child that it’s not nice to say things like, “Yucky! Gross! Call Grandma!” when they see their dinner every night.
6. You decide to be firm because the people reading this post most definitely do not like it when you abandon ship. You will be given many lessons on parenting and examples of why your child will turn out to be an asshole, jail-bird, or a general stain on society if you abandon ship at this critical salad-eating juncture.
7. Because you are firm and don’t need any tips on parenting, your toddler sits in time-out about 20 times in the next 45 minutes and then it is time for the rest of your family to eat! Great timing!
8. You try to enjoy your meal amidst the hiccuping sobs that are both painful to hear and sorta satisfying because maybe, just maybe, they have learned something.
9. You sadly remember you say this to yourself every night.
10. Everyone else finishes dinner and cleans the dishes and does some laundry and watches some TV and enjoys life.
11. Toddler decides that they are full and they want dessert, now, please. So sweet.
12. You look at toddler’s plate and they have eaten approximately zero food.
13. You say, “You have to eat 3 bites and try your salad before you have dessert.” You don’t know why you say these things, sometimes you just open your mouth and your mother comes out.
14. Because your toddler can’t count they shout, “No, five bites!”
15. Your older child starts to say, “But, you know, five is more than…” and you give them your best, “your iPad hangs in the balance of your next words” look.
16. And then your family carefully avoids looking at the toddler because, like a shy giraffe, they won’t place food in their mouth while being watched.
17. Your toddler happily eats five bites (and tries the salad!) all alone at the table three hours after everyone has finished their dinner.
18. And then they just might get some dessert because you know that you put oatmeal in that cookie and that the calories from that cookie might just keep them alive for another day.
Related post: The 10 Dumbest Things I’ve Said to My Toddlers