Once your little one is a toddler, they can practically feed themselves, although not without making a mess!
Meal times with a toddler are not without trouble-free however, and many parents encounter difficulties at this stage.
Whether it's a lack of appetite, a fussy eater or even just terrible table manners, these problems can be resolved.
It will take time and patience but you can get your toddler to eat healthy balanced meals.
1. Only eating one or two foods
Many toddlers go through a phase of only eating certain foods for several days or even weeks.
If they're eating nutritious foods, even if it's the same food over and over again, it won't affect their health.
Remain patient and keep offering a variety of healthy foods without pressuring your child to eat.
Sometimes they will just grow out of it.
2. Picky eater
You never know how this little one will react to a new food and you're at your wit's end trying to get them to eat.
Eating solid food is still a new experience for your toddler and they have to get used to many different tastes, textures and flavours.
So it's quite common for a toddler to refuse new foods until you've served them numerous times.
Toddler enjoy making their own choices and saying yes or no to food is one of the main ways they can do this.
Again, patience and persistence is key but don't let mealtimes become a power struggle. Set a good example and let them see you eating a varied healthy diet.
It can be distressing if your toddler gags during meals. Be aware of choking hazards and cut their food into bite-sized portions.
Sometimes a toddler will gag if they're eating too much, eating too fast or simply don't like the texture of the food.
The best way to prevent it is to have your toddler relaxed before meal times and encourage them to chew their food throughly.
4. Bad table manners
Some little ones have fantastic appetites but not the best table manners.
If your little one is prone to throwing food everywhere or banging the spoon loudly off the table, it's totally normal.
It takes young toddlers some time to learn how to behave during meal times.
However, it's never too early to instill good manners and you can do this by praising good behaviour at the table.
Sometimes toddlers make a fuss at mealtimes to get attention so don't give in to this.
5. Refusing to eat
Toddlers can display some strange eating habits, eating everything in sight one day, then refusing to eat the next.
Encouragement and a good meal-time structure are key in resolving this.
Don't try to make bargains or threats with them, as this will just cause more difficulties down the line.
Allow your tot to feed themselves if they've been refusing to eat. Sometimes they just want to exercise their own autonomy.
6. Power struggles
Everyone who has a toddler will know that they sometimes use meal times as a way to create a power struggle.
If your toddler has a habit of doing this, it's best to serve them the meal without commenting on eating habits. Try not to talk about the food around the table where possible.
Even if they haven't eaten the entire meal, take their plate when it's time to clean up. Let them know meals have to end at a certain time.
Don't give them snacks too close to meal times, that way they are more likely to eat a full meal.