Getting my toddlers to sit down and eat dinner is tricky. My boys like to move and sitting at a table feels like a chore. Instead of fighting it and removing all the fun from dinner, I made peace with it. I embraced the craziness, and now we play dinner games a few nights a week to help them get the dinner in.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you pull out the family collection of board games each night, although Hungry Hippo has gotten me through many a veggie curry. Instead, all you need are a few simple things from around the house that will help you interact and play with the kids at the table. You’ll be surprised how much food goes in and how stress-free you feel after dinner.
Here are my top 3 games:
TRY THIS WHILE YOU’RE COOKING: Entertain the Kids Until Dinner with Invitations to Create
Game 1 – Snap Card Game
This card game is an oldie but a goodie for a reason: it’s great. I love playing this with my boys because it makes us all sit down, stop and chew our food. I find it moves quick enough to get in the all-important ‘mouthfuls’ after every false move of the ‘snap’ hand. If they miss, they eat! If your kids are a little bigger you can give ‘Go-Fish’ a try with the same cards (when you pick up, you have to eat a mouthful). We’re slowly moving on to that one too, mouthful by mouthful.
Game 2 – Stencils With Sneaky ‘Colour Change Trick’
I got my babes some great stencils for Christmas. They’re just like the ones I used to have for school projects when I was little, and wow do my boys love them. I have a sneaky rule, every time they want to change colour or stencil (which is often), they have to eat. It works well and is fun for us all (I still LOVE stencils!). If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll love chopping out their designs with scissors afterwards, which becomes extra quiet, munchinDg on food time!
Game 3 – Pom-Pom Chop Stick Game
This is such a fun game because there are so many ways you can play it. You can have the kids sort colours, or count out quantities into labelled jars, or even do time trials to see who can pick things up and move them the quickest. The key I find is to have quick games, that way they can eat a mouthful in between turn. We use pom poms, popcorn, nuts, even small fruit like grapes and berries as the counters. We’ve also tried toys like blocks and trucks (lots of laughs there).
Which game do you think your toddler will go for?
PS – if all else fails, grab Hungry Hippo – it always works at my place.