10 Survival Tips for Toddler Meal Times

You may remember Danielle (Mrs H) from the fabulous lunchbox experiment she wrote  for me last year. You may also know Mrs H from the witty status updates on Facebook, or from one of her hilarious Holsby TV clips. Perhaps you have one of her ebooks – a survival guide for feeding small children.

I connected with Danielle early in my blogging journey, and have fallen in love with her wit, her down-to-earth nature, her food and her ability to say it as it is. She is one of the only bloggers I have met in person, and I can confirm she is who she says she is.

Her post on Keeping Up With The Holsbys about spending the night in a brothel blew me away. She wrote about marriage perfectly, and she gave a raw, honest account of being a victim of domestic abuse. This woman. 

What you may not already know is that Danielle has written, produced and is soon to launch her first ‘real’ book (with pages and stuff) called Cook Once, Feed All. From what I have seen, this is a must have cook book for any kid wrangler. As part of her lead up to the book launch on the 28th November, she is posting every day, either at her blog Keeping Up With The Holsbys, or guest posting on other blogs.

Here she is today with survival tips for toddler meal times. I so needed to read this.

It’s the end of the day, you’re tired, your edges are frayed and you will love your children just a little bit more once they’re asleep in bed.

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel but you have the final hurdle to go….

Arsenic Hour.

kids eating putta pasta (1 of 1)

I’ve long referred to the dinner/bath/bed routine as the Vortex and sometimes an hour can feel like a week.

Or a month.

Don’t get me wrong I love my kids, and generally speaking they’re pretty good feeders but dinner can be the camel that breaks the squaw’s back.

No wonder I love wine so much, right?

I’ve popped together a few survival tactics to help you make to bedtime without losing your cool, doing your block, and yelling until the neighbours close their windows (hypothetically speaking, not an actual eventuality).


We don’t have time to create meals that are fit for toddler Gods and not everything can be prettied up with grated carrot hair and cucumber eyes, however, I find that vibrant plates with options on it will often entice little minds and hands.


Ok, we’ve all done it and the truth is every now and then it’s totally fine, but the aim of the game is to teach our kids the great habit of sitting down together and chatting and sharing food.

How we eat is actually as important as what we eat.

Even if it’s not your dinner time, endeavor to sit with them and chat. I’m as guilty as the next person as trying to use this time to get the last few jobs done, but at the end of the day what’s more important??


Toddlers are super smooth operators and they’re totally not above a little bit of power play. If you both dig your heels in, and you come to loggerheads they’re often very aware of the game they’re playing and – get this – they love seeing how it messes with you.

Even if you’re about to lose it, you need to fake cool until you out play those little monkeys. 


Um, yeah. I know, right? If not bribery, then what??? Sometimes it’s the only arrow left in my quiver.

I’m going to tell you not to do it, but know that although the instant pay off is attractive in the long run it forms bad habits.

for zanni1-2


If your wee one is turning up their nose at the meal you spent an hour cooking and you simply offer them something else that they prefer, you may be creating a rod for your back that leaves you making multiple meals for years to come.

That sucks.

Obviously, sometimes they truly don’t like something, but my rule is you must eat 2 mouthfuls. If he gags, I don’t force it, and I may even offer something else, but he must try it. Usually it’s just the power play and once he tries it he’ll eat it.

I speak mostly of my toddler, D Man, as my one and a half year old will eat anything…. Except pumpkin.


I don’t allow any nibbles for an hour before dinner. If everyone if wigging out because they’re starving, I’ll bring dinner forward, but the second I succumb to a late snack I know it’s all over at the dinner table.

Conversely, I let them know that after they leave the table, that’s it. Unless they’ve eaten everything and they’re still complaining of hunger (how are those growth spurts??) I try not to let them keep snacking.

The idea is that you eat properly and mindfully at the table and then you’re done.


As children we have a very innate sense of our appetite. It’s not until we get older that we stuff ourselves to bursting with everything on the table. If your child has eaten a fair portion of what you served, and says they’re full, listen to them. If you force them to over ride their sense of satiation you may encourage over eating later in life.


Children can easily fill up on fluids and be turned off their meals. It is important to only offer water at mealtimes. As a general rule, I tend to only offer milk in the morning, after a nap and before bed, and the rest of the time is water. Once per day I may allow water with a little juice in it at a ratio of 70:30.


Our children learn best by observing us. If you are picky and fussy, chances are your child will be also. Don’t limit your child to only the food you enjoy (although no one in my house gets mushrooms, urgh!).

Lead by example by showing them that a healthy, balanced and varied diet is to be embraced.

10. WINE

The only explanation I’ll offer here is it’s for you, not them.

If mealtimes are truly a cause of anxiety, your child appears unwell or you are worried about your child’s growth seek a professional opinion.

I am launching my new book on the 28th November. The countdown is on!

Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All   Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All Cook Once, Feed All COVER_lr Danielle Colley Cook Once, Feed All

Cook Once, Feed All is about making your life easier whilst preparing nutritious and quick food for your family. This book is a collection of family friendly recipes, all accompanied by Danielle’s often funny and charming story telling.
 Hailed by Mouths of Mums as the ‘must have recipe book for all families’

For your chance to win Cook Once, Feed All today pop over and like the Keeping Up With The Holsbys Facebook page, and leave me a message about your most loved family meal. Winners will be announced tonight and will receive the ebook before it is launched.

If you subscribe now to the Keeping Up With The Holsbys mailing list now you will automatically receive my new mini-eBook ‘A Bit On The Side’  – A collection of fabulous summer salads and side dishes.

To pre-order your hardcopy of Cook Once, Feed All head to the Holsby Shop right now and you will be the first to receive the hard copy book after it launches on the 28th.

You will also receive the Cook Once Feed All eBook (worth $15), plus the new eBook ‘A Bit on the Side’ (worth $5) as a bonus gift in your inbox today.

Three for the price of one, and you save $20.

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