Prolonged meal times have been a problem at our table. The longer your child is at the table, the less likely he is to eat. “Waiting them out” rarely works. They are stubborn creatures and if their body/mind doesn’t want it, they won’t eat it just because you make them sit for a long time. My son has missed playtime, bath time, and other activities he enjoys and it never lead to more eating. It definitely led to problems with my parental attitude. It is much easier to keep calm for 30 minutes then for 60 or more. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Just move on with your day.
If your child isn’t hungry (or is very tired) he is not going to be interested in eating much and is much less likely to try new foods. More than once, schedules have resulted in a late dinner and multiple snacks have been handed over to my preschooler to ward off the persistent requests at my feet for food. I often regret this response. Limit snacks and make what is offered healthy so that you aren’t as concerned if you over-shoot your mark and your child isn’t hungry at the meal time.
The definition of age appropriate foods varies with culture and other contexts, but it does take time for children to develop the sensory tolerance for certain flavors, spice, texture and temperature. Children whose food is precut into bite-sized pieces tend to struggle less at mealtime. Children also respond well to visually appealing foods just as adults do. Making the food look fun can help. I continue to resist this to some degree, despite knowing it to be true. My “foodie”, kitchen-loving, CSA supporting ways have brought some unusual things onto my child’s plate. Since I have a “picky” eater, it does not always go well. This does not mean that your child should be eating chicken nuggets, etc. at every meal.