The splattered finger foods, the half-eaten bananas, and the occasional food flinging can indeed make mealtimes a chaotic experience. But don’t you worry, we’ve got you all the ways to turn the tide from stressful to enjoyable.


Let’s start with understanding what may be your major stressors:

a. Your 12-month-old may not always finish their meals. This can be concerning, especially when you’re worried about their nutrition.

b. Food ends up everywhere but their mouth, leaving you with a major cleanup operation.

c. Mealtime battles: It can be frustrating when your baby resists certain foods or mealtime itself, turning it into a battle of wills.

d. Some babies enjoy the art of food throwing, turning your dining area into a temporary food battleground.

e. Fussy eating phases: Your baby might go through phases of fussiness where they refuse foods they once enjoyed.


Here’s what you can do to ease the chaos:

Relax about unfinished meals: It’s normal for babies to eat in spurts. They might eat heartily one meal and barely nibble the next. Focus on providing a balanced diet over the course of a day or a week rather than stressing about a single meal.

Embrace the mess: Messy mealtimes are a part of the process. Spread a large bib or newspaper under the highchair for easy cleanup. Let your baby explore different textures; it’s essential for their development.

Avoid mealtime battles: Instead of insisting that your baby finishes their food, create a positive mealtime environment. Offer a variety of nutritious options and let them choose what to eat. This empowers them and reduces mealtime battles.

Manage food throwing: If your baby enjoys the art of food throwing, offer small portions at a time. Praise them when they eat instead of throwing. A little positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Fussy eating phases: Understand that this is a common phase in a baby’s development. Be patient and continue offering a variety of foods. They’ll likely come around to their favorites again.

Set a routine: Babies thrive on routine. Try to have meals at roughly the same times each day. This helps regulate their appetite and creates a sense of predictability.

Family meals: Whenever possible, have family meals together. Babies often mimic the eating habits of adults, so be a good role model by enjoying a variety of foods yourself.

No distractions: Keep mealtime distractions like TV or mobile phones at bay. Focus on the meal and engage with your baby, making it a special bonding time.

Small portions: Offer small, manageable portions. You can always add more if your baby finishes everything.

Healthy snacks: Include nutritious snacks like sliced fruits or yogurt between meals to ensure they’re getting enough calories and nutrients.

Stay calm: Your baby can sense your stress. Stay calm and patient, even when mealtimes get messy. A relaxed atmosphere encourages better eating habits.

Consult a pediatrician: If you’re concerned about your baby’s eating habits or growth, consult a pediatrician or a registered dietitian specializing in child nutrition. They can provide guidance tailored to your baby’s needs.


While mealtimes with babies can be chaotic, they’re also filled with moments of joy and discovery. Remember, it’s a journey, not a destination.

By following these tips and maintaining a positive attitude, you can turn mealtimes into a less stressful and more enjoyable experience for both you and your little one.