Nearly a third of toddlers use an iPad while sat at the dinner table.
While almost half of parents (42 per cent) in the South West see the everyday meal occasion as an opportunity for family bonding, the GrowingUpMilkInfo.com research reveals that nearly a third of toddlers (29 per cent) in the South West use hand-held gadgets, such as an iPad, at the table.
Child Psychologist, Dr Richard Woolfson said: “The family meal can be such a wonderful time for parents and children alike. It allows them to share their feelings, thoughts, and ideas through face-to-face communication, while also giving parents the opportunity to encourage positive eating habits and provide good nutrition to support this amazing period of toddler growth and development.
"Unfortunately, this research reveals that a fairly high percentage of parents allow their toddler to play with a gadget while munching at mealtimes, which is a cause for concern. Although technology does add new and exciting dimensions to a toddler’s life, access to gadgets at the family dining table inevitably distracts children from eating what’s in front of them, reduces their desire to chat with others during dinner, isolating them from the dynamic communication of the family meal. This is a lost opportunity and a solid reason why it’s best to make at least some family mealtimes a no-gadget zone. After a few initial protests, your toddler will soon adapt and everyone will experience the full psychological and nutritional benefits of an IT-free family meal.”
Toddlers in the South West are more likely to identify cartoon characters than the food on their plate. Peppa Pig is the most recognisable, with more than half of toddlers (55 per cent) able to identify the cartoon pig, compared to just less than a third (31 per cent) being able to name broccoli. Thomas the Tank Engine is more familiar to toddlers than olives (22 per cent) and avocado (4 per cent), with a third (33 per cent) able to choo-choose him when asked.
When it comes to knowledge of toddlers' nutritional needs, one in five parents (20%) in the South West admits they are more familiar with the weekly TV schedule than their little ones' daily vitamin D dietary requirement.
A quarter (26 per cent) of parents in the South West admit to using technology to persuade their little one to finish a meal, with less than one in five (14 per cent) mums and dads spending less than five minutes of the meal talking to their toddler about the food they are eating.
Leading child nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton said: "Toddlers have specific nutritional requirements that aren’t always easy to meet, especially when it comes to topping up their diet with important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D. Offering your little one a healthy balanced toddler diet can be a struggle at the best of times but, as the survey reveals, it's only made more difficult when they're distracted by technology.
"Parents need to be well informed about their toddler's nutritional needs, in order to ensure their diet is being supported during this period of growth and development. Unfortunately, our toddlers don't make it easy for us though, with the survey revealing nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of little ones in the South West leave their fruit and vegetables till last on their plate. Because of this, it's worth knowing there are fortified products that are easy to offer on a daily basis to help top-up their diets. For example, just two 150ml beakers a day of Growing Up Milk provides 73 per cent of toddlers’ daily dietary recommendation for vitamin D."
For more information on toddler health and nutrition visit GrowingUpMilkInfo.com