5 Ways To Make Meal Time Easier With Your Child

  1. Sit as a family: When juggling work, sports, and multiple schedules, it can be difficult to get food on the table, let alone sit down as a family.  Sitting as a family offers many benefits including conversation time, modeling good eating habits, and introducing new or non-preferred foods. Family mealEncourage your child to talk about their day without being interrupted.  Taking your time and chewing thoroughly while eating are good eating habits to model. When new foods are introduced, your child is more likely to try these foods if they observe you or siblings eating them as well.
  2. Turn off the TV: In order to eat without distraction, it is important to turn off of the TV during meal time.  Subsequently, ask your child to eat at the kitchen table rather than in the family room.  Eating in front of the TV may distract your child from the food on their plate, particularly if non-preferred food is offered.  Additionally, eliminating this distraction allows your child to concentrate on safe eating habits.
  3. Make it fun: Make meal time fun by introducing animals and characters.  First, tell your child there is a party in their tummy and all their food wants to be a part of it.  Encourage your child to eat more by taking a mouse bite (little bite) or a dinosaur bite (large bite).  Characterizing food can make food seem not so scary to children.  Call broccoli “trees”, or make Mickey Mouse shaped sandwiches or pancakes.  Fun utensils such as lizard forks or airplane spoons make meal time more fun too!
  4. Give your child choices: Getting your child to eat vegetables or a new food can be as difficult as taking them to the doctor.  Giving your child choices when it comes to their meals not only gives you full control, but it allows your child to feel like they have a part too. If vegetables are typically refused, introduce these foods as a choice rather than telling your child what they have to eat.  “Do you want broccoli or carrots?” or “Do you want ranch on the side, or do you want to eat your vegetables plain?”
  5. Include Child in Preparation: Encourage your child to help you prepare the food.  Allow your child to help add ingredients, add food to each plate, set the table, and clear the dishes.  Similarly to giving your child choices, let your child help choose what to eat for a meal.  When your child is included in the preparation, they are more likely to participate during meal time.

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