Guardian Childcare & Education

How to Involve Your Child in Mealtimes

5th August 2022

two children ladling food

Life is fast and full! With the juggle of work, activities and family time, it’s hard to find a minute. Preparing dinner is something that we do every night, so why not make it a family task and turn mealtime into quality ‘together time’. Cooking can be collaborative; connecting and chatting over food preparation. At the same time, learning about making healthy food is a great way to discover first-hand all about healthy eating habits. Here are six ways to involve your child in mealtimes.

Team Effort

Whether you’re peeling sweet potato, chopping carrots or pulling out peas, getting the kids involved means more hands on deck at mealtimes. Children embrace food preparation and love spending time with you, so the more ways to get them on board, the better. Take them grocery shopping, get them sifting through recipe books or finding food on the internet. If they’ve been involved from the start, they’re more likely to try the end result.

Concept Cooking

There are many options beyond just the mixing of ingredients that can get little minds into gear. You can engage together in some simple numeracy by counting and measuring amounts. Watching how substances shift when blended can also open up whole new areas of learning. Using recipe books that are intended for children can demystify the cooking process with easy-to-understand instructions.

Active Helpers

There are a number of activities that children can do to make them feel capable in their cooking. Washing fruit and veggies, chopping, grating, peeling and stirring are some of the best prep pastimes. Other food-related favourites that little hands can lend themselves to are serving up, setting the table and helping to clean up after the meal is done.

Fuss Free

There’s not a parent out there who isn’t familiar with fussy toddlers, the food-time struggle and the food fights that can ensue. If you set a precedent that everyone eats the same thing, you can encourage children to try new flavours. The good news is that extreme fussiness is usually just a phase and if you stay consistent in your food strategy, this phase will be more manageable.

New Food

First of all, set the bar low and offer your children small portions at first; new food is less likely to be overwhelming if it’s small and manageable. Because they watch everything and everyone so intently, if your child sees you relishing a new food, they’ll be more inclined to give it a go. Be encouraging – you may need to offer the food multiple times before they’re open to trying it. Pressure won’t work, patience will be your best ally.

Food Talk

Bringing delicious into your dialogue can help familiarise your child with how their choices are linked to their mind and body. Explain why you need food to fuel your ‘get up and go’ and which foods help keep you vital and full of energy. Chatting about how food and exercise are linked can assist your child in understanding the idea of ‘sometimes’ vs ‘everyday’ foods.

Looking for some delicious and healthy recipe ideas to help involve your child in mealtimes? Head here.

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How to Involve Your Child in Mealtimes

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