5 TIPS FOR ENGAGING YOUR CHILD AT MEAL TIME
Avoid snacks when it is near to meal times so that your child will be hungry enough to eat during dinner time. Being hungry for the meal will make them be more willing to sit and eat.
Try to create a healthy meal routine so that your child is familiarised with the eating schedule, which also sets up their appetite to eat. Other than regular meal times, snack times should also be regulated and not always given when your child demands for it.
It is advised that your little one be sat down in the highchair or at the dining table during meal times or snack times to establish the routine. You can also set a family rule to make the dining room a screen-free zone using our media use plan.
#1 GET A MEAL TIME SCHEDULE GOING
Getting your child involved during meal prep helps to make them excited for the meal. For example, ask them what foods they would like to be included to make them feel involved.
You can try asking them what colour they would like in their meal today - yellow for omelette, green for broccoli or red for tomato. This does not mean that your child gets to make the decision for the food types in their meals.
Mummies and daddies can present them with a few healthy choices and let their little ones choose from there. Make it fun for them and eating will not be a chore!
#2 GET THEM INVOLVED
It is important that parents use age-appropriate eating utensils to feed children or encourage children to eat by themselves.
Your child may be eating slowly because the utensil is too small or they might be dropping food all over because they are unable to grip the utensil. Eating with hands can also be a good way for them to explore with food textures and exercise their motor development skills.
Parents can also get fun eating utensils to make meal time interesting for children, such as a foodie playground eating plate.
#3 USE PROPER EATING UTENSILS
Eating with your child is a bonding time as well! Meal time may seem like a mundane day-to-day routine but parents can explore many types of fun during this time. Avoid using television or screens to entertain them while they eat, this will take away their focus on the meal and put them on autopilot mode. Passive mindless consumption of food has been associated with unhealthy eating habits and obesity in adulthood.
Engaging with them during meal time can create a special bond between mummies and daddies with their little ones. Tell them a story of how the food came about, roleplay a scenario between a chef and customer or even teach them a song about chewing!
#4 EAT WITH THEM AND REMOVE DISTRACTIONS
Lastly, don’t give up! We know that feeding your little one is never an easy task. Each child is different and unique in their own special way. Even though there are tips and a general guide, what works for others, may not work for you.
Try different methods of engaging your child at the dining table, and slowly you will find out what works the best for your family. You may not find the solution immediately, but going screen-free during meal times will definitely benefit you and your child in the long run.
Meal times are important times of the day when your family can sit down and have a conversation, don’t let screens come in your way!
#5 PERSISTENCE IS KEY