As your little one grows, their nutritional needs also develop. When they are first born, feeding babies is relatively simple. Milk fills all their needs, and very well too. Once children start to show an interest in other food, getting them in a good routine is important to help their future eating habits.
Eating together around a table as a family is a wonderful time to discuss the day and to strengthen bonds, giving children a sense of stability and connectivity as they grow.
Here are our favourite tips for getting off to a good start:
1. Plan together
Children are more likely to be invested in a meal if they have taken part in the planning. Obviously, this doesn’t work for very young children, but maybe getting older children on your side will help the younger ones try different dishes. Likewise, children love to help, so, with guidance, even little ones can break eggs or stir batters.
2. Set the table
Preparing the table before serving means you don’t spend the first 5 minutes of the meal jumping up and down to collect missing items. As children grow, they can help with this. We have a 5-minute warning on ‘Food Time’, during which the children must wash their hands and help set the table. It doesn’t always go to plan, but meals times run smoother when we all take a share.
3. Know your place
It might seem odd, but having your own space, your own chair at the table, helps us feel settled. It might not be our favourite spot around the table, but it does save arguments. We didn’t always have our own chair when I was little, and the rush for the ‘best’ spot invariably ending in someone being upset.
4. Help everyone join in
When everyone is sat around the table, chatting, children feel part of the group. Using a high chair or a MiniMonkey MiniChair brings even little ones up to the same level. Admittedly you’ll need to move items out of arms reach, but as your little one grows they will realise that you are all important members of the family.
5. Make time, take time
Meals are where we learn family and cultural values, we learn of likes and dislikes, and where, with the distraction of food, we can talk openly to each other about what is on our mind. From a very young age, showing our children the importance of spending time together, regularly, can make all the difference.
Do you eat as a family? Have you seen any benefits in your children? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know!