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Parenting Resource Library

Family Mealtime

Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on the task of eating and give you a chance to model good behaviors.

It takes a little work to bring everyone together for meals. But it’s worth it and the whole family eats better.

Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit. 
Plan when you will eat together as a family. Write it on your calendar. 
You may not be able to eat together every day. Try to have family meals most days of the week.

Make family meals enjoyable

• Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the television. Take phone calls later.
• Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time. Cook together. Eat together. Talk together. Make mealtime a family time!
• Encourage your child to try foods. But, don’t lecture or force your child to eat.
• Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions like: 
What made you feel really happy today? 
What did you have to eat at lunch today? 
What’s your favorite veggie? Why? 
Tell me one thing you learned today. 
What made you laugh today?
• Have your child help you get ready to eat. Depending on age, your child may be able to: 
Help set the table 
Put pets, toys, or books in another room 
Turn off TV 
Put down place mats 
Hand out napkins and silverware 
Pick flowers for table 
Clear the table 
Wipe the table

Ideas for fast family meals

• Cook it fast on busy nights. Try stir-fried meat and vegetables, quick soups, sandwiches, or quesadillas.
• Do some tasks the day before. Wash and cut vegetables or make a fruit salad. Cook lean ground beef or turkey for burritos or chili. Store everything in the fridge until ready to use.
• Find quick and tasty recipes that don’t cost a lot to make.

More on Healthy Eating Habits:

• Set a Good Example
• Offer a Variety of Foods
• Start with Small Portions
• Help Them Know When They’ve Had Enough
• Follow a Meal and Snack Schedule
• Cope with a Picky Eater
• Help Them Try New Foods
• Make Food Fun



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