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Happy family mealtimes

In the day-to-day reality of family life, mealtimes can become a battleground – with exhausted parents running out of patience when their children refuse to eat what's on their plate. Children are, however, more likely to accept and enjoy a wide variety of food when mealtimes are enjoyable. The following tips will help to make family mealtimes happy mealtimes.

Top tips for happy family mealtimes

  • Get into a regular routine of sitting down together for meals away from distractions such as TV, toys and phones – at a table, picnic-style on the floor or wherever works for your family
  • Involve children in planning a healthy meal that everyone will like – and in helping to prepare it
  • Try to create a positive atmosphere – by smiling, chatting and showing interest in what everyone has been doing, rather than just concentrating on whether the children are eating and getting through the meal
  • Set age-appropriate limits for mealtime behaviour – while accepting that young children will make a mess at first
  • Offer healthy food choices – and then let children decide how much they can eat and when they are full
  • Eat with your children: when young children see you eating and enjoying healthy food, they are more likely to try it – and decide they like it
  • Praise children for trying new food even if they don’t eat very much of it
  • Depending on their age, gently encourage children to eat independently
  • Allow children to eat at their pace rather than rushing them to finish or urging them to hurry up
healthy eating right from the start
Healthy eating: Right from the start

Helping babies and young children develop healthy eating habits right from the start