Fact Sheet

Child-friendly mealtimes

How and where children eat is just as important as what they eat. Try these tips to help create positive mealtimes at your home or service

Eat together

Whether at home or in a childcare setting, eating together helps children try different food types and textures especially when they see their family, peers and carers enjoying them. 

Make mealtimes enjoyable

Keep calm and remember the division of responsibility ‘Parents and carers provide the food; children decide how much and whether they eat at all’.

Set the scene

Create an attractive eating environment for children to sit down and eat at meals and snack times. Letting children to be ‘in charge’ of details like setting the table will help them feel invested in the mealtime. Using tablecloths, placements and candles can help to make mealtimes more special. 

Encourage independent eating

Allow children to serve themselves and decide how much they will eat. This helps them to take ownership over the food they have chosen and also helps develop pouring, serving and passing skills.

Minimise distractions

Turn off screens and devices and put toys away. Mealtimes are an ideal opportunity for interacting with children and making conversation.

Expect a little mess!

Allow children to explore their food, engaging all of their senses. Let them eat touch, smell and handle their food with their fingers to help them become more familiar and accepting of new foods. 

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