Does mealtime feel like a struggle rather than a chance to connect with your little one? Does it feel like your kids aren’t excited for the healthy meals you make or engaged during your meals together? Here are a few tips that have made mealtimes with our kids more focused and fun!
How to get your kids excited about mealtime
Written by: Jessica Diamond, MPH, RDN
Does mealtime feel like a struggle rather than a chance to connect with your little one? Does it feel like your kids aren’t excited for the healthy meals you make or engaged during your meals together? Here are a few tips that have made mealtimes with our kids more focused and fun:
Get your kids involved in the kitchen. We cannot stress this enough! Make your kid your little sous chef. Let them touch and feel fruits and vegetables, let them help prepare meals in an age-appropriate way, and even let them taste-test during the cooking process. Check out this article for how to get started!
Teach your kids about where food comes from. Kids are curious by nature, and they learn so much from reading, listening, and exploring. Hayley has found it so helpful to expose Liv to their backyard garden, where she can feel the soil, watch vegetables grow, and pick the produce they’ll cook with later.
Make meals fun and engaging. Pick your child’s favorite book and make a meal themed around that book. Use cookie cutters or other items to help your kids grow their imagination around food. Ask them questions like “What color is that food?” or “What does that food remind you of?” Hayley has many princess-themed meals in her house! Shop our favorite items for making the most of mealtime here.
Last, but definitely not least, don’t pressure your kids to eat anything. Pressure about foods, whether positive or negative, can lead to picky eating and mealtime power struggles. Sit back and let your kids explore, touch, and taste food on their own. This will help them build independence and intuition around eating, which is something we all want!
Shop Our Faves
Here are our top items to make meals more fun and engaging! Nothing fancy here, just a couple inexpensive items you may already have that will help grow your kids’ imagination and involvement at meals, which means less selective eating, less picky eating, and fewer mealtime power struggles!
Replace regular silverware with themed utensils. We can always count on these to ignite our kids’ imagination at meals, like an airplane coming in for a landing (in their soup) or a construction truck dropping off some dirt (aka black beans) at the yard.
Change the plate! A themed plate of trucks or ducks or a good old silicone ice tray or cupcake tin does the trick.
Offer them a small set of tongs (these and these) or kid-safe toothpicks, aka the coolest silverware your child has ever seen! Plus, it helps with fine motor skills!
Pull out a crinkle cutter! These have a fun shape, help babies grab food easier, and are not too sharp, which means your toddler or kid can help you cut through soft foods with it.
Offer a kid-safe knife. This is a game changer for teaching kids to cook and gain independence with food. They can use one to help prep meals with you or cut up the items on their plate. (And these knives are safe even when our kids inevitably stick them in their mouths!)
Use mini cookie cutters for fruits, veggies, and cheese. These will take a meal or snack from ordinary to extraordinary! Turn a cucumber into a turtle or a cantaloupe into a heart.
Want to learn more about raising independent, less picky, and intuitive eaters?
If you or your child is having a health emergency, please call 911 or your emergency services number immediately.