Family meals together matter

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  • Family meals with your Toddler can help promote good nutrition and family bonding.
  • Eliminate distractions at mealtime, like television and cell phones.
  • Help make meals enjoyable by keeping conversations positive, providing food choices your toddler enjoys, and giving her developmentally appropriate utensils.
  • Have realistic expectations for how much your Toddler will eat and how long she will sit still.

Family meals are a great opportunity for providing nutritious foods and modeling healthy eating habits. Between 15 to 24 months, almost 60% of your Toddler’s energy comes from table foods. Children who have meals with their families eat more fruits and veggies, get more certain key nutrients and are more likely to be in a healthy weight range.

Your Toddler is paying closer attention to how your family interacts and eats together, so try to stay positive and set a good example. Research has shown that family meals help encourage language and communication skills in young children. This time spent at the table can also bring families closer, since it sets aside time to be together and connect.

Tips for a great mealtime with your Toddler

For a mealtime that helps your little one learn healthy eating habits and table manners, keep these tips in mind:

  • Designate a space for family meals away from the TV and free of distractions like phones.
  • Provide your Toddler with a developmentally appropriate chair and utensils.
  • Bring your Toddler into the family conversation and keep the topics positive. 
  • Include foods your Toddler is familiar with and enjoys at meals.
  • Encourage, but don’t force, your child to try new foods. Remember when introducing new foods, it may take up to ten tries before she will accept it. 
  • Offer healthy choices at meals and allow your Toddler to choose what she’ll eat.
  • Breakfast and snacks can count, too! Family meals can’t always happen at dinner, so work to find every opportunity to bring your family together.
  • Her tummy is much smaller than yours. Offer small portions and watch her hunger and fullness cues to know if she wants more or is finished. 
  • Be realistic about how much time your toddler will sit still. Try to keep her engaged in conversation, but realize at this age she may not last until everyone is finished.

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