HealthSheets™


Making and Enjoying Meals with Your Child

Cooking and eating together is the best way to teach kids healthy eating habits. Kids need meal routines, just like they need bedtime routines. So, make mealtime family time. Let your child help prepare meals. Eat sitting together at the table. And turn off the TV and talk as a family.

Family mealtimes

Family mealtimes should be about eating, not arguing over food. Here are some tips:

  • Serve your child small portions. Your child can ask for more if they are still hungry.

  • Don't force your child to finish the meal. Your child should stop eating when they feel full.

  • If your child chooses not to eat, don't force them. But do turn off the TV and put away the toys. And make sure your child joins the family at the table. Let your child know that mealtimes are for sitting at the table, talking as a family, and enjoying the meal.

Your child can help!

Man and boy washing strawberries in sink.

Kids may be more likely to try new foods if they get to help make them. Even young kids can perform small tasks to help prepare meals and snacks. Here are some of the things that your child can do:

3-year-olds

4-year-olds

5-year-olds

Wrap potatoes in foil

Mix ingredients

Place things in trash

Wipe tables

Tear lettuce

Wash produce

Same as 3-year-olds plus:

Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs

Mash bananas using a fork

Set the table

Slice soft fruits or vegetables with a plastic knife

Same as 3- and 4-year-olds plus:

Measure ingredients

Pour cool liquids

Use an egg beater

Snap green beans

To learn more

For more tips on family mealtimes, visit:

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