Making mealtime fun for your kids
Having meals together at the dinner table is anchoring activity for every family, providing that essential pause to talk and bond in between work, school, chores and curricular activities.
Here are some ways to get your kids excited about food and engaged at mealtime.
Make mealtime a fun learning experience
Toddlers are often referred to as ‘sponges’ for how much they’re absorbing and learning on a daily basis; so why not extend some stimuli to mealtime by having fun activities at the dining table?
Some ideas could include:
- Using different coloured plates or foods to get your kids to match colours,
- Getting your kids to identify shapes by using cookie cutters to create cucumber stars, rice squares, fruit triangles and more,
- Introducing new food items regularly to increase their vocabulary, or by getting your kids to describe their food (‘crispy’ chicken, ‘mushy’ peas, etc) to promote their use of adjectives,
- Playing blindfold games where your kids have to guess food items based on smell, taste or feel, getting them more concentrated in using their senses.
Even if just once a week, it will be a family activity that your kids look forward to, and moments they will remember forever.
#ParentingHack: Programme your kids’ appetite with a mealtime routine
No doubt your kids will be more enthusiastic about consuming their meal if they come to the dinner table hungry, but not too hungry or that will lead to overeating.
Best practice not just for your kids but your entire household, would be to have your meals at the exact same time every day; for example at noon for lunch, and 7:30pm for dinner. Just like sticking to a bedtime routine that helps ensure your kids start getting sleepy at the same hour every evening, by programming your kids to a mealtime routine (with no snacking in between except for a designated snack time), their appetites will be regulated to know when to expect meals and nutrition at the same time every day.
Bonus: Parents get to add predictable regularity to their schedule too, which is known to be positive for productivity and energy.
#ParentingHack: Getting your kids to eat their greens
Convincing children to eat their veggies can be a challenge. But here are a few tricks to keep up your sleeves:
- Introduce them to new fruits or veggies by blending them into something they’re more familiar with, like a juice smoothie. This way you develop their palate for those new foods, making them less averse to the next time you serve them.
- Or just trick them altogether! If your kid likes lasagna, make an eggplant version. If your kid avoids broccoli, cut it up bake it into a chicken pie. They don’t have to know, and most importantly they’re still their daily fibre and nutrition.
- Get them when their guard is down! Your kids are going to be more open to new foods when they’re hungry. If your kids are famished after playing sports for example, they’re more likely to gobble up whatever you serve them – giving you an opening to serve a veggie-packed meal!
- Give them options. When possible, prepare at least two fibrous dishes; that way, you can counter your kids’ veggie-repellant argument by saying they have to choose at least one of the two, saving the rest of the veggie portions for the adults.
Get them involved
No doubt cooking together can be a bonding experience, and it offers so many opportunities to learn. Teach your kids math by measuring out ingredients, develop their senses by letting them get their hands dirty, and improve their motor skills by letting them stir the bowl.
And don’t forget the fun parts! If making a batch of cookies, let your kids decorate their own, and praise them for their creativity. The sense of accomplishment will give them confidence and improve their self-esteem, and might even inspire their future career in food!
Eating out with the family? Easily find kid-friendly dining in the Klang Valley on the GemSpot app today!