Family Meals

Posted by on Oct 20, 2011
in Babies & Toddlers, Blog

From October 4 – 18, we ran a great contest with Healthy Families BC to help them promote their on-line presence.  To enter, participants had to "Like" Healthy Families BC on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter AND post one good idea on our Facebook Page for how we can involve our children in family meals.  We got a whole lot of great ideas.  Seems to me, all the participants – and their kids – are winners when it come to good family eating habits!

But the winner of the Lululemon Athletica Gift Card is …. (drum rollllll) … Tabitha Easton!!  Here is her really good idea for family meals:

  • "To get my 18 month old son involved I start at the grocery store.  I let him choose between which fruit and vegetables we eat that week.  When it comes to preparing meals he is always at my side wanting to help.  His jobs are to pass me the food from the fridge, throw any garbage away and put all the recycling in the appropriate boxes!  He loves it 🙂  He has his own metal play set of pots and pans and when I cook I put one or two food items in his pans, that way he feels like he is helping me cook… and I don’t have to stress about him being near the stove 🙂 our routine works perfectly! …this month anyway haha."  – Tabitha Easton

  • "Here are all the other ideas – in no particular order.  Thanks to all our participants!

  • "Get the kids to help when making dinner!"  – Anita

  • "I’ve always found that feeding my daughter the same (or roughly the same) food that we’re eating helps her to feel part of the meal and part of the family. So from an early age we used a Baby Led Weaning approach and would give her large pieces of soft food that she could mouth, even well before her teeth showed up. She loved to feel like she was eating the same meal as her parents."  – Sarah

  • "Having kids help out in the kitchen is not only a great way to get them involved and a way teach healthy choices but it’s also an amazing sensory integration tool ex. Making bread!"  – Ashley

  • "I try to let my little one pick out whatever produce item she fancies when we’re at the grocery store… it seems that if she’s empowered to choose her own food, there is a really good chance she will eat it later!"  – Nancy

  • "My littles ones climb up on the chair and help plate there food and take their plates to the dinner table.  Table time in our house is so important.  Everyone shares something fun they did that day.  I also let them open the fridge the pick there snack… 9 times out of 10 they pick the healthy ones." 

  • "Bring baby to the table well before s/he is onto solids.  If meal time is family time then it should include everybody from the very beginning."  – Chantelle

  • "Make meals & snacks varied!"  – Dagmar

  • "Have a high chair or seat for baby that pulls right up to the table so baby feels like part of the family."  – Kyla

  • "We eat at the table together. I find if I feed my little one with grown up spoons she is happier than little baby spoons."  – Jennifer

  • "During our meals with our little guy we will talk to him and practice clapping and other fun things so he doesn’t get bored.  We also like to wheel the high chair in view of the kitchen while we are getting dinner ready.  He loves to watch us work and we talk to him about what we are doing, and what different veggies look like.  Hopefully he will be cooking us meals sooner than later (haha!).  Chef in the making perhaps??"  – Margaret 

  • "We shop garden and cook together as a family tge kuds get to pick what they want to plant for the season.  We also talk about how the new baby breastfeeds instead of solids at meal times!!!"  – Heather Elise 

  • "Get them involved in the kitchen and cook together!"  – Karen

  • "Our little guy is only 15 months and sometimes doesn’t last too long at the table.  We try to have a good variety of food options to keep his interest and lately his interest in mastering the use of cutlery helps as well!"  – Sarah

  • "Let you kids have a say in whats for dinner!!!  If they pick something fun to eat then pair it with something healthy as a compromise!  – Lucy

  • "We get our daughter to help out in the dinner.  She loves to "add" stuff when we’re baking.  Now only if it would work with veggies :)"  – Michelle

  • "I am a full time nanny for 5 children (all 5 years and younger) and they love helping make snacks and lunch, and especially love picking fresh fruit off the trees and helping wash them and get the dishes out."  – Liz

  • "Involve kids in the entire process – from shopping at the grocery store, to growing fresh veggies, to actual meal preparation. Kids are so much more willing to try things that they’ve had a vested interest in.  And of course, having a family dinner every evening, with the TV and computers off and everyone sitting around the dining room table engaging in good old fashioned conversation!"  – Dona

  • "My tip for involving kids in making meals is to let them help you prepare the food.  Talk to your kids about what the food is made of and why it is healthy (or not) for you to eat and how it makes your body stronger."  – Melissa

  • "Love this contest!  To get my 1 year old daughter to be involved and feeling like part of the family meal we all share our plates with her but taking things from our own and adding them to her tray.  My little Amara will eat anything she sees her Mummy and Da enjoying!"  – Beth

  • "Excited for this contest!  I always involve my 2.5 yo in the kitchen, safely.  He gets things from the fridge, throws things away, recycles for me.  He gets little bits of things to try at the same time.  It’s less formal and less intimidating to try broccoli if you don’t have a plateful staring you down."  – Mira

  • "In my quest to get the Lululemon Gift Card… I involved my baby in family meals by having everyone sit at the dining table including the baby.  At the beginning the car seat sat on top of the table, then B moved to a high chair and now his own chair (or occasionally still Mama’s lap) :)"  – Amanda

  • "My tip is to always eat meals as a family at a table. We lose so much family time if we never eat as a family.  Also when they are old enough I also think that its a really good idea to bring them on a farm tour so that they can see how their vegetables are grown.  I took a group of kids one summer and they were amazed to see the different ways food grew."  – Traci Ann 

  • "We do our best to eat the same or similar things and eat together.  It can be a little hard since Jaxson has intolerances but we do our best.  For instance we had french toast last night with strawberries and banana so Jaxson had rice bread with strawberries, banana and Jam 🙂  We do our best."  – Cara

  • "One Good Thing that I do to involve my baby (8 months) into the family meals has been to re-organize our dinner schedule and our entire eating experience as a whole.  Before I was pregnant my boyfriend and I would eat whenever we were hungry and always in front of the television.  Now, to help all of us make healthy choices and to set a good example for our son, we’ve made a schedule to eat together every night at 5:30pm.  The tv set is turned off and all the computers and cell phones are taken away from the table.  Hopefully we are setting the example that dinner time (or any meal time) is a time for family to enjoy each others company, enjoy some good food and conversation, and establish a link between happy families and healthy eating habits."  – Katie

  • "Use the fact that vegetables comes in so many shapes and colours to your advantage and make funny faces or interesting shapes out of them on your kids’ plates."  – Lisa

  • "My 17 month old son is a great help in the kitchen: adding ingredients, mixing and stirring, taste testing, pressing buttons, ‘washing’ the dishes and throwing the odd bit of plastic into the garbage.  His ‘job’ is to take the cutlery, and anything else not hot or breakable, to the table.  Then we all sit down and eat together."  – Elizabeth

  • "Before our daughter was old enough to sit in a high chair, she always sat in one of our laps or in her bumbo during meals so that she was included even at a young age.  Now that she has started solids, we have earlier dinners so we can all eat together as a family and at least one of us always sits down to eat with her at breakfast and lunch."  – Andrea

  • "We have a garden where we grow berries, peas, beans, garlic, carrots, kale and potatoes.  Naomi (3) loves to go into the backyard and pick the the ingredients for a salad and then pull a chair up to the counter and help wash the veggies and spin the salad spinner. We eat breakfast and dinner together."  – Heather

  • "When our daughter was 4 months old she started to show an interest in what we were eating.  Feeling as though it was too early to start her on solids we gave her an empty bowl and spoon to entertain her so we could make it through our dinner.  By the time she was 6 months old and ready for solids she had enough practise getting the spoon from the bowl to her mouth that she could feed herself!"  – Aiko

  • "I like to get my son, who is 2, to help with prepping our dinner.  He can help tear up greens, measure rice, choose a pasta shape, etc.  Then when it ends up on his plate, he seems more interested in eating it when I remind him that he helped to make it."  – Rebecca

  • "When preparing meals, I always have my one year old son close by and show him all of the vegetables and fruit I’m using.  He usually holds them and plays with them (and sometimes tries to eat them!)  We aim to have all meals as a family. :)"  – Ashley

  • "To get my 15 month old involved in dinner – we always have her nearby when cooking or barbecuing – we show her what we are doing and talk to her about what we are eating.  We always have dinner as a family without tv or any other distractions."  – Brittany

  • "In order to involve my daughter in family meals, I have her do stuff she enjoys.  She loves to set the table, choose fruit & veggies from the crisper, wash produce, and of course pick stuff from the vegetable garden!"  – Kerri

  • "One way that I include my toddler in our family meals is to bring him out to the vegetable garden and have him help harvest the vegetables we’ll be eating.  When we’re eating we always sit together and ask each other about what we did that day."  – Jen

  • "I always eat with my 10 month old, and dinner is a family affair.  When I’m busy preparing something in the kitchen, and he wants to see what’s going on I put the high chair in the kitchen, put him in it, and give him his own cooking show!"  – Izabela

  • "To involve our 11 month old, I let him explore the fridge with me while I pick out the ingredients to use for dinner.  When he picks something up, I tell him what it is and talk about what properties it has.  He loves playing in the vegetable drawer!"  – Jennifer

  • "We start by having our baby’s sit in a high chair with toys/plastic plate or cup while we eat.  Then once they start solids we let them play with the food while we eat.  Now my daughter helps me prepare dinner and my 16 mo son watches and says, "mmmmmmm!"  I think eating together as a family is most important!"  – Vashti