Our dinner table used to be a battlefield!

Pleading, yelling, bribing my kids to just try their meal. I’ve lovingly created many a dish that is quickly rejected by suspicious small eyes.

But, I managed to change the dining table into an enjoyable place! A place where we can sit and chat about our day. Where we can talk about flavours and enjoy each other’s company.

Why did I want to change it?

Creating a happy family mealtime is important.

Role modelling is one of the biggest influences on children’s eating habits. If you eat and enjoy healthy foods in front of your kids, your kids will learn to follow your lead.

Kids are more likely to try new foods in a relaxed, calm environment. Plus, I’d rather have fun than feuds at the table, it is far more enjoyable.

So, here are my tips for creating a happy family mealtime:

1. Eat with your kids

Eat at the table, without distractions (namely, turn off the TV). Do this at least once a day, more if you can. I make sure that I sit and eat with my kids every dinnertime. I used to wait for my husband, but now I eat with my kids, as I want to educate them about healthy eating. We plan two days a week where my partner is home early enough for us to both sit and eat with the kids. You can use the weekends for this.

2. Relax, breathe and don’t take it personally

Often as parents we are so worried about our kids eating that we feel rejection and failure when they don’t devour everything we put on their plates. We start to panic before we even sit down about whether or not our kids will like what we have prepared.

Relax, breath and stay calm. Your kids are more likely to try new foods if you remain calm.

Don’t take it personally if they don’t love a dish you have made, tastes take time to develop. Calmly eat and enjoy the dish in front of them and in time they will follow your lead.

3. Talk about your day

Family meal times are a great opportunity to talk about your day. Share funny stories, teach other family members something interesting you learnt that day, come up with solutions to problems. Create a pleasant atmosphere rather than focusing entirely on how much of what food everyone has eaten.

4. Expect them to eat!

Many parents serve new foods to their kids, expecting they won’t eat it. Or have given up offering certain foods they expect kids to reject. Change your tune, expect your kids to eat things!

Continue to offer food in a relaxed environment and one day they will simply start eating it.

5. Forget the begging or bribing

Talk about how the food looks, smells and tastes. Talk about how the food will help them to be their best. Jump high, run fast, better memory, keen eyes for reading. Remember the food politeness rule (see below)!

6. Set a few rules

Expect kids to sit at the table to eat. Encourage them to stay and chat until others have finished their meals. As they grow, teach them table manners, help them to develop their cutlery skills and teach them the food politeness rules.

Do you eat with your kids? How do you create fun family mealtimes?

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  • One thing we do every night is eat dinner with the kids, they help set the table. I have two very different eater, meat before veg, veg before meat. It’s interesting to watch them muddle through dinner, but they are
    Pretty good most nights


  • i’d like tips for toddlers who won’t listen and are super active!


  • I love these tips and I’ll be using some of them from now on.


  • I always sat down with my kids at mealtimes. It’s a time that brought us all together for chats and catch ups. I really looked forward to it


  • We’ve always shared meals as a family – the perfect time and place to catch up on everyone’s day!

    • Exactly – we love good food and we love to chat and we love to be together to share food and the adventures of our day.


  • Role modelliing and rules always win the day at meal times. :)


  • We expect they try new foods, but they don’t have to finish the serving if they dislike it. They’re more willing to try things if they won’t be rocked to eat things they dislike.


  • We follow many of these rules anyway. They are good common sense type rules/expectations.


  • We’ve always eaten dinner together as a family and enjoy talking about our day.


  • We always have dinner together as a family. We’ve always done that. I never understood families where kids eat first and the adults eat later. It’s so much more enjoyable eating all together.
    And I also always have breakfast with my daughter, except on Sunday because it’s the only day she can sleep in, and by the time she wakes it’s almost lunchtime. ;-)


  • Good tips.
    I mostly sit with my youngest to help her eat. She’s 4 year old and has Down Syndrome. She needs a little hand and needs to be watched as she loves to throw her food anywhere and everywhere.


  • This is great food time advice!


  • Yes I always eat with my girl.


  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!


  • some great tips….going to try these!


  • Since my son turned two I’ve had a real battle with food. It’s like a switch flicked that meant he wasn’t going to eat vegetables anymore. This is the kid whose favourite food was previously broccoli. It’s frustrating but I’ll use your tips to remain calm and become a good role model. Thanks :-)


  • Very timely tips! I have 5 very fussy kids (I blame their dad, lol). Very useful tips anyway.


  • Meal time. Trouble time. I like to enjoy the time but she seems to be running around all the time.


  • definately eat together and it gives you a chance to talk and get the kids involved in memory making


  • Thank you for the tips in your article :)


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