Making and Enjoying Meals with Your Child

Man and boy washing strawberries in sink.

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 he or she is still hungry.

  • Don't force your child to finish the meal. Your child should stop eating when he or she feels full.

  • If your child chooses not to eat, don't force him or her. 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!

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:




Wrap potatoes in foil

Mix ingredients

Place things in trash

Wipe tables

Tear lettuce

Same as 3-year-olds plus:

Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs

Mash bananas using a fork

Set the table

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:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

  • Choose My Plate