experts cornerhealth updateKids NutritionLive CultureIndustry resources

Return to Kids' Nutrition

Mastering Mealtime

Stressed out at mealtime? Try the following tips to make meal and snack time a positive experience for all:

Hey look, it fits! To help kids feel more comfortable and in control, use child-sized eating utensils, chairs and tables.

Help yourself, please. Serve meals family-style to foster development of motor skills, and so that kids can begin relating serving size to their appetite.

Get kids involved. Children are more likely to eat something they've helped prepare.

Accept the mess. Young children can be messy eaters, but it's inevitable while they learn how to use forks, how to eat certain foods, and how to serve themselves.

Give it time. Most preschoolers have "new food" phobia. The more often a food is presented to a child, the more familiar the food becomes, and the more likely the youngster is to eat it. Research shows that many young children need to be exposed to a new food between eight and ten times before they'll even take a bite.

Aim to please. Preschoolers love to eat colorful foods; they enjoy foods in shapes, and have a tendency to like their foods compartmentalized rather than all mixed together.

Don't force feed. There's no such thing as the "clean plate club." Force feeding will lead to bad feelings and negative behavior.

Set an example. Make sure you eat the foods you expect kids to eat.