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  • Writer's pictureShaina Rafkin

6 tips to make family mealtimes less stressful and more successful!

🍽️ Set a routine: If eating together as a family every day sounds overwhelming and impractical, I'm with you! Try choosing a few days/times that will work and stick to it so your family can get used to the schedule and know what to expect.

🍽️ Involve the kids in meal prep. This can include discussing the menu, prepping the food, setting the table, or serving. Studies have shown that children who are involved in meal preparation eat healthier foods! (van der Horst K, Ferrage A, Rytz A. 2014 Aug)

🍽️ Set realistic expectations. It's so frustrating when you take the time to prep a fabulous homemade meal, and your child won't stop playing to come to the table or comes to sit down but is gone by the time you put food on your plate. I learned from @eatersandfeeders that kids can be expected to sit at the table for the amount of minutes corresponding to their age. (Ex: 5 minutes for a 5 year old). She suggests setting a visual timer so the children know what is expected of them!This leads into my next tip!

🍽️Supportive seating: Try eating on a bar stool with your feet dangling while you're trying to manage utensils, keep your balance, process new foods and smells and take part in a social conversation. A general rule in feeding therapy is 90° 90° 90° (think elbows, hips and knees.) Sometimes something as simple as adding a stool under your child's chair for support can make all the difference!

🍽️Serve at least one preferred food. I know from experience that having at least one preferred food (even a dessert!) will lur in your most hesitatant eater and keep them from making a run for it! It also helps your child feel safe and welcomed.

🍽️ Take the pressure off of eating and focus on family! This has been a game changer for me. Now is not the time to worry about your child's nutritional intake!! Make family mealtimes happy and fun to encourage a healthy positive relationship with eating. I also find that allowing children to explore their food and make choices about what/how much they eat encourages good self esteem, independence, and leaves kids feeling empowered! Children learn to trust themselves and don't have to be worried about being judged or complying with outside pressure of finishing food when theyre not hungry.

Have you tried any of these? Would love to hear what works for your family!

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