It’s the age old problem: how do we encourage our children to eat at dinner time and become part of the family dining experience? Most parents know one of the best ways to facilitate children’s eating is to regularly eat together. Dining together sets the right example to our children. It teaches them table manners, the rules of dining, and they learn to eat in a social, relaxed environment. All of these elements combine to encourage eating that many children try to avoid.
So how can we design our homes to help our children and family at mealtimes?
Children’s Dining Tables:
As a parent myself, one of the best ways I found to encourage my children to eat at mealtimes was to seat them at their very own table. Making sure the table is easily accessible is a great way to make children feel more grown up and more comfortable. There are lots of different children’s table and chairs available, and if you have the space they are a really good investment. They don’t have to cost much, and they can be multi-purpose too, doubling up as craft and painting tables at other times. Children love to copy grown ups and this is one way they can role play and feel part of the adult world.
A great way to encourage children to eat their meals is to really go out of your way and make them fun! One thing we have loved doing over the years is creating our very own indoor picnic. Clear a space, lay down a blanket and let your imagination loose. Having lots of fun, finger foods will really get your children enjoying their food. And the food itself doesn’t have to be unhealthy; lots of raw vegetables, dinosaur shaped sandwiches, and breadsticks can create a lovely picnic, anytime of the day, whatever the weather!
Over the last few years the trend towards open family spaces has increased. Many kitchens are now designed to incorporate more than just a cooking area, and have a dining and sitting area where possible too. In our own kitchen we included a casual breakfast bar and this has proved very successful over the years. Our children are now old enough to climb and sit at the bar, and have been for a little while and we find that we share our mealtimes so much better now. Particularly in the mornings, we tend to eat together and whilst this enables us to keep a beady eye on them and make sure they’re eating enough, we can also chat and share our plans for the day together. We gave the kitchen a mini makeover last year and I’ve been keen for a few new bar stools, although haven’t taken the plunge yet. They need to be stylish but safe for the children to use of course. I’m quite tempted by the breakfast bar stools sold at Homebase at the moment – what do you think?
I wonder if the children would cope with these? I do love gas lift bar stools!
Or maybe we should stick with something with a solid back to keep them safer? They just don’t have the same impact though do they?
I think whatever we choose the children need to be able to use them properly because mealtimes at the breakfast bar have become so important over the years, I’d hate for that to be affected.
Finally, as we talked about how sharing mealtimes altogether is so important in encouraging your children to eat, it’s worth taking a look at good family dining areas and ensuring they are accessible for small people as well as big. Whilst the children are small there are great high chairs that can be pulled to the dining table to really make the child feel part of the meal. And they can still look extremely stylish!
So do teach your children good habits by sharing your meals with them. There are lots of stylish ways to include their furniture and seating into your own so they don’t have to be excluded from adult dining. There is so much you can teach your children when you share time like this together, and your modern home doesn’t have to suffer. Well apart from the mess that all little people create, of course.