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Sitting down and eating as a family is a great way to spend time together and to get your wee ones eating well from an early age. If you're battling to get them to eat fruit and veg, eating as a family can get them interested in testing them out. And we know families feel closer together too.

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Top tips to help you eat as a family

Tip #1: Try breakfast, lunch and dinner

You don't need to wait until teatime to get together around the table. Breakfast and lunch are there to make the most of too! It might be a bit of stretch to fit all three meals around a busy week, but why not try and sit together at the weekends when you’ve got more time on your hands?

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Tip #2: Have a little helper

It’s fun for the little ones to help you make the meals too. Why not get them to do some toddler friendly tasks like helping you shop, washing the veg, or even putting stuff out on the table? Make it a family effort.

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Tip #3: Give them a choice

Mealtimes can quickly get boring if one person is picking the meals all the time. Why not give the little ones their say a couple of times a week? It’s a great way of making them feel important, and it’ll take some decisions off your hands too.

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Tip #4: Make every meal special

Mum, dad and young child eating breakfast together

You don’t need to cook a fancy meal to get the whole family around the table. So what if it’s just a bowl of cereal or a sandwich? It’s still a great excuse to sit down together regularly.

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Tip #5: Make sure it's quality time

It’s getting harder and harder to convince the family to switch off their phones and TV for dinner. And we are just as guilty at the little ones! It might be unpopular at first, but the kids will grow to love having their parents’ full attention again.

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Tip #6: No toys at the table

Small children don’t always understand why playtime has to end with dinnertime. Try not to let your children bring toys to the table so they begin to see that mealtimes are family time.

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What the parents say

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"My advice to parents is to try and make sure they don’t pressurise kids into eating things. I think it’s important that meal times are enjoyable and not stressful for them. Kids love your attention which is why sitting down and eating together can really help encourage them to enjoy food. 

“My niece absolutely loves trying mum and dad’s meals. She's been introduced to lots of new meals and foods because instead of plonking a full plate of new food in front of her she's picked off of their plate as a taster and decided if she likes it or not through her own choices. It feels much less forced.”

What the professionals say

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“Food and mealtimes are often a battleground, but parents and carers should try to avoid fighting with their children over food. This is one of the few areas where your toddler can express their growing independence and have control. In addition, small children are often naturally suspicious of new tastes and textures. Talking about new food and playing with it will make your child happier to try it.”

More information

For tasty and easy meals, visit our recipe section. You'll find loads of ideas that the whole family can enjoy together. 

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