Having family mealtime together is not an easy task these days, rather it is a struggle to schedule a single mealtime with the entire family. Professional commitments of parents. Homework, assignments, and extra-curricular activities of children make it nearly next to impossible to have a mealtime together.
A majority of families tend to overlook the importance of having frequent family mealtimes. Families have a mealtime on special occasions and not on a daily basis, losing all the benefits that they can derive from having a mealtime together as a family.
Having a mealtime together is not only about sitting together and enjoying the food, no. It’s more than that. The mere act of having a meal together can bring much more benefits other than enjoyment.
Don’t believe us? Well, maybe the following points will help you to understand the importance of family mealtimes.
Importance Of Family Mealtimes
The following points highlight how important it is to have mealtimes with family. And do you know what the best part is? They’re all backed by research and studies.
1. Curtails Weight Loss Issues In Adulthood
Almost every other adult is struggling with obesity. The internet is flooded with diets and recipes which promise to burn those unwanted pounds. However, family mealtimes can prove to be helpful if you are looking for some easy trick to shed the fat.
A study published in Journal Of Pediatrics found that the frequency of family meals is indirectly proportional to obesity. The person who frequently has mealtimes with family is more likely to have a healthy weight and a normal BMI.
Parents should try to schedule family mealtimes at least once or twice a week. It will help the children to avoid the risk of obesity and other weight issues in the later stages of their life.
2. Develops Better Eating Habits In Children
Many parents complain about the unhealthy eating habits of the kids. The simple solution to this problem is to have more frequent family mealtimes. This goes for the parents of babies and toddlers too.
Parents want to know a trick by which they can get a child to eat when he refuses to eat, or how to feed the baby more solids. The solution to both these problems is in family mealtimes.
A study conducted in JAMA Network Open reported that individuals who have meals with family have an overall healthy and balanced diet. It also concluded that teens who ate with family consumed less junk food and ate plenty of fruits and vegetables.
3. Prevents Psychosocial Issues
In 2015 a study was brought forward by a group of Canadian researchers, which stated that another benefit that parents can get from family mealtime is the increased chances of their kids not turning into a person with issues such as substance use, eating disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
When a family sits together at a dining table and enjoys the meal together, the family members feel connected, loved, and protected. This develops confident social behavior and reduces the chances of adopting negative and abusive traits.
4. Improves Self-Esteem Of Children
If you want your children to be more confident in themselves, then start having frequent family mealtimes. This is what the experts at Stanford Children's Health, a pediatric health-care system affiliated with Stanford Medicine and Stanford University, suggest.
During a mealtime if the child is allowed to help and share his feelings with the other family members, his stress level is reduced. Furthermore, when he is intently listened to and responded properly, he feels confident and improves his self-esteem.
Make family mealtimes livelier. Allow your kids to share how their day went, let them help you to set the table, and later in winding it up.
5. Better Communication Skills
In 2018, Canadian experts conducted a study on a group of children from infancy through childhood. The studies revealed that the children who ate meals together with their family had overall positive health and fitness. It further stated that children also became better communicators and expressive.
When a family discusses current, political, social affairs, etc. during mealtimes, the kids get a better insight to what’s happening in the world. It increases their general knowledge and improves their communication skill.
6. Strengthens Family Bond
Did you know that by the time a child reaches the age of 3 his 90% of the brain is developed? A toddler undergoes a lot of cognitive changes. Making him feel loved, protected, and close to the other family members helps him to make a bond with the parents and the siblings.
Bonding with babies is as important as with the grownup kids. The kids feel connected and are able to share their feelings, stories, laughter, etc. which in turn helps to form an unbreakable bond with the family.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your notepad and a pen, plan your next mealtime with the family and reap all the above benefits.
If you are a mother of a baby or a toddler, don’t get stressed. We know what you are thinking, how to include a baby in family mealtimes? Don’t worry if you have a tiny munchkin. You can include your babies in the mealtimes too.
As stated above, babies too need to be felt included in the family mealtimes. It has proven to be very healthy for their emotional, mental, and social development.
If you are wondering how to include your tiny bundle of joy in the mealtimes, then you are in luck. Because in the following paragraphs we are going to reveal how babies can enjoy family mealtimes.
Keep reading to unveil these secrets.
10 Secrets To Include Your Baby In Family Mealtimes
Ready to discover the secrets? Alright then let’s get started…
1. Establish A Routine
Just as we feel relaxed when we follow a proper routine, babies too, feel good when their routine is set. The first secret to include babies in family mealtimes is to make a proper routine.
Adjust your mealtime according to the routine of the baby. For instance, if you put the baby to bed at 8:00 pm but your dinner timings are 10:00 pm then don’t let the baby stay awake till that time. It will irritate him and he will throw a tantrum.
If the dinner time is not possible to include the baby, then opt for breakfast, lunch, or teatime. Also, ensure the same thing with your older kids. Take into consideration everybody’s schedule and then plan a family mealtime.
2. Set The Mood
To include the baby in family mealtimes you first have to make sure that you have family meals. Boring mealtimes are looked forward to.
Make some extra efforts for family mealtimes. Set the table, add some flowers, switch on the TV, and most importantly keep your phone away. Family mealtime should be free from all the distraction. Setting up the mood before the meal will make your family members wait for the mealtime.
Setting the table will not only make the adults happy, but it will also make your little one curious. He will observe the cutlery, dishes, napkin, flowers, etc. This will help him to explore his surroundings and broaden his imagination. To include the baby in family mealtime, you have to make the table interesting for them. Boring and repetitive things makes them lose their interest.
3. Engage In A Conversation
Babies love it when they are treated like grownups. When the baby is included in mealtime, make sure you talk to them.
Give them frequent smiles and nods, they will love it and look forward to enjoying their meals with you. Babies love it when you give your undivided attention to them. Make most of the family mealtimes. Make them sit closer to you.
If you are comfortable, make them sit on your lap. The skin to skin contact with the baby helps them feel and remember your touch.
4. Get A High Chair
High chairs can be your best friend when it comes to feeding the baby. It not only keeps the baby secured and safe but also keeps him focused on his meal.
The biggest advantage of a high chair is that you can keep it together with the other chairs around the dining table or kitchen counter. Place your baby inside the high chair and let him enjoy the meal with the rest of the family.
High chairs also allow the baby to feed himself. The detachable tray on the high chair is used to keep the feeding bowl. This feature allows the baby to use the spoon and feed himself without having to hold the bowl.
5. Prepare Healthy Snack
Would you like to eat the same food every day? Even if it’s your favorite? Silly question right? Of course, nobody would enjoy it. Then why do we expect the baby to eat the same type of food every day?
Your baby will not like to be a part of family mealtimes if he is fed only one kind of food while others savor different flavors every day. Introduce him to different varieties. Your baby may get bored with purees or semi-solid food.
The simple trick to feed your baby solids is to introduce that to him. Keep the slices of carrots, cucumber, etc. let the baby nibble them and enjoy. He’ll look forward to mealtimes if he is given a variety of flavors and textures.
6. Let The Baby Enjoy
Many parents, especially the mothers who are obsessed with cleanliness, often feed the child themselves. While there is no harm in doing so, many times a mother forces the baby to finish the meal when he is already full and doesn’t want to eat more.
Allow your child to eat him by himself. This will not only discipline him when to stop, but also he would love to be self-dependent. Furthermore, toddlers love to explore. Just hand them the feeding bowl, spoon, and a napkin and they would set out on the world of exploration and ahem…experiments.
Giving the kids liberty to enjoy themselves at mealtime will make them want to be a part of it more often.
7. Make It Fun
Play small games during mealtime. Clap for them when they take a bite. Everybody loves to have fun and enjoys it. Babies like to have fun too. Sing their favorite rhymes together and encourage the baby to join you too.
8. Lower Your Voices
The mess created by the baby during mealtime can make mothers angry. Remember, a toddler cannot be expected to eat without making a mess. Mealtimes mean smearing time. His lovely clothes, your table cover, floor, and even your clothes will get dirty. Keep your cool and never yell at them.
The mess can be cleaned later but your yelling and shouting can scare them from having a family mealtime.
9. Don’t Fight On Table
Babies may look oblivious to their surroundings, but they are very observant. The way family members treat each other doesn’t go unnoticed by the baby. Make sure you avoid having arguments, heated debates, or fights during mealtime.
Babies can sense the frustration and pick up the vibes you give them. Make sure you treat everybody with love and respect during mealtimes.
10. Enjoy Each Other
Last but definitely not least. Make sure you enjoy the company of your child. Embrace having him around you and feeding him. In no time this tiny bundle will be a grownup and get busy with his own life.
Babies reciprocate whatever you give them, be it love, anger, frustration, or care. If you will enjoy having a baby during family mealtimes, the baby is sure to enjoy it too.
In A Nutshell
All work and no play makes a family dull and boring. Even if you have a jammed packed week, make sure you schedule to have at least 3-4 mealtime with your babies.
Not giving enough time to your babies will make them harbor the feelings of not being important or valuable to their parents. This in return reduces the bonding between a baby and the parents.
Take out some time and enjoy a quality mealtime with your munchkins.