Why mealtimes are crucial in early childhood development

Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) data from 2021 has identified that 22% of all children are developmentally vulnerable in one or more domains, and this has increased in recent years. Through positive mealtime rituals, you can help children to develop a range of skills such as communication, social competence, and physical skills.

Mealtimes: more than just food

Research shows that babies and toddlers can become confident communicators by imitating faces, listening to people talk, practising talking to attentive adults, hearing new and different words. They learn by taking part in familiar routines, listening to parents talk about the world and learning new words. The AEDC also suggest that children can learn to develop social competence by interacting with caregivers, meeting new people, and spending time with friends. By spending quality time interacting with their children and exposing them to a range of positive social situations with different people, parents can support children’s development in learning about their identity, along with communication and social skills.

The AEDC suggests that young children can learn to take care of their health and wellbeing by being repeatedly exposed to a range of food flavours and textures, practising basic skills such as using a fork and spoon, and having adults who let them practise the messy stuff. Babies learn to use different muscle groups through exploring the world with their hands and mouths and making sense of facial expressions and cues.

Creating an irresistible invitation to dine

Ensuring mealtimes are a positive experience is key in helping children to develop healthy habits for life. Below are some tips for creating positive mealtimes:

  • Sit down for clearly defined meals and snacks. Try to avoid snacking on the go or snacking all day, as this can lead to children refusing main meals which are typically more nutritious.
  • Eat with your children, whenever possible. Role modelling good eating habits helps children to learn. Mealtime rituals are the perfect opportunity to communicate with each other. To learn about the goodness of food and to discover our children’s culinary likes and dislikes.
  • Give your child the opportunity to make their own choices about food. Providing a healthy range of options for children to choose from, as well as the presentation, preparation and pace of the meal helps children to form a healthy relationship with food. It is when we force children to eat, take away choices, and place stress around the consumption of food that eating problems can begin to evolve.

Give your child a seat at the table with Kruzi

The Kruzi hybrid Stroller/Highchair allows children to actively participate at all mealtimes, not just the ones at home or when there is a borrowed highchair available. Babies and toddlers can actively engage with their families and friends, make eye contact and practise independent eating. By giving your child a seat at the table anytime and anywhere, children can be supported to continue healthy habits outside of the home, eat a range of foods safely and build their social competence. With Kruzi, families can preserve and cherish the art of conversation and togetherness.

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