Get Up & Grow: Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Early Childhood - Staff and Carer Book

Healthy Eating Guideline - Plan meal times to be positive, relaxed and social

Page last updated: 25 May 2011

Mealtimes provide an opportunity for children to develop good eatingbehaviours and learn about nutrition and food variety. They are also an important time for social interaction with other children and adults. Sit with children at meal and snack times and talk with them in a friendly, relaxed way.

Start by setting the scene for a positive experience. Children can help prepare for mealtimes by packing away play materials and setting the table. You might like to use tablecloths and placemats to make mealtimes more special.

There will be some mess at meal and snack times. Don’t overreact to ‘normal’ messiness – this is part of children’s exploration of food and learning how to eat. Guide children gently as to the appropriate ways of eating, and do not allow behaviour such as throwing or spitting food.

Some children commonly refuse food, and this should not be a cause of stress or concern unless the refusal goes on for an extended period of time. Encourage children gently to try foods and never force a child to eat.