Tips for encouraging children to eat at the dinner table

January 3, 2014

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Encouraging children to eat at the dinner table can be a task in itself, I have always believed that they should be introduced to the table as soon as possible. Moving Roo from her high chair to the table was a worry as we never had one of those booster type seats and I was always panicking that she would fall.

So when Tigger came along I made the conscious decision not to have a high chair, instead, I bought a convertible booster seat that I could strap to one of our dining chairs to enable him to eat with the rest of us. In fact, he still uses the seat to this day, it makes it a more comfortable height for him to eat at.

When I was younger I can clearly remember mealtimes at my Granny’s house, alongside the rigid timings I can remember always having to ask to leave the table when I was finished. However, once when I was 5 years old I refused, being stubborn (can you imagine me being stubborn??) I sat and point-blank refused to ask to leave the table. In the end, after a 2-hour standoff, I fell asleep and one of my uncles had to carry me to bed. Asking to leave the table has however stayed with me and I expect Roo to ask, Tigger is still learning but as he can’t get down by himself he doesn’t have much choice at the moment.

Personally, I have found that getting children to help lay the table with their own placemat, cutlery and helping to set up the condiments all helps them get ready for mealtime.

My main problem is getting them to stay at the table whilst others are finishing off, Roo generally will finish first and if she gets down then I can kiss goodbye to Tigger eating anything else. So I’m looking for ideas and suggestions of how I can keep Roo occupied at the table once she has finished eating.

Tips from other parents on encouraging children to eat at the dinner table

I decided to ask some other bloggers as to how they get their children to sit at the table and encourage them to eat what is in front of them…

Let them help prepare and cook their own food, they are much more likely to eat something they have helped with

All You Need Is Love and Cake

Put your foot down: If they don’t eat at the table, they won’t eat anywhere else. 

Mummy Alarm

If a child refuses to taste something don’t insist but bring it back out in a couple of weeks and eat it in front of them, mentioning how delicious it is. has worked for me with my fusspots on fruit and veg.

Mari’s World

Print some colour in table mats (colouring sheets) so they sit at the table before you dish up and make sure the TV is off.

Tired Mummy Of Two

I know I will get slapped for this, but I offered them something from the Treat Jar after tea if they had eaten nicely all day. Not cleared plates but tried everything and not thrown food around. And they’d get one small chocolate treat and choose their own. Worked sooooooo well 

Actually Mummy

Sit at the table then it helps if everyone sits at the table together, having a nice place mat, reward charts

The Crazy Kitchen

If they don’t eat at the table then they don’t eat in our house…sorry, food hitler! I have always said that “if you get down, you have finished” but they don’t get down without asking either – *told you I was a strict knickers* 

Kiddy Charts

I try and make tea a bit of a catch up time between us all and always try and sit down with them even if I’m not eating till later. We tend to go round the table and everyone says something fun they’ve done that day which is often the best way to find out what they’ve been up to. Any other time I ask them what they’ve done and they can’t remember.

Frugal Family

What are your tips for getting your little ones to eat at the table?

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