#1 of the Top 5 Most Important Things to Do with Your Toddler/Preschooler

If you asked me what the top 5 most important things to do with your toddler/preschooler are, this is what I would say:

#1. Eat family meals with everyone at the table.


When our kids were infants, we sat them at the table for meals in a reclining, strap-in high chair.  



They didn’t eat, but they were present.  When they were old enough to sit with good control, we moved them into a Stokke Tripp Trapp high chair.  


We LOVE these because they are wooden, so they look nice, they are completely adjustable as your child grows, and they can even be used as an adult chair!  The other great thing is there is no tray; it pushes right up to the table, so everyone eats together.  By the time our kids were around 18 months, they were able to climb up into the chair by themselves.  Now at 2 and almost 4, they still use them without complaint!  

Family meals are great because the whole family is there.  The kids can learn proper table manners by watching the adults (hopefully!!), and listen to and participate in conversations.  I think they’re also more likely to at least try new foods when they see others eating them.  Sometimes I’ll intentionally not give Lilah a new food so that she’ll see me eating it and ask to try it.  “You want to try a bite of my salad?  Why, certainly!” 🙂

The meal we always eat together is dinner, but for your family, it might be breakfast or lunch.  I don’t think it matters what meal it is, just that everyone sits down and has a little time together.

There’s a good bit of research out there supporting the family dinner from nutritional, psychological, and educational standpoints, so Google it if you want other good reasons to set up a meal time for your whole crew!

Do you have a family meal time?  Do you think it’s beneficial?

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Genny Upton

A former teacher turned stay at home mom to two preschool aged children. Creator (and writer) at In Lieu of Preschool and Parent Teach Play. Currently publishing my first children's picture book!

  • Zaira says:

    we eat dinner at the table every night together at 6pm with our 4 year old, it’s a great time to catch up with daddy and his day and tell him what we’ve been up to. Sometimes Mr. 4 will be done before us and ask to leave the table, sometimes we say that we’d like for him to stay and talk, sometimes we let him go play while mummy and daddy talk 😉 One of my favorite times of our day!

  • Absolutely! Our boys are 11 and 14 now, but we still eat dinner as a family every single night. Sometimes it’s the only chance we get to all sit and connect together. I too feel that it is one of the most important things that a family can do.

  • Rebekah says:

    I love that you said family meal instead of just dinner. My husband works late so our family meal usually ends up being breakfast.

  • Thanks for all the comments, everyone! Glad to know others find family meals as valuable as we do!

    Rebekah, I’m glad you’ve found a time for your whole family to eat together! I really think it’s mostly about being together, not what time of day it happens! If we know DH is going to have a late meeting or something, we try to eat breakfast together or meet him for lunch. 🙂

  • Family meals seems to be the largest indicator of children’s success. This is a good reminder to always be together for a NUTRITIONAL meal at some point in the day. Great!

  • I love how we talk during family meals. Those conversations would be missed if we weren’t all together.

  • […] Family mealtimes are very important to us.  So is prayer and saying thanks to God for what he has given us.  To help with this, we created a DIY Prayer Pail! […]

  • Lorena says:

    We love family meals as well, our kids love to say grace. It does not happen every day but we do try to make it a rule when possible to sit together. Our youngest daughter, two years old will reach for a prayer card and take about 5 minutes saying grace and thanking God for each of us, the dogs, her toys and names each food item she knows as well. Great bonding time!

  • Sarah says:

    Our 16 month old has been sitting at the table for dinner with us every night he’s been awake since he was born. Since he started solids we’ve always eaten all together. The very few times that my husband hasn’t made it home before his bed time, he’s spent the whole dinner looking around for daddy.

    Lately he’s worked out that we say, ‘amen’ before the plate is put on his tray. As soon as he’s in his chair and the food is on the table he says, ‘amen’, all the way through his dad saying grace… It’s the sweetest thing to hear!

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