Mealtimes aren’t just about food… they’re a special time to enjoy each other’s company and catch up as a family. When we create relaxed and engaging mealtimes, it helps our kids to develop healthy eating habits and to feel good while they eat.
The reality for many families is that mealtimes are rushed. We look for convenient, quick meals so that we can move on to more important things; working, playing, chores, or the bedtime routine.
But if we can slow down a little, and take our time to enjoy eating together, we discover that mealtimes nourish much more than just our tummies – they also fill our hearts.
What do you talk about at the table? Do you have fun conversations? Do you enjoy catching up on everybody’s news? Do you share a laugh?
Having positive conversations at mealtime is so important for kids – and grown ups too! While our kids are learning to eat, being loving and engaging helps them to shape their behaviours and feel rewarded.
It’s not just what you talk about, it’s the love you put in it.
Don’t know what to talk about with your kids at mealtime?
It’s important to talk about good stuff at the table – it’s not a good time to reprimand them about something they did during the day, or to talk about things that may make them feel sad, anxious or frustrated.
If you’re running out of ideas, here are some fun mealtime conversation starters to get you going. Remember, give your child all your loving attention… and have a little fun! Go around the table and let everyone participate!
30 Mealtime Conversation Starters
- I spy with my little eye…
- My favourite animal is… because…
- Play a memory game. I went to the zoo and I saw… I went to the supermarket and I bought… (see how many you can remember in order!)
- What 3 things would you bring to live on a desert island?
- Tell stories about your child from when they were a baby or toddler
- What is your favourite game or toy? Why?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? What would be different from living here?
- What else could we add to this dish? Your child may have great recipe ideas!
- Teach them how to read the time on the kitchen clock
- My favourite colour is… because… ask everyone to share
- Who is your favourite superhero? What are his special powers? What superpowers would you like to have?
- Share some news – did you learn something interesting today?
- Tell a joke – knock knock!
- Share a good thing that happened today
- Think of something that doesn’t exist – what could we invent?
- Take turns to find a word that starts with A, B, C, D, E…
- Play riddles – can you guess what has 2 eyes, a black tail and lives in the jungle?
- What is your favourite sport? Why?
- Built a crazy animal – take turns to add body parts: a long trunk, tall antlers, a curly tail, pink feathers, googly eyes, teeny tiny ears…
- Create a story – everyone takes turn to say what happens next
- Play rhyming words or find words with a sound (e.g. sound ‘at’: mat, cat, bat)
- Guess all the ingredients in the meal (What can you taste? What can you see?)
- Imagine the perfect world… what would be different?
- Talk about exciting events coming up – make some plans and share ideas (birthdays, picnics, holidays, play dates)
- Talk about the food you’re eating! How does it taste? Which is your favourite? How it is making your body strong and healthy?
- Choose a wild animal for a pet – what would it be like? What would be fun? What would be a challenge?
- What is your favourite fruit/vegetable/meat/dessert/snack/breakfast? Why?
- If you met an alien, what would you like to show them about earth?
- Play trivia – ask any question and see who knows the answer. Pick a theme!
- Do a little acting – pretend you’re somebody else, talk or act different. Imitate people you know or characters from books, movies, or tv shows. Play a game when you have to guess who each person is acting.
Your child will love to spend this time talking and playing with you. While you’re engaging your child in a positive way while eating, they’re also more likely to eat slower and show good behaviours, so it’s all worth it!