Parenting Child Psychology and Behaviour

How To Ensure Screen-Free Mealtimes for Your Child

Shikha Batra
1 to 3 years

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Jul 03, 2020

Reviewed by Expert panel

Do you resort to mealtime distractions while feeding your child because they seem to be the only way to make your child sit and eat food? Yet at the same time do you feel guilty and worried about it?

If yes, this vlog might answer all your doubts. In this vlog, I will discuss why screen-free mealtimes are important for your child and how to materialize them.

What is screen time?

Screen time is the amount of time a child spends on watching an electronic device with a screen such as a phone, iPad, laptop,  computer or a television.

What are the effects of feeding meals to your child in front of a screen?

  • When children are distracted with a screen during mealtime they miss on important signs that their body gives such as hunger or fullness. 

  • The long term effect of having a meal in front of the screen is that these children tend to gobble in more food leading to obesity and other associated problems in the longer run. 

  • Having food with distractions has been linked with unhealthy habits such as eating more junk food, physical inactivity, poor sleep patterns.

  • Even if children are having meals with family members, they are not fully participating due to their attention being diverted by a gadget.

This leads to decreased interaction between them as having meals together is an important way of strengthening the family bond.

How do you ensure screen-free mealtimes?

Feeding children can be really stressful, especially if they are picky eaters. We can ensure screen-free mealtimes by following certain tips such as:

1. Serve meals at the dining table and make your child sit on a high chair along with other members so that he/she can gradually learn to eat on his/her own by imitating others.

2. Be a role model for your child by not watching television or not being on your phone while having meals. Participate fully in family dinners. 

3. Begin with serving food that your child likes to eat or is familiar with and do not expose them immediately to spinach or vegetables which they dread eating as they could find it intimidating. 

4. Out of sight could be out of mind in this case too.  So put away all phones, iPads, and other gadgets. Though this mantra might work for a few minutes initially with time it will work out just well for your child.

5. You can lessen their desire for distractions such as phones or i-pad by making mealtime pleasant and fun time by sharing some lighter moments with them or by having a discussion on their favourite topic. This would minimize the chances of their getting bored.

6. Do not put pressure on the child to finish all the food on the plate. Relax about the number of bites and spoonfuls by adjusting your expectations.

Remember to go slow in this process of making the child learn to have screen-free mealtimes as he/she might retaliate or have a complete meltdown.

These distractions might not be helpful in the long run so we need to develop better eating habits which serve the purpose for the rest of their life. For that parents needs to figure out what works out well for their child in order to teach them to enjoy screen-free mealtimes. Do share your thoughts below. Thanks for watching!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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