family-style dining
Photo from TheGoodStuff411.com
Every night for dinner, I plate up the food, set it at each person's seat, and then call my family to dinner.

Besides times when we have guests, I've never really thought about serving meals family-style. But I love the idea of doing it more regularly, especially for picky toddlers.  

Jennifer, who blogs at The Good Stuff 411, did a great post on the benefits of family-style eating and how it can entice your child to eat healthy foods.

"I think kids can get immediately turned off by thinking they HAVE to eat something simply because it is on their plate," she states. "On the other hand, if I serve fruit and veggies on a platter in the middle of the table, it takes the immediate ‘I'm not eating that' out of the equation, and instead the kids become curious as to what is for dinner."

Younger toddlers may need some extra help dishing and passing, but they can still benefit from the experience.  

Here are some of the benefits of family-style eating she lists:

  • Teaches your children fine motor skills as they pass bowls and use tongs and other serving pieces
  • Teaches manners as they say "please" and "thank you"
  • Teaches sharing and the concept of taking turns
  • Slows down eating for the whole family
  • Lends to the "art of conversation," as food is passed and people settle in, there's time to talk (learning to wait your turn to talk, not interrupting)
  • Teaches children social skills and the etiquette of eating in a group setting (patience, waiting while everyone gets food on their plates)
  • People (adults and kids) learn to take what they feel they're hungry for and learn to gauge how much food they need on their plates
  • People also tend to take less as they want to be sure there's enough for everyone at the table

I love little tweaks like this that can make a big difference!

Do you serve dinner family-style?