Mealtime with Kids: Fun and Educational Tips

Mealtime with Toddlers & Kids: Using meals to teach and connect

By Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 7 min

It's summertime, which means that many of us have a lot of time at home with our kids right now. With people budgeting more and focusing on spending less, that means it's not possible to dine out or order takeout as much. So, I wanted to share some benefits of what these constant meals at home are: OPPORTUNITIES!!!

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

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Opportunities at Mealtime with Toddlers & Kids

Giving Toddlers and Kids Ownership Of Their Meals

Kids actually like to be involved in meal planning and cooking. We know that children who participate in meal prep tend to have a healthier view of food and make better choices at meals as they grow! They are more likely to try those veggies if they have contributed to the process.

Having kids helping in the kitchen offers numerous benefits. It helps develop their fine motor skills through tasks like chopping, stirring, and measuring. By helping you in the kitchen, mealtime with kids and toddlers becomes a fun learning experience as they practice math by measuring ingredients and improve reading by following recipes.

When kids help out in the kitchen, they transform it into a space for creativity, fostering curiosity and problem-solving. They can also gain a sense of responsibility and accomplishment when they see the results of their efforts.

The hands-on experience of preparing a meal not only builds practical skills but also strengthens family bonds as everyone collaborates and enjoys meals together. Having kids helping in the kitchen creates opportunities for meals and education to blend seamlessly, turning every meal into a chance to teach and learn.

Combining Meals and Education:

We often cook and bake together as a family activity. And since we have the kids helping in the kitchen, my husband and I use it as an opportunity to combine meals and education, taking the time to teach not only cooking skills, but other subjects as well.

Letting kits help prepare meals is a perfect opportunity to teach them about math. For example, we need a 1/2 cup of sugar and another 1/2 cup of flour. Seamlessly, a discussion about fractions unfolds; “2 halves make a whole” shouts our seven-year old daughter.

Science is another topic that can be easily demonstrated during mealtime with kids. At the stovetop, we talk about how the instant pot releases all that pressure. “Oh that's water” I gently say for the set-up. Our seven-year old son proceeds to talk about the water cycle that was taught in school. “Evaporation, condensation, precipitation!,” he shouts.

We talk about the country our dishes originated from, see what we know about them, and then Google what we don't know. Using meals to teach is all about just creating a door to conversation, and often, it sparks curiosity and engagement. Kids are smart enough to connect the dots themselves! No amount of worksheets can teach that real-world experience.

Mealtime Means Quality Time:

Mealtime with toddlers and kids is all about spending time at the table together as a family. I’ve previously referenced the study that shows sharing 3 meals a week together around a dining table leads to healthier children. We have the ability to slow down and talk to each other without soccer practice, homework, music lessons, etc.

Spending quality time during meals also strengthens family bonds and creates a sense of security and belonging. When kids help in the kitchen, there are more opportunities to connect. Preparing meals together gives parents and kids a chance to discuss the day, share stories, and generally enjoy each other's company.

Mealtime Essentials

Embracing Balance During Mealtime with Kids

As always, parents - you are doing great. If you just need a break, order some food or pull out a frozen meal! There is nothing wrong with that!

Using meals to teach children healthy eating habits from a young age is shown to help them make healthier choices as an adult. If you order out - you can still choose healthy options off the menu or if you love pizza as much as we do ... just serve it with carrots, strawberries and a glass of milk.

Mealtime with kids isn't having a perfect, fresh from scratch meal all the time - it's helping to create a sense of balance in what we eat and how we eat. That balance is also needed for parents - serving healthy doesn't always have to be labor intensive - Adding some fresh fruit and veggies to any frozen dinner/takeout instantly adds street cred in my book.

Do what you can when you can - As I say to my friends: The juggle is real.

Embrace the balance between homemade meals and convenient options without guilt. Whether you order out and add fresh fruits and veggies or make meal prep a fun family activity, what matters is the love and effort you put into each meal.

So while you juggle … don’t struggle. Sometimes you can just let it all fall, take a breath, enjoy the moment and pick up where you left off at another time. Sharing techniques on Oreo eating, sometimes, is just what the doctor ordered.

To further enhance your mealtime experience, check out our mealtime guides. They provide insights on creating nutritious, balanced, and enticing meals for your children. While we specialize in stainless steel dishware, our mission is to promote healthier and more engaged children at the dinner table. We hope this guide inspires you to make mealtime a central part of your family’s health and happiness journey. 

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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