Respectful and Responsive Mealtimes

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

đź•ŻRespectful and Responsive Mealtimesđź•Ż


As part of my training in Early Childhood, a number of years ago, I took a course called HENRY and trained to become a HENRY practitioner. It stands for Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young. The course centred about helping parents and carers instigate healthy habits around food, and therefore enabling children to have a positive relationship with food, enabling them to make healthy choices in life. It has been a valuable piece of training and speaks a great deal of common sense...common sense which now sometimes can get so lost and drowned out in today’s fast paced world.


Food is the cornerstone of our social’s the sustenance we need to survive. Globally every big life event from Birth to Death is marked by the sharing of food. Respectful and Responsive mealtimes ensure we are not only enabling children to form healthy eating habits..but we are also nurturing complex social skills, love, care, consideration and respect in them from day one. Mealtimes are anchors for our day and if we can keep them calm and respectful times - no matter what happens in the day we can try and foster a sense of rhythm and security for our children


What are the elements of Respectful and Responsive mealtimes?

• Sitting down together free from distractions.

• Allowing children to be independent whenever possible in eating, helping prepare snacks and setting the table.

• Allowing babies and children to self feed - thereby recognising their own fullness and hunger cues.

• If you do feed a baby, feed them facing them rather than on your lap and look for fullness cues.

• Not using food as reward (e.g you have have a biscuit if you...)

• Not pandering to last minute meal requests (short order cooking)

• Always allowing fruit and yoghurt even if a child has not eaten their main meal.

• Creating an environment whereby children feel they can eat, chat, laugh and enjoy mealtimes as a space for socialisation and feeling good about themselves and their place in the world.


How do you make mealtimes and snack times your anchor in a busy life?

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