‘Don’t play with your food’ is one of those seasoned phrases that parents have been saying since the year dot. However, if the latest word from the experts is anything to go by, it’s time to relax on the mealtime rules.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK, which provides guidance for improving health and social care, has just updated its advice to parents – and it goes against everything we’ve previously been told.

According to these new guidelines, we should all be taking a more relaxed and fun attitude towards mealtimes, and this includes chilling out when it comes to our children’s food etiquette.

Apparently, being overly strict about manners at the dinner table is a prime factor in a child’s faltering growth; i.e. where the child develops at a slower rate than expected, due to not receiving their required nutritional intake.


 time college dinner GIF

According to the NICE experts, being a picky eater can play a huge role in faltering growth, and mealtime disruption only promotes this.


They, accordingly, want parents to loosen the reigns at mealtimes, and try not to introduce so many rules.

“Having a child with faltering growth can be distressing for parents and carers,” explained Professor Gillian Leng.

“However, simple things such as encouraging, relaxed and enjoyable feeding and mealtimes; eating together as a family, or even allowing young children to be ‘messy’ with their food can help encourage them to eat.”

Will you be putting NICE’s advice to the test in your own home? Do you have any tips for making mealtimes run smoothly, yourself? Be sure to share your pearls of wisdom with us, in the comment section!



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