How Do Family Mealtimes and Other Daily Routines Enhance a Child’s Well-Being?

About this resource
Reviewed: 2017

IEL Resource(s)

Online Resource(s)

The Importance of Family Mealtime
It has been shown that families who eat together are healthier and happier. This article from the University of Nebraska Lincoln encourages families to cook together, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time.

A Review of 50 Years of Research on Naturally Occurring Family Routines and Rituals: Cause for Celebration?
This article from the Journal of Family Psychology notes that when there are predictable routines in the family, young children are healthier and their behavior is better regulated.

Understanding and Guiding How Your Child Eats
This guide from the University of Pittsburgh suggests ways that parents can make family meals fun and pleasurable while promoting good eating habits.

Family Meals
This parent guide from KidsHealth discusses how to plan, prepare, and share family meals. In addition to health and nutrition benefits, family meals provide a valuable opportunity to reconnect.

Family Routines points out that routines are how families organize themselves to get things done, spend time together, and have fun. It discusses different kinds of routines and why they are good for both children and parents.

Why Are Family Routines So Important to Children?
This American Academy of Pediatrics resource discusses ways to establish effective family routines.  (Also available in Spanish)

Correlates of Family Routines in Head Start Families
This study from the Early Childhood Research and Practice suggests that establishing family routines could contribute to mothers’ overall well-being, but that establishing routines as an intervention in Head Start may have limited potential.

Family Routines and Rituals: A Context for Development in the Lives of Young Children
This article from Infants and Young Children notes that naturally occurring family routines and meaningful rituals provide both a predictable structure that guides behavior and an emotional climate that supports early development.

The Benefits & Tricks to Having a Family Dinner
This article from the American Academy of Pediatrics presents 5 ways that family meals keep kids healthy.  (Also available in Spanish)


The Family Dinner Project
This nonprofit organization is dedicated to bringing families together for mealtime and conversation.

Additional Resource(s)

Family Meals and Child Academic and Behavioral Outcomes
Daniel P. Miller, Jane Waldfogel, and Wen-Jui Han
Child Development, 2012

Family Routines and Rituals
Barbara H. Fiese
Yale University Press, 2006

Attention to Language: Lessons Learned at the Dinner Table
Richard Ely, Jean Berko Gleason, Ann MacGibbon and Elena Zaretsky
Social Development, 2001