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Using doll play to encourage good mealtime routines

Children thrive when they have an established routine and clear boundaries. Repetition and routine isn’t boring for them, as some might assume. It provides their days with structure and helps them feel safe and secure, as they understand what’s expected of them and ‘what’s coming next’.

Establishing good routines needn’t be mundane and tiresome! You can make it fun for your little one – and mealtimes are a great place to start. Baby Annabell Lunch Time Annabell can help you develop a consistent mealtime routine! Doll play helps encourage and reinforce great routines while enabling their fantastic imagination and creativity.

Here, we consider the importance of good mealtime routines and explain how doll play can encourage good behaviours and healthy eating at the table.

Dolls to inspire good eating habits

While a doll might not immediately strike you as a mechanism for developing good eating habits and introducing children to routine, we think you might be pleasantly surprised. Lunch Time Annabell is designed to encourage those lovely nurturing and caring traits in little ones – and this extends to far more than ‘play’. Their adorable roleplay includes their mimicking of what they know of their homelife. You’ll notice your child waking baby up, getting her dressed, feeding her lunch and putting her to bed. It’s all part and parcel of doll play – so why not use it to your advantage and incorporate this roleplay into their mealtimes?

Lunch Time Annabell is the ideal mealtime companion – and could be a great help with your little one’s routine too. She needs her doll parent to make sure her tummy’s full and she’s getting lots of care and attention. Encourage your little one in their roleplay to prepare their baby a meal – Lunch Time Annabell has her very own plate and cutlery. Your child can listen as Baby Annabell enjoys all her lunch, and then praise her for eating it all up. It’s this kind of interaction between child and doll that reinforces good routine in little ones.

Children’s cookery author and family food guru Annabel Karmel has leant us her expertise for our month-long ‘Ask the Experts’ campaign. She answered all your food and weaning-related question on our Instagram Stories. Annabel supports families in developing healthy eating habits in children and provides recipe inspiration to ensure little ones get the best start in life. You asked Annabel how to make mealtimes at home more interesting. She explained: “It’s amazing how eating somewhere out of the norm can mean less fussing about what’s for tea. I also tend to be more adventurous in new environments! But with many of us spending more time at home, we just need to be a little more creative! Try a picnic in the living room, or let them bring their dolls and toys to the table for a family tea party!”

We couldn’t agree more with this fantastic idea! Baby Annabell can join you, sat at her Lunch Time Table, which has an interactive menu selection game so doll parents can enjoy finding out Baby Annabell’s likes and dislikes! Got a fussy eater yourself? Don’t despair – Annabel insists that you shouldn’t give up on certain foods with your little one. She says: “Did you know that children who are involved in the meal prep are more likely to try the fruits of their labour? And I’m not just talking about baking!

“A healthy love of all foods comes from involving them in everyday meal prep too. Get them involved in making the morning toast. Put little ones in charge of making the lunchtime wraps and prepping the dinner. And invest in some cookie cutters to turn fruits and veggies into hearts and stars, which the children love.”

Annabel adds: “And remember, it can take up to 15 attempts for a child to accept a food, so do persist!”

Next time your child is playing with their doll, consider sitting down and playing too. Get involved in the mealtime roleplay and be sure to throw out key phrases like ‘you’ve eaten all your veg – clever girl!’ or ‘oh dear, baby, that’s bad manners!’.

Looking for more inspiration for children’s healthy eating and recipes? Catch up on Annabel’s ‘Ask the experts’ session over on our Instagram highlights.