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Family dinners create healthier, happier kids—studies prove it

Making time for family meals matters—and pays off in big ways. 

Family dinners create healthier, happier kids—studies prove it

In the rush of the evenings, it can be hard to get dinner ready let alone have everyone sit down around the table. New research shows it’s worth the effort, though, as kids who regularly eat family meals are more physically fit, have better social skills and didn’t demonstrate as much aggression as peers who dined solo.


“Our findings suggest that family meals are not solely markers of home environment quality, but are also easy targets for parent education about improving children's well-being,” says co-author Linda Pagani, a pyschoeducation professor at the Université de Montréal “From a population-health perspective, our findings suggest that family meals have long-term influences on children's physical and mental well-being.”

For the study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, researchers reviewed the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, which tracked nearly 1,500 children born between 1997 and 1998. Using reports from parents, teachers and the children themselves, the researchers looked at the link between the frequency of family meals when the kids were 6 years old and their traits four years later.

The kids who regularly had dinners with their parents were healthier across multiple measures—and the researchers don’t think that’s solely because of the food that was served.

“The presence of parents during mealtimes likely provides young children with firsthand social interaction, discussions of social issues and day-to-day concerns, and vicarious learning of prosocial interactions in a familiar and emotionally secure setting,” Pagani says.

Other studies have shown different—but still significant—benefits to family dinnertimes:

Finding the time to sit down around the table may not be easy—but it clearly is worthwhile for everyone. Your kids will be healthier and your heart will likely be happier. Besides, there’s nothing in the research that indicates take-out doesn’t count.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

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Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

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