Mealtime can be a wonderful opportunity to bond with your baby and create positive habits around food. Setting the stage for these healthy eating habits can start much earlier than you think! The goal is to create a positive environment for mealtime that at the most basic level, your baby will enjoy.
It doesn’t matter how picky of an eater you have on your hands, eating together not only provides a chance for social interaction and shared experiences, but also helps to promote healthy eating habits and a diverse palate. Think about how many fond memories you have to look back on with loved ones gathering around a large dinner table.
Here are some benefits of eating with your baby and tips for making mealtime more fun, creative, and enjoyable.
Modeling healthy eating habits: By eating with your baby, you can lead by example by modeling healthy eating habits and encouraging them to try new foods. Young children are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods if they see their parents enjoying them too.
Developing social skills: Mealtime provides an opportunity to not only nourish our bodies, but for social interaction and developing social skills. By eating together, babies learn how to interact with others, share, and take turns.
Expanding their palate: Presenting a variety of foods and flavors is important for expanding your baby’s palate. Sitting down and eating with your baby can encourage them to try new foods and expand their taste preferences.
Tips for making mealtime fun and creative:
Involve your baby in meal planning and preparation: Allow your baby to help with meal planning and preparation by letting them choose a new food to try. Better yet, hand them a spoon to help with mixing and stirring. Worry about the mess later.
Make mealtime a sensory experience: Encourage your baby to explore some of the five senses by touching, smelling, and tasting their food by offering a variety of textures, colors, and smells. This can help to develop their sensory skills and make mealtime more pleasurable.
Use fun plates and utensils: Young kids love bright colors and familiar characters from their favorite TV shows. Use colorful and fun plates and utensils to make mealtime more visually appealing and engaging for your baby. Peppa Pig plates, anyone?
Create a positive mealtime environment: Get rid of all distractions and focus on each other and the food on the table. Make mealtime a positive experience by turning off the TV, tablets, or phones, and making engaging in conversation with your baby a priority.
Offer a variety of foods: Offer a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try different cooking methods, such as roasting or grilling, which can have a big impact on the flavor and texture of the food.
Eating with your baby can be a fun and rewarding experience that promotes healthy eating habits and expands their palate. By getting your baby involved in the process of meal planning and preparation, making mealtime a sensory experience, using fun plates and utensils, creating a positive mealtime environment, and offering a variety of foods, you can make mealtime gratifying for both you and your baby.