Mealtime together with the family has a lot of power. Eating together increases food enjoyment, builds relationships within the family, and helps to soothe picky eaters. As an added benefit, children who have regular family meals are more likely to eat healthily and stay away from trouble and harmful activities in the future! To ensure a baby’s health and well-being, family mealtimes should begin as early as possible. Continue reading this article if you want to include your little one in family meals easily.
Is it okay for my baby to share family foods?
At six months, most healthy, home-cooked meals can be shared with your baby. Babies need all major food groups, just like adults. Such as:
- Various fruits and vegetables
- Foods that contain starch, such as bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice
- Protein sources, such as eggs, fish, meat, and beans (cook meat thoroughly until it is soft enough for him/her to handle, and check fish carefully for bones).
- Dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and custard (choose full-fat versions for your baby, as they have more calories and vitamins)
When cooking family food for your baby, do not add salt or sugar. You can always season your own plate afterward. Avoid foods such as honey, whole nuts, raw shellfish, and whole grains, which are unsafe for babies.
If your baby doesn’t eat much at first, don’t worry. The majority of her/his nutrition will still come from breast milk or baby formula. You might start by offering your baby a few bites of your plate, or a few spoons of blended food. The amount will gradually increase; aim to have three meals a day, plus snacks, by the time she/he turns one.
How can I adjust my cooking to accommodate my child’s needs?
- Before seasoning the rest of the dish, prepare a small portion for your little one.
- You should also cut your baby’s food separately, depending on its texture. Though your little one may not have all their teeth, his or her gums are stronger than you think. There is no need to be afraid to introduce more textures to your child as long as they can easily dissolve the food in their mouth.
- You should keep in mind that your child may not always want to eat everything you offer them. Don’t get up to prepare something special if they don’t want to eat, and let them choose from the options you give them.
What are the benefits of bringing your baby to family meals?
- Learning from others – It is likely that your baby will observe how their siblings or their parents eat. The children will observe how they use their utensils for the meal and their reactions to the food.
- Their interest in new food might even increase as they taste new foods.
- You will teach your little one good table manners. By having to wait their turn to talk, saying “please” and “thank you”, and even chewing politely, they will learn that they have to wait their turn to talk. Through observation and imitation, they will gradually learn more and more things.
Meal times will become longer and messier when your little one is learning to eat with a fork and spoon. Use equipment that expedites the cleaning and doesn’t be afraid of the mess. Make sure the dining chair is covered with a waterproof cover so you don’t have to wash the floor afterward. The progress of your sweet little one is worth the mess!