Including my baby at family meals

Your baby has grown a lot, now’s a great time to start including him in family meals! Despite not being ready to eat everything the family eats, your baby can begin to try many different textures, consistencies, and flavors. He can try small pieces of the same food others eat; but limit the amount of added salt and sugar. It’s also a very good time developmentally to introduce the spoon and sippy cup if you have not done so yet. Sitting around the table, your baby will be able to see you using utensils and drinking from cups, and there is nothing more exciting for a baby than being able to imitate their parents.

Including your baby in family meals may seem like more work, however, you can do it gradually as your baby is adapting to the routine. You can start by feeding your baby and when he acquires more dexterity and is able to feed himself, you can incorporate him and let him eat at the same time as the rest of the family does. You can also try this for one meal a day, and then gradually add more meals.

What are the benefits of including your baby in family meals?

• Learning from others. Your baby will observe how his brothers or you, his parents, eat. He will see as they use their utensils and their positive reactions towards the food during the meal.

• He will be able to taste new food and might even show more interest towards it.

• Finally, your little one will begin to learn good table manners. He’ll see that he has to wait his turn to talk; he can learn to say “please” and “thank you”, and even to chew politely. Gradually he will learn more and more things through observation and imitation.

How do I adjust my cooking so that it’s appropriate for my child?

• Prepare the recipe as you always do, but separate a small portion for your little one before seasoning the rest of the recipe.

• Cut your baby’s food separately too, according to the desired texture. Remember that despite not having all his teeth, your little one’s gums are stronger than you think. As long as the food can be easily dissolved in his mouth, there is no reason to put off introducing more textures.

• Remember to offer a type of food that you know your child likes in case he is a picky eater.

• Talk to your baby and involve him in the conversation, although he may not speak yet, he’ll love to interact with you.

• Keep in mind that your little one won’t always want to finish all the food you offer him. Let him choose what he likes best among the options you give him and resist the urge to get up and prepare something special if he doesn’t want to eat anything.

• Make mealtime short or let your little one retire to play near you when he has finished eating. At this age he probably won’t want to sit for a long time in the same place.

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