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How to include my baby in family meals?

family meal, dad feeds baby

Key points:
1. Your baby’s growth makes it a great time to incorporate them into family meals, even if they’re not ready for all the same foods yet.
2. Your baby can experience various textures and flavors by trying small pieces of family food while minimizing added salt and sugar.
3. Family mealtime offers a developmental chance to introduce utensils and cups as your baby imitates you.
4. Including your baby in meals gradually adapts to their routine, fostering learning, interest in new foods, and good table manners through observation and imitation.

Your baby has grown a lot and now’s a great time to start including them 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. They 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 cup if you have not done so yet. By 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 little one is adapting to the routine. You can start by feeding them and, when they acquire more dexterity and can feed themselves, you can incorporate them and let them eat at the same time as the rest of the family. You can also try doing this for one meal a day and then gradually add more.

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

  • Learning from others. Your baby will observe how their siblings or their parents eat. They will see how they use their utensils and their positive reactions towards the food during the meal.
  • They will be able to taste new food and might even show more interest in it.
  • Your little one will begin to learn good table manners. They’ll see that they have to wait their turn to talk, they can learn to say “please” and “thank you”, and even to chew politely. Gradually they 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 dish.
  • Cut your baby’s food separately too, according to the desired texture. Remember that despite not having all their teeth, your little one’s gums are stronger than you think. As long as the food can be easily dissolved in their 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 they are picky eaters.
  • Talk to your baby and involve them in the conversation. Although they may not speak yet, they’ll love to interact with you.
  • Keep in mind that your little one won’t always want to finish all the food you offer them. Let them choose what they like best among the options you give them and resist the urge to get up and prepare something special if they don’t want to eat anything.
  • Make mealtime short or let your little one retire to play near you when they have finished eating. At this age, they probably won’t want to sit for a long time in the same place.

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