Whether you’re introducing solid food or urging your little one to eat his veggies, mealtime’s an adventure for your baby and you. He’s experiencing new tastes, textures, and colors, and you’re learning his signs of hunger and satiety, along with his likes and dislikes.
Sure, there’ll be moments your normally hungry little caterpillar won’t touch anything you cook—and times when most of the morsels you prepare will end up on the floor.
But that’s normal—and all part of the job of being a baby. Don’t sweat the food swings. They’re not personal. You can’t control them. Just offer healthy meals and keep a positive mindset. The hints below will help you do all that—and more.
6 Top Table Time Tips
- Create routines. Set a regular time for meals and snacks when your little cookie is around 9 to 12 months old, but stay flexible. Routines make young ones feel safe and secure, and give them something to look forward to throughout the day.
- Let little bellies rule. Don’t push food when your baby doesn’t feel well or isn’t hungry. If you persist, she may eat less or refuse to eat altogether.
- Maximize the moment. Use time at the table to explore new tastes, talk, sing, and giggle. During the meal, respond to your baby’s needs to show her that she is respected and loved.
- Keep screens out of the kitchen. Turn off all TVs, tablets, computers, electronic games, and cell phones. Better yet, ban them. Keep your focus on each other.
- Manage your expectations. Introduce new foods one at a time and do so slowly. Little diners may need to be exposed to a novel taste as many as 10 to 15 times before they accept it.
- Embrace the experience. Expect milk to spill, crumbs to drop, purees to fly, and your fledgling foodie to wear at least some of the yummies you offer. Don’t clean up during a feeding. Stay calm and savor the moment. Snap a photo. Mop up the mess later.
7 Ways to Dress Up a Plate
Food is more tempting when it’s cleverly named and inventively presented. Start with the basics. Add a twist.
- Smashed potato mountains (cooked and mashed until soft and creamy; deftly delivered in peaks and valleys)
- Crispy half-moon apple crescents (served cold, crispy, and thinly sliced for midday munchies)
- Spaghetti braids and macaroni Mohawks (whimsically added to sliced, cooked zucchini faces)
- Broccoli trees and cauliflower bushes (steamed until tender and artistically clustered)
- Smiley face cucumber lips (chilled, halved, and thinly sliced, served on a dollop of yogurt; add blueberry eyes)
- Sweet pea balloons (cooked until tender; paired with colorful and thin veggie pasta strips)
- String bean railroad tracks (served lengthwise, hot or cold, with short, fat cut string beans slices between them)