If there was a lot of drama in your house growing up about what you ate and didn’t, you might already be wondering how best to teach your baby to eat the right things. Many of the best habits start at a tender age, as soon as we set the babies down to start eating solid foods. Here are some important ideas to reinforce early on:
- Eat as a family – There has been a lot of research done on the importance to child development of eating at least one meal together as a family. Start this habit early. Then later on, it won’t seem like an easy thing for your teenage to skip out on. It’s also a key time to learn socialization skills for the baby.
- Mealtime is fun time – To the extent that you can reinforce mealtime as a natural fun occasion, you’ll have less potential for food issues later on. Think about everything you’ve ever read about people substituting food for love, or over-eating because of mixed messages around food. Give your baby a spoon and let him touch and feel his food. This is also an important part of his growing experience.
- Don’t force over-eating – Forget the starving kids in Africa, at least during mealtimes. Your kids will stop eating when they are full. If you force them to eat “everything on the plate”, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of eating American size portions and growing American-sized bellies. Your baby will signal that he’s full by turning his head away.
- Focus on eating – stay off the phone and blackberry and keep the TV off. Your baby and family need your attention now. Studies also show that families that watch TV during meals have a greater tendency to be over-weight.
– Paul Banas