By: Lianne Phillipson-Webb
Your baby is about six months old and ready to join you and the rest of the family at the dinner table. What food do you serve? How do you incorporate baby and her needs into the family routine? Here is how to perfect that transition toward fun family meals for everyone.
1. Plan Ahead
They call it the witching hour for good reason; dinner time is challenging for most families, when Mom and Dad deal with competing demands. Make your dinner hour easier on all by preparing meals ahead of time: during baby’s nap, or the night before, chop salads or assemble casseroles.
2. Offer Breastmilk or Formula First
A solid plan-ahead strategy not only saves your sanity, it gives you the chance to complete a very important task: offer breast or bottle to your baby before you sit down to eat. Use this time to sit quietly and enjoy one another. Until your baby reaches approximately one year of age, and begins to increase and diversify her food intake, breastmilk or formula will be her first source of nutrients.
3. Resist the Urge to Occupy Baby with Food
Allow baby the freedom to play quietly on the floor while you prepare the last bits of supper. It can be tempting to seat baby in his high chair early and offer a snack item, like a Mum Mum cracker, to keep his little fingers busy. Playing on the floor offers a chance to explore some enriching cognitive development activities, like moving blocks or touching a soft plush toy. And it allows you to preserve the high chair for the real business of eating a meal, and joining the family at the table. And finally, Mum Mum crackers are not the best choice: though many parents reach for them, they include salt and sugar, two items your little one does not need.
4. Baby Eats What You Eat
Homemade baby food gives your little one the healthiest start. It doesn’t have to be complicated; serve baby a pureed version of the foods you are eating. Choose a healthy vegetable to showcase at your family meal. Puree the vegetable, using water to thin to a smooth consistency or put into the Wean Machine. The whole family can enjoy a vegetable like steamed carrots together.
This is an exciting time for your family, as baby comes to join in on mealtimes. Make it enjoyable for everyone! Watch your baby explore new tastes and textures, talk with older kids about the changes baby is going through, and offer good wholesome foods to try.
Lianne Phillipson-Webb, a busy mom of two, is a nutritionist and author. Her company Sprout Right specializes in pre-conception, prenatal, and postnatal nutrition for women, as well as good food and health for the whole family. Top photo credit.