Mealtimes with little ones are no mean feat. Tots are maddeningly picky by nature, and prone to food-flinging theatrics when they’ve had enough but can’t say as much (or are just tired of storing mulch in their cheeks). It can be hard to remember that eating is a largely alien experience for babies; especially as it’s a tough exercise for parents, too, trying – and often failing – to imbue enthusiasm for a barrage of new tastes and apparently terrifying textures.
But fear not; there are a few tricks to help smooth out supper — and they’re easier than you think:
1. Give baby his own feeding set
Having his very own cutlery and crockery will make the meal exciting. The dishes and utensils don’t necessarily have to be emblazoned with cartoon characters (although this can help), but it’s important that whatever you give him is easy to use; a frustrated baby will not be open to trying something new, and you want him to feel a sense of mastery over motor skills, too.
2. Give him a variety of food
Offer up a variety of colours, shapes, and flavours – not only is this the best way to ensure nutritional balance, but it makes the whole idea of experimentation more enticing. Young ones are more inclined to try new things when there’s plenty to choose from (including their favourites).
And don’t be disheartened if baby doesn’t have everything on his plate; repeated exposure is proven to encourage eating unfamiliar foods.
3. Let him feed himself
It can be tempting to feed babies yourself, because the mess can be of epic proportions. However, letting your tyke feed himself will give him a chance to exert his independence, and fully experience this novel idea of eating something besides toys. Or cat pellets.
4. Teach him signs
Quickest way to empower a child is to provide him with the tools for communication. Babies will feel a lot less threatened at the prospect of a new food if they know they can tell you when they’ve had enough. (Just make sure you respect their wishes in this regard; they’re listening to their bodies – which is a good thing.)
Signs for “more” and “all done” will make a world of difference to everyone’s enjoyment at the table. “Please” and “thank you” wouldn’t hurt, either.