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Exploring and Enjoying Food with Baby

At almost 10 months old, BabyC spends at least two hours per day in her high chair.  She loves finger foods and takes her time with them.  For me, this is a great time to catch up on the dishes or work on preparing a meal, all the while chatting with BabyC, replenishing her high chair tray, and listening to some music together.  As much as I value that productive, multi-tasking time, I’ve been making a real effort to prepare food for both of us and sit down to enjoy meals with her.  Due to his hectic work schedule, my husband is rarely both home and awake during our meals, but we’re sitting down to eat with Dad too when we can.  I want BabyC to know that mealtime is family time.

Here, BabyC examines the ingredients of lasagna, a dish we can both enjoy. BabyC now notices when I have something on my plate that she doesn’t have, so it is nice to eat the same foods.

Mealtime is also a great time to explore the tastes and textures of foods.  We’ve been having a lot of fun with this lately.  I pull the high chair up to the counter so that BabyC can watch me prepare food.  Fruits have proven to be the most exciting.  Try handing your baby a fresh peach, a kiwi fruit, or even plopping a whole cantaloupe on her tray.  Let her smell it and feel the texture of the skin.  When I put the cantaloupe in front of BabyC, she was clearly impressed with the weight of it.  She tried to pick it up with both hands, but it was too heavy for her.  She looked up at me inquisitively, and I agreed with her, “That is a very heavy cantaloupe, isn’t it?”

Next, I cut the fruit open on the counter while BabyC watches.  Then I show her the inside of the fruit and let her touch it and smell it again.  By this point, BabyC is usually really excited and ready to eat.  Finally, I cut the fruit into pieces that are a little more manageable for her, and we both sit down to enjoy eating together.  What a great way to engage all your baby’s senses!

If this was the first time you’d seen the inside of a cantaloupe, wouldn’t you be interested in exploring it further?

To further cultivate our baby’s understanding of food, we have also visited several local u-pick farms this summer.  Many of us will take our kids to a pumpkin patch in a month or so for some classic photo ops.  Pumpkins are really fun, but right now is harvest time for lots of foods that your kids already know and love, so it is a perfect time to visit a local farm and learn more about where your food comes from.  We visited Detering Orchards just outside of Eugene last week.  They have lots of u-pick fruits and vegetables in addition to a gorgeous farmstand where you can buy pre-picked produce.  What I love about this farm in particular is that their crops are so diverse.  We went out to pick apples but then stumbled into some gorgeous fields of cabbages, broccoli, and beets, and then we wandered over to the peach trees.

We also had a 2- and a 4-year-old with us, and they loved checking out the veggies, especially hunting for ripe beets.  (I’m not sure the beets were supposed to be u-pick, but how can you deny a 4-year-old that is really excited about beets?)  BabyC had a great time, too.

 

 

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11 Comments
  1. Thank you for your post. It's great that you're finding ways to introduce your child to new foods and family meal time as early as you are. With such good role models, these practices well set her up well for a lifetime of healthy eating habits!

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    September 11, 2011
  2. This is fantastic, Alice. Great pictures, great narrative and character. Well, and you're also my sister, and I love you.

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    September 11, 2011
  3. @Kiyah – Thanks! I'm pretty sure my parents instilled the same values in me and my brother when we were kids. I do think it makes a huge difference throughout our lives.@Jordan – Thanks for your sweet words. It really means a lot! I will always value your feedback!

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    September 11, 2011
  4. We prioritize family dinners, too, and have since my now four year old was about your baby's age. I'm glad we did- I think it has started paying dividends. We've tried the gardening approach to introducing more veggies, too. So far, that has yet to pay any dividends beyond giving the grown ups more fresh produce to eat! But maybe it will when our kids our older.

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    September 13, 2011
  5. I kind of love the "I'll have what MAMA is having!" and kind of wish I could eat my own damn meal sometimes. 🙂 But Bug eats practically everything (today: very strong sheep cheese, soy yogurt, fresh peaches, half of my breakfast….) and it's a good encouragement to always have veggies for dinner!

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    September 14, 2011
  6. Jenny, I've discovered recently that BabyC is starting to prefer strong flavors too. I'd been going to all this trouble to pull food out from dishes before it is seasoned, but then she'll randomly eat some curry off my plate and want more, more, more! I'm trying to just feed her what I'm eating, within reason, and go with it. I love Bug's adventurous palate – how wonderful for a toddler!

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    September 14, 2011
  7. Really like the new blog. Love the photos. Love that you grew up on a farm! A dairy one? Anyhow, I was born and raised in the Mid West next to a farm so am now day dreaming about a big red barn. Really, BabyC eats curry? Amazing!

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    September 14, 2011
  8. I have three kids and I've never thought to let them touch the inside of a cantaloupe. What is wrong with me. I love that you are showing her where the food comes from too. So wonderful!p.s. I linked your post on my FB page if you want to see… 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Miss-Elaine-ous-Life/146800262040669

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    September 20, 2011
  9. Thanks for linking to me Elaine! That made my day! And I'm glad you liked my post – I love your blog too!

    Like

    September 20, 2011

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  1. How Becoming a Mother Has Changed the Way I Eat |
  2. A Toddler and Her Food: An Evolving Relationship | Science of Mom

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