Family Meals: Eating Together as a Family
Eat with your kids! Start from their first introduction to pureed solids and continue until they leave home for college. I advise parents to implement this as a first step because it makes such a huge difference in your child’s development.
During family mealtimes, your child will:
· Be exposed to new foods that are not part of their current diet
· Learn self-feeding skills
· Learn utensil use
· Develop mealtime social skills (important for eating at school)
· Develop conversation skills (important for social development)
· Develop skills for eating in a restaurant (without an iPad)
· Use mindful eating (eating while watching an IPad or TV is mindless eating and leads to picky eating and obesity).
· Develop sharing skills (passing food around the table)
So, start eating together as a family as much as possible. Some families have more time in the morning and eat family breakfast together. You can also have snack time together. What I can tell you is, once you start the process of eating together, you are going to want to add more family meals to your week because you will see the difference and you will all enjoy the time together.
You do not have to eat what your baby is eating, but your baby should eat a safe form of the food you are eating. If you are having an apple, serve your baby applesauce or cooked apples. If you are having spicy guacamole, cut a few pieces of the avocado off before making it and serve that to your baby. Break off a small piece of something safe on your plate for your baby. Mealtimes should be social times. It’s a time to gather together and share an experience. Be silly and have fun.
During family meals, your child can see, smell, and touch what you eat. Did you know that it takes most children 10-15 exposures to a new food before they include it in their daily diet? Exposures can include sight, smell, touch, or taste. Exposing your children during family meals will make a for a smooth transition to new foods. Also, your child is more likely to be interested in a food that you are eating than a new food on their own plate.
During family meals, your child can see how you eat. This is important for transitions from finger foods to utensils. Your child can observe you chewing, scooping with a spoon, poking with a fork, and drinking from a cup. Most importantly, eating together makes mealtimes less stressful and more fun. The key to successful mealtimes is low stress mealtimes. This includes you and you baby. If you are stressed, so are they and when your baby is stressed they won’t eat. So, break out your finest baby safe cups and bowls and have a fun meal together!
Written by: Rachael Rose, Owner/Founder