We read an interesting article this weekend entitled ‘20 Tips to Simplify Dinnertime‘ (friendly link), which aims to reduce the stress that many of us Mums experience at mealtimes.
Some of the tips are great – such as ‘bulk’ cooking in advance, getting together with other Mums for a playgroup / dinner prep group and getting older kids involved in the cooking. But there was one tip that we found rather sad!
Feed the baby before anyone else. While the soup is simmering, feed your younger children, and they will be less likely to disrupt the main meal.
Now, I don’t know about you – but we don’t see including the littlest member of the family at the table as a ‘disruption’ in a negative sense. In fact, it’s our opinion that including your baby in the warm atmosphere of the family meal as early as possible goes a long way to creating a non-picky eater with a true appreciation for food!
Eating with your baby teaches him about how to behave at mealtimes – of course, ALL babies will indulge in a little food-flinging at first, but he will soon learn what’s acceptable and what’s not by following the example set to him by everyone else.
Leading by example is also important when it comes to healthy eating – one of the best ways to encourage your little one to eat vegetables, for example, is to eat them yourself – with lots of enthusiasm (even if you have to pretend!).
A family meal is a very sociable time – your baby is much more likely to look forward to mealtimes if they are happy times where the family comes together. In our experience – and from the many messages we’ve received from parents having difficulties feeding their little ones – a baby fed alone is much more likely to ‘play up’ and feeding time can often be a struggle.
Of course, having your baby at the table with you does mean paying him some attention (and so it should!), but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to enjoy your OWN dinner! If you are still feeding him from a spoon, then try giving him a spoon of his own. Although he may be too young to actually feed himself, the spoon itself should keep him occupied for long enough to allow you to eat, too. When he’s ready for them, offering plenty of finger foods gives your baby the opportunity to feed himself whilst you enjoy your meal.
A mesh feeder is another option – many babies will contentedly gnaw away as Mum eats (see our previous post for some great ideas about what to put inside!).
So what do YOU think?
Do you prefer to feed your baby along with other family members – or does baby have his own mealtime beforehand?
Do you have any great techniques for feeding the whole family simultaneously or any special way of keeping your baby happy during mealtimes that allows everyone to eat in relative ‘peace’?
We’d love to hear your comments – just click below to have your say!