The first meal is one of the precious moments you have with your little one. After breastfeeding, starting solid meals is a crucial task. It brings immense pleasure to see babies growing, exploring and experiencing different tastes and flavourssome of which will eventually turn out to be their favourite foods later in life.
After the first six months of birth, milk alone is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of growth and this is the time when the baby should be offered other foods too. This marks a very important phase in a child’s life termed as weaning. For a growing baby, weaning is an important part of his or her development from a psychological, emotional and educational point of view. This is a great opportunity for the parents and child to interact with each other. Therefore, sitting and eating together on a high chair or a dining table not only teaches them by example but also helps them bond with the family. Beyond just feeding, this is the time when a child learns to socialise, develop healthy eating habits and a sense of independence with the help of his or her parents.
SKILLS & ETIQUETTES
While the baby is growing, it is the best time when you can put a sense of discipline in your child. Thus, mealtimes provide an opportunity when a parent or parents can lay the foundation for healthy and correct eating habits in young children which will go a long way into adulthood. Therefore, while introducing new foods to the baby’s palette, parents must be patient and respect the child’s pace to learn keeping these moments fun and enjoyable.
Mealtimes are also the time when your baby starts to develop social skills by listening and learning from behaviour modelled by parents and siblings.
This is as much as an exploratory phase as learning time for the child. They observe things through their twinkling eyes and if something is done each day, they get habitual to that. Thus, it is important to create a ritual that is to be respected at every meal time. Parents must fix a certain place in the house which is calm and serene, where they can feed their child regularly with specific cutlery and dishes for each meal time.
While doing so, it is advisable to use dishes with nonslip rubber base to prevent children from pushing it away with their hands, and should be made of unbreakable material.
Since children eat slowly, thermal dishes that maintain the temperature of the food can also be used. It is important that the dish is small, suitable for the needs of the child and avoid giving excessive portions of the meal to the child. Acquiring drinking skills is another crucial part of mealtimes for babies and it evolves gradually and differs depending on the development of each child as your little one makes transition from sucking to first cup. So, it is essential to select a cup of right shape and size, which captures the interest of your little one as they grow step by step and encourage him or her to drink on their own.