Follow Your Baby’s Instincts at Mealtimes

When it comes to eating, parents and babies have their own special jobs. Your job is to provide your baby with healthy food and a pleasant mealtime environment. Her job is to focus on learning how to eat and developing healthy habits. Try these tips for making mealtime more enjoyable.

Dad feeding 5-month old

It’s never too early to create a mealtime environment that helps your baby learn good health habits.

Set the mood. Create a calm, quiet mealtime by turning off the TV or any loud music, and putting away cell phones and toys. With less distraction, you’ll be able to recognize your baby’s feeding cues, and he’ll feel more settled.

Make mealtime family time. Your baby needs nourishment not just from food, but also from your words, expressions and laughter. That’s why eating together as a family is healthy for baby too! Position him to face other family members at the table and include him in your conversations. 

6-month old unhappy

Look for cues. Your baby can’t use words yet, but she can definitely show you what she wants. Watch closely and you’ll see baby’s feeding cues…she’ll lean toward the spoon and open wide for more. Or she’ll close her mouth, turn her head or push the spoon away when she’s full. Trust her to know what she needs.

Keep it simple. Try holding the spoon a few inches from her mouth and see what she does. If she’s not very interested, there’s no need to play “spoon airplane.” She probably isn’t hungry, so you don’t want the “airplane” to distract her from following her own hunger or fullness cues.

Baby eating messy

Let baby lead. Your baby instinctively knows what nutrition she needs. So relax and let your baby decide to eat (or not eat), how much to eat, and how fast or slowly to eat. And remember, breastmilk or formula is still providing most of the nutrition her body needs.

Embrace the mess. If you’re happy and relaxed during mealtime, your baby feels it. And when you’re both relaxed, feeding will go more smoothly. Sure, there will be messes, but no need to stress about them or wipe her up until she’s done.