Top Tips for Hassle-Free Meals With Baby
Feeding your baby solid foods can seem tricky at first, but we promise it’ll get easier! It can take months for your baby to master the art of feeding themself, so it’s important to know what to expect and be patient.
Help your baby improve their fine motor skills and develop their taste for a variety of nutritious foods, and get tips for less food waste and easier cleanup.
The surprising importance of messy meals
A messy baby is a learning baby.
Right now, your baby has a lot to learn, and you’re their best teacher. By watching you eat and trying to use a spoon with your help, your baby is starting to develop the skills they need. Babies love to touch and feel, because that’s how they get familiar with new things. They may take food off the spoon, play with it, put it in their mouth or spread it around the high chair. That’s perfectly normal.
Your baby is still learning, so try to be OK with a mess.
- For quick floor cleanup, put an old bed sheet or towel, paper grocery bags, or paper towels under the high chair.
- For easier baby cleanup, strip your baby down to just a diaper and plastic bib during meals. You may find that popping your baby in a bath is quicker and easier than doing loads of laundry.
Reading your baby’s eating language
As your baby gets better at eating, they’ll show you they're interested in feeding themself. They might try to grab the spoon and put it in their mouth or start picking up food with their fingers. Let your baby take the lead, but be ready to step in if they get frustrated and want help.
Letting your baby advance from spoon feeding to finger foods when they're ready is an important step for them, and it’ll mean your hands are free to feed yourself! Serve finger foods that are easy for your baby to feed themself, such as diced ripe fruit, well-steamed veggies, whole-wheat noodles and scrambled eggs.
Try, try and try again
We adults don’t always love a new food at first bite, so it’s normal for babies to need a few tries, too.
You can teach your baby to like a variety of foods by offering them again and again. In fact, your baby may need to be introduced to a food 10 to 15 times before they like it. If they makes funny faces, it doesn’t mean they don’t like it. It often means it’s just a new flavor or texture they haven’t tasted before.
If your baby shows you they're not interested in a new food, trust them and try again a few days later. The best way to prevent a future picky eater—and develop a healthy eater—is to let your baby decide when they're ready to try a new food. Teach them to keep an open mind by being a good role model and eating healthy foods, too.
Tips to avoid wasting food
- Instead of feeding straight from the jar, spoon a small amount of baby food into a separate bowl to feed your baby. That way, if they refuse it, you can store the rest of the jar in the fridge to try again in 2 or 3 days. When you feed your baby directly from the jar, bacteria from the spoon gets into the food and leftovers will need to be tossed.
- Babies like to eat what’s on their parents’ plates, so include some foods baby can share. Offer to let them try your food. If they don’t want it, it’s all yours!
- Prepare just enough food for them to have a small taste.