It’s strange to think how important Baby’s eating habits are before he even has more than a couple of teeth, but it’s true. Right now, as he is only just figuring out how he feels about flavors besides breast milk or formula, he is fueling the growth of his body and brain that will carry him through till adulthood, and he is forming his very first ideas about taste in food and table manners.
Variety is the spice of life
At this point, Baby would have to have worked pretty fast to pick up any unbreakable eating habits, which is why it’s a great time to get him interested in and used to a bunch of different types of food. Even if Baby doesn’t seem thrilled by a new flavor when he is first introduced to it, don’t be afraid to offer it to him a few more times as time goes on – it can take children as many as ten or so times trying a taste out before they can decide if they like it. Variety isn’t just important as a way of standing against picky eating, either – the more varied Baby’s diet is, the more likely he is to get the right balance of the nutrients he needs naturally.
Follow Baby’s lead
It can be hard not to worry if Baby’s appetite seems to vary wildly, or if he goes through periods of eating almost nothing, especially as he grows into toddlerhood, and his growth and metabolism start to slow down. At this point, Baby has no real concept of overeating, and he will eat as much as he needs. In fact, feeding him when he isn’t hungry can teach him to ignore his body’s cues. As long as he is getting the nutrients he needs to keep growing at a healthy rate, there’s no harm in following Baby’s hunger cues, even if they’re unpredictable or strange. Baby‘s doctor will be able to reassure you if his growth is happening at a normal, healthy rate, and will definitely let you know if Baby‘s growth rate suggests that it might be a good idea to alter his diet a little.
Baby may not have had the time to acquire a taste for sugar yet. He probably will, as few kids miss out on the instinct to hone in on anything candy-related eventually, but there’s no need to hurry that day along. Baby‘s kidneys also aren’t ready to process any added salt, so there are a few aspects of cooking it’s a good idea to hold off on introducing to Baby quite yet, even when he is first introduced to table food.
A family affair
One of the best ways to help Baby have positive associations with mealtime, and to help him start to participate in normal family life in a way that will carry him through childhood, is to sit him down at or near the dinner table with you for meals, and to eat with him. Baby just wants to be a part of the gang!