(Family Features) Your baby’s first holiday season is to be cherished. While you are busy creating memories, remember that enjoying a family meal is also a hands-on, hands-on learning opportunity for your little one to explore the world of eating and solid foods.
Babies learn to eat new foods when exposed to them. They see their parents adopting healthy habits or having the opportunity to try new foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Fruit and vegetable purees like Gerber 1st Foods and 2nd Foods purees help ensure babies experience a variety of flavors made from real, nutritious foods. The baby food line includes seasonal varieties such as butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potato as well as pear, ripe orange, peas, and zucchini and apple spinach.
“I often see parents worrying about their babies’ nutrition, especially during the peak holiday season,” said pediatric dietitian Marina Chaparro. “As a parent myself, I firmly believe in having convenient and convenient options like packaged purees on hand that don’t compromise nutrition or taste. Options like Gerber’s Selection of Vegetable, Fruit and Dinner Purees conveniently expose babies to a variety of new flavors, including those that can be on the holiday table, but don’t include added sweeteners including babies do not need it in their diet at this stage in their development.
Chaparro offers these tips to start adopting healthy eating habits and include your baby at the table this holiday season:
- Don’t feel like you have to feed your baby separately. Instead, make your baby part of the holiday fun. If you are visiting family, ask for a high chair or bring a portable one to make sure your baby is comfortable and safe.
- Stick to your regular feeding routine so that your baby doesn’t get too hungry or cranky. It doesn’t matter if baby needs to eat before or after the main event; he or she can always be at the table with a nutritious snack or his or her favorite toy. One option is Gerber Natural Whipped Banana Apple Blueberry Melts, which are made from 95% fruit, real egg whites, and contain no added sugar.
- Rather than making a different holiday meal for your baby, avoid the potential of a future picky eater by sharing the same meal that everyone is enjoying. You can serve small portions of the same finely chopped, baby-safe food, or treat baby to foods made with traditional holiday flavors. Finely shredded pieces of turkey and mashed potatoes or homemade sweet potatoes are perfect for babies who collect food and eat on their own. For the youngest, look for developmentally appropriate mash that matches what’s on the adult table.
- Let your baby play with his food. Offer him a silicone spoon and allow him to explore the mash and get dirty. Research from the University of Cambridge has found that allowing children to use all of their senses to explore foods can help cut down on difficult foods later.
- Focus more on the experience and less on what makes it in that little mouth. As parents, it can be hard not to worry about how much food your baby is eating. Instead, focus on providing nutrient-dense meals and a positive environment for your baby to enjoy and interact with the food.
Find more tips for creating healthy eating habits this holiday season and beyond at Gerber.com.
Help baby discover new tastes
- When deciding which to serve first – fruit or veg – no hard and fast rules apply, so do what’s right for you and your baby. Keep in mind that it can take up to 10 tries with a new food before he decides to try it.
- If you are using sachet-packaged baby food, be sure to squeeze it in a bowl or on a spoon to feed babies under one year old.
- Growth spurts can influence hunger. Let your baby’s hunger and fullness cues guide the amount of food he or she eats. Offer him a wide variety of foods so that he can experiment with different tastes and learn to accept new foods.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (parent nursing baby)