“Dr. Linda, my baby is 4 months old. Do I need to start a routine for baby meals yet?
The earlier you start a routine, the faster you will both learn it and make it a habit.
Make baby meals special times. They are a time for bonding, teaching and communicating with your baby.
Establish Habits for Successful Baby Meals
Babies are creatures of habit and feel most comfortable when you have a set routine you follow with each baby meal. This routine helps your baby relax at mealtimes making his digestion more efficient, and making mealtimes more fun for both of you.
- Try to use the same place for all baby meals; consistency is reassuring for your baby, and helps establish mealtime habits.
- Choose a quiet place for baby meals, with few distractions, where you feed your baby, especially when you are introducing a new food.
- Before each baby meal, wash your hands, and clean your baby’s hands with a moist washcloth.
- Do something that relaxes both of you before you sit your baby down. A nice hug, a cuddle or a song are all great ways to get you to relax. Your baby is more likely to accept a new food when you are both calm and relaxed and he will digest it better because relaxation improves his digestion. As always, take three deep, centering breaths before you start the meal so you are fully focused in the here and now: your baby is bonded to you, and senses your state of mind…help make baby meals successful with a relaxing atmosphere for both of you.
- Make mealtimes technology-free zones: Turn off your electronics and your phone, so you both focus on the meal and on each other. As much as possible, be present.
- Saying grace or giving thanks before baby meals - and all meals – is a great way to teach your baby about gratitude. If you don’t have this habit already, you may want to start it now because offering thanks plants the seeds of a gratitude habit in your baby. Gratitude is a foundational habit for thriving in body, emotions, mind and Spirit.
As your baby gets older you can give thanks not only for the food, but to all the people involved in bringing the food to you, as well as all the elements that were involved in the food growing. This gives your baby valuable knowledge as well as feelings of safety, and belonging, which are so vital in order for babies and children to achieve their full potential.
Talk to Your Baby During Baby Meals
During baby meals, talk to your baby as you feed him. Tell him all about what you are feeding him: its color, its taste, it’s consistency. Show him what the food looked like before you ground it up. Tell him about where it came from and even about all the people involved in getting this yummy food to him. Doing this strengthens your bond, teaches him new words which improve his speech, gives him information about the world around him, all of which build his self-esteem and his problem-solving skills.
Example of Baby Meal Talk…
As an example: “Today you’re eating sweet potatoes, they grow in the ground and come in many different colors, some are orange, some are yellow, some are purple.” You can show him the colors if you want. Tell him about the taste and texture: They are sweet and smooth (or lumpy) depending on how you’ve prepared them. Show him a whole sweet potato, describe what it looks like, have him touch it, and, if he is older, he’ll probably try to put it in his mouth, so wash it very well.
As a busy working mom, I know you will not always have the time or energy to do all this.
Doing this at least 3-4 times a week makes the limited time you have to spend with your baby so much more special and it gives you both so many benefits in the future.
What are your family’s favorite mealtime routines?
I would love for you to share them with us. Please post them below, and, as always please post any comments or questions you have.
To your holistic health,
Baby Meal Resources
- How to start your baby on baby food
- Dr. Linda’s tips on starting your baby on solids
- How to tell if your 5-month-old is hungry