(Family Features) Your baby’s first holiday season is one to treasure. While you’re busy making memories, remember enjoying a meal together as a family is also a convenient and practical learning opportunity for your little one to explore the world of eating and solid foods.
Babies learn to eat new foods when they are exposed to them. They see their parents model healthy habits or having the opportunity to try new foods, including fruits and vegetables.
Fruit and veggie 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 plus pear, blackberry orange, peas and apple zucchini spinach.
“I often see parents worried about their baby’s nutrition, especially during the busy holiday season,” pediatric dietitian Marina Chaparro said. “As a parent myself, I firmly believe in having convenient and practical options like packaged purees on hand that do not compromise on 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 may be on the holiday table, but don’t include any added sweeteners babies don’t need in their diets at this stage in their development.”
Chaparro offers these tips to begin forming healthy eating habits and include your baby at the table this holiday season:
- Don't feel like you need to feed your baby separately. Instead, incorporate your baby in the holiday fun. If you’re visiting family, ask for a highchair or bring a portable one to ensure your baby is comfortable and safe.
- Stick to your usual feeding routine so your baby doesn’t get overly hungry or cranky. It’s OK if baby needs to eat before or after the main event; he or she can still be at the table with a nutritious snack or 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 preparing a different holiday meal for your baby, head off the potential of a future picky eater by sharing the same meal everyone else enjoys. You can serve small portions of the same food finely chopped and safely prepared for baby or provide baby with premade food with traditional holiday flavors. Finely shredded turkey pieces and homemade mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes are perfect for babies who are picking up food and eating on their own. For younger eaters, look for developmentally appropriate purees that match what’s on the grownups’ table.
- Allow your baby to play with his or her food. Offer a silicone spoon and allow him or her to explore purees and get messy. Research from Cambridge University found allowing kids to use all their senses to explore foods may help reduce picky eating later.
- Focus more on the experience and less on how much makes it in that little mouth. As parents, it can be difficult not to worry about how much food your baby eats. Instead, focus on providing nutrient-dense meals and a positive environment for your baby to enjoy and interact with the food.
Explore more tips for creating healthy eating habits this holiday season and beyond at Gerber.com.
Helping Baby Discover New Tastes
- When considering which to serve first – fruits or veggies – no hard rule applies, so do what feels right for you and your baby. Remember, it can take up to 10 tries with a new food before he or she decides to give it a go.
- If you’re using baby food packed in a pouch, be sure to squeeze it into a bowl or onto a spoon for feeding for babies under 1 year old.
- Growth spurts can influence hunger. Let your baby’s hunger and fullness cues guide how much he or she eats. Offer a wide variety of foods so he or she can experience different tastes and learn to accept new foods.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (parent feeding baby)