4 Tips for Making Meal Time Fun
By Dr. Nicole Avena, PhD
Meal time should be fun for you and for baby! But let’s face it, there are going to be some days when one (or both) of you just is not in the best mood, and then meal time might feel more like a chore than a joy. Here are a few things you can do to keep it enjoyable!
Get Fun Gear
Doesn't it feel better to work out at the gym if you have a cute outfit and nice new sneakers? It's motivating to get the job done when you feel like you have what you need. Same goes for feeding baby. Make meals feel special by getting them a fun new bib, a special meal toy, and maybe a cool placemat, plate, or utensils. And you can make cooking baby’s food fun for you by getting yourself a baby food blender or a colorful cooler bag for when you two are on the go!
Let Go of The Mess
Messes will happen. If you like things clean and neat, you should make peace with the mess right now. Don’t waste time stressing about how much of a mess baby is making by dirtying multiple bowls and utensils, finger painting with their food on the table and body instead of eating, or dumping their food on the floor. For now, your dog will take care of the big crumbs, and no one will notice the rest. Mess is best!
Change Up The Menu
Maybe you and baby need a change in the menu to liven things up. If you have been feeding them commercially-available baby foods, try making your own! It isn’t as hard as you would think, and it's a great way to try out new foods. There are many easy and fun recipes you can try on the web, and baby would love to be your assistant chef! Hand them some plastic cups, bowls, and spoons and cook away together!
Go On A Lunch Date
Don't stay all cooped up at home, get out there! Mix up your routine and head out to eat. I'm a firm believer in bringing children to restaurants (and other public places) early in life. Not only will it give them a head start on how to behave in a public setting, but it can also help parents alleviate the sense of disconnect from the world that can sometimes develop when you are home with a new baby. If you're nervous about eating out with baby, start off at a family-friendly place where you get served relatively quickly and can make a quick exit if needed. Ask the server to bring you a to-go container when you order, just in case you need it. If baby fusses or starts to cry, don't throw in the towel and head home right away. Instead use the bathroom for a diaper change if needed, or take a stroll around the restaurant for a quick change of atmosphere.
Adapted from Dr. Avena’s book, What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler