Eating good food is a wonderful part of life in which your baby can enjoy flavors, take in nourishment, gain energy, and participate in a shared experience with you. The visual appeal of food and ambience can have a calming effect that also stimulates her appetite. It may seem far-fetched to think of “slow food” when feeding your six-month-old baby, but perhaps some of the principles of the Slow Food movement can be applied to your child’s dining experience.
Slow Food is an idea, a way of living, and a way of eating. It is part of a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members in more than 150 countries, and it links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
A study at Cornell University showed that presentation of food, including a variety of colors, shapes, and ingredients, influences children’s eating choices. Your baby will learn your attitude about food, and while she is young she will develop her lifelong relationship with food.
If you choose to make your baby’s food at home with whole grains, fresh vegetables, beans, and fruits, then you are exercising a commitment to a healthy and quality eating experience for your baby because of the extra effort and attention you are devoting to it. Below are some tips for developing healthy feelings about food.
Food Presentation Tips
- Eat at least one seated family meal together a day without distractions of TV, electronics, etc.
- Gather all the necessary equipment before feeding your baby, to avoid interruptions.
- Express appreciation for the food.
- Give attention to the visual appeal of the meal, with dishes, food arrangement and color, and flowers.
- Create a relaxed, unrushed atmosphere with conversation and sharing.
- Encourage your child firmly with patience to taste different foods, but do not pressure, force, or bribe your child.
- Chew your food well and encourage your child to do so as well.
Itadakimasu (i-ta-da-ki-ma-su) is a concise thank-you blessing in Japanese that includes all the forces that have contributed to bringing the food to the table—the earth, rain, sunshine, farmer, truck driver, vendor, storekeeper, and cook; the plants and animals that gave their life for the meal; and the support of Mother Nature. Literally, it means, “I humbly receive.” Appreciation for and recognition of the awe and source of life is something wonderful to cultivate in your child.
Mari & Emi giving thanks
Did you try this at home? Share your experiences in the comments below!