This is the second article in our parenting series with our partner Stokke, the Scandinavian brand whose unique products help bring families closer together, encourage healthy development and transform everyday experiences into precious memories. To read Raising a Self-Reliant Child, click here.
Feeding your child can be one of the most fun and rewarding parts of being a parent—and at times, the most frustrating. We all want meal times to be peaceful, happy and successful (aka no picky eating!). That’s why we are happy to share the great advice below from Dr. Alanna Levine, a NYC-based pediatrician and mom of two, about feeding your child, introducing solid foods and raising enthusiastic eaters.
Prioritize Family Meals Early
Bringing your baby’s high chair right up to the table—like the signature Tripp Trapp option from Stokke makes it easy to do—should be a regular part of setting your table. “It’s never too early to start eating together as a family,” says Dr. Levine. Research has shown that three or more family meals a week results in a 12 percent lower chance of a child being overweight.
Watch Their Head Control
Some control over head movement indicates they are ready, or will soon be ready, to learn to eat solid foods. “Your child should hold his/her head steady while it’s being partially supported, either reclining back on the high chair or in a caregiver’s arms,” says Dr. Levine. Other signs of readiness include being interested in what you’re eating, and opening his mouth when food comes his way. This is usually between 4 and 6 months (but always speak to your pediatrician about your specific child and his development).
Introduce Easy to Chew, Nutritious Foods First
Food that have some texture, initially in the form of purees (to keep them from falling off a spoon), and that pack a nutrition punch (since every bite counts when you’re dealing with new eaters!), are ideal. “Some of my favorite first foods include avocado, yogurt mixed with fruit, and peanut butter in oatmeal,” says Dr. Levine.
Don’t Hold Off Too Long on Peanut Butter
Years ago, experts recommended delaying introduction of foods that are likely to cause allergies, like peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. But today, pediatricians like Dr. Levine recommends introducing them early on in their feeding journey (except for honey and cow’s milk—those are still recommended only after one year). Other than that? “You need to be careful to avoid choking hazards,” notes Dr. Levine.
Try Not to Stress About Picky Eating…
“I often say to parents that your job is to provide healthy food to nourish your child, but it’s your child’s job to choose to eat them,” says Dr. Levine. Stressing will only exacerbate the issue, which will likely resolve itself over time.
…But Do Help Them Being Involved In What They Eat
Letting your child meal plan, shop for groceries or even cook with you can go a long way to preventing picky eating. “Having ownership and pride over the meal will make your child much more like to try it, and enjoy it,” says Dr. Levine.
This story is sponsored by Stokke.