As a child, I grew up on a steady diet of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Fearing Karma, I’ve diligently tried to make Hannah’s mealtimes pleasant, fulfilling, and filled with variety. She’s only 14 months now, so there is plenty of time for her to change her palate. However, I think we’re off to a really great start. Since I’ve been back on my feet, we’ve shared several delightful family meals.
With the exception of applesauce and mashed potatoes (or yams) we’re out of the puree phase completely. In fact, she generally eats exactly what we eat since I try to provide a healthy menu for the family all the time. If necessary, I’ll leave the seasonings out of her meal or sub a side dish with a piece of cheese. Hannah has been finger feeding since about 9 months and is now making attempts to use silverware. It is so exciting to watch her learn this important skill! Even though the puree phase passed quickly, I’m still making use of my Baby Bullet gear because the cups are still useful for measuring portions, storing extras, or serving her drinks. When her little hands grab the cup for a sip of water it makes my heart melt.
Originally, I could give Hannah a prepared snack like cheerios and then make the rest of her meal. About two months ago, she started throwing food out of boredom so I made it a point to fully prepare both our meals and then sit with her while she eats. This took some additional planning in the house to set up a baby-proofed playroom where she can wander, but it has been so worthwhile. Now, she plays with her toys and has a sippy cup while I cook. She still tries to feed the dog at the end of her meal and will throw food after she’s full, but I just tell her a stern “No Ma’am” and remove the tray because the meal is finished.
At the end of the meal, I bring over a washcloth to wipe her face, hands and tray. When learning Montessori based skills, it’s important for children to see how to clean. I slowly wipe across and down so that she can understand what I’m doing and learn the skill herself. It’s working because the other day she grabbed a bib off the back of her chair, wiped her face and hands and then dabbed the cloth over her tray. I am so inspired by little acts like this because it shows that she is a careful observer and is ready to learn more and more skills.
One thing that has been really helpful for both of us is sign language. Hannah learned “All Done” several months ago and has used that to signal everything from a finished meal to boredom in the play room. Now that she knows “More” she is able to politely ask for extra helpings or a different food without screaming. I’m trying to teach her “Please” as well. There are many more signs that we could learn, but I’m satisfied with this small communication booster for now. Right now, even her Dad knows the signs and I’m happy that we can all understand one another during meals.