Now that another school year has started my children have once again been challenged by their teachers to bring a balanced lunch to school. When packing lunches the conversation around proteins, grains, fruits and veggies has been wonderful. I take the opportunity to test my children’s understanding of how their foods are wade and all their ingredients.
This is no accident, maybe a little unforeseen, but I have been setting this stage from their first meal. Each of them had their first solid food meal at about 6 months. At a calm time of the day I introduced a complete meal in replacement of a liquid meal. I set the table with a special set of dishes, a napkin, placemat, and bib, and sat across the table as now it was their turn to eat, not cradled in my arms – latching on, but at a table as a separate person from me: my show of respect for their development and individuality.
We do not have a history of food allergies in our family, so although I was quite aware and observant when offering new foods, I was not particularly concerned. The first meals need protein, grain, healthy fats, fruits and veggies, and water: all the components that their meals need now. I started with puréed foods and after just a few short weeks moved to chunkier, mashed foods and soft bite-size foods. This transition helped them to be more independent in eating as well as didn’t prolong the liquid and purée stage. Trying new textures early in the introduction of solid foods allowed my children to have more variety in their diet and stay open to trying new foods.
An example of one of their first meals is: Peaches, roasted sweet potatoes with olive oil, rice cereal and hard boiled egg yolk with breastmilk. So many textures and flavors and a complete meal – worthy of replacing a milk meal. After all, they received a full meal when nursing, it was important for me to continue that into their new solid meals.
Making sure even the first meal is a complete meal helps to lay the foundation for a healthy relationship with food. Sure they have foods they prefer, don’t we all? But they are far from picky eaters.