5 Ways to Enhance Your Baby or Young Toddler’s Relationship with Food

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids in the Kitchen

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how kids get involved in cooking and feeding. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Early on, I decided that it was important to me for Baby to develop a healthy relationship with food from early on in his life. I made a conscious choice to have Baby grow up eating healthy and organic foods, and as much real, whole food as possible. I also want him to know where food comes from and to understand that food is not something that just appears out of a box.

Here are 5 ways that I try to nourish Baby’s healthy relationship with food:

1. It all starts with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is an easy way to begin a child’s healthy relationship with food because nursing babies and toddlers learn from the beginning to pay attention to when they are full and to stop eating accordingly. You can’t force a child to breastfeed, so babies learn right away to eat and stop feeding as their body needs. In a culture of overeating, this is a key skill for a healthy relationship with food.

2. Introduce solids with baby led weaning.

baby eating orange

Baby has been a lover of fruit since the early days.

Baby led weaning was a wonderful way for Baby to learn about food. From the very beginning of trying solids at around seven months old, Baby saw, touched, and tasted food in their real forms. Rather than associating tastes with the unrecognizable puree form of foods, Baby was able to explore food in their actual forms.

3. Grow food with your little one.
We started with a single tomato plant in a container, but Baby was involved with every step of the growing process. We picked out the plant and the organic soil and fertilizer together. He helped me pot the plant always came with me to water and feed the tomato plant. We also always picked the tomatoes and tasted them together. I like knowing that Baby can see that we can grow our own food and that it comes from somewhere else before arriving at the grocery store.

4. Visit farms.

family at apple farm

One of many early trips to nearby farms

We are lucky to live in an area that is highly populated with farms. We visit all kinds of farms on a fairly regular basis, so Baby has been seeing the relationship of animals and plants to farming and eating from his earliest days. I like that Baby sees food – and the work that goes into growing and producing food.

5. Involve your little ones in the kitchen.

baby and homemade bread

Baby loves making bread with me.

Baby likes to be in the kitchen whenever we’re there, and he also likes to stay busy. Right now, he spends a lot of time playing with bowls and spoons and cups. We also keep only safe objects in the lower cabinets, so Baby can feel free to explore them without hesitation. He spends a lot of time emptying the cabinets and putting things back into them. I like that the kitchen is a space for play and exploration rather than a place of restriction. We plan on stepping up Baby’s involvement in the kitchen soon by purchasing a learning tower as Baby’s Christmas present this year. This will enable Baby to safely stand at the same level as us in the kitchen, and he’ll be able to easily participate in preparing meals with us.

How do you help your little one to develop a healthy relationship with food?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Baking & letting go — Cooking with kids can be a mess. Nadia at Red White & GREEN Mom is learning to relax, be patient, and have fun with the process.
  • Family feeding in Child of Mine — Lauren at Hobo Mama reviews Ellyn Satter’s suggestions for appropriate feeding and points out where her family has problems following through.
  • Children with Knives! (And other Kitchen Tools) — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy teaches her children how to safely use knives.
  • “Mommy, Can I Help?” — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how she lets her kiddos help out with cooking, despite her {sometimes} lack of patience!
  • Solids the Second Time Around — Sheryl at Little Snowflakes recounts her experiences introducing solids to her second child.
  • The Adventure of Toddler TastebudsThe Accidental Natural Mama shares a few things that helped her daughter develop an adventurous palate.
  • A Tradition of Love — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy looks forward to sharing the kitchen traditions passed on from her mom and has already found several ways to involve baby in the kitchen.
  • The Very Best Classroom — Alicia C. at McCrenshaw’s Newest Thoughts reveals how her kitchen is more than a place to make food – it’s a classroom!
  • Raising Little Chefs — Chef Mike guest posts on Natural Parents Network about how he went from a guy who couldn’t cook to a chef who wanted to teach his boys to know how the food we love is made.
  • In the Kitchen with my kids — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares a delicious soup recipe that her kids love.
  • Papa, the Pancake Artist — Papa’s making an incredible breakfast over at Our Mindful Life.
  • Kids won’t eat salad? Try this one! — Tat at Mum in Search is sharing her children’s favourite salad recipe.
  • Recipe For a Great Relationship — Cooking with kids is about feeding hearts as well as bellies, writes Hannah at Wild Parenting.
  • The Ritual of Mealtimes — Syenna at Gently Parenting Twins writes about the significance of mealtimes in her family’s daily rhythm.
  • Kid, Meet Food. Food, Kid. — Alburnet at What’s Next? panicks about passing on her food “issues” to her offspring.
  • Growing Up in the Kitchen — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how her son is growing up in the kitchen.
  • Harvesting Corn and History — From Kenna at School Garden Year: The kids in the school garden harvest their corn and learn how much history grows in their food.
  • My Guiding Principles for Teaching my Child about Food — Tree at Mom Grooves uses these guiding principles to give her daughter a love of good food and an understanding of nutrition as well as to empower her to make the best choices for her body.
  • Kitchen Control — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro writes about her struggles to relinquish control in the kitchen to her children.
  • Food — Emma at Your Fonder Heart lets her seven month old teach her how to feed a baby.
  • Kitchen Fun? — Adrienne at Mommying My Way questions how much fun she can have in a non-functional kitchen, while trying to remain positive about the blessings of cooking for her family.
  • Kitchen Adventures — Erica at ChildOrganics shares fun ways to connect with your kids in the kitchen.
  • Kids in the Kitchen: Finding the Right Tools — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares some of her favorite child-sized kitchen gadgets and where to find them.
  • The Kitchen Classroom — Laura at Authentic Parenting knows that everything your kids want to learn is at the end of the ladle.
  • Kids in the Kitchen — Luschka from Diary of a First Child talks about the role of the kitchen in family communication and shares fun kitchen activities for the under two.
  • Our Kitchen is an Unschooling Classroom. — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle explores the many ways her kitchen has become a rich environment for learning.
  • Montessori-Inspired Food Preparation for Preschoolers — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares lots of resources for using Montessori food preparation activities for young children in the kitchen.
  • My Little Healthy Eater — Christine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares her research on what is the best first food for babies, and includes a healthy and yummy breakfast recipe.
  • Two Boys and Papa in the Kitchen: Recipe for Disaster?MudpieMama shares all about her fears, joys and discoveries when the boys and handsome hubby took over the kitchen.
  • Food choices, Food treats — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea shares her family’s relationship with food.
  • learning to eat — Catherine at learner mummy reflects on little M’s first adventures with food.

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