By Nancy Gottesman
By the time my son was 9 months old, I had gotten lazy about mealtimes. It had become too exhausting to race home from work each night, feed him his jar or two, then prepare and eat my own dinner (all the while trying to keep him from crawling into peril!). So I cut out the double- dinner duty and started throwing cooked chicken, broccoli, rice, cantaloupe, soybeans, pasta, steak, spinach, salmon—anything I was eating, sans seasoning—into the blender and hitting purée. Voila! One dinner, and we sat down to eat at the same time.
Turns out, my slacker meals may have been the best thing I ever did for my son’s nutritional prospects.
“If kids are used to eating healthy foods at 6 to 12 months, then you are setting up healthier eating habits for later on,” maintains Denise Salerno, M.D., director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.
That’s because food preferences are established early, say experts. The foods your baby adapts to taste- and texture- wise are likely to be the same ones he’ll be fond of throughout his childhood. “Eating is a learning process,” says Ellen O’Leary, M.S., R.D., nutrition coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “If a young child is given a lot of sweets, he’s being set up to prefer sweets instead of learning to enjoy all the wonderful flavors out there.”