As early as 4 months of age, Pediatricians are encouraging parents to expose children to baby foods. This milestone is pivotal in staging the rest of the child’s feeding experience. The main goal of this exposure is not for ingestion, as calories are still predominantly from breastmilk or formula, but for exploration.
Encourage your child to get messy! Show them how to smash their food, touch it with both hands, and smear it on their highchair tray. Is in in their hair? No problem! What you are encouraging is learning about the foods! Is it soft or hard? Can it break? Is it warm or cool? Does it have a big flavor or a small one? How can the child manipulate the food? Provide opportunities for children to use their fingers, a tool (such as an infant spoon), or a celery rod. The opportunity to be creative are endless!
Suggestions for messy play at home:
- Mix baby cereal with preferred breastmilk/formula
- Can be mixed with more or less milk to alter the consistency
- Can mix with water as an alternative
- Can be warmed in the microwave
- Can be cold from fridge milk
- Can put in freezer for a few minutes before serving
- Stage 1 purees (can mix different flavors once introduced one at a time and checked for allergic reaction- consult your Pediatrician before mixing textures)
- Smashed banana
- Smashed avocado
- Smashed sweet potato
- Celery rod (at least 6 inches long)
- Carrot rod (at least 6 inches long)
- Cooked then pureed squash (Acorn squash, Butternut Squash)