Moving on - Make mealtime enjoyable
Title：Moving on - Make mealtime enjoyable
Make mealtime enjoyable
Heading: Healthy eating for 6 to 24 month old children - Moving On - Make Mealtime Enjoyable
Sub-heading: Make Mealtime Enjoyable
Hostess: From 6 to 12 months of age, babies learn to crawl, to stand, and to make noise or use body language to tell parents what they want. To help babies develop their eating skills, parents should respond to their needs correctly. Next we will talk about how to provide a suitable eating environment and how to help your baby feed himself.
Sub-heading: Eating Environment
Hostess asked Mother D: Have you ever let your baby hold the food to eat?
Mother D: Well, I have thought about it, but I’m afraid he will make a mess.
Hostess: Let’s see what the doctor says.
Doctor Fherina Lam, Family Health Service of the Department of Health: Your child develops his ability to care for himself as he learns to feed himself. He might be a bit messy when he feeds himself at this moment. But, if you prepare the environment well, you don’t have to worry about it.
Sub-heading: Smart tips
Doctor Fherina Lam: Put a bib on him. Clean his face and hands before and after the meal. Seat your baby in a high chair with a tray or at the dining table, so that he can pick up the food more easily. Cover the floor with a newspaper or a tablecloth for easy clean-up later.
Sub-heading: Helping your baby learn to feed himself
Hostess: Actually, eating is an important learning process for small children. If your baby reaches out for food or a spoon, you can let him have a try.
Scene: The mother is feeding the baby who is sitting on his highchair by the side of the dining table. She hands a piece of veggie to the baby and eats with him.
Narrator: Before a meal, clean your baby’s hands. During the meal, avoid wiping your baby’s hands and mouth too often, as this may disturb his interest in eating. If he wants to eat by himself, he will reach out for the food. You can let him hold the food, such as finger biscuits, soft boiled vegetable stalks, strips of sweet potatoes and carrots. You can also allow him to handle a spoon. During the meal, as he watched you eating with a spoon, he can copy it. Even if he cannot use a spoon properly, you can still let him hold and explore the spoon.
Sub-heading: Learning to drink from a cup
Narrator: In general, babies are ready to learn to use a cup at 7 to 9 months old. Put a small amount of water or diluted juice in a trainer cup or a regular cup. Let your baby hold the cup if he wants to. At first, hold the cup close to your baby’s lower lip. Then, tilt it to allow him to drink slowly.
Scene: The baby is sitting on a highchair. The mother offers a small cup of water to the baby. She holds the handle of the cup and drinks. She coughs as she chokes. Her mother comfort her.
Narrator: When your baby gets used to this, he can hold the cup and drink. You stay close and give him a hand if needed. He might knock the cup over, get his clothes wet or choke. These are part of the learning process. Practice makes perfect.
Hostess: Some parents may wonder why babies need to learn to drink from a cup so early.
Doctor Amy Fung, Family Health Service, Department of Health: To drink from a cup requires the hands, eyes and mouth muscles to work together. Babies need time to practise. When your baby can pick up things with his hands, or shows interest in the cup, you should let him try to use it. Allowing him to practise, he can drink from a cup by himself at about 1 year of age. Then he should stop using a feeding bottle. This protects him from tooth decay.
Sub-heading: Eating together as a family
Hostess: Babies are curious about what is around them and like to interact with other people. By joining the family mealtime, your baby has more chances to interact with family members; he can also learn about table manners by watching how others eat.
Sub-heading: Eating together with your baby
Scene: the father and the mother are dining with their baby who is sitting on his highchair by the side of the dining table. They hand a piece of veggie to the baby and eats with him.
Narrator: Arrange for your child to join family mealtime at least once a day, it may be a main meal or tea-time. You may feed him first and then let him sit at the dining table with the rest of you. Don’t just feed him. Let him participate. As you eat, you may feed him or let him hold some food to eat. If the food on the table is suitable for him, you can let him try it.
Sub-heading: When your baby is full……
Hostess: Your baby will naturally eat as much as he needs to. His appetite is not the same at every meal. Usually he gets full within 15 to 20 minutes. As long as you feed him according to his appetite, he will feel happy and relaxed.
Sub-heading: Baby’s signs of fullness
Narrator: At the beginning of a meal, babies are more attentive while eating. However, when they get full, they are easily distracted. If your baby slows down and looks around while eating, you can call to him to draw his attention to the food. If he wants to eat, continue to feed him. If he is no longer interested in the food, then don’t feed him anymore.
Hostess: Most babies have no interest in eating when they are full. Many parents turn on the TV or use toys to settle their children, so that they eat more. However, this may create the following problems:
Sub-heading: Problems of watching TV or playing while eating
Narrator: Babies will get into the bad habit of eating only when watching TV or playing with toys; babies will be less willing to feed themselves and will rely on others to feed them; babies may not know that they are already full because of the distractions. In the long run, they may easily overeat, which may lead them to become overweight.
Doctor Amy Fung: In fact, babies under 2 years old should not watch TV or look at computer screens. Watching TV reduces their time to communicate with others and is associated with speech delay. It also reduces their activity time, making it hard for them to develop a healthy and active lifestyle.
Sub-heading: Smart tips
Doctor Amy Fung: Instead of watching TV, children should spend more time playing with their parents. For example, you can let your baby crawl around on the mattress. This is good for their development.
Hostess: Apart from developing an active lifestyle, parents should help their babies get used to a healthy daily routine. You shouldn’t allow babies to drink milk while they are sleeping. Clean their mouths daily and help them build healthy habits. After watching this programme, you should know more about the various changes in feeding babies of 6 to 12 months old. This is a golden opportunity for you to help them establish healthy eating habits. If you have any questions about feeding your baby, please contact your doctors or nurses. If you want to learn about cooking congee for your baby and how to clean your baby’s mouth, please watch the special sections coming up next.