Remember when we used to have to cut up grapes and blueberries just so they were safe for our kids to eat? Remember when we used to make sure we gave them different flavors every day, and new textures to try? I’m thinking about it now, and realizing that there are some lessons I could stand to remember from my children’s babyhood. When the kids get bigger and I’m not focused as intensely on the primal needs, it’s too easy to forget how important that first meal is, and what I can do to make it better for them (and maybe for myself, too).
1. Make sure we have something appealing on hand.
The end piece of the bread, the last crumbs in a cereal box, half a waffle—these do not a delicious breakfast make. I never ran out of baby food, so I shouldn’t run out of big kid food either. Maybe then my middle-schooler wouldn’t be so eager to pick something else up on his way to school in the morning.
2. Change things up.
Oh, the variety in those jars of baby food! We kept our babies interested in food by offering them new options, and we should keep doing it. Yeah, my kids love their Special K Red Berries and their Eggo waffles, but I bet there are other things they’d love too. Complacency is not really the quality I’m trying to encourage in them, but you wouldn’t know it by our breakfast offerings.
3. Encourage independence.
We used to load up our kids’ highchair trays with different kinds of food so they could choose what interested them most, even if it meant they created a fruit and cookie mash-up squeezed into a tiny fist. Maybe I can make breakfast more of an adventure for my kids now. Next time they want cereal, I’m going to give them a bowl, some milk, and plop down all the boxes so they can mix & match and create their own ultimate supercereal.
4. Show them fruit instead of just offering it.
I always ask if they want apples or grapes, but maybe if I put them on the table in the morning, the visible deliciousness would inspire them to eat it. All winter long, I kept a bowl of clementines on the table, and those get devoured a lot more quickly than the bag of oranges hiding in the fridge. Like babies, kids want what they see.
5. Sit down with them.
I never, ever do this. I’m always busy while they’re eating, but maybe I don’t need to be. Taking ten minutes to join them at the table and eat my own breakfast sounds kind of fun. And I don’t even have to spoon feed them or wipe the dribble off their chins.