the importance of adventurous snacking
research proves: it’s ok to play with your food
Babies learn through tactile experiences in their first year of life. They learn through exposure to new sounds, sights, textures, smells, and tastes. Mealtime is a great time to enhance this development. At mealtime they can practice self-feeding, work on their fine motor skills, and learn from seeing, grasping, feeling, and, of course, tasting new foods.
Introducing solids helps babies understand the mechanics, textures, and flavors of eating. The distinctive smell, bumpy texture, and green color of broccoli is a great tactile and visual learning experience for your little one. When babies pick up their food to eat, they are educating themselves about the world around them as well as about how to enjoy food. These first stages of discovery are essential for budding foodies.
Starting around eight months your baby will be ready to explore the tactile experiences associated with eating. Good options are soft baked snacks, biscuits, soft cooked vegetables, and any easy-to-hold colorful food. Watch for your little one to start using her hands to pick up snacks, practicing gripping with her thumb and index finger.
One option we love are Plum’s Super Puffs, which we’ve designed to let this age group eat their colors while getting super nutrition.
Babies take time to adjust to swallowing new textures so the first time with any new food will be an adventure. If your baby spits out her food, plays with it, or throws it on the floor, remember that it can take 10 to 16 tries before a baby learns to like a new food.¹ Don’t give up!
Pouched purees are an easy way for babies to work on their fine motor skills and learn to self-feed. Your baby will indicate when she is ready for this step with expressions and gestures—she may reach for the spoon, or she may even attempt to grab and squeeze her favorite pouch all on her own.
And remember, every child is unique and learns things at his or her own rate—just like grown ups. Providing snacks with bright colors and varied textures and flavors throughout your child’s development will give her the opportunity to learn and grow through food at her own pace.
1Cowart, B. J. “Development of Taste Perception in Humans: Sensitivity and Preference Throughout the Life Span,” Psychological Bulletin, 1981, 90(1): 43-73.