do you smell what’s cookin’? why catering to all of baby’s senses matters
use the five senses to create a food sensation for your little one
Delicious foods, like many classics, never go out of style. A baby is never too young to learn about good taste so why feed them bland foods? While flavor is key to making a fashionable plate your baby will enjoy, engaging all the senses is the best way to keep your baby interested in food. According to our friend and advisor Dr. Alan Greene, author of the fantastic Feeding Baby Green, we have the first few years of a little one’s life to “train” his or her taste buds to instinctively desire healthy foods and the superior nutrition they provide. It’s a busy and brief window of time, which is why this initial imprinting and repetition process should involve not just taste but all of the senses. The most successful results come from engaging those little noses, eyes, hands, and even ears—as well as taste buds—in any given meal for sensory development. Feeding all of your baby’s senses will not only help new foods go down easy; they’ll leave your little eater hungry for more.
START WITH THE NOSE.
Smell and taste go hand in hand, which makes yummy scents very important, for example the smell of a fresh peach. Cook dishes with herbs, spices, and aromatic ingredients like onion, garlic, and ginger. What’s more tempting that a steaming plate of great smelling food? If you’re too time pressed to prepare a baby feast, try a sensory pleasing, easy prep baby meal.
BOOST THE EYE APPEAL.
The most celebrated chefs know plating dishes beautifully entices eaters. Take a page from them. Serve meals with bright colors—think orange yams, green beans, and red berries, and include interesting shapes like cubes, balls, sticks, and mounds, but also let them see the shape of the actual food or ingredient. And know your audience—some kids don’t like various foods to touch. Others, especially toddlers, benefit from dinner being artfully arranged in the shape of a face or a familiar object. Have fun with it; your kid will, too.
Touch plays a key role in pleasure and sensory development. Babies and toddlers, unfettered by forks until they’re older, are in a unique position to pinch, grasp, shove, squish, toss, and otherwise explore their food with their hands. Don’t get in their way! And serve foods of all kinds of consistencies from soft and mashed to firm and chewy and even crunchy—if they have enough teeth.
DON'T NEGLECT THE EARS!
When was the last time you thought about hearing food? It’s important! Welcome your babe into the kitchen not only so she can explore the world of food prep, but also so she’ll hear sizzling, popping, boiling, whirring, whipping, and all kinds of other stimulating sounds.