5 Tips to Create a Joyful & Positive Meal Environment Day 1: 5 Tips to Create a Joyful & Positive Meal Environment

5 Tips to Create a Joyful & Positive Meal Environment

Feeding babies can be a tricky task, but instilling proper feeding habits at a younger age will ensure they build healthy eating habits as they grow up.

Let’s look at some tips for setting up a positive and joyful meal environment.

  • Comfortable sitting position
  • For a recap, please check the earlier article on how to seat your baby in an upright position, which helps them be safe at mealtimes. Remember the 90-90-90 rule and the no reclining or lying down rule? 


    Babies should be sitting upright during meals, to avoid choking risks. Avoid holding/carrying them around as well.


  • Avoid smaller meals in between 
  • Babies should not snack in between their feeds, or they may be reluctant to sit and eat the actual meal. According to Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, CDN, Tribeca Nutrition, toddlers should be fed at an interval of 2–3 hours, with only water in between. 

    Snacking on smaller meals with an interval of less than 2 hours throughout the day will affect your baby’s intake or appetite for formula or breast feeds.

  • Avoid phones or devices
  • To help your baby develop healthy eating habits, it’s good to avoid devices at mealtime. Eating without distractions will help babies develop the necessary sensory experiences, savor the food and its textures, and open their minds to new flavorful experiences.

  • Avoid prolonging the mealtime
  • It’s common for children to get restless and want to get off the feeding chair. They cannot sit in one place due to a very short attention span. In such instances, avoid following them around with a bowl or spoon of food. If they’re not hungry, it’s okay.

    Ideally, their mealtime should not go beyond 15 minutes.

  • Avoid force feeding

    When babies shut their mouths or turn their faces away, it simply indicates that they’re not hungry at that moment. Your baby is giving a clear cue they do not want to eat, and it’s best to not force-feed them.

    Give your child the freedom to eat what they want, so they learn to say no to food when necessary, preventing chances of overeating or obesity in the future. Force-feeding may lead to your child developing an aversion to food.

    Foods to Avoid Giving Babies When They’re Weaning

    As discussed in the previous article there are certain foods that should be avoided for babies under 1 year. These include: 

    1. Sugar
    2. Salt
    3. Honey
    Did you know

    A common food that is given to babies but contains less nutrition is dal ka paani or rice paani. Generally in Indian households, one of the first foods given to toddlers is dal paani. While it’s okay to give this in small quantities, note that it does not contain as much nutrition as your baby actually needs to grow well. If they fill up on daal ka paani, they may drink less breast or formula milk, which is more nutrient rich!


    Instead of low-nutrient value liquids, include iron-rich foods (e.g., soft cooked, mashed lentils, legumes, or beans; nut butters; tofu; well cooked lean meat; fortified cereals; dried fruits; cooked eggs;). This way, your baby will get the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development.

    Tomorrow, we will explore the concept of responsive feeding, which can help babies build a healthy relationship with food.