You might think of meals in much the same way you approach playtime. Both are opportunities for stimulating and encouraging your baby. At this age, almost everything is novel and unfamiliar. The best way to engage him is by appealing to his curiosity and his senses.

Expose your baby to foods of a variety of textures, temperatures, and consistencies. Have him touch, taste, and compare, for example, fluffy scrambled eggs and smooth hard-boiled ones. Point out how some foods are warm (potatoes), some are cold (yogurt), some are soft (applesauce), and some are hard (crackers).

Venture beyond the table to the local grocery store or even a farmer’s market to introduce your baby to a range of fruits and vegetables in all their colors, shapes, and textures, and buy something new to try at home. Visit a farm or garden where he can see what the foods he’s familiar with look like in the process of growing. Plant herbs at home and have him help you care for them; show him how you pick the leaves and add them to what you’re cooking.

By exposing your baby to different foods in a variety of contexts, and involving him as you’re preparing meals, he’ll feel a sense of discovery and excitement that will leave him more open to trying new dishes. The time will also teach him about the value of healthful eating.

—Gary C. Morchower, MD, pediatrician and author of The 1001 Healthy Baby Answers: Pediatricians’ Answers to All the Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask

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