The first time I watched this video, which was produced by our friends at the Instituto de Investigación Nutricional (Nutrition Research Institute) in Peru, I couldn’t stop thinking – and feeling guilty – about the times I had rushed my daughters when I fed them.
The video has a clear message: good nutrition depends not just on what we feed our children, but also how they are fed. In other words, interaction between the adult and the child at mealtime is fundamental to good nutrition. (Video in Spanish)
The months when children are first introduced to solid foods (that is, after they are six months old) are a key time to establish a positive routine during mealtimes. The video clearly illustrates the different types of feeding styles. The key difference among them was the quality of the interaction between the adult and the child.
What messages does the video impart about the characteristics of good interaction at mealtimes? Talk to the child; respond to verbal and nonverbal cues; allow the child to explore his food; praise and encourage her; avoid distractions; and be patient …these are the main recommendations.
I like how the video ends: showing how mealtime is an ideal time to stimulate children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development. In many Latin American and Caribbean homes, mealtime is still an occasion that brings families together.
The video’s message is convincing. Nevertheless, it’s never easy for us adults to change the way we do things. So, one of the greatest challenges to increasing interaction during mealtimes is finding ways to convert these recommendations into enduring behavioral changes among the fathers and mothers in our region.