How we spend quality time at the dinner table

We have been sinking into a new routine in our home lately. With my maternity leave coming to an end and the start of a new job, LB in daycare five days a week and Dan busy as ever at his day job, the time between 5 pm (when we all walk in the door) and 7:30 pm when LB goes to bed is our most important family time each day. Sometimes it’s chaotic. Sometimes it’s chill. No matter what, it’s time to focus on each other – and we make it a priority every chance we get.

Today, I’m pleased that ThinkBeef.ca is sponsoring this post so I can share with you how we spend quality time at the dinner table and have fun teaching LB to eat and enjoy nutritious food.

Most of you know, Dan LOVES to cook. So much of our quality time is spent at the dinner table and it’s been SO FUN to let LB experiment with different foods, textures and tastes as she grows. Full truth: Dan was bookmarking baby food recipes while I was still pregnant. We were both pleasantly surprised to learn that come six months of age, parents are encouraged to feed their babies lots of different foods, including more protein and iron-rich foods, like beef and eggs. We’ve since learned when babies are about 6 months of age, they actually run out of the iron reserves they were born with. With all the growing and development in those early months, it’s important to make sure their diet provides enough iron. In fact, according to Health Canada, at about six months breastmilk and formula no longer fulfill babies’ complete dietary needs so solids, especially iron-containing foods, need to be introduced at this point (while continuing to breast or bottle feed.)

Those hours between 5 pm and 7:30 pm are now ‘no phone’ hours. We focus on preparing a meal, catching up on the day, having fun with LB and sometimes, catching up on the latest Star Trek podcast HAHA!! (Seriously, that’s what we listen to before supper!) It’s been really fun to plan family meals around what Dan and I like to eat and what we know we can safely feed LB. We do lots of things like slow cooker roasts, meat loaf, pastas, stir fries and stews – especially since the weather has started to turn. If you’ve watched my recent InstaStories, you’ll also note LB has taken to pulling off her socks when at the table. I can tell you, Health Canada does not recommend babies eat their socks LOL.

I laugh now because for the first few months, we didn’t have a proper high chair because LB was so small! We used our Mamas & Papas booster right on the table LOL. Now that she’s bigger and more wiggly, we have a separate high chair with a bigger tray because she loves to toss her food around (and the dog LOVES when she does that haha)

We started LB off slowly with simple pasta with olive oil and a bit of spice ground up with a baby food mill. She clearly loved eating, so we graduated to full blown spaghetti and homemade meatballs within a few weeks. I’d overcook the pasta a bit and make sure the meatballs were well done (internal temp of 160F/70C for safety) and then I’d mash it all up with a fork and give it to her. LB cut her teeth quite early, so by the time she was seven months or so, she could handle some chunkier foods and mashes.

We recently went to the Halifax Seaport Market for a leisurely family Saturday and she gobbled up spicy Jamaican beef patties like you wouldn’t believe! She’d eat a bite and then burst into a giant grin. Just wait until she is old enough to go to the ball park with her Dad and have a chilli dog!! This kid seriously loves food and, like her Dad, she isn’t afraid of spices. And it’s kinda cool to see how she tests texture, which can be a hard thing for babies. She’ll put a tiny bit in her mouth, make a ‘frowny’ face and if she likes it, she’ll take a giant second bite. It’s adorable.

Her new favourite is Daddy’s stir fried beef and broccoli. It’s like a tamed down version of the Asian style stir fried beef you get as take-out. To make it more baby friendly, we use ground beef instead of the chunks of beef, a bit of garlic and spice, some steamed rice and vegetables and it’s always a hit.

I’m looking forward to digging into the recipes on the ThinkBeef.ca site to see what other simple family meals we can cook.

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This post is sponsored by ThinkBeef.ca. As always, we only partner with brands we feel brings value to you and we appreciate the support in helping to keep DIY Passion running!

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