Baby mealtime just got easier, smarter, and a lot more fun.
Inspired by the idea that if you can mash it, smash it, oosh it, goosh it, shake it, coat it, or stir it, your baby can participate in the process of preparing meals. With eebee's Mix & Mash Adventures, parents of babies and toddlers can play a game, build nutritional skills, and have story time -- all during mealtime!
This oversized baby board book features six nutritious and simple hands-on baby food recipes, playful rhymes on every page, and richly photographed pictures of its lead character, eebee, and real babies actively engaged in a range of tasty, tactile, and interactive "cooking" experiences with real food.
We talked to eebee's creator, Stephen Gass, about the story behind this creative feast!
Momlogic: When we think about babies helping us prepare a meal, we usually think of the mess that will ensue -- which is half the fun, we are sure! How does it all work?
Stephen Gass: In general, if a recipe calls for mashing, smashing, ooshing, gooshing, shaking, coating, or stirring, then, with your help, the baby can participate in the process.
As to the messiness factor, we suggest a few tips in Mix & Mash: for example, if you're mashing/smashing an ingredient such as an avocado, potato, or banana, put it in a zip-top bag, seal the bag, and mash and goosh away! If you want to coat an ingredient with oil, herbs, or a crunchy coating such as wheat germ or crushed cereal, help your child to dump the ingredients into a container that has a tight-fitting lid, snap on the lid, and shake, shake, shake.
ML: What can parents and children gain from cooking together in the kitchen?
SG: In addition to being a rich, playful, interactive, and practical activity, cooking with your baby creates a powerful platform for exercising a broad range of skills and introducing an array of concepts, including:
• the language you use to describe the colors, textures, shapes, sizes, smells, and your process;
• the "baby science" of transforming an ingredient from, say, something solid to something soupy;
• the "baby math" involved when you "divide" one whole ingredient into pieces, count ingredients or steps, or describe amounts ("little pinch of cinnamon," "lots of rice kernels," "full," "empty," etc.);
• the motor skills used to shake a container, help to pour ingredients from one container to another, or mix, mash, or assist with a spoon;
• the social skills of turn taking;
• the logic skills of following a process.
ML: What is your favorite recipe from the book?
SG: I'm a foodie, so I don't really have a favorite ... I like them all. In particular, what I do like is that each recipe is simple, nutritious, uses fresh ingredients, and reflects the growing trend of feeding babies "real food." I also love the idea of using herbs and spices to make the food more interesting. Flavorful food helps to develop a broader palate early on. For example, our rice dish mixes rice, bits of banana, a little coconut milk or yogurt, and curry powder; the "guacamol-ee crunch" recipe (mashed avocado and crushed cereal) suggests adding a little chili and garlic powder -- even babies enjoy a good hors d'oeuvre!
ML: How did the idea for Mix and Mash develop?
SG: eebee's award-winning line of books, toys, DVDs, and TV programming are informed by a research-based play curriculum and the simple idea that babies learn through interacting with the people and objects in their environment. In our adventures, eebee and babies play with water, paper, light and shadows, laundry, pots and pans ... everyday items.
Taking the "adventures" into the kitchen was a natural extension of our hands-on approach. It also satisfies our goal of not only engaging the baby, but inspiring parents with practical and playful ideas.
About a year ago, as part of a parenting series on Parents TV, in which we demonstrate simple baby games and activities, we tried out a cooking activity: mashing bananas and yogurt together. The response was phenomenal, and Mix & Mash was born ... or should I say, "cooked up."
ML: What about picky eaters? How do you think this book applies to them?
SG: According to pediatricians, one way to defend against a baby fussy eater developing into a fussy eater throughout childhood is to avoid placating him/her with naturally satisfying salty and fatty foods. Start early with a healthy and varied diet. Try different fruits and vegetables. If your child says "no" once, try that food or taste again at a later date. Involve your baby in the process of eating; when they are ready for finger food, play a little! Creating a healthy relationship with food and eating can start VERY young and have lasting effects.
Mix & Mash is all about helping parents to help their babies to develop a strong, healthy, and positive relationship with food.
ML: Explain the importance of exploration and development through food.
SG: As the research on early childhood development says, a child's first few years of life are critical for laying the foundation for just about everything: language skills, motor skills, reasoning skills ... and even "nutritional intelligence," a natural, if not intuitive, awareness of and appreciation for positive, reasonable, and healthy eating habits.
Given the childhood obesity crisis in our country, it's so important that we do as much as we can to help parents and children get off to the best possible start in building strong nutritional skills. As we say around the Mix & Mash kitchen, it's time to "SQUEEZE THE MOMENT!"
Three lucky moms will win a copy of eebee's Mix & Mash adventures. Contest ends December 1 at 11:59 PM, PST.