Gardening with Babies from Edible Living’s Sarah Copeland

Sarah_CopelandThank you to food expert and Edible Living blogger Sarah Copeland for this guest blog. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming book “The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas and Modern Recipes for Cooking With and For Each Other.”

Babies learn to enjoy and prefer nutrient rich foods not just from tasting the foods you eat as parents, but also by interacting with the taste, textures and colors of food at their source. Even before they are ready for solid foods, babies can begin relating positively to healthy foods by picking, touching, and eventually tasting fresh peas, carrots, and greens grown in your own garden. Bring your babe to the garden with you, no matter how young he or she is, and you’ll be planting seeds of love for a lifetime of sustainable, healthful eating. And there’s an added bonus for mamas—gardening with baby is a wonderful gentle weight bearing exercise to help you get back into your pre-baby shape while bonding with your new babe. Here’s how to start:

Schedule Garden Time

Babies and toddlers thrive on schedules and predictability.  Schedule a time each day or week to spend in the garden with your baby.  Your little one will recognize it as a special bonding time and make a positive association with the garden and the healthy foods you’ll grow together.

Find a Good Wrap

Women all over the world keep their babies close by carrying them while working in the fields.  With a sling, Moby wrap or something Sarah_Copeland_Wrap_Slingsimilar you can keep baby wrapped tightly while you squats and reach from row to row.  Position newborns facing in where they’ll be lulled to sleep as you work. Babies three months and older will appreciate having arms and hands out where they can reach, touch and interact with the world of green around them.

Soak in the Sun

Most breastfed infants and mothers are vitamin D deficient. Leave a bit of skin exposed for the first ten minutes in the garden to soak up some vitamin D. After your daily dose, cover you and babe with sunscreen and a hat while you continue to plant and play.

Build a Food Vocabulary

Babies love the sound of their mother’s voice.  Talk to them while you garden; explain what you are doing and give names to the tools you use and veggies you grow. They’ll be soothed and entertained by your voice, and build their nutrition and food vocabulary season by season.

Designate a Baby Bed In the Garden

Even when baby is small, pick a patch of soil just for them where the rules and rows of gardening don’t apply. Throw caution and conventional gardening wisdom to the wind and let your littles dig and experiment at their whim. Having their own space provides children with a sense of independence and fosters a life-long relationship with healthful eating.

Get Green and Lean

Baby wearing in the garden is light weight bearing exercise. Contract your stomach muscles and keep your core stabilized as you lift and squat in the garden.   Use squats and lunges and the added weight of your precious babe to your advantage to get back into shape. Don’t forget to breath like your baby does, filling your belly {not your chest} with fresh, nurturing air.

Sarah Copeland is a food expert and family nutrition educator. As a professional recipe developer and curator of good living, she is committed to inspiring full bellies and full lives through her passion for homegrown ingredients and vibrant, seasonal recipes. Sarah spent over 5 years as a recipe developer for the Food Network and as co-founder and spokesperson for the Food Network and Share Our Strength’s Good Food Gardens initiative, which brings edible education to produce-poor communities. She is also the author of the forthcoming book “The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas and Modern Recipes for Cooking With and For Each Other”{Chronicle Books, 2012}, and a new mama to a baby girl name Greta. You can find more of her work on her blog, www.edibleliving.com.

Photos by Robert Jacobs

Melanie Mayo-Laakso

About

Melanie Mayo-Laakso is the Content Manager for Mothering.com. Mothering is the birthplace of natural family living and attachment parenting. We celebrate the experience of parenthood as worthy of one’s best efforts and are at once fierce advocates for children and gentle supporters of parents.