Feeding our babies is a social event. When they are newborns (whether they nurse or bottle feed) they look into their mother's eyes. As they grow older, they pat Mommy's face, smile while drinking, and interact. When they reach 5 -6 months old, feeding them can become more challenging as they also want to look around to see what the rest of the world is doing.
Then you introduce foods. You talk to them, look them in the eyes, and laugh as they try out their first foods. You teach them to eat cheerios and other small finger foods. You feed them bites off your own plate. They learn that meal time is a social time.
In our home, feeding the baby is also a social time because it draws the attention of siblings. When I sit in front of the high chair to feed Baby V, 2-3 other children gather around to watch her eat, laugh at her faces, encourage her to take bites, and see what type of mess she'll make. We all talk as we feed the baby, and we have fun.
I hadn't really thought about that before until this week. I started to be annoyed by the growing crowd of spectators. I wanted to shoo them away so I could have some space and some quiet, but then I reconsidered. I remembered that meal times are social times in families, and it should be that way.
Baby V may only be 6 months old, but she's already learning to enjoy family meal times. She's been learning that since birth.