How would you like to start your child off on the right foot with food and nutrition so you never get into a battle with food?
That would be pretty epic, right?
Well, this is entirely possible, and in today’s article, I am going to show you how you can do this.
It’s not going to bring more stress to feeding your child, it will actually lessen your stress levels.
It’s starts from the very beginning with starting out right. In the first year of feeding your baby, follow Ellyn Satter’s Divison of Responsibility of Feeding. Your job as the parent is to decide what and how to feed your baby. It is your baby’s job to decide when, where, how much and how fast.
From the first time you feed your baby whether it be formula or breastmilk, it’s important to be attentive, calm and positive with feeding. Hold your baby, pay attention to him and feed him the way he enjoys being fed. Allow him to eat as much or as little as he wants. Trying to “get” your child to eat more or less doesn’t work and can make feeding start off on the wrong foot. Babies do well when they take the lead for the first year. Feed on demand, without strict schedules so it allows him to take the lead with when and how much he is hungry for.
Make feeding your baby a priority and avoid multitasking. Babies do best when they can be calm and attentive with their eating. Distractions can lead to more disorganization and make feeding/eating more difficult.
Starting foods other that breastmilk or formula is a pivotal time for your older infant. If starting complementary foods doesn’t go well, you will find your child could be hard to feed as they get older. He/She may even cry at the stress of sitting in their highchair to eat.
When starting table foods, it is about starting foods based on developmental appropriateness rather than age. When your older infant can sit up in the high chair with his head unsupported, show interest in eating foods and opens his mouth for the food then he is ready. This could happen anytime from 4 months on.
I remember hearing that exclusively breastfed babies often times start solid foods later. When my daughter was 4 months old, it didn’t even cross my mind she might be ready for something other than breastmilk. By 4 months old she was able to sit up unassisted and we often put her in her highchair to play with toys while we ate. It wasn’t until she started reaching for our food and getting adjatated when she didn’t get any did it down on me she was ready. I waiting another two weeks because I kept thinking she couldn’t be ready. Well, at 4 1/2 months old, I mixed up her rice cereal and put it on the spoon. That little girl, grabbed the spoon and put it in her own mouth. Okay, she was ready!
So what happens, when you are so excited to start complementary foods only you get your infant into the high chair and he won’t open his mouth. Or maybe he turns his head away from the spoon? It just means he isn’t ready YET! Just stop and try again soon, maybe a few days or a few weeks.
Babies meet developmental milestones at all different rates, just like one child may walk at 9 months while another child may not walk until 13 months. It’s no different with food, while some babies will happily take complementary foods at 4 months, it could be completely normal for another baby not be ready until 6 or 7 months. If your child was premature or has any disabilities it could be even longer.
It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the infant that takes food later, it just means they weren’t ready. However, trying to feed too soon before he is ready will make feeding a negative experience. We do know that children who view feeding as negative, do less well with eating.
Keep feeding positive, let them take the lead and do what they can do and are ready for!
Whether you are getting ready to feed your first baby, your third -OR- even if you are further into the feeding process, it’s important to look at how early feeding practices impact your children in the long run. It’s never to late to start trusting your child and making feeding and eating a more positive experience!
At the end of the day, keep calm and trust them to take the lead!
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this helpful. I would love to continue the discussion. Please comment below and tell me how any early feeding issues have impacted your child’s eating? Have you noticed how your child seems to know what they can do? Did you notice one of your child was ready sooner than the other? I look forward to joing the discussion.