Feeding your baby can be a frustrating time, and why wouldn’t it be, it’s a little person who cannot communicate with you in a language that you would understand. There might be sobs and screams and spitting out of food as the spoonful of baby food reaches near his mouth. That does sound like a nightmare doesn’t it? However, with patience, come the best rewards, so with the guidance, you can actually learn to give your baby the food he wants, in a way that he truly appreciates it. Yes, that is the end goal and we will tell you how to get there (a little patience and a little guidance is the perfect concoction!)
First things, first let’s crack a basic code - Figuring out if your baby is hungry or that he’s had his fill of baby food and now he’s full
Even though there are myriad reasons why babies cry or are fussy, but if your baby is signalling the following, then there’s a good chance that he’s feeling hungry:
When hunger cues like these are missed babies tend to get really upset, which ends up in fussing and crying (so do yourself a favour and be on a lookout for any of these signals for baby food). If you are proactive enough to catch on to these cues, then feedings will become more and more enjoyable for both you and your baby.
Next set of signals that can tell you whether your baby is full include:
Trying to force too much food on your baby, just because you feel he hasn’t eaten enough is never a good idea (To be honest as a mother you will always feel like your baby is not eating enough, it’s natural we all get it!) The more you’ll try to force, the more annoyed the baby will become and this generally ends up in a tear fest and no one likes a baby tear fest!
Now that this is out of the way, let’s get to the best ways to feed baby food to your little one:
Yes, you read that right! You need to embrace the messiness. Anyone who has ever tried feeding a baby knows it - it can be a really messy job. Parents have been exhausted since time immemorial, trying to find a solution to this so-called problem. The fact of the matter is, there is a good reason to let your baby be, and let him squish, mash, crush and slurp his way through all his meals. Messy baby food eating is actually a great way to provide your baby with valuable lessons in motor skills as well as cognitive skills. How, do you wonder? Well, it is so much easier for babies to understand definite shapes which are consistent, but gooey meals like oatmeal etc. are difficult for their minds to fathom. So by creating a mess, they challenge their brains and actually learn a lot more concepts sooner (Bet you didn’t know that!)
There is an underlying logic behind this, which is very close to solving a very common problem. Have you noticed how, post the arrival of your baby, your laundry load has almost doubled (leave the soiled clothes aside, spit and vomit is one of the main culprits)? Though time usually clears this up, this pro-eating tip can ease your frustration. The more baby food there is in your baby’s belly the more likely it is to come back up. So smaller portions and increased frequency is the key. Another thing is to burp your baby more often too. If you wait to just burp your baby at the end of the meal, that’ll mean more time for his tummy to be upset.
We’ve all heard at some point in our childhood “Don’t play with your food!”. As much as every parent wants to say that to their child, well for once, you shouldn’t follow your parent’s advice. If your baby is playing with his food, then at least he’s still interested in it (and almost there, to getting the food in his mouth!) The fact of the matter is that, you want your child to be enthusiastic about baby food, and sometimes, the only way of achieving that is to make it into a fun playful activity (Remember we said make peace with the mess earlier! Well that still implies).
You know an age-old trick that parents would try of making children sitting infront of the TV while feeding them (I’m sure it was done to you too as a child). Though it may prove to be helpful when they’re a bit older and are fussing about eating, apparently any sort of audio or visual distraction makes them lose their focus on eating and ends up making them irritable. Now we all know what an irritable baby means - less baby food, more crying and definitely frustrating for you. Yes, you might need a little more patience but honestly, it is much better if your baby focuses on the food instead of what his favourite cartoon character is doing on-screen.
Yes, this is something that has been tried and tested and proven successfulover the ages. Turning the feeding time into nothing short of a party time works really well for babies. You should be smiling, clapping, cheering your way to the end line, encouraging your baby to finish his baby food. The more your child laughs and enjoys, the more he’s likely to enjoy feeding times and you know how the rest goes. You could try to tickle his lips with an empty spoon to make him laugh, or the age-old aeroplane sounds with a spoonful of food (whatever works for your baby!) The more he looks forward to the eating sessions the happier you would be (wouldn’t you?)
So many times you must’ve come across your baby making a face every time you offer him a spoonful of baby food to eat (This really does sound familiar doesn’t it?). Interestingly studies have discovered that if you let your baby use his sense of smell first, it makes him familiarise himself to the aroma of the baby food, that makes him let’s say more open to trying to eat whatever is it that you’re offering him. So before you give him that spoonful, put it in front of your baby’s nose and let him take a whiff of it first!
By the time your baby is 8-9 months old, he can begin to start feeding himself. Now, this is the time when you should hand over the reins to your little one sometimes. The more involved he becomes in the eating process, the more he’d want to be eating his baby food. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t keep a watchful eye on what he’s eating and how much he’s eating with every bite of food that he takes. You definitely don’t want a choking hazard or a vomiting session with an overzealous eater right!
Soon after your baby starts eating his solids, that is, post the 6-months baby food mark, you will soon be able to figure out what his favourite foods are. How can you use that to your advantage you ask? Well, the answer is right there! Sometimes telling your baby that if he finishes his food nicely, he’ll get to eat his favourite food works (well, of course, that is if he understands what you’re saying!) In other cases, you can try alternating the food between bites. You can give him a spoonful of his favourite food followed by the food you’re trying to feed him and you will be surprised how well that works most of the time!
Just like in every other sphere of life presentation is the key, it is so, even when it comes to feeding your little one. The more the baby food looks visually appealing to your baby, the more he’s going to want to and try and eat it. You need to capture his imagination and half the battle is won already. So the next time you try to serve food for your baby why don’t you try using a bigger plate and serving food in different shapes and sizes. Your baby is sure to love it!
We cannot emphasise it enough, but eating together is one of the best ways to inculcate healthy eating habits in your baby. You need to understand that your baby is going to pick up habits from what he sees around him. So family mealtime is one of the best ways for him to develop a healthy relationship with his baby food. The more he sees you enjoy your food; the more attention he’ll pay for his too. In fact, it’s never too early to begin a family- mealtime schedule and you won’t believe how effective it is in making your baby’s feeding habits better.
There you have it, better ways to make your baby lap up his food. Of course, there are no hard and fast rules for making your baby be the smoothest eater of them all, but these tips above can surely make it easier. The last pro-tip is to maintain a baby food chart, in this way you can keep a track of all the do’s, don’ts and what works the best for your baby for reference. Before you know it, your baby will be chomping down food like there’s no tomorrow!
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Until next time, Happy Parenting!