Encouraging self feeding is one of the areas where we can foster independence.
😋This is one of the best sensory activity which helps in hand eye coordination and fine motor skills along with learning words which helps in language development.
😋This is to encourage all the moms out there to trust your baby and not to let your fears overtake their opportunity to learn and develop during this crucial stage of introducing solids.
😋Our meal times are always happy irrespective of the quantity of food he decides to have.
😋I let him play around n help him when he needs helps.
😋Though the proper meal time and snack time are at the dining place, he sometimes eats roaming around playfully while we are eating. That’s more no like unplanned snacking.
😋Of course he throws n bangs food which is normal tendency in babies and toddlers which is called trajectory schema.
😋It’s important to understand is the difference between throwing n dropping which differentiates their developmental urge vs communication to reject. It helps us to stay calm n support them respecting their needs.
😋I personally felt encouraging self feeding early keeps us to worry less as breast milk or formula is the primary source of nutrition. And this 6 months is good time for them to adapt, learn and explore different food textures n develop their skills without worrying how much they are eating.
Here are few things I followed and liked:
Offer solids around 30-45 min after breastfeeding or 1-1.5 hours after formula feed. A very hungry child expects feed and might reject solids.
This also ensures that BM/FF feeds are not dropped in favour of solids.
Maintaining the same time helps their biological clock to adjust and expect what they are going next and it won’t be a surprise for them to startle.
Offering semisolid food which is thick enough for a spoon to hold while baby tries to eat.
Offering finger sized food for the baby to hold
Rice can be soft mixed with dal or veggies and made into balls or offered with preloaded spoons
Dosas and roti can be offered as strips and dipped in dal or dipping to make it soft
Babies love to imitate adults and they absorb from the environment around them.
Slowly eating along with baby showing the movement and how we are enjoying food inspires them to try.
Let the child get messy and prepare the environment so that we can clean easily later.
This is the best sensory play which helps in hand eye coordination and tunes fine motor skills along with learning words which helps in language development which we need not plan much everyday.
We use an old bedsheet below the chair so that is easy to clean.
We use bibs to save our clothes.
Being patient and offering them time is the key instead of hurrying. Sometimes it can be 0-5 minutes to 30-40 minutes.
I usually consider 30 minutes is good enough to play around with.
The child decided how much to eat. It can be sometimes nothing to a tea spoon to 2-3 tablespoons. It depends based on their age, appetite, metabolism, and nutritional requirements/defeciency.
Weight fluctuation is normal as long as the weight of the child is within the range though it may at the lower side.
It’s important to understand that genetics also play a key role in the weigh and shape of the baby which is not the factor to determine if the child is healthy or not.
As a parent we give them options of nutrient dense and iron rich food which are available to us.
I used to offer vegetables first then entree like idli or dal rice and fruits at the end.
Healthy habits or taste start from the early stage.
Milestones and Nutritional deficiencies:
As longs as baby meets his/her milestones, pee and poop count are in range and doesn’t have Iron or Zinc deficiency we need not worry about the quantity of food or weight of baby.
Mine was lower on Iron and had to give supplement besides food.
Comments/ Suggestions from others
As a parent you decide what is best for your child. You should believe in your research and gently ignore what others comment about your child’s weight or milestones or the way you are offering food.
If it’s your family members please try explaining them what you want to follow something. I’m sure it might be tough to explain elders at home. Please be strong and don’t lose your will and peace. Don’t let someone else take over your beliefs and dreams which may let you live in the mom’s guilt.
No force-feeding or distraction feeding
Observing and following child’s hunger cues and respecting their appetite is important.
Solids are new to them and each child is different in adapting to the new change so please bear with any rejections or crying
Force feeding or distraction feeding may build food aversion and they may not enjoy the food or respect the relation with it.
I definitely don’t like someone force feeding me though I’m crying that I don’t feel like eating. And I respect the same with my child.
And I never heard from a mom who distract feeds saying that her child eats well. And I don’t believe that distract feeding makes child eat better. It is just temporary fix which may lead to over eating or obesity or improper food eating lifestyle in future.
There is no point blaming child in future that they are addicted to phones or TV while eating or for everything as its adults who introduced it and they learn from us.
I let him play around and eat by himself and then try to feed him if he is tired of eating by himself and if shows signs of rejection we wrap that session considering he is full or not interested.
At the end happy mom is happy baby 🙂 do what makes and keeps you happy.
Please share what are other tips which helped you and your baby to have stress free meal time and build healthy relationship with food.