Recently we have achieved a big milestone in Bunny’s journey with Food. This guy all of a little over 17 months have started to dip his roti/paratha/bread in curry/Sabzi and eat. This after denying chapatis for months together.
Apart from that, he has developed a good princer grip since the beginning but these days, he can actually eat semi liquid food with spoon without much spills. Drinks confidentiality with any shape and size of glasses/cups. Knows meal times, knows the concept of eating out in restaurants.
We have been a household of no cerelac, no mashed food and no specific baby food / no special baby food preparation and all I can say is that, it has eased our parenthood to no bound.
We have tried to follow Baby Led Weaning (BLW) with Bunny, with occasional giving in to worried grandmoms/elders.
BLW is basically weaning the baby where baby plays the lead role. Decides how to eat, how much to eat, when to eat. Our job as caregivers is only to offer healthy, baby friendly regular food from time to time. There is a lot of information available about this on the world wide web. I wouldn’t go into the the technicalities, but I will just share things I have learnt over the time.
1. First and foremost, which ever way you decide to wean the baby, please refrain from using force feeding and distraction feeding. These are two of the worst ways to start building relationships with Food for the young ones. I understand worry, I understand how difficult it is to see your Baby eat nothing at all for days together, I am this mom who have seen her chubby baby turning into a really lean one. But trust me no baby starves himself if offered food from time to time. Also even if we choose the purees way, its always good to give a combination of finger foods, soft hold able options so that baby learns to hold, explore different textures and learn to chew as well.
2. Changing definition of ‘not eating enough’. It might be enough for the baby. A morsel of chapati, a spoon of rice, a bite here and there, mom’s milk during nap times – more than enough.
3. The thing is babies naturally know to listen to their bodies, they have yet not learnt to eat to oblige or by clock or by quantity. They know best when they are hungry or done.
4. To accept very early on that baby’s food intake work in phases, atleast till three years of age. So much revolves around teething and growth spurts that its best to take their cues and act accordingly.
5. We have not given Bunny Salt and Sugar till one year, apart from scientific reasons that’s its not needed, mothers milk is best source of nutrition till one year etc; these two flavours are known to overpower the taste buds. And then we start eating for taste rather than hunger. Think about all Junk Food, that would either be salty or sugary.
I dint know how it would actually effect his eating or what would happen when we offer regular salted or sweet food. But actually nothing strange happened, he eats everything. And knows when to stop even when eating his most favorite treats like ice creams.
6. To put a deaf ear when parents say, ‘you used to eat this much’ (showing a big bowl of portion); in those occasions I have happily handed over the food responsibly to them. In reality no one can force feed a child if he doesn’t want or after a certain point. Or bluntly answered neither me or TBH are healthy examples. We have no portion control, we eat for the love of food most times.
7. You save yourself from preparing different baby foods, or carry boxes of baby food or special food during travel. We offer him everything we eat. But take some steps like, when he was in rice eating phase, we just tried to make it more often for the whole family. Or always keeping a favourite fruit or curd handy to offer at a later time if he refuses to eat everything.
8. If you are a worried parent about food, I highly recommend reading ‘ My Child Won’t Eat’. It would change your perception big time. Amazon link here – http://www.amazon.in/My-Child-Wont-Eat-Mealtimes/dp/1780660057?tag=multiagro-21&linkCode=w13&linkID=&ref_=assoc_res_sw_zz_dka_cra_t0_result_1&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Flootainment.in%2F
9. And above all trusting your child works wonder. Making sure there are no shouts, or anger during meal times. Meal times are happy and family times. Start making him sit with you on lap/on floor on high chair anywhere, but involve baby during meal times.
10. And being patient when food is thrown, mess is created. When blunt refusal happens. When favourite food changes overnight. Keep offering is the key, for us it has happened with Banana and Chapati. I can’t tell you when last he has eaten these two. But last two weeks, he would eat them at any given time.
On other side eating healthy food or choosing better alternatives become family’s habit too. BLW is so much more than just offering food to Baby, its about starting a healthy relationship with food which lasts till a lifetime.
Irony is most of us have getting fit/thin as our all time goals and all we want our babies to be fat and chubby. As long as baby is healthy, there is no remarkable weight drop (more than 1kg) let them just be and save your sanity as well. I have seen moms getting super stressed out as the baby starts food, its not suppose to be a struggle but fun time :).
Shoot me any question you might have, would direct you to the best resource possible :).