Few months or weeks before the baby friendly exclusive breastfeeding period elapses, many babies show eagerness/readiness to join their siblings and parents in eating solids. They could grab fruits like carrots, banana or apples and tuck them in their mouths or look appealingly at someone eating, make mouth movements when others are drinking and even cry to be fed too. However, the eagerness may soon wade off as soon as they get to try one or more tastes different from momma’s milk. The introduction process becomes a struggle.
All hope is not lost though. Your Little Dearie can still be a happy eater. Let’s take a glance at these feeding encouragements mums swear by.
✔ Let her take part in the dining.
Babies who have an earlier acquaintance with dining practices are most likely to be interested in eating. Don’t forget that they are fast developing in the physical and cognitive senses. Bring her to the dinning, comfortably seated on a high chair, let her watch as mama, dada and sibling(s) munch on foods. You can toss them steamed carrot sticks and watch their reaction. Even when they are not actively eating, it introduces them to the eating culture of the family and may spark their interests in the near future.
✔ Present varieties
Offering your baby a variety of nutritious foods would ensure that he is getting vital nutrients from different sources. Baby is able to chose from an array of foods and work on his feeding skills. Babies should not be served a particular type of food every time. Imagine if you were to eat a particular food throughout the day. Offer fruits like banana, apple and pear and vegetables like carrots, potatoes and others suitable for their age. Proteins like egg, fish and meat are easy choices as they are consumed by the family.
✔ Understanding the child
Some babies are ready and willing to try finger foods as early as 6 months while others would gag on puree at 8 months. Understanding your child’s developmental capabilities, readiness, favorites and allergies is key to making the feeding process a success. Never compare a child’s appetite to his mate’s. Their individual bodies have a natural means of eating as their body requires.
✔ Being messy isn’t bad
The business of getting acquainted to and eating solids is not as orderly as we expect. Ask mothers of picky eaters and those of happy eaters. Babies may toss their foods here and there, nod off a spoon of puree, tuck one or more finger in their mouths while the pap roams there, they may turn the ground to plate while the utensil becomes a toy. All these acts makes feeding interesting and worth another try. Don’t be tired, you aren’t feeding a robot!
✔ Attractive feeding utensils
Colorful and attractive cups, plates and spoons could make your child eat the food, for they’re sure to spike his interest in checking out what they hold. When the contents look appealing to their sense of taste, a trial may be given.
✔ Let someone other than you do the feeding
Mothers complain that their babies often accept foods from friends, minders and others while they refuse to welcome the same food from them. It is reasoned that babies could refuse being fed by their mothers because they prefer mother’s milk to anything else. Seeing the ‘milk depot’ near, any other food can wait. Letting someone other than you feed him at least until he gets fully introduced to solids could be helpful.
✔ Be mindful of their tastes and favorites
I have seen babies who prefer a slightly sour to sweet tasting soups. Don’t be surprised if your child favors unflavored yoghurt to his sibling’s strawberry mix. Babies like adults also have taste buds, preferences and choices. Smartness is in being able to fathom how to keep their foods nutritious and balanced.
If your baby is the type that won’t swallow anything except pap, offer it from different sources; rice, corn, guinea corn, oats etc. You can mash a boiled egg yolk into the pap. Pap mixed with blended nuts like almond, groundnut and others is richer and tastier. Diary foods like yoghurt and pasteurized milk can also be mixed with the pap.
✔ Being patient and consistent
Pediatricians have warned that breastfed or formula fed babies requires and should get the bulk of their daily nutrients from mother’s milk or formula until they are one year old. Offering solids is a means of introducing them to other tastes and textures so that the weaning stage would go well. Hence, solids should not be offered as replacements to breastmilk or formula. It is necessary to take clue from the child’s body language and not force him into eating more than his system is willing to take.
At the initial stage, offer foods in small amounts like 2-3 Tbsp of cereal or anything between 30 – 45 ml daily. When a baby rejects a new food, rather than forcing it down his digestive track, be patient and give it a try another time.
✔ Inspire their taste buds
Breastmilk to an infant is like water to an adult. Whatever you drink, you will still need your water. To ensure babies develop interests in solids, offer them in the right quality, quantity and temperature. A thick cereal may be too sluggish for a baby’s gut. Puree may taste better when thinned with breastmilk. Just as you won’t have a hot tea after returning from the sun, don’t serve your little one a hot food when he’s feeling warm.
In the quest to make a child feed well, mothers should beware of adding artificial sweeteners and flavors to baby’s food. A baby would eventually accept and get used to his foods except his mother tampers with it. Don’t think a baby has refused to eat because it is not tasty enough. Dietitians have warned against adding sugars, honey, spices like cinnamon, ginger, thyme, curry and the likes to foods meant for babies. Even, salting a baby’s food has been traced to blood pressure issues in the adult years of a child.