When children learn to eat (solid) food
What a child eat is often a reason to worry for his parents. Is it too much? Is it enough? He is a picky eater, is it ok to live on bread and pasta? These are questions I am going through with my little one, and I would like to share with you some of the answers I found. When children learn to eat food, we should learn to trust them and to propose a wide variety of food to them to discover.
Is it enough? Is it too much?
That was my biggest anxiety for a while. Do my baby get enough breast milk? I had to learn to trust him on this point during the first few months.
Later, when we began pureed vegetable, at 6 months, this question came again. I used to freeze homemade puree and to thaw it for each meal. But is 2 or 3 “ice cubes” the right quantity? Or how many grams / cups / spoons should I serve? Well, I learned to trust him again.
As long as I serve him vegetable, he can eat as much as he want. A baby “knows” his body and his sensation. And a baby knows when he is satisfied. And we should trust that in both ways. Let him eat as much as he wants (as long as we serve him healthy food) and respect when he is finished.
You know when a baby is finished, usually when he begins to play with the food instead of eating it (mine just throws it on the floor…) Restrain yourself of proposing “one more spoon” to avoid him loosing the reflex of stopping eating when feeling satisfied.
Guidelines from the World Health Organization about what/how much to give to eat to a child.
And the amount of food he will need will vary from day to day, also depending on the food itself. Some food bring a lot of good stuff but few calories, then a larger amount will be needed. Some food bring more calories for the same volume, and less food will be needed. Some day your child will go through a growth spurt and will eat more for a few days, before decreasing his appetite once the growth spurt is gone.
But my child will eat only bread and pasta? How can I make him eat more veggies?
I used to have a principle when giving food to my baby. You will eat what’s served. If you don’t want it, it’s fine, but I won’t cook anything else…
And one day, my baby began to refuse pureed veggies and was ready for finger food. But not as ready as eating anything. He survived one month on bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados and breast milk. Nothing else what smooth enough to be swallowed without gaging… Yet every day I would propose him something else. Green beans, peas, cheese or yoghurt. And this little guy began to discover new tastes (yes, he’s half French and already loves all kinds of cheeses). And I continue on this journey. Serving new veggies, serving old ones that he didn’t like the previous times. Sometimes it takes 15 tries to like a new food. And to get used to its texture.
Trying new food can be challenging for every body. Separate the different ingredient make them often easier to discover (and to eat what’s already known.)
I also bought him a nice plate with 3 parts. I continue to separate each ingredient: veggies, pasta/cereal and proteins, each one in its part. So my baby can learn the different tastes of the different foods. Later I will mix them and add new spices, to learn even more new tastes. Because food is not just about nutrition but also about having pleasure through taste.
Maybe later, when my child will be older (a few years old), I will begin to hide veggies… But I wish I won’t pressure him. “Just eat what you want in your plate.” Again I will trust my child. Because a healthy child won’t let himself starve when food is available. Because a healthy child will discover on time new tastes if I propose them on a regular basis to him.
Be a role model
Also your child will observe you eating and take model on you. Are you eating veggies and healthy food? Are you always snacking between meals?
For sure your child will do the same as you do.
In our home it already began. When I munch something between meals, undoubtedly my son will ask for some as well. So I munch on healthy things, usually fruits that I can share with him. And I take care of the reason why I munch so often. So I can teach my child to eat when hungry, not just any moment.
Meals are also a social moment. Even if sometimes I don’t eat at the same time as my child (especially on evening when I eat later with my husband), I still sit with him and share this special moment with him. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes, we don’t do anything else during that time but having a meal and speaking together (by speaking I mean me describing things to my 12 month old.)
Eating is a moment worth to be shared with someone, on first hand with your family. Try to make it a social moment at least once a day!
Eating healthy is a family matter. That’s why I choose to help parents to make healthier choice not just for themselves, but also for their whole family.
If you think I can help you, we can meet during a free Skype discovery session.