Food is a topic that can plague parents. Many struggle with baby’s appetite and/or interest in solids with a panic, anxiety and frustration that is so exhausting, that anyone who has battled with their own baby can empathize with new parents’ plight.
There are a few tricks to the trade that can give you the home advantage before you prepare for your next negotiation with your little one:
Wait Until Baby is Ready:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you wait until baby is 6 mths before introducing solids. This allows your baby to become naturally interested in food, curious about the color, taste and texture and also hungry for more than breast milk or formula.
Studies have also shown that introducing food too young has been linked to childhood obesity. While many parents try to rush this process in an effort to “fill baby’s belly” in order for him/her to sleep through the night, that “solution” is actually a myth and not often times worth the frustration that comes with introducing solids too early.
Remain in Control:
It is important to remember that you are the parent, and therefore know best and make the decisions in the relationship. Too many times the tables turn and the baby becomes the one calling the shots. While this is common during times of exhaustion when you are quick to compromise and call a truce with your crying, fussing baby, those are the moments you actually want to stand strong, step back and reevaluate the strategy for your next move.
Babies are going to fuss during feedings–that’s what they do. It is their form of communication since the are not yet able to verbalize their likes, dislikes and frustrations. Often babies’ fussing has little to do with their food preferences and much more to do with other variables interrupting their ability to focus on the task at hand. They may be over tired and over hungry, both as you know make it challenging for them to function calmly since they are “past the point of no return.” Baby also just may be overstimulated and not interested in paying attention to you at mealtime because there are other more fascinating things taking place around their new, and constantly evolving surroundings.
While you are bound to have food based battles with your baby, combining a certain level of patience with persistence is essential.
It is important to be consistent with the messages that you, or any other care givers, are sending your baby. Consult with your pediatrician about how best to provide your little one with a balanced diet (grain, veggie, protein, and fruit or yogurt for dessert), how often to feed him, how much and when to include milk and/or introduce water throughout the day.
After you have a better understanding of baby’s nutritional needs, make sure that everyone in your little one’s life is on the same page when preparing food and managing the mealtime. If baby is fussy during feedings, ensure that you have a similar “game plan.” If one care giver substitutes cheerios (an all time kid favorite) for balanced meals in an effort to pacify a fussy baby, then as your infant turns in to a more manipulative and temperamental toddler, he/she will know exactly what buttons to press in order to negotiate a more desirable dinner time delicacy.
Some solids that tend to be easier to introduce to baby first include rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, peas, apples, bananas and pears. They are colorful, sweet, interesting and healthy. As your baby’s appetite matures, continue to introduce new and exciting options to their growing pallet, such as quinoa, tofu, avocado, edamame and cous cous, many of which are high in protein, fiber and omega 3s and provide some alternative options to the usual and more mainstream menus.
While babies are inevitably going to be overly cautious with certain new foods, remember that such disinterest may result more from the fact that they are teething, tired, distracted or simply not use to the new taste and texture of the items. Foods such as yogurt, chicken, egg yolks and even some veggies have peculiar, sometimes bitter tastes, thick textures and unusual consistencies at first bite. If your baby is hesitant to dive in to his new diet than you can help him transition to a new food by mixing it with a more familiar favorite. Chicken marinated with apples or tofu with pears is a great way to encourage baby to diversify her diet. It can take over a dozen times of introducing one food item before baby truly enjoys her expanded menu.
While it can be very frustrating to force feed your baby their daily required intake of fruits and veggies, try to proceed with patience. Continue to make meals fun, but remind baby that it is not play time. Mom or Dad can show baby how yummy their food is by making noises or tasting the food themselves. Try to avoid introducing toys in to table time so baby can understand what is expected of her and focus on the task at hand. Combine that level of support and challenge needed to keep food a positive process while still remembering that you are in charge and even the fussiest of babies will soon surrender to your strong yet loving lead.
“Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen”
When making your baby homemade food, remember to consult your pediatrician and review the guide to pesticides to learn the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.” Review below information published by The Environmental Working Group or download a PDF version or IPhone app of the guide.
Dirty Dozen (Highest in Pesticides)
- Bell Pepper
- Grapes (Imported)
Clean Fifteen (Lowest in Pesticides)
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
- Sweet Potato