Solid Feeding Do’s and Dont’s

One simple dream of parents is for their children to eat a good variety of food happily.

Parents all have high hopes for their children. One simple dream of parents is for their children to eat a good variety of food happily. But this remains an unattainable dream for a lot of parents— more than half of all parents to be exact. It has been reported that over 50% of parents report their children to be picky eaters. So, what can we do to achieve this goal of having a healthy, well-nourished child who eats a well-balanced diet and happily eats fruits and vegetables as well as all kinds of grains, cereals, and various protein sources? Here is a list of practical Do’s and Don’ts for parents.

1. DO start feeding healthy early.

Solid feeding must be started no earlier than 4 months of age and no later than 6 months of age. When solids are started, it must be given daily to support the development of the baby’s muscles, sensory nerves and many skills that relate not only to feeding but also speaking and socializing. DO NOT give solids irregularly on certain days, or only when convenient to you.

2. DO include your baby in the dining table during family mealtimes.

Babies learn a lot during the loving social interaction that happens at the dining table when a family shares a meal. DO NOT feed in front of a gadget or a lot of toys that distract from your baby’s signals of hunger and fullness.

3. DO time milk feeds or snacks 2.5 -4 hours before a family mealtime.

We are surprised when our baby refuses the yummy food we prepared but forget that we just gave him a full bottle of milk an hour ago. No one eats when they are full. A healthy baby is wired to eat when hungry and stop when full because his appetite regulation is intact. DO NOT keep offering snacks often throughout the day. Our bodies are busy processing our food during the fasting period in between feedings so we also need to secure this fasting period for our children to allow them to be healthy.

4. DO offer a good variety of foods from the very start.

Children can learn to accept up to 200 different foods and flavours by age 2 years of age. Sometimes a child can learn to accept a previously rejected food after the 10th try, so keep serving all the healthy food that your family enjoys. DO NOT give up after the first try knowing that it is natural to react to any new flavor with surprise or even disgust, but that children learn to accept and enjoy many foods with repeated exposure.

5. DO respect your child’s signals of fullness.

Because healthy babies have intact appetite regulation that is a function of a healthy nerves and hormones, they will stop when they are full. They communicate it in different ways like pushing the spoon away, looking away from the feeder or even throwing the food on the floor. DO NOT feel obliged to feed the remaining food in the bowl. Continuing to feed your child when she or he is clearly full will not be a pleasurable experience. It becomes the start of feeding refusal and strains the caring relationship.

Remember that feeding is an opportunity for the feeder and the child to bond. Parents are better off trusting that our children are capable of communicating hunger and fullness cues to us so we can forget about worrying how much they should eat. We can instead focus on the healthy food to offer and a social feeding environment during mealtimes. Happy feeding!

References:

Pavan Kumar K., Srikrishna, S., Pavan I., Chary E. Prevalence of picky eating behavior and its impact on growth in preschool children. International Journal of Contemporary Pediatrics. 2018; Vol 5, No 3.

Kerzner B., Milano K, MacLean, W.C., Berall G., Stuart S., Chatoor I. A Practical Approach to Classifying and Managing Feeding Difficulties. Pediatrics 2015, 135 (2) 344-353.

Join the Discussion

Only registered users can join the discussion.