Baby Feeding – There’s No Need For A Fuss!

Hmmm… Moms don’t like it when I challenge baby and toddler feeding practices. It’s a touchy subject, that’s for sure – probably because we moms define ourselves to quite a large extent by how we nurture our babies and families – and feeding them is integral to that.
But what if I told you that it shouldn’t be difficult to feed your baby? I want to suggest that if we simplify the physical feeding and spend more time on the emotional ‘feeding’ of our little ones, we as Moms would be happier, and so would our children.
Assuming that most people who read this blog post can provide sufficient food for their families, healthy eating comes down to two things:
  1. Parent’s dietary example
  2. Quality of food provided

Facing the food facts

The urban world has gone haywire with unhealthy food choices – fish fingers, instant noodles, processed cheese products and viennas are not nutritious and contribute to many dietary ills. Giving children sweet and savoury treats from a young age is feeding the explosion of dietary intolerances and diseases like type 2 diabetes. It truly IS in your hands as a parent to put a stop to this! I hope some of these ideas and tips help you do just that.

Why are there feeding problems?

Baby feeding has become a hugely sensitive issue, fraught with anxiety, for three main reasons:
  1. Babies’ individuality is often not heeded
  2. Maternal instinct and common sense are doubted
  3. Professional opinion and nutritional propaganda are confusing

Let it go

And yet, there is almost never a true need for concern and one of the best ways of eradicating feeding anxiety, is to simply let it go. Here are some more considerations:
  • Let Baby eat when he is good and ready to do so.
  • Know that milk is the only essential food until Baby is six months old, and remains an important nutritional source up until one year.
  • There is more than one correct way of feeding a baby, no matter what you’ve heard from friends, family and professionals!
  • Teething babies often go off food for a while and in fact, only once they have a good few teeth, are most babies interested in eating.
Myth-busting: Sleep patterns will improve in about 30% of babies who start with solids, but for many more, sleep stays the same or becomes more disturbed, so don’t fool yourself on this score.

Feeding advice for Baby’s first year

Babies’ taste buds are nature’s bio-intelligence pointer to which foods are best. Offer Baby a variety of healthy foods and allow him to choose what he wants to eat. Respect nature’s colour code by providing a variety of colourful food options over the course of any week, and Baby will almost always be well-nourished. Many babies’ appetites are much smaller than Mom would like, or they start eating a lot later than generally expected. If Baby is generally happy, his tummy and bladder work fine and his growth is steady, there’s seldom any need for concern.

The more the fuss you make, the more your baby will associate food and eating with anxiety, so he won’t be keen to experiment at mealtimes, and will prefer the comfort of his milk feeds. He may also prefer food given by a caretaker rather than Mom, as he notices how anxious Mom is, and that puts him right off his food. Many babies also only show greater interest in food after they have sprouted 4–6 teeth, so late and slow teethers are often late solid feeders. Some babies simply are not interested until well over 10 months, but if all is going fine with them otherwise, there is no reason for concern.

Little ones who aren’t interested in mushy foods, often thrive on finger foods like blocks of fruits and vegetables from 6–8 months, and this helps train their hand-eye coordination too. Babies in daycare often eat quite well while there, but commonly refuse the evening meal. Mothers are quite concerned about this but need not be if their little one is thriving – they have simply had enough, and are far more hungry for your love and attention. If health and appetite are a true concern, you can give multivitamin and mineral supplements, although one should remember that good food should be the primary source of nutrients. Supplements are rarely needed before one year of age.