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Feeding Your Baby: The Best Time to Teach and Bond with Your Little One!
Is your baby a happy eater or a messy eater? Does it gives you joy to see your little one enjoy his food?
Feeding time is one of the most important times for both the baby and the caregiver (who is the mother in most cases). There are certain things that can turn the baby into a messy or a fussy eater. Of course, every mommy wants her little one to gain the right nutrients from his food, and that is where the stress starts. Feeding, which is supposed to be the best time for bonding with the baby, may become the most stressful time for both the mother and baby.
As a new mom, I have faced this stress. With no one to look after the baby, I was completely at my wit’s end. However, I have witnessed how eventually feeding time can become a fun and productive time for both the baby and me. The gradual transition from liquids to semi-solids to solids is the most important time for the baby. I would like to share some Dos and Don’ts of feeding that have helped me turn my baby into a happy eater!
Never force feed: Force feeding is a complete no-no for infants and toddlers (or for children of any age, for that matter!). Force feeding makes the baby scared, and he may end up disliking the feeding time and food. Just imagine someone trying to stuff you with food that you hate to eat!
Place and posture: It is very important to maintain a fixed place for feeding your baby. Also, make sure that the baby is sitting upright and can see his food. For example, you can make your baby sit on his booster seat or high chair for eating time. This will mentally prepare the baby for eating whenever he is made to sit there. Moreover, placing the food in front of the baby so that he can see his food will help in growing interest in the food.
Conditioned reflex: We can use Pavlov’s conditioned reflex theory during baby feeding. Just before starting the feed, sing a fixed song or a rhyme every time, to let the baby know that it is time to eat. Whenever he will hear the song, he will know that it is time to eat.
Surprise the baby with variety: It is rightly said that “variety is the spice of life, that gives it all its flavour”. Who likes to eat the same food everyday? A baby also has taste. Giving different and new foods to the baby (introduced gradually), will make the baby interested in eating.
Say no to distraction feeding: Putting on the TV or mobile phone to feed, or giving any toy to distract the baby so that we can keep putting the food in his mouth, is not a good idea. It will not make the baby aware of the taste or texture of the food, and will make him feel as if eating is a task. Also, it is better not to allow other members of the family to clap and call or in any way that will distract the baby during feeding.
Teach while you feed: Babies generally takes longer time to eat, as they are learning to chew and swallow. It is a good idea to utilise this time well. Talking to the baby, or singing rhymes, will help the baby learn new words. I utilised the feeding time to teach my baby his body parts, and by the time he was 1 year old, he could point and show all his body parts. Gradually, from his 16th month, he started uttering several words that were taught to him by showing each object. In this manner, feeding time can be made productive and stress-free.
No mixer or strainers: When starting semi-solid or solid food, don’t use a mixer or strainer to mash the food, as it makes the food tasteless. It is better to mash with a spoon, in such a way that the taste is not spoiled, and also encourages the baby to chew.
Having said all this, I would like to mention that every child is different, and no one knows them or what’s best for them better than their mother. I would be happy to read the takes of other mommies on feeding, in the comment section!