Feeding Your Baby: Teach Your Baby Strong Emotional Skills Naturally!

Have fun trying first foods with your baby!

The most important idea to remember when feeding your baby new foods: Emotional foundations are laid when baby is eating.

There are, of course, hundreds of baby- and toddler-oriented cookbooks to help you with meal ideas, and so many great organic baby-food pouches you can buy. Great! But how do you get the food in? And how do you help your baby feel like they are good little eaters? Easy….

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity.

Tons of Exploring to warm up! The feeding chair is a place of great curiosity and safety.

Parent Referencing: When your baby is unsure about something, they look to see your facial expression for a hint. This is so important to emotional and social neuron formation! They look at you and if you are smiling, they know it is OK to explore the food. If you are angry, scowling, frustrated, or distracted, and your eyes, face and body position show it, they will tense up or won’t be sure if the food is OK. Who likes to eat when they’re all stressed out, right? Teaching kids to trust that you are there for them during feeding builds the foundation for kids with good social skills and self-regulation later.

Look at the focus on baby! Asking

Look at the focus on baby! Asking “This looks great, but I’m not sure. Mom, is this OK?”

This food is Wicked Good....or maybe just Wicked! I don't know but I'm willing to try.

This food is Wicked Good….or maybe just Wicked! I don’t know but I’m willing to try.

Don’t give up too soon! New foods and new textures seem to get the same response. It’s a response that says”What in the world is this?” Usually, baby will spit out some food while making silly (and sometimes horrid) faces! Add texture slowly and combine it with a pureed food that baby likes. An example would be fruit with a small amount of baked chicken breast pureed in the food processor. For more recipes go here.* This is OK around 8 months and I love to do this with bananas or avocado.  It takes 10 to 15 tries for a new food to be accepted. Don’t give up! And take it slow!

Look at me! I can handle this! What is this anyway?”

This is your chance to eat well!  Moms model that the food is safe. Babies reach for mom’s and dad’s mouth to learn what is safe to eat, so let your baby explore. This means you can’t eat junk food and processed food if you want your baby to eat and be healthy. Remember, food is always better than cold and flu medications, so it pays off to put in the effort. I usually cook healthy items for our family dinner that I can puree in the food processor. I have the food processor ready and clean most of the time!

By the end of meal time, baby is more confident! “Mom, I so got this! Don’t Mess with my mess! Bring it on mama!”

The last idea is basic (Sometimes I still forget). Make sure baby is hungry. Not too hungry, or you’ll need to get her started with a bottle or breast to calm her down. With solid foods, regular feeding times work best for me because I can get a feel for times of day when she is most hungry and then plan my food prep around that.

puree banan and peaches with chicken new

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Six Easy Tricks for a Well Fed Infant

feeding an infant

When moving from milk to solid foods, use these tips and enjoy the pics!

MASTER TRICK! Make sure you tell your little bundle she’s a great eater. No matter what! They are too little to be deviant so all they can do is their best! They know when you are happy and if you tell them they are “great”- they will be. Sounds like magic? Nope, just psychology. It’s called positive identity development.

First Foods! Yah!

Let your infant explore textures in their mouths when they first ween from only milk. They are familiar with only liquid, so give them a chance. Give your baby 10 opportunities for each new food, because it can take that many exposures for them to like it.

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Mess is Best! Let them explore the food with their hands too!

Messsssssssy Hands!

Let them explore the safe baby spoon. They see the family with their spoons and they want to try too.

A spoon can be so very interesting for an infant!

Don’t worry that most of the food comes out instead of going in, at first. Your baby is still getting milk as their main form of nourishment at the beginning, so they won’t miss out on needed nutrients. They have a reflex called “tongue thrust”, and it pushes out the food as a safety for not choking should a larger unsafe item enter their mouth. Texture exposure is what we are after in the beginning, not nutrient intake.

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All smiles at the table with this little SWEET PEA!

Let your baby explore safe solid food, that won’t break into small pieces, so they won’t choke.  Good examples are a hard carrot or sugar snap pea. They see the family eating it and want to try.  This is called “Baby Lead Weaning” and it is all about following the baby’s lead. Safe food, liquid, puree or something that they won’t choke on is OK.

Shepard’s Pie for Baby, Toddler, and the Whole Family.

 

Leprechaun Beard

It might be the night before St. Patrick’s day, but the point of this entry is that it is the night before…..not the night after. Time still remains to make a family tradition out of this very green holiday. Serious or silly, recycled (green) or newly constructed, this occasion can be one that brings families together to enjoy each other.

This year we are making leprechaun beards out of construction paper and string, creating homespun tall tales about St. Patrick’s Day, and making some yummy food! Shepard’s Pie for the whole family. Once it’s cooked toddler will love it too. I remember last year I pureed it for baby but this year all the parts of the pie make for great finger food. It’s good for baby’s first foods (pureed), toddler finger foods and the rest of the family too!

In addition to some hearty Irish Food, one tradition I always try to honor on St. Patrick’s Day is getting together and connecting with friends. Franz Schubert said “Happy is a person who finds a true friend” and this year I reached out to my dear friend Kristen to see what she and her family were up to in Charlotte, NC. She is an amazing friend and I am one lucky lass to know her. Continue reading