Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's on Your Child's Lunch Plate: Tips for Baby-led feeding

I have a toddler. He is extremely picky. I also have a baby. So between the two our lunches have to be 1) somewhat nutritious 2) something the toddler will eat and 3) something that I can fix in about 15 minutes. It's a tall order. So far our lunches have been boring. I'm getting tired of the frozen food and sandwiches. Maybe you are also facing this problem. Maybe you've got a few tricks up your sleeve. Maybe we can help each other. I figure on every Tuesday I will feature what he ate. Maybe it will be whole bunch of pictures. Maybe it will be only one. And then I'll tell you (or if it's not too disgusting show you) what and how much of it he ate. I need your help. Please comment or upload something. I'm desperate. 

Today my husband worked from home.  His department recently moved buildings and the new building has some sort of breaker issue so they had to cut power for the entire building all day.  I suppose he could have read papers or books, but in 110 F heat and no lighting....he stayed home.

I'm explaining all this because it changes what I serve for lunch.  Today it was pizza, chips and a banana.  My youngest gnawed on the banana while my oldest ate everything but.

 Baby Led Weaning Tips for Children Under 9 months 

Here are my tips in no particular order:  

1. Soft and easy to chew- at least at first until their gums get a little tougher and build a bit of a callus.  Even young babies with a tooth or two are still using mostly gums.  I recommend soft fruits, boiled veggies, soft meats, or soft breads for starters.

2. Use a fruit sieve/ feeder- These things work wonders.  While my nearly 7 month old can pick up a peeled apple slice and eat it, he has problems with grasping a banana.  Because they are so smushy he ends up smushing it between his fingers.  He gets small bits in his mouth, but generally he gets really frustrated with this.

The sieve doesn't have to be used for just fruit either.  Anything mushy like avocado works.  I also on occasion use it for oatmeal or cream of wheat if it isn't thick enough for a spoon.  Yes, he feeds himself with a spoon.

3.  Peel things- Because you need teeth to tear and those usually come in later, it's best to peel all the fruits and any veggies like sweet potatoes or white potatoes before serving.  Makes it much easier to bite a hunk off and then chew it up.

4.  Put it on toast- this works well for things like banana and avacado if your sieve needs a good scrub.

5. Feed them what you eat but have some things on hand if you can't- My family eats things smothered in highly salty sauces (stir fry sauce) or coated in cheese.  Knee can't eat either of those things.  While in the case of stir fry, I can remove some veggies and meat for him and then add the sauce later; some recipes I simply can't.  I find I can give him some of the sides or I have to give him something else.

When he's nine months old, I can at least introduce some cheeses and a little more sodium to his diet (crackers), but for now, I keep it all relatively bland.  It's not tasteless like baby food, but it's not exactly what we're eating either.

It's also like that for other foods too; no peanut butter, eggs (so meat loaf and muffins are totally out), and strawberries/raspberries.  It's a bit frustrating since the idea behind Baby-led is that they eat what you eat, but it's only for three months before at least adding some things we do eat.

6. Sometimes it okay to help a little- Baby led feeding is not completely hands off.  Babies do drop things, somehow get their sieve stuck in their high chair, etc. etc.  We have held some foods for Knee while he bit off a hunk while at restaurants.   The idea of baby led feeding is two fold 1. they learn to feed themselves and 2. they get a variety of whole foods.  As long as your not always helping them out and they are working on doing it themselves, you are still achieving the same goal.  Realistically you may need to tweak how you feed your baby based on how dexterous your baby is and how young they are (some 6 months old take a little longer to do things than others).  Once they've figured it on their own, though, stand back and only help them when they really do need it.

Next weeks topic:  Supertasters: Is your child one?

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