Food Fight, Solved!
Updated: May 22, 2018
Ways to my heart : buy me food, make me food, be food :-)
When I was about to start weaning my son C about six years ago, I did some research and found out that the so called "new modern" way to wean your baby was a method called Baby Led Weaning vs the "old traditional" way of purees, food processor, mush.
Baby Led Weaning means letting your child feed themselves from the very start of weaning. The term was originally coined by Gill Rapley, a former health visitor and midwife. It is believed that children are developmentally capable of feeding themselves proper food, in other words – no more mush! You just hand them the food in a suitably-sized piece and if they like it they eat it and if they don’t they won’t. (Most people I know claim that babies would eat it).
The key difference between BLW and traditional weaning is in the order the babies learn to eat. With a puree, they learn to swallow first and then chew. With BLW, the babies learn to chew first and swallowing might come some time later. I read and read and read then found the key word in BLW way - M E S S Y - and that's it. A decision was made. I couldn't afford doing BLW. BLW was not for me and my child. I could go completely crazy (nobody wants a crazy mum, I am sure :-)). So I went for traditional purees way from 6 months old, introduced lumpy food gradually (rough mash instead of smooth one, bread, pasta), and finally completely normal food at around 14 months old. I still continued with no salt - which meant I had to bring C's food for outing or when we ate at the restaurants - until around 2 years old. And I also still continued feeding him (but let him hold a spare spoon just for fun) until he was around 2.5 years old. He started feeding himself at 2.5 years old. Main reason was - again - I couldn't stand the mess if I let him feed himself since he was 6 months old! This didn't have any impact on his motoric skill. As soon as he was able to feed himself, he could do it nicely and neatly with only a little mess.
Since the beginning, I wanted him to explore all different type of food so he won't be a picky eater. I planned and took note what I gave him - only single item at once for 2-3 days in a row to check on allergies if any - before making a combination of two or more different food.
Between 6-8 months old, these were what he had:
Fruits: Apples, Avocado, Bananas, Nectarines, Pears
Vegetables: Carrots, Butternut Squash, Pumpkins, Beans, Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, Peas
Grains: Rice cereal, Brown Rice cereal, and Oatmeal
Between 8-10 months old, I added the following:
Fruits: Peaches, Mango, Papaya, Kiwi, Cantaloupe (Melon),
Vegetables: Zuchini, Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower
Grains: Pasta, Bread
Protein: Chicken, Beef, Fish
Dairy: Yogurt, Cheddar Cheese
Between 10-12 months old, I added further:
Fruits: Cranberries, Watermelon, Raspberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Cherries
Vegetables: Capsicum, Eggplant, Tomato
Dairy: Fresh Milk
After 12 months old, I added:
Fruits: Oranges, Blackberries
Vegetables: Corn, Spinach, Leek, Celery, Mushroom
Grains: Rice, Risotto, Couscous
The key is to give huge variety of food - as many as possible - since your kid is young and eventhough it's not something you like yourself, you just have to let him try. Don't let your own preference influence his. I must say, I've been extremely lucky with C. He has been such a great eater since the beginning and has been eating a great variety of food including vegetables (something I am not so keen on :-)).
In order to anticipate in case C became a picky eater (lucky for me it didn't happen!!), I attended a talk by Dr Chu Hui Ping, a Paediatrician, who did her subspecialty training in paediatric gastroenterology and nutrition. Below is the summary:
Common picky eating behaviours
Eats slowly or hold food in mouth
Refuses food especially vegetables and fruits
Prefers sweets and fatty foods to healthy food
Eats snacks instead of meals
Prefers drinks to food
Complains about what is served
Throws tantrum at mealtimes
Eats the same food for all the meals
Accepts only a few types of food
Does not like to try new food
Potential implications of picky eating
Suboptimal consumptions of nutrients ---> may not meet recommendations for vitamin C and E, have lower protein, energy, and fat intake, consume fewer than recommended servings of fruit, veggetables, meat, and alternatives
Delay in the mental development index (MDI)
Impaired parent-child interactions
Chronic aversion with socially stigmatizing behaviour
Parental style of feeding
Neglectful - is overwhelmed by her own unmet needs or the care of other children, forgets to feed the child and often props up bottles instead of holding the child during feedings, does not attend to the child's hygiene, does not notice or ignores when the child does not gain weight
Controlling - forces the child to eat by pushing food into the child's mouth, forces a child to try a food that the child may be aversive to and withholds favourite foods, makes the child sit at the table until the child has eaten everything on the plat, punishes the child for not eating
Indulgent - allows the child to get up from the table and run around during mealtime, allows the child to drink from the bottle or to snack whenever the child wants to, caters to the child's wishes, prepare and offers the child an endless variety of foods in the hope that the child will eat something, rewards the child for eating
Responsive - recognizes when the child has an aversive reaction to food or is afraid of eating, feeds the child at regular times and stops feeding when the child does not open the mouth anymore or does not accept any more food, expects the child to sit at the table with the family and gives a time-out if the child misbehaves
Avoid distraction - no TV, ipad, toys, books, etc
Neutral attitude - no need to clap your hands when your kids are willing to eat but also don't scold them for refusing to eat.
Feed to encourage appetite - allows 3-4 hours interval between meals, 3 meals and afternoon snacks are typical, avoid snacks like juice and milk and provide only water for thirst, time the meal frequency to conincide with parents meals
Limit duration - maximum 30 minutes only. It's not effective anymore after 30 minutes.
Serve age-appropriate foods
Systematically introduce novel food
Encourage independent feeding - let the child hold a spoon/fork that is different from the feeder spoon/fork. Don't grab the child's spoon/fork
Tolerate age-appropriate mess
For picky eaters, just pay attention on the Anchor Foods
1) Milk, soy milk, yogurt ---> protein, calcium, and Vit D
2) Cereals like rice, oats, wheat ---> fortified with iron and other nutrients
3) One "super" fruit or vegetable ---> spinach, legumes, berries, oranges
4) One protein food ---> egg, meat, fish, beans/legumes