Baby feeding hacks: Tips to prevent fussy eating before it begins

I love Charlotte Stirling-Reed’s tips to prevent fussy eating before it begins! I wish I had seen these baby feeding hacks when my son was a baby. Make good use of them, London Mums! You can also attend a weaning workshop in which she will share more tips and will showcase how to get started with solids and vegetable led weaning. She is a registered Nutritionist and a leading expert in infant and toddler nutrition and also worked with our beloved Joe Wicks on Wean in 15

This event is free courtesy of Stokke – Stokke are going virtual – Tripp Trapp® tour @home – and will be on 8th December 2020 at 8pm – 9pm. Register here, and you will be sent the zoom invite closer to the event.

Meantime have a taster of Charlotte’s tips. 

When it comes to fussy eating, it’s really normal for infants and toddler to go through phases where they refuse certain foods and whole meals. It’s actually a very normal part of the weaning journey. However, there are some things that you can do as a parent to try and stop fussy behaviours turning into full fussy eating habits. 

There is no official definition for what fussy eating is, but some research suggests that 50% of all children go through it at some point. It can often be describes as being transient (brief) or persistent (longer lasting). As parent’s we can often help keep it transient by doing a few simple things early on in your child’s weaning journey!

Read my interview with Joe Wicks on his book Wean in 15.  

1) Keep calm when fussiness inevitably happens

It’s SO common for there to be fussy meals, days and even weeks. So much affects your little one’s appetite including illness, sleep, teething, environments and temperatures etc. When it happens it’s often easy to think we need to change something, alter the routine or offer accepted foods only. However, the best thing to do is to try to stay calm, accept that it’s just an off day or week and look for underlying factors that might be causing it. 

2) Be a role model

Try to role model at mealtimes and eat in front of baby, whilst honouring their will to not eat. Pressure can have the opposite effect to encouraging them to eat in the long term. 

If you want your little one to eat well, one of the best things you can do is to eat a variety of healthy foods and to try and eat in front of them as much as possible. They pick up so much from watching you, including how to eat and what foods to enjoy. So, as much as possible, join them at the table and show them how much you love foods yourself. 

Make the most of family time around the table and try to sit together to eat whenever possible. Even if it’s just you and your baby, having you being a part of their mealtime can make such a difference to their experience and even how much they enjoy it. They’ll also learn lots of eating and feeding cues from watching you eat!   I love the idea of bringing baby into the mealtime and right up to the table as early as possible. That’s why the Tripp Trapp is such a wonderful invention! Get them involved in food by surrounding them with the family tucking into delicious meals together. Babies learn the skills of eating, social skills and even WHAT foods they enjoy by first copying others. 

3) Avoid using tactics 

This is important as we don’t want children to feel they were tricked into eating some foods – it might make them feel that that food isn’t something they SHOULD be eating. Early days of feeding is often about trust, so using aeroplanes, television or games to get food into baby’s mouth often isn’t helpful and can set up habits that are hard to break. Instead honour their appetite and stick with the recommendation – you decide what and let them decide how much. 

4) Make mealtimes enjoyable

If they want to be a part of it, because it’s fun, they are much more likely to enjoy mealtimes and therefore the idea of food. Creating a little foodie is all about getting them to enjoy food, eating and mealtimes. It may sound like a long way off but trying to use mealtimes as a fun way to spend time together (talking, laughing, learning about each other) or listen to some calm music, using funky tablecloths and cutlery and eating together can all help. 

 

5) Offer a variety 

It’s all too easy to only offer the “accepted” foods, but this can actually encourage more food refusal in the long run. Familiarity encourages acceptance, so the more your little one sees, touches, smells food (and sees you eating it too), the more familiar they will become with it. If you’re always offering a variety e.g. different fruits and veggies, a variety of carbs (bread, pasta, rice, buckwheat, quinoa etc) and a variety of proteins (beans, lentils, nut butters, fish, meat etc), then they are more likely to accept and eat a variety of foods as they get older. 

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