I'm about to start introducing solids to my 6 month old. What's your best tip?
What an exciting time ahead! Feeding your child can be lots of fun, but can also feel particularly daunting. Parents often worry about how much to give their children, what sort of foods to try, how long to wait between introducing new foods or whether to start with finger foods or purées. Feeding can also be difficult if you seem to have a picky eater. If any of these questions are important to you, just ask and I'll address them in a future blog post.
My biggest tip for introduction to solids is this: enjoy the process and make it enjoyable for your child. Sounds simple, but the way you offer food has a far-reaching impact on your child's relationship with food as an infant, toddler, older child and even as an adult. Now I totally understand that this is a lot of pressure for parents, particularly if you have a child who doesn't seem to enjoy eating! So how do you make it positive?
Offer food without expectation to eat but with opportunities to learn about foods. This helps children to take control of their own eating.
Talk to your child at mealtimes. Talk to them about the food you're offering (e.g. chat about the colour or texture) but also model family conversations that have nothing to do with food.
Involve children in the mealtime, perhaps by giving them a spoon if you also have a spoon. Alternatively, start with foods that your bub can feed himself.
Try not to convince, trick or cajole your child into eating. This is common and mostly well-intentioned, for example- "here comes the Choo Choo Train- open wide!" Whilst this seems fairly inconsequential in the scheme of things, it turns eating into a game in which the parent is the leader. Instead, try holding the spoon out for your child but let them take charge of opening their mouth, and only if they want to. Follow your child's cues, rather than encouraging them to follow yours.
Finally, try your best to separate emotions and feeding. This is particularly important in the long term. Taking the emotion out of feeding now can help children to grow into adults who don't reach for the chocolate when they feel a bit down.
If you'd like more discussion on each of these points, then please submit a question on my Facebook page (or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll do my best to answer it. If introduction to solids isn't going to plan for you and your baby then please get in touch. In home appointments are available in Perth, Western Australia.