I have covered the basics to help you kick start baby’s weaning process confidently. If it’s all smiles and rosy at your dining table at this initial stage, good job mommy and daddy!
However, not all weaning ‘stories’ start out happy and rosy… In fact it’s likely to be bumpy during the initial stage. It’s common for parents to misinterpret baby cues or expressions as rejection. Upon insistent crying or even mild baby tantrums, parents cave in… They are willing to do whatever it takes to have baby finish up their meal. They sought to offer different alternatives (sometimes not healthy or ideal ones), toy, media device distraction or sometimes…force feeding. Let’s talk about the most common questions/problems that parents ask me and my humble suggestions.
Parent: “My baby keeps ‘spitting’ out the food I prepared, I think she doesn’t like eating...”
My advice: Check if baby is baby using her tongue to push out the food/spoon. Does it look like the tongue protrusion or tongue thrust reflex? If you think it is, then have more patience and let baby master the spoon slowly. Continue to feed baby with a spoon (don’t put cereals in the milk bottle!), they will soon lose that reflex and eat well. Just practice eating with the spoon and let baby learn how to close her mouth upon the spoon and this takes time. So, don’t think that baby is rejecting her food!
Check out Video 6: ‘Baby K’s tongue protrusion is not a rejection’. In this video, you will see how my baby thrust her tongue at the spoon, spit out some food (because she can’t swallow well yet), suck on the spoon (suckling reflex), fuss and yell (because she is frustrated that she can’t eat fast enough)! Well two days after, she turned into an eager beaver and ate like a ‘Pro’.
Parent:“I think my baby doesn’t like his food. He keeps holding it in his mouth and don’t swallow eventhough he is hungry...”
My advice: If baby holds the food in his mouth, can’t seem to swallow or shows some signs of gagging then the texture of the food/cereal may be too thick for him. Dilute it with a little milk and try again. Make sure you warm up the cereal if it has turned cold. Warm food is more palatable.
Parent:“My baby cries whenever it’s meal time. She will only take in a spoon or two then starts to fuss. I take an hour to coax her to eat!”
My advice: Try to recall baby's previous meal time/s, was it pleasant and happy? Did baby have a bad experience during the first few mealtimes? Perhaps she has formed a negative association with meal time. I suggest a ‘restart’. Let baby 'forget' about the unhappy mealtimes that she had and restart your weaning process. Yes that’s right, give baby a 2 days break (continue her regular milk feeds). The second time round, focus on giving baby a happy experience. Get baby to sit in a different direction/location, engage baby with your voice, sing or put on her favourite songs and offer a cereal made with something that she is familiar with (breastmilk or formula). Another good tip will be to will keep feeding/meal time to less than 30 mins. Try your best to feed baby within 30 mins, if baby can’t finish her food then stop and try the next meal/day. Extended feeding time will only wear your baby out and cause frustration to yourself. Tired baby and angry parent = Unhappy Meal!
Parent: “My baby can barely finish a bowl of cereal. He refuses the food after having a small portion. Did he had enough already?”
My advice: Give baby time to build up his appetite. First few meals should only be a few tablespoonfuls. Gradually increase his portion after the 3rd day. You can also try a different cereal after the 3rd day. If you have tried a rice cereal, let baby try an oats or brown rice cereal instead. Variety is good for baby.
Feeding baby for the first time is such a wonderful experience. It’s one of my favourite milestone! Nurturing my 3 foodies has been a blessing for me. How and what you feed baby now can impact his/her meal routine for life. So remember, give baby Happy and Healthy Meals!