New Foods & Feeding; Taking the Pressure Off.
I was recently out to lunch with a group of moms and one of the moms remarked about her toddler who was gobbling up his meal, “he never eats like this at home”. We talked about the differences between the two environments. At home, it felt more like a showdown. She would sit in front of her son waiting expectantly for him to take another bite, her attention unwaivering. While when out, she was involved in the conversation and eating herself along with everyone else. When it comes to getting kids to eat, you have to take the pressure off. No matter what the age, if a child doesn’t feel he/she is ultimately in control of what comes into the body, there will most certainly be a showdown or at least at stare down!
I experienced the same thing myself when first introducing solid foods. I was so excited to get started. I assumed my son would love food since he had been a great eater up until this point. Didn’t he want something other than liquid nutrition? Boy, was I wrong! It was so disappointing. He couldn’t have cared less about the food. To add insult, I soon realized my overzealous approach was unintentionally putting pressure on him. I reminded myself of Ellyn Satter’s work and my responsibility in feeding, to provide the food. It was his job to decide how much to eat. Once I let go of the outcome, the process took a much more natrual, enjoyable turn.
Here are some things to remember when introducing solids or new foods to an infant or child:
1. Take the pressure off. Present the food and let your child decide how much to eat.
2. Know that your toddler will go through food strikes and that these will pass.
3. It can take up to 15-20 exposures to a food before a child accepts it.
4. It’s important to eat while your child is eating a good portion of the time.
5. Model the eating you want your child to adopt.
6. Let go of the outcome.
7. Be present. Watch how your child explores food.
8. Be patient. This is all new. Think about how you react to new things.
9. Create a positive environment; talk, sing, smile put on music, etc.
10. You don’t have to do anything ALL the time. Give yourself a break!