Something every mother “fears” (using that word lightly) is raising a picky eater. Moms want the best for their kiddos, and that involves a variety of wholesome foods packed with nutrients. No mom wants to have to worry if their kid is getting enough to eat or the vitamins they need.
I have developed what I feel is a nice rhythm with introducing my daughter (currently 1yo) to food, and so I wanted to share. From day 1 I have held no expectations around meal time with her. There is no pressure for her to ever eat everything on her plate, or to even have a single bite if she doesn’t want to. My whole parenting style centers around respect, and that extends to feeding and eating.
There are two sayings I have found extremely helpful, and they are:
- Food before one is just for fun
- We provide they decide
The first saying simply means that your baby is still relying on either breastmilk or formula for most (is not all) of their nutritional needs before turning 1 year old. So particularly as the beginning of your solids journey, the most important thing to be focusing on is your baby’s experience with food.
Make mealtimes fun, and something they look forward to. Let them play and experiment with their food. Let them explore, and get messy, squish it in their fingers and rub it in their hair! Your baby’s enjoyment of food and mealtime is *much* more important than actually ingesting anything at this time.
Along those same lines, I follow the ‘we provide, they decide’ method of feeding. We don’t force her to eat anything she doesn’t want to. We provide her with a variety of options, and she chooses from that what she wants to eat, if anything.
And remember, it can take kids up to 15 times of being exposed to a new food to like it! So if they aren’t interested the first time, don’t give up on it all together. Simply keep offering it, and eventually they may end up enjoying it!
You can also change up the way you offer certain foods. Sometimes, my daughter would push away foods we were trying to feed her on a spoon, but as soon as we plopped some directly on her tray, she’d be all about feeding herself! Other times, she would continually throw food on the ground until we took over and she’d happily eat off a spoon.
Feeding babies is all about experimenting, patience, and repetition! Don’t write your kid off as a picky eater (labeling can be a slippery slope!) and just keep testing new things to see what baby prefers!
I’m happy to report that Stella eats pretty much everything we eat now. She’s even partial to some stronger flavors like curry and kombucha! So don’t be afraid to throw different flavors on baby’s plate.
Follow these tips, listen to baby’s cues and keep it fun!