As a mum I think two of the most emotive things to do with babies are feeding and sleeping. Part of the reason they’re such emotive subjects is because we all have different approaches to them, but they’re two things our babies need to do in order to survive.
Once you’ve got past the first six months and you’re sorted with whatever way you’re feeding your baby milk, you need to get to grips with introducing solid food. And just as you think you have the whole food thing sussed your baby turns into a toddler and things can change all over again. It’s a minefield.
According to new research from Leeds Beckett University, nearly a quarter of British children under the age of five are obese. Many experts tell us that a good approach to nutrition in the early years contributes to good health and wellbeing in the infant years and beyond, which means the whole weaning phase can put a huge amount of pressure on mums. That’s part of the reason Organix has launched its #LoveGoodFood campaign for toddlers, to help parents help their little people to love good food and pave the way for a healthy, happy relationship with food in years to come.
We’ve approached weaning slightly differently with both of our babies, because both of them were so different. Frog genuinely wasn’t interested or ready for food until she turned six months old. She was also very independent and would never allow us to feed her food off a spoon (or take a bottle, but that’s a different story). We went down the baby-led weaning route with her, which turned out to be the best thing. She loved feeding herself and I just kept repeating the mantra “Food is just for fun until she’s one” which helped me not to stress about how much she was eating, or to try to force-feed her purees in an attempt to “fill her up”. She didn’t really start properly relying on food until she was nine or ten months old, at which point I noticed she started dropping milk feeds.
Now, as a five year old, Frog will eat pretty much anything, although not always reliably. Just like every other five year old I know, she will go through phases where she decides she doesn’t like something or wants ketchup with every meal. On those days I’ve found it useful to not turn meals into a battleground and to not try to force her to eat something she really doesn’t want. We don’t do the “empty your plate” thing in our house, but I won’t offer to make something else if she doesn’t like what’s on offer. Her option is to eat what we’re having or not to eat anything. She’ll always choose to eat the food.
Her sister is a whole different kettle of fish. Baby Girl was ready for food at five months and although she also loves to feed herself she will cry if she doesn’t get at least something off the spoon too. That means mealtimes can take an age. For example, for breakfast she’ll happily feed herself an entire banana, piece of toast and then want two portions of baby cereal too. Gannet.
Organix has launched a really useful guide you can download called the Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families, which I know will come in handy when Baby Girl reaches the fiercely independent toddler stage that all kids go through. I know from experience that a child can happily eat anything and everything as a baby and then seemingly change overnight. Just as with everything, kids go through phases and learning some techniques for negotiating those phases is key to getting through them without making mealtimes a time of stress.
If you’re currently trying to get through such a phase then the YouTube video launched as part of the Organix campaign is definitely worth watching. Featuring children’s food expert Lucy Thomas, you can watch Lucy encouraging a group of toddlers to love healthy food through play and exploration.
I’ll definitely be bookmarking this video and taking notes for when Baby Girl’s a bit bigger.
In the meantime, I’d like to know – what are your top tips for encouraging your kids to eat a healthy diet?
Disclosure: Thanks to Organix for working with me on this post. For more information about how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.