Fussy eating – starting right

In our eating world it’s been a long time since we have had to feed our little ones but I’ve seen a few clients recently who are early on in the introduction to solids stages.

One of the things I ALWAYS talk to mums about at the starting solids time is the behavioural aspect of food introduction and it’s links to future fussy eating.

I’m not in the business of telling mums they are doing things wrong but I do like to share my knowledge and experience on fussy eating development and basic kids food antics.

The biggest behavioural aspect we talk about is the category I like to call aeroplanes/tricking/coaxing.
My mother-in-law was quite upset to find that when I started solids with my number 1 (her first grandchild) that I had banned all aeroplanes when feeding her. Any behaviour (from mum,  dad or care providers) that are trying to get kiddies to eat when they are showing that they aren’t keen most often swts us a bit of a pattern for fussy eating.

To give you some background, let’s talk about kid antics for a bit. Kids dont get much control. Especially early on. You choose their clothes.  You choose the toys they have. You choose where they sleep. You choose what they do each day. When they get to the age where they want to get some control, hell they’ll grab it from wherever they can get it.

So think about this situation:
A wonderfully competant mum has decided to start feeding her hungry bub some solids. Mum is super excited and really wants this to be a successful stage in bubs life. Along the line somewhere, because well everyone else does it and thats how her mum did it, this lovely mum starts doing some aeroplanes to get bub to eat when he gets a bit fussy. Coaxing mouthfuls and tricking bub with alternate spoons of foods that bub likes also sneak in (1 spoon of veg, one spoon of fruit is usually what I see). Bub starts to realise that mum really really wants him to eat food and at this early stage loves this because bub is ecstatic when mum is happy. Bub gets older and starts wanting some control in his life because well he IS boss, isn’t he. He realises he can actually control what he eats, he can clamp his mouth shut and wowee does that cause a hilarious reaction from mum, he notes to self “lets do that one again”!

So that’s my reasoning behind not doing those beahviours from the start. So here’s my tips for starting right…

– if your bub is not interested in their food, don’t worry. If their growth is fine (and by fine I mean tracking along a percentile – no matter what percentile) then they will be fine missing a few meals. Especially seems at the start they are still getting most of their nutrients from their milk.
– use a 3 spoon rule. If they turn away once wait a minute or so. Try again if they turn away wait again. Third strike, if they turn away they are done. Obviously if before then they start going crazy or trying to get out their chair then don’t bother trying the 3 but you get my gist.
– it takes up to 10 exposures to food before some kids are happy enough to try the food so persist. Don’t take one refusal as “they don’t like it”.
– expect mess, and wastage. Its part of the process. A frustrating part yes, but something you have to deal with.
– if you find yourself coaxing, tricking or aeroplaning, put down that spoon mummy and step awaaayyyyy from the food 🙂

So if you are starting solids or about to, have a think about your feeding behaviour and remember, a healthy child will never starve.

Happy feeding,

The Dietitian Mummy