A good diet is fundamental for the healthy growth of your baby as this is the foundation for physical, emotional and social development. Nutrition and health are directly linked in life, but the connection is even more vital during childhood. During this first phase of feeding a baby, they can develop good habits at mealtimes in terms of variety, tastes, textures, times, etc.
Breast milk is the best food that mothers can offer their children during the first months of life. Not only because of its composition but also for the emotional bond that develops between mother and baby during breastfeeding. Breast milk protects the baby from many illnesses such as colds, pneumonia, diarrhea, ear infections, urinary tract infections, etc … baby feeding
Crying is a delayed signal of hunger so don’t wait until your baby cries, offer your baby to breastfeed as soon as you notice that your baby is willing to suckle.
When breastfeeding is difficult
At times it may be helpful for the mother to express milk, or for someone to save and feed the baby when she can’t, or to relieve discomfort caused by the accumulation of excessive milk during those times when your baby’s appetite declines.
The baby’s reluctance to breastfeed can cause anxiety for both mother and baby but in particular for the mother who feels responsible. Although difficult, it’s necessary to remain calm because anxiety in the mother can easily be transmitted to the child.
Moving onto solids
At around 6 months the baby’s nutritional needs change as the baby develops. The baby can no longer thrive on just breast milk as this would lead to a nutritional disadvantage. Moving onto solids requires help from the parent and a degree of patience in order to ensure that the baby accepts this new form of food. In order to reduce anxiety it’s important to be aware of possible food intolerances, causes of diarrhea, raised temperature, constipation, etc …
Around 7 months the child recognises basic emotions in the people who care for him. If the mother or father is tense at mealtimes, the baby will get anxious. If your baby cries and refuses to eat, consult food supplements with your paediatrician. However if your baby continues to cry and there is no evidence of food intolerance, it’s likely to be a reaction to your anxiety and stress at mealtimes. You need to be the ones to control the situation and transmit security and confidence to your baby.
Possible solutions when your baby refuses to eat
- Mealtime needs to be an enjoyable routine for your baby
- Avoid punishing your child if he doesn’t finishes his food. It’s important to reinforce good eating practices displayed by your child with praise. If your baby isn’t a good eater and he does it well, you can give your baby something he really enjoys (reinforcing the activity in adequate measures. It’s something he has to do every day so the reward shouldn’t be disproportionate.)
- Allow your toddler to help lay the table. It’s very important to reinforce their independence in this respect.
- Help your child with how they view food visually. Put the same amount of food on a large plate so that the portion looks small.
- Let your toddler choose some of the menu.
- Don’t forget that mealtime has a clear place and time. It shouldn’t be prolonged excessively nor should you chase your child around your home tried to get him to eat.
- How to educate your child to eat well: Eating habits should be tended to adequately from the earliest stage. This is a task that both parents and carers have to do equally. You can establsih good eating habbits in the following way:
- Let the child feed himself. Both for his/her independence and for his/her need to be able to feed himself.
- Expose them to new tastes, textures, flavours in food.
- Ensure they learn good table manners, hygiene and social interaction at mealtimes. You can use dinnertime to talk to them, what’s happened during the day and to allow them to tell you fun things that they have done and what they are going to do.
- Keep mealtime hours regular.
Developing cooking skills
Fun and education for older children. A fun activity to do as a family.
Eating is one of life’s great pleasures. Meals are usually social occasions with the family, friends, it also protects your health and can provide a fun activity in the kitchen for children. It enables children to enjoy the kitchen and it’s a good way to teach them skills and dedicate some time together.
- Choose simple and easy recipes, if they’re too complicated children can get bored as they can’t participate as much.
- Let them help you buy the ingredients.
- Children can be in the kitchen with adults who supervise them “discreetly”. It shouldn’t be a cause of anxiety.
- Be clear about the tasks your child will do. Make sure that the tasks you give them don’t pose any risks so that they can’t do it alone and they can feel proud of their role and you can praise their work. (decorate, pour milk, mix, remove….)
- Avoid saying “no”. Put adequate clothes on your child – clothes that can get dirty. Let your child taste, touch…As adults we are horrified when our children get dirty but this activity is really important, in particular from ages two and up with respect to bladder control. This will help them to be ever more careful.
This activity will help their self-esteem, attention and knowledge of the tasks, utensils, food, etc…. It will help them learn how to plan, decide, measure, weigh, take responsibility, and will result in them giving more value to safety and hygiene as well as sharing activities with the family.
When food intolerance rears its ugly head …
Substances that cause allergies are highly dependent on the frequency with which you are in contact with the allergen. This is also the case with food. The more a child eats a certain product, the more likely he can become allergic to it. The highest incidence of food allergy depends on the eating habits of the population. In Spain, the most common foods to cause allergic reactions are cow’s milk, egg, gluten and fish.
If you suspect your child has a food intolerance make sure to visit your paediatrician so that he can carry out any necessary tests.
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