My Little Tommy used to be a very difficult baby to feed, then with the help of a feeding and speech therapist, she is now a total snacker. Not only is every meal by itself, but the enthusiasm for food is always high, and you eat to your heart’s content every time.
But every day, we still get a lot of mothers who are worried because their baby won’t eat properly.
If you have a bellyful of feeding knowledge, but feel a deep sense of powerlessness in the face of your child’s picky eating habits, then what I’m about to say may give you some insight.
If you’re not that familiar with scientific feeding, then be sure to check out this article after you’ve learned about the theory I’ve written about in public. Again, it is not advisable to read this article one-sided without a scientific view of feeding!
Most baby anorexia has its roots in parental control.
Let’s assume the following scenarios are ones you encounter yourself.
While you are enjoying your own lunch, suddenly someone coldly offers to feed you and says, why are you eating so slowly, let me help you. What will you do? You must have stopped and probably gotten a shock and lost your appetite.
When you are in a happy mood to try all kinds of food, there is someone next to you who keeps staring and from time to time has to wipe your hands, wipe your mouth, and think you are eating so dirty. What will you do? You guess the mood for dinner is spoiled, feeling god-awful.
When you suddenly don’t have a good appetite today and aren’t so eager to eat, your mother keeps nagging you on the sidelines, “Why aren’t you eating? I worked so hard to make it for you.” What will you do? You’ll have even less appetite, I guess.
When you think you’ve had enough, that’s when your father looks at the rest of the meal on his plate and says, “Why didn’t you finish it, take another bite.” What will you do? You’ll probably be particularly disgusted that I don’t even know if I’m full?
If the above is how you feel, then actually our children feel the same way.
Give the children back their right to eat.
A study conducted in the United States found that 80% of children with anorexia, picky eating, or eating disorders were due to parents having too much control over their children’s eating (in extreme cases, even force-feeding, scolding, etc.), and only 20% were due to the child’s physiological pathology (not knowing the right feeding points, weak muscle tone, poor swallowing coordination, etc.).
At the time, I was also struggling with every milk, every meal for Tommy. The first advice the feeder gave me when she saw me was, “Give the child back the right to eat.” She told me that she understood that I was anxious right now, and that she knew that all the efforts I was making were for Tommy’s own good, and that she hoped to get her one more bite.
But the result of all that control is that we turn eating into a “power struggle” between parents and children, turning what was a pleasant meal into a battle. Even more mastery of feeding theory will be for naught if the problem is not addressed at its root.
What does it mean to “give the right to eat back to the child”?
- Eating is a particularly ordinary thing.
Try to arrange for the child to eat with an adult, and the child learns new skills by imitating the adult, which in itself is the best opportunity to teach the child how to eat. Don’t boast because a meal is good, and don’t keep on criticizing because a meal is not good, and don’t let the whole family stop and watch the child eat, the more usual the meal the better.
2、Trust the baby to know what to eat is what her body needs
“Trust the baby”, this is actually the core philosophy of American parenting, from the moment the baby is born the default is that the baby knows everything, all we have to do is create the right environment to guide properly. In contrast, many of the country’s elders will default to “babies so small they don’t know anything”, so hunger and hot and cold will interfere too much with these most basic physical needs. The direct result is that the more interventions, the worse the situation, which is what we usually call “pushing too hard”.
- Parents are food providers.
If there’s one thing parents need to control, it’s that we need to keep a watchful eye on the food we provide to our babies to ensure that the food we prepare is nutritious and healthy. But we are only the providers of the food, which means we put it where the baby can reach it (like on the tray of a dining chair) and it’s up to the baby to decide what to eat, not you to decide what she eats or force it into her mouth.
4、The child decides the speed of eating
Usually around the age of 1, babies start to have the will to eat on their own (this will occur even earlier if you try the autonomous eating method when you add supplements). And many parents who are used to spoon feeding still find ways to feed their baby, feeling that she is slow to eat on her own and not let the child grab the spoon. A little baby’s meals are supposed to take time to chew slowly, not only to exercise her chewing and swallowing, but also to allow the food to be fully digested and absorbed. Respect the baby’s eating speed and give her the opportunity to learn, what is “slow” now is “fast” in the future.
5、The child decides whether or not to have enough to eat
Don’t get too attached to the concept of “eating clean” and even less so to use it as an indicator of your own cooking skills or even motherhood. We just have to prepare the food, give some first, and if the child is not full, she will tell us; if she is full, then we will pack up and not have the “one more bite” mentality. Knowing that what it feels like to be hungry and full is also something that needs to be learned from an early age, give your child the power to experience it.
The concerns I once had.
At the time, when the feeders shared these theories with me, I was reasonably in agreement. That’s how we adults eat. But put it on Tommy, I still have concerns. In the final analysis, it’s still uneasy, just in case the power is given away and she doesn’t eat properly, delaying her growth.
- Is decentralization really appropriate for such young children?
Learning to eat is a skill that comes naturally at a child’s developmental stage, and it’s the same as learning to walk and talk. Imagine if the baby wanted to walk, and despite being prone to wrestling at first, we wouldn’t restrict them, but rather encourage them while doing good protection.
If that’s the case, then why do we have to control the baby’s eating? Not allowing them to feed themselves, not allowing them to make their own decisions at mealtime, these can have a very negative impact. As a parent, the only thing you need to control is deciding which foods to give your baby. As long as the food you give your baby is nutritious, then it’s up to the baby to decide what, how much and how fast he eats.
2、The baby has been playing and not eating much when eating?
Don’t take it for granted that the child knows from the beginning that food is meant to fill the stomach. Food is a new toy for babies who are just starting to add complementary foods. That’s why we always emphasize that “the baby’s nutrition still comes from milk at 1 year old”, which is really to give the baby enough time to get familiar with and explore her “new toy”.
After playing enough, the face becomes familiar, and the hand-eye coordination grows during the play, the baby slowly and naturally accepts the new foods happily and gradually understands the true purpose of the food. And many parents do not understand the baby this, in the early stage of the baby to add complementary food, has been intervening, but the result is reinforced the baby this behavior, resulting in a great meal also eat while playing.
3、Will my child get enough nutrition with this let-go type of feeding?
There’s always been a myth that we think I’ll feed her and make the baby eat more and better. But really, whether or not the baby gets enough nutrition depends not on whether we feed or she eats on her own, but on whether we provide her with nutritious food.
In fact, at this time, mothers can pay more attention to making patterns for their babies – such as making concave shapes for food, or mixing with other favorite food, such as not eating meat slices, but making meatballs, the babies may eat them. Some babies will choose the food that they like and only accept the food that they like. All mothers should practice their cooking skills to make food with good taste and high beauty. A mother with good cooking skills can generally cultivate a baby with food.
It can also increase the number of times new food shows on the table. Research has pointed out that children need to “touch” a food 12 times on average before they can list it as their “favorite” food. “Contact” doesn’t mean you ask them to eat this food 12 times. Every time you see, hear or smell it, it’s a “contact” experience. “Mix a face to be familiar” after, let him try again a few times, he will accept slowly.
As long as your baby is physically fit, then her body will have the ability to self-regulate and know what she needs to eat, which is an animal instinct. So what we need to do is to prepare foods that are nutritionally balanced, but not control whether and how our children eat them.
The feeder shared with me that many parents who had more control over their child’s eating when they were little, the more severe the picky eating situation became. As a result, it often happens that parents need further “control”, such as brainstorming to “hide” vegetables in their food, using television to motivate them to eat nutritious food, etc. As a result, the older the child gets, the harder it gets to eat and the vicious cycle continues.
Now that my little Tommy is 23 months old, it turns out that a scientific approach to feeding and a healthy sense of parental “decentralization” can indeed create a snack bar. And the event itself has had a profound effect on my now-formed view of parenting. As parents, we learn about parenting, not to control our children, but to create the right environment for them. I offer sunshine and dew and then wait for the flowers to bloom!