Puan Fatimah and her husband were anxious waiting to see their pediatrics. They were here a few months back and getting breast feeding support as Puan Fatimah encountered cracked nipple and baby was not latching on well.
Today, they were here for a sharing on common feeding practices to get them ready to prepare their little one on the journey of complementary feeding. For their first child, they feel like parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about. However, it is also the hardest thing in the world to do.
Some said it is good to have a chubbier baby as chubby means healthy while other might says homecooked is better than the commercial baby foods. Both of them are bombarded with different sources of information (especially close friend and family members) and method of knowledge delivery (social media such as Facebook and Instagram).
Doesn’t this sound like a familiar situation to you as a new parent? One of the most common questions parents have about nutrition in the first year of their baby’s life is “How much should my baby eat?” especially when it’s time to start their baby on solid food.
How Much Should My Baby Eat?
Baby’s eating varies in the first year of life, with very small amounts of food consumed at the beginning of solid food introduction, around 6 months. By a year of age, babies is expected to be eating mostly family food, served in developmentally-appropriate textures and food portions.
So how do you get there? First, you need to understand that how much your baby eats will depend on two things: His appetite and how old he is. Older babies eat more food than younger babies.
If you’re just starting solids with your baby, read on to learn about the appropriate food portions to offer your baby as well as how to watch for appetite signals that indicate your baby wants more food, or wants to stop eating. Eat whole food as often as possible, from baby through adulthood.
Honor and support self-regulation of body nourishment
Just like breast feeding, baby will stop when they are full. When possible, eat as a family, as baby learns through observation before they get their hand into foods. Sit them in high chair before six months and let them explore the meal times. They will mimic parents feeding gesture. You can probably see them putting their fist into their mouth at the dining table.
Be present and purposeful with food.
Much too often we can notice a child is put in front a screen (Ipad, mobile phone or television) when having meal time. We want to be enjoying food as a family, savour the taste of food and be mindful of what we are eating and not mindlessly putting food into our mouth.
Support a healthy body through trust, gratitude and confidence.
We teach our children not to waste food and appreciate good table manner from a young age. There is so much to learn from different colours, texture to taste at the dining table. No baby eats the same amount as another baby. There’s quite a bit of individuality.
How much food your baby should eat isn’t really the question to be asking (If you are really keen to know the general guideline, there is information on the government clinic booklet on healthy eating information). Rather, you should be focused on your baby’s appetite signals and preserving his inherent ability to know how much to eat.
Thankfully, babies are very skilled at regulating their food consumption, something called self-regulation. As you can see, during the transition from 6 months to a year, food becomes a bigger contributor to covering your baby’s energy and nutrient needs.
What if my baby refuses to eat?
If your baby refuses to eat, this can indicate illness or other medical issues. Check with your doctor. Below one year, baby is still much depending on milk intake and this will gradually shift to family food after one year old.
Your baby’s hunger and fullness cues indicate appetite and are an essential part of the feeding process. Trying to feed your child more when she is signaling to you as a parent that she’s done has the potential to interfere with this natural ability to self-regulate food consumption. This is called forcing or pressure to eat.
General guideline according to the different age groups:
All children go through stages of picky eating and appetites can be equally unpredictable – a fact confirmed by majority of parents. How do you encourage your child to eat what he is given and what do you do if he refuses to eat? Perhaps predictably there are no easy answers but following tips will help you with those challenging moments:
1. Forcing children to eat is a no-win situation, it only raises conflicts and tension that may lead your child using mealtimes to seek attention. Example: a two-year-old may refuse a cheese sandwich cut diagonally because a strong need to assert independent.
2. Gently coax or offer plenty of encouragement to try just a mouthful or a “no thank you bite”, sometimes this is enough for him to be persuaded to eat the rest of the meal.
3. A child should never be punished by withholding a meal, this is as harmful bas denying the child sleep. Food denials can result in irritability, behaviour problems, tension between parents and child and eating disorders.
4. Praise your child as much as possible, even if he eats just the one mouthful.
5. If encouragement and coaxing don’t work, take the food away but don’t offer an alternative, however hard this may be, it’s important that a child gets used to eating what he is given and does not expect alternatives if he doesn’t like the first option. You can always serve the first option with some food ingredients that he is used to eat or enjoy eating.
6. Using food as a reward or punishment can have unfortunate consequences. Sweets should not be used as rewards, in part because this practice reinforce the belief that some food are better than others.
7. Don’t make portions too large, as this can be an off-putting for a child. You can always give him seconds if a meal is eaten up.
8. Peer pressure can work both ways, ask a friend of your child’s who you know to be a good water to come to tea. Children often learn by example and if they see their peers eating up it may encourage them to do the same. They can have fun during tea time too.
9. Making eating fun: picnics, even if it is only a cloth arrange on the floor or a theme based on a favourite game or book can be a game changer.
10. Sticker charts can be unbelievable successful and simple way of encouraging children to try new foods, especially unfamiliar fruits and vegetables.