I have always felt that the prime duty and the biggest challenge of mothers is to make the child right. To Eat right to me means to eat the right quantity of the right food at the right time. Unless we mothers try to develop a healthy pattern of eating habit to our babies,their suffering is going to be hard and long-lasting. Here are few points I would recommend from my experience to help babies eat right and stop them from growing into a fussy/picky eater in toddler/preschooler stage. If you ask me if these are proved by any research,my answer is a plain no. These are pointers from my most beloved pediatricians,doctors among kith and kin,experienced mothers & grandmothers and my experience with my LO.(For all recipes of baby food and insights on weaning please refer here.)
To develop the right eating habit is a topic which has a never-ending story to it. Just because I am jotting down points on this topic doesn’t mean my son always eats right. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. It is an ongoing process and failures kiss me more than victories. The motherly bond in me helped me highlight these and I hope it would help all young mothers.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FOOD:
There are infinite helping hands when it comes to provide advice. I heard all and appreciated them, but the choice of right food was unto my pediatrician and me. The right food in my opinion should be healthy cum balanced and must definitely not be processed/ packed/ junk. I never gave up on that point and hence I had a clear path towards the right food. Since the family’s food habit did not differ much, I never had to deter from it.
RIGHT TIME & RIGHT QUANTITY:
The thumb rule for knowing the right time and quantity is “Demand on feed”. From the day he bloomed in this world to till date I go by this mantra.Beyond a certain age I slowly transited his food timings like the elders of the family. Slowly he had his chair in our dining table. This helped him discover food textures, observe our eating habits which in further made him eat on his own. As I fed on demand, I got hold of the right quantity in few days time by his expressions. (Now he says very clearly to us “enough J “). The motherly intuition and satisfactory feeling also plays a role in this.
CLIMB THE LADDER GRADUALLY:
I made the transition from breastfeeding to weaning slowly & steadily. I followed/follow three-day wait rule for each new ingredient in his food. This helped/helps me in knowing what ingredients are liked by him and suited him. It also aided him in knowing different tastes and relishing them.
NEVER GIVE UP:
From breastfeeding to weaning, I have encountered millions of failures. There were several hunger strikes, daily tantrums and even mini wars between us. Sometimes it was a phase and sometimes it was adamant/playful nature. Many a times I have ended up going crazy in making him eat. I tried with patience and tried with different tactics, varieties. Few trials even went on for a month-long hunger strike. I kept running to break it and every time my patience and perseverance has been paid so far. One of my family friends(doctor) insisted me to try on everything and gave me bumper point of advice. ” When your child refuses a food A , try it after 15 days . Never ignore that he doesn’t like. A baby should like every variety of home-made food by all means and there should be no foods in the list of “My baby hates it”. ”
MOM & ME MEALTIME:
When it comes to mealtime, I ensured not involving any gimmicks like carrying him all over/showing him TV/playing with something to make him eat/doing any circus activities. There was/is only three M’s (Mom, Me, Meal). No distraction. So I neither had to run behind him nor do any performances to make him eat. (Old habits die hard, don’t they?) I was strict about timings and quantity but I never attempted to force. As he grew I gave him the bowl and spoon and encouraged him to feed himself though it turned meal times messy.
The process of weaning was too systematized with the help of my pediatrician and I never had any confusion on what to give and what not to give,when to give etc. There are too many schools of thoughts with respect to weaning. Each type of weaning has its own pro’s and con’s and what is best suited to our cute little world is our choice as “None knows a baby better than a mother”. I strictly followed/follow all instructions pertaining to foods to be avoided till 1 year,till 2 years. This helped me giving him a wide variety of foods in a slow manner and it ensured that he relished each ingredient. I tried to make him eat like the family at around 10 months but at the same time there are still few ingredients which I am yet to include in his menu(He is 15 months old now).
INFORMATION IS WEALTH:
Hear from billions. Listen to millions. Read thousands. Watch hundreds but one final decision because “nobody else can say what is right for your baby than you dear mommy“.This is my way of gathering information about my LO. I was/am constantly learning from people, books, websites, papers and all possible resources. When it comes to the final choice/decision I trust my intuition, knowledge and doctor’s advice and stick on to the most suited one. With the enormous growth of technology we have several sources of information served right on our table. At times we might get confused with them and the more the mother gets confused the less is the choice of the mother getting it right. Whenever I get confused , I felt like I am becoming a point of exploitation and I fall a prey to all who aim to commercialize.
NO CREATIVITY ON TABLE:
I have heard my grandmothers stating that their children(minimum of 10) never said no to any food and the fussy eater was almost terribly new to them. Eating is a habit associated primarily with quenching hunger and gaining nutrition. So I was enforced to emphasize on that. The food has to be edible,presentable and healthy. I felt making a plate appealing was more appropriate for my blog but not for my son. I wanted my son to love each dish in the way it is , in the way it tastes. My pediatrician added to this saying that I should never have the habit of including honey/sweetener/curd as a side dish for any tiffin or combining bitter food with sweet to make him eat. She repeatedly said a baby must like a piece of bitter gourd as such just as he would love to have any sweetened dish.Also a baby should start liking the original look,texture,taste of every food Hence there was no mixing/blending/decorating any food. This will definitely help to grow a “non-fussy/non-picky” eater.
The below point is the mother of all without which the story could have been just a story and not a success story. I am blessed with super informative parents and my beloved best half, a supportive and trusting family who completely invested their confidence in me when it comes to the welfare of my son, very noble doctors who are real angels on earth and above all the unique strength/bond which motherhood gave me.
For all recipes of healthy home made baby food,do’s and don’ts of weaning,month wise diet chart and insights on weaning please refer here.