“Transitioning to Solids”
Blog Two: Monday, 8 April 2019
Written by Mandy Sacher, CEO of Wholesome Child
Welcome back! I hope you’ve had a fun and nutritious week exploring different foods with your little ones.
Last week we chatted about the importance of introducing healthy foods and flavours right from the beginning as your child’s taste buds are forming. This week, let’s take a look at tips and tactics to seamlessly move your child onto solids.
1. Repetition is key
Did you know, when first introducing flavours and textures it can take between six and 16 times before a food is accepted? This means, your baby may turn their nose up on the first, second, even third time, but don’t give up! Be patient with your child and yourself, and simply freeze what hasn’t been eaten and offer it up again. Learning to accept foods is a learnt skill for us all.
2. Role model healthy behaviour
You can’t expect your baby to eat their veggies if you refuse to eat them yourself. From the very beginning, babies are watching your every move and mimicking your behaviour, so the more they see you eating and enjoying a rainbow of veggies, proteins and whole grains, the more likely they’ll be to try and accept new foods too.
3. Embrace the mess!
Letting your child explore food with their hands is a great way to familiarise them with new tastes and textures in a relaxed way. Allow your child to reach for food and feed themselves. If your little one is being spoon-fed, offer them their own spoon to attempt to feed themselves. It’s sometimes easier to have two spoons at mealtimes, one for you and one for your baby.
Offer finger food to make it easy for babies and toddlers to feed themselves. As an example, offer them porridge with compote, banana muffins or even bolognaise on shell pasta which will be easy from them to pick up and taste. Pop a floor mat down and remember that enjoying food is a sensory (and messy) experience!
4. Praise and positive reinforcement
Encouragement at the dinner table is key! Babies love praise, so applaud your little one for eating new foods. If both parents praise a baby for eating well, it can have a long-lasting effect, making mealtimes a happy and positive experience for the whole family.
Also make a conscious effort to praise yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your child doesn’t enjoy a food or transition on to solids straight away. You’re doing a fantastic job!
5. Family mealtimes
It’s important to make time for family meals as much as possible. If it’s too early for you to eat your meal, put a small amount of food on a plate for yourself and sit to eat with your baby. In fact, my Coconut, Fish and Vegetable Stew is a tasty dish both babies and parents can enjoy. You can even serve yourself and then puree the rest for your baby. This way, you’ll only have to cook once to feed all the hungry tums.
Remember to always keep veggies visible on your plate as it will help to spark their interest and encourage them to imitate your good habits.
Family meals should be fun too, so get your little ones involved with singing songs and share jokes and stories with older children. Don’t worry about table manners or mess for the moment – the most important thing is that they enjoy the whole sensory experience – even if it means sticking their fingers into everything and eating with their hands!
Have fun putting these tips into practice this week.