Week 5: Mealtime
the foundation of feeding skills
Mealtime is meant to be enjoyable. Where we gather around the table, share stories and savour different flavours. It can also become a source of stress and power struggle between parent and child.
Remember that the first year of learning to eat table food is about exploration, getting messy and playing with food.
Allow your child to taste and spit food out. Follow his/her cues. Do not force feed. And create a calm setting.
If your child won't eat, there could be a variety of reasons including pain, discomfort, immature oral-motor and sensory skills as well as child, parent and environmental factors.
Child will be in semi-reclined position (bouncer seat, car seat) until he/she has sufficient head and trunk control for a high chair.
By seven months many babies are ready for the high chair. While seated, the ideal posture is 90-90-90— baby's hips are all the way back. Knees are flexed at ninety degrees and feet are supported with a footrest or even a makeshift box. Proper alignment of the head, neck and back maintain facilitate an non-restricted airway. You can secure position with towel rolls on the sides of the chair.The table or tray should be between the chest and belly button to optimize ease of self-feeding.
4-6 months. Drinks on demand every 3-4 hours.
5-6 months. Intro of baby foods. Play. explore. get messy.
6-7 months. One-two times a day.
7-8 months. Twice a day.
8-9 months. Three times a day.
9+ months. At every meal. Offer drink in a cup.
*Gagging from 8-10 months is normal. Your job is to not scare your child by panicking. Talk about what is happening and help as needed. "Oops, a little too far back", "you can use your tongue to push that out like this", "mommy will help you", "chew, chew".
*Save clean up of baby's face until after the meal is done. Preferably out of the high chair as this reduces the association between eating and unpleasant experience of getting his/her face washed/wiped.
*Between 12-14 months, children should be transitioning off all baby foods and onto a completely table food diet.
foods to avoid
- Nuts because of their shape and density
- Cut grapes, cherry tomatoes, cherries into small pieces
- Limit salt hidden in processed breads, cheese, etc. Avoid adding to food. And sugar.
easy finger foods
- steamed/broiled whole vegetables (green beans, corn, cauliflower, broccoli)
- raw sticks of cucumber (coolness is soothing on gums)
- thick slices of avocado
- thin strips of chicken or beef
- fruit: pear, apple, banana, peach, mango— whole or as sticks
- breadsticks, rice cakes, toast 'fingers' with hummus
what you can do to enhance feeding in first year
- Set an environment conducive to eating
- Optimal positioning
- Be consistent with your schedule
- To help familiarize with cup, spoon and food, place on tray so child can see,
interact and feel them prior to bringing to mouth (take pressure off)
- Don't use food as a reward
- Model healthy eating habits (they watch you more than they listen to what you say)
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