I’ve been doing this parenting lark for 18 years now and with my rose-tinted spectacles on I look back and think, “yeah, I did all right.” They’re all pretty healthy, rounded kinda chaps (all boys in case you needed that clarifying.) My confidence even stretched into my profession as I supported parents through the first 5 years of their children’s lives in varying degrees. Yet if I really scratch the surface and try to remember what it was like, or what were the most common worries parents came to the children’s centre for, I’d say it was how or what to feed, closely followed by sleep.
Two very basic principles of keeping a baby alive which, in theory, should be quite easy. Yet I can confidently say they caused the biggest anxiety, with food nudging in as the worst offender.
Where to start?
With so much much advice available from other health professionals, parents, family members, social media and online community forums it’s easy to get lost with what to follow. Starting points should always be those like Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) which uses evidence-based advice and simple, practical resources about early years nutrition and development. They support families to make healthier nutritional choices and promotes good eating habits in early life. In a recent study they found;
While most parents believe they are confident and are doing well, a new survey from leading child health and nutrition experts the (ITF) suggests that the rewards and pressure to be a “natural” at parenting may come at a price.
It found that one in five (22%) of parents worried that their baby was not eating enough. Something which I can relate to personally as a 1st-time mum. You attribute everything your baby does to how much they eat;
not sleeping – they’re hungry
crying – they’re hungry
sucking their fist – they’re hungry
I heard it all.
Mostly from well-meaning experienced parents and older family. But what hindsight and my training taught me was that sometimes babies just needed cuddles and reassurance. I lost the food guilt second and third time around but it continued to be something which I saw time and time again at work.
Finding support on how & what to feed your 0 -12 month old
To provide support at this amazing yet challenging time, the Infant and Toddler Forum have developed the Ten Steps for Feeding Babies (0-12 months) It has practical tips, simple and sound advice for parents and carers linked to babies’ nutritional milestones.
4. Let your baby decide how much milk to drink
Offer a feed when your baby is hungry and remember babies cry for reasons other than hunger
In other words, learn to read your baby’s cues. Just like us, they have days when they’re less hungry. This is just one of the helpful, easy to follow 10 steps.
8. Stop feeding when your baby shows you he or she has had enough
by keeping his mouth closed or turning away from food or milk
10. Move onto thick mash with soft lumps between six and eight months
and onto minced and chopped family foods and firm finger foods between nine and 12 months
The information over on the website is the perfect starting point, and one to come back to when you end up with information overload. I was surprised to see a mention of feeding at 4 months as, although I know it happens, the advice I was always told to give was not to begin weaning until 6 months. I guess there’s the stance that not everyone will wait until then, and some parents are advised to begin weaning before then.
This is a collaborative post with The Infant & Toddler Forum