What’s happening this fortnight
Does your baby sit obligingly in his highchair and happily devour every morsel you put in front of him? Or does dinnertime often end in tears and tantrums – from both you and your baby?
As your baby approaches his first birthday, he’s becoming ever more independent, and this is often reflected in his mealtime behaviour. At around this age, it’s common for babies to enter a fussy phase as they start to assert their personalities. Introducing new tastes can be tricky, as your tot is likely to be suspicious of anything that he doesn’t recognise. He may also resist the transition to chopped food and gag, spit his food out or throw it on the floor. Even having an old favourite on standby doesn’t always do the trick; infuriatingly, it’s quite common for babies to suddenly refuse to eat foods that they’ve previously enjoyed.
On the other hand, some babies take to solids so readily that they go off their milk feeds, which can leave you worrying that he’s not getting enough calcium. It’s normal for tots to decrease their milk intake as they near the end of their first year, so think laterally about how else you could boost his calcium intake. Milky puddings such as custard and yoghurt often appeal to sweet-toothed babies, and you can also increase his milk quota by adding grated cheese to foods such as mashed potato and pasta, and giving him a generous serving on his cereal.
At this age, some babies want to feed themselves, which can make for messy (and stressful) mealtimes. Although it can be painful to watch your tot redecorating the kitchen with his Bolognese sauce, try to see this as a necessary part of the weaning process and let him get stuck in, removing his bowl only when it seems that he’s eaten enough. And if your baby shows no interest at all in independent eating? Simply keep feeding him yourself, but encourage him to have a go at the same time with his own spoon or pieces of finger food, with lots of praise and applause when he succeeds. Learning to self-feed is a slow process for some babies, but rest assured, you won’t be spoon-feeding him on his wedding day…
Did you know…?
It can take 12 to 15 attempts before your baby eventually accepts a new food, so if he rejects something on its first offering, try, try and try again – it may even end up becoming one of his favourites.
What to watch out for
Forget the terrible twos; most mums agree that the toddler stage starts somewhere around their baby’s first birthday, and that means bracing yourself for tantrums, tears and general wilfulness. Feeding a stubborn toddler can be a challenge, so it’s important to stay calm and positive to avoid mealtime battles. Behaviour such as spitting or throwing food, screaming in the highchair or refusing to eat is your baby’s way of getting your attention, so try to ignore it as much as possible while lavishing him with praise for good behaviour.
If it’s all getting too much, just remove your baby’s bowl and get him down from the table without comment. And avoid the temptation to compensate for a missed meal by whipping up a whole new meal or filling him up with snacks. Babies are good at regulating their own food intake to get what they need. If you really can’t bear the thought of him going hungry, just offer him some fruit or bread and butter, but if you can keep a cool head, he’ll soon learn that his attention-seeking antics aren’t having the desired effect.