Food is a very exciting journey both for the parent and the child. It is the first 6 months of this journey that makes a child a fussy or a non-fussy eater. Some children are really fast at eating their food and some are really slow but that is definitely not a criterion to label the child as fussy or non-fussy.
What do we mean by fussy eating? Fussy eating is a phase where children don’t want to try out new food and also fuss over the food that’s given to them to eat.
I practiced baby-led weaning with my firstborn. Baby-led weaning encourages self-feeding right from 6 months of age or when the baby starts sitting upright and shows readiness for food. Yes, you heard it right, there is No mashed food involved at all but be ready for a greater mess and raising a food lover.
No one can go hungry especially the small babies, who exactly know if that half ounce of milk is going to overstuff them or not. To encourage baby-led weaning you need to trust them, sometimes they would eat half of what they generally eat and sometimes it going to be double the portion. In either case, keep offering food every 2 hours or so and let them choose and eat.
Always be there when you offer food to baby to rule out any chances of gagging or choking. There is a thin line between the two, gagging can be prevented by laying the baby on his tummy, on your lap and giving 4/5 hard taps on the back to take the food out. Choking, however, needs medical supervision.
I always have mums come up to me and say — ‘they don’t have any teeth, how will they chew?’ Well, haven’t you seen an old man chew without any teeth, ever? Babies have gums which are hard enough to eat food. That’s why the food at 6 months should be soft enough to be squished by your fingers and should be small bit sizes. My older one got his first tooth at 13 months and by then he had eaten almost everything I can name and yes he’s doing fine and is a great eater. Invest in a good high chair and give them the food on the tray table, its always a good idea to sit and eat your meals than running around and eating.
It is recommended by healthcare professionals worldwide to give babies less than 1 mg of salt in their first year. Since vegetables and some more foods like bread have salt in them you should refrain from adding more salt to the food. So no added sugar or salt till baby reaches 1 year of age. This is beneficial for the functioning of those little kidneys.
Lastly, please keep distractions like screen time, toys away when practicing baby-led weaning as it distracts the baby from food to other things and you will end up raising a fussy eater who wouldn’t eat without screen time.