The questions I get regarding weaning always show me how babies are genuinely all so different and individual in their own responses to food. For this reason, I’ve teamed up with Min from Kid Friendly Meals to give a couple of options that might help with slowing down, or even speeding up, the pace of baby’s eating at mealtimes.
When it comes to portions to serve to babies, it can be a bit of a minefield. I’ve written before about portions sizes for bubbas many times here and here, so check those out.
This blog today is more looking at how much we should actually be serving to our little ones….some babies will start weaning right away by gobbling up food like it’s going out of fashion. Whereas other babies are likely to approach solids with caution and only have a little nibble here and there, initially.
Both these scenarios are perfectly normal, and it’s always good to go at baby’s pace, practice responsive feeding, and let baby guide you as much as possible.
That said, there are times when you might need to step in, to encourage your little one to get a bit more excited about mealtimes, or to try to slow the pace of a mealtime. Or stop your little one from pushing too much food into their mouth in one go. For example. Min and I will talk through different approaches to these scenarios, and then it’s about working out what one works for you and your little one at home.
When it comes to offering foods to….
The wary eater:
- With babies who are somewhat wary about foods, it’s totally worthwhile starting a little cautious when it comes to their initial serving sizes. Large mounds of food can be quite off-putting, so starting small & allowing for seconds if your little one is keen can really help.
- You can also try (usually from more like 10 months) offering a second serving at mealtimes, so that there are multiple opportunities to eat.
- Also try to make sure baby isn’t full from milk before you offer food, so they have time to get hungry and build up some appetite.
- You can also practice eating with your little one, and add in lots of smiles and encouragement to get them to feel more comfortable to accept the meal.
Ultimately if they are growing well and healthy and happy during the day, they are most likely getting enough, and just eating to their own, individual appetite. It’s always best to get your little one’s weight checked fairly regularly, especially if you’re concerned about how much there are eating.
The food guzzler:
Raffy is a bit of a mealtime guzzler and ALWAYS has been. Therefore this next section is going to be talking through what I’ve tried and tested with him. However, please remember this is just ONE approach, and Min actually goes into detail about another entirely different approach that worked for her and Caleb.
The way I approach mealtime food inhaling, especially with breakfast which would disappear in a flash if I let it, is, actually, to do the same as I’ve recommended above…
I offer an initial, smaller portion of his food and then I allow him to ask for seconds, and offer him a dollop/serving more. This helps to slow down the mealtime; it helps Raffy to take more time to recognise hunger/fullness signals, and means that he doesn’t cry when his one bowl of food is emptied.
Quite often this also leads to him not eating the FULL second portion, and so can mean he’s therefore more in-tune with his feelings of fullness.
In the early days I also did lots of work with helping to slow his eating (and still often have to now), by talking to him about eating a little more slowly, demonstrating this can really help babies too, especially younger babies as they tend to watch and copy what they see others around them doing.
Using finger foods to slow down the pace:
Finger food meals can work a treat as well for slowing down meals, but, as many of you ask on here, some babies do end up putting large amounts of finger foods in their mouth all in one go.
One of my tips for this is also lots of role modelling, biting and overemphasising the chewing actions so that baby can pick up on HOW this is done is something that worked with Raffy.
My good friend Min from Kid Friendly Meals has a little boy who tended to do just this and she’s written all about HOW she coped with this in her latest blog too.
Just to summarise, Min tried offering smaller amounts and more chopped foods initially, but she finds now that offering a larger number of foods on the plate initially, actually means that he slows down his pace of eating, as he isn’t rushing to get to the second course of whatever is on offer. Check out more of what Min says in her blog here…
So, what do I do to alter the pace of my baby’s eating?
Try some of the tips above and see what works for your little one. Min and I both had similar experiences with our little ones, but we’ve found that different approaches (as well as some of the same such as rolemodelling) have worked well for each of us.
The moral to this story? Although there are some things that might work for some babies, it’s often all about trial and error – just like parenting! Give each of these a go: offering more in one go and offering seconds and see if any of it works for your little ones! We’d love to know what works for you!