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 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 portion sizes for babies during weaning and I also have a free factsheet you can download on portion sizes for young children.
However, this blog today is 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. For example, you may also need to stop your little one from pushing too much food into their mouth all in one go – a scenario I’ve heard many parents talk about over the years.
Below I’ll suggest different approaches you can try if you’re worried about baby’s pace of eating – then it’s about working out which one works best for your little one.
Is it normal for my baby to eat so fast?
Many babies do eat quickly. Raffy, for example, was always a bit of a mealtime guzzler as a baby. The following advice talks through what I tried and tested with him. However, please remember this is just ONE approach, and Min has another entirely different approach that worked for her and Caleb (see below).
The way I approached mealtime food inhaling, especially with breakfast – which would disappear in a flash if I’d let it – was to offer an initial, smaller portion of Raffy’s food and then allow him to ask for seconds. I’d then offer him a dollop/serving more. This helped to slow down the mealtime; it helped Raffy to take more time to recognise hunger/fullness signals and it meant that he didn’t cry when his one bowl of food was emptied.
Quite often this approach also led to him not actually eating the FULL second portion, and so sometimes meant he was therefore more in-tune with his feelings of fullness. In the early days, I also did lots of work with helping to slow down his eating by talking to him about eating a little more slowly, rolemodelling a slower pace and making meals a calm time with engagement and conversation being paramount too.
How do I help my baby slow down when eating?
Serving finger foods can also be really helpful for slowing down baby’s pace of eating at meals. That said, some babies do end up putting large amounts of finger foods in their mouths all in one go. In this instance, I also advise lots of role modelling, biting and overemphasising the chewing actions so that baby can pick up on HOW to eat finger foods more slowly. This approach really worked with Raffy.
My friend Min has a little boy who also tended to eat quickly as a baby and she’s written all about HOW she coped with it in this blog. To summarise, Min tried offering smaller amounts and more chopped foods initially – just as I did with Raffy – but she actually found that offering a LARGER number of foods on the plate initially meant that her son slowed down his pace of eating, as he wasn’t rushing to get to the second course of whatever was on offer. In other words: no two babies are the same and different approaches work for different babies.
What if my baby is eating too slowly?
With babies who are somewhat wary about foods, it’s totally worthwhile starting a little cautiously 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.
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 read more in this post about how milk intake can affect babies’ meals. 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 your baby is growing well and healthy and happy during the day, they are most likely getting enough, and simply eating to their own, individual appetite. It’s always best to get your little one’s weight checked fairly regularly though, especially if you’re concerned about how much they are eating.
Remember, no two babies are the same
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 found that different approaches (as well as some of the same, such as role-modelling) worked well for each of us.
- Eating together
- Offering smaller initial portions
These are just some of the things that might work for slowing or increasing the pace of your baby’s meal.
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… then see if any of it works for your little one!
If you feel you would like more guidance, my online weaning course is a complete step-by-step guide and includes everything from first tastes right through to starting family meals – including footage of real babies eating, delicious recipes, factsheets and plenty of visual advice.
How To Wean Your Baby
This is a book that heavily focuses on the HOW TO of weaning. I’ve tried to make it easy, clear and enjoyable for parents to read it too. So I have focused the introduction and all the advice pages on checklists, infographics, notes pages, step by step guides and lots more.