Ever since day one, Clara has loved her food. In fact even from the moment she was born and Ryan was having his first skin to skin cuddle, we could hear this sucking noise and wondered where it was coming from and then realised she was already searching for food and she was only a few minutes old. She was even pulling out Ryan’s chest hair, unfortunately though she was going to be a little disappointed if she thought he could help in that department.
It was also the reason we had to introduce the dummy, she would over feed herself when I was still breastfeeding (which I stopped at four months) and have these enormous projectile vomits and so we realised quite early on that we should introduce a dummy to help her with this as she wasn’t to know any differently. We actually found it really easy to get rid of the dummy around 10 months old which I would say to anyone who only wants them to have it only for a certain period of time, worked for us. We also didn’t want her having it at nursery as it would just be an extra faff to remember.
So on the dummy front before I go into this blog which is about babies and their food, is that one of my wonderful mummy friends had some really good advice about the dummy and that is you HAVE to go cold turkey with it as babies don’t know the difference between when they can and can’t have it. So if you are going to do it, make sure you have a clear week as you may have some sleepless nights, especially if you little one wakes at night for their dummy. Chuck the dummy’s away and trust me be strong, they will be a bit grumpy about the whole thing, but it’s so worth it in the end. I would definitely use dummy’s again if we have another baby one day, but do the same age and process again as it seemed to work so well.
Okay now on to the food side of things, I really wanted Clara to have a healthy relationship with food (don’t we all) but also to have a really varied palate. Although I grew up in South Africa, you would have thought I would love seafood and it’s only something in the last couple of years I have started eating. So for Clara I want to introduce her to lots of different type of foods and luckily my husband Ryan eats everything, so she will hopefully learn that from him. Although we are going to France in August and he said he will feed her a snail, which I can’t say I am that amused about! Gross!!
As Clara ventured off milk only and started eating solids around five months, she was really good at trying lots of food with some of her first favourites being melon, banana, avocado, cheese and tomato’s (although we now think she might be slightly allergic to tomato’s as her cheeks always flare up). I also was keen she learnt to enjoy and play with food so we did a mix of baby led weaning and spoon feeding as some things were just too messy like soups. However we quickly got into a pattern of giving her a bath every night so she could enjoy her food and just make a general mess if she needed to. Until about a month ago, we were making her a different dinner to ours every night or she got left overs from the night before, if they were baby friendly enough.
What has really changed our life recently and I can’t recommend them enough are HelloFresh who are a fresh food box (£4.90 per box) with recipes delivered to you every week and you can choose between three or five meals a week and also a choice of about eight recipes a week and they are all so yummy. This has been great as Ryan will confess he can’t cook, but he loves following a recipe and the food is restaurant quality and he loves it! (Bonus as less cooking for me) also we now try and eat at 6ish with Clara which is good all round and she has the same dinner as us and she loves it. It means that we are having really varied food and have got ourselves out of a rut of always having the same thing.
The other thing that I found really helpful was I went to one of the Sheerlux parenting seminars back in February when Clara was nine months old. It was so helpful as they covered everything from making the most of family time, addressing technology with young children, healthy sleep routine, the value of money but most importantly for this blog post – improving your child’s diet, health and nutrition and the Paediatric Dietician Bianca Parau was just brilliant! Some of the great advice she shared was:
- Don’t get stressed if your child goes through a phase of not eating vegetables, they aren’t going to be sat when they are 30 not eating any vegetables. They are exploring and learning.
- If your child goes through a phase of not eating that much, don’t worry. Like adults we sometimes have days or weeks where we aren’t that hungry and then others when we eat a lot. Their little bodies are clever and are telling them how much they need.
- If you have a fussy eater, it might be worth looking at how you deal with food. Babies are constantly watching and learning and don’t make a big deal out of things. Don’t reward bad behaviour but also don’t force them as it will start bad habits at the dinner table.
- Babies also need a lot of calcium and good fats in their diet. So as much as we are all crazy about our soya and almond milk these days, babies need full fat milk, cheese, yoghurts etc and it is not recommended to give these alternatives to milk to children under the age of two due to the nutritional inadequacies.
- If you are worried about intolerances, it is also worth reading this Q&A with Bianca as she gives some good advice about what to look out for, how to deal with it and what you can substitute.
For me, who initially got worried about the whole food thing and how much time it was going to take up, don’t! Make it work around you and no one is going to judge you if they have your left over spag bol three nights in a row, or a little bit of your ice cream on a hot day. It’s about balance and making it work for the whole family no matter how that is and if you find one week they don’t like something, just introduce it again in a couple of weeks and it might be their favourite food. I’m not saying this advice will work for everyone, but it has really worked for us and meal time is definitely one of our favourite times of the day.
Lauren – workingmummablog