5 Baby-Feeding Blunders and How YOU Can Avoid Them
Certainly nobody sets OUT to feed their baby the wrong way…but mistakes happen for sure. Here are 5 common mistakes I see parents and caregivers make when starting solid foods and a few ways YOU can avoid them.
We All Make Mistakes…
Before we launch into all the feeding stuff you’re doing wrong (…kidding, kidding…) let’s just say, if you have made ANY of these mistakes, you are not alone!
We are all a work in progress when it comes to feeding our family - and the following suggestions are offered not out of a place of judgement, but rather to help you give baby the safest start possible to solid foods as you work towards raising an independent eater!
Mistake #1: Putting Food Directly on Tray for Baby
It seems logical that the high chair tray is where food goes.
But putting food directly on the tray leads to a few problems.
First off - when baby just starts solid food he can only rake and scoop and has not developed a pincer grasp. As a result, baby will swing his hands around and knock food onto the floor, frustrating baby (and possibly infuriating you :)
The solution to this problem is to use a feeding plate or bowl with pliable silicone that gives when baby maneuvers food.
You can get 10% off all ezpz products with code KATIE10 at ezpzfun.com. And for more information about all of this baby plate business check out my post “5 Benefits of Using a Baby Plate or Bowl” and additional information on the ezpz blog - written by my friend and colleague Dawn Winkelmann, MS, CCC-SLP who is also the feeding expert for ezpz.
Mistake #2: Serving Only “Healthy” Foods
Many parents mistakenly serve babies mostly fruits and vegetables. Sure, these are healthy foods, but produce alone will not meet baby’s increased iron needs at 6 months of age or sustain baby as he approaches the 1 year mark.
It is wise to include fruits and vegetables in your rotation…but don’t forget about proteins and carbohydrates also.
The solution to this problem is to include a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. For your vegetables add fat like butter and oiled to increase fat intake and calories when baby begins to need more calories from food.
If you’re interested in more information about increasing variety and really pushing your baby’ palate, check out my free online workshop “Baby-Led Weaning for Beginners: How to get YOUR baby to try 100 foods before turning one without YOU having to spoon-feed purees or buy pouches!”
Click here for to sign up for the workshop.
Mistake #3: Offering Portions that are Too Large
Spend ANY amount of time on Instagram or social media looking for #babyledweaning and I guarantee you you’ll come across ridiculously oversized portions of food being offered to babies by well-meaning parents and caregivers.
Those who need baby often feel like they need to “fill up” the baby bowl or plate..or tray…oftentimes not realizing that the portions they are offering are way off base for babies.
Pushing big portions on baby is problematic for a number of reasons, but mainly:
It’s confusing to a baby who has stopped eating because she is full as to why there’s all this food still on my plate?!
Parents end up feeling dejected or frustrated when baby doesn’t “finish” all the food that is on the plate (…even though it was arbitrarily chosen and likely too much to begin with).
The solution for this mistake is to think in terms of tablespoons. As in…babies may only need a few tablespoons of food per meal. Some will eat more, and that is ok - but don’t push your baby to eat more than he knows he wants or needs.
Ideally, you want to set out the amount of food you are offering baby for the meal on a plate or mat or bowl. This helps baby visually prepare for the amount of food he or she is about to eat…and if baby eats more - or less - than this, that’s ok too.
Mistake #4: Wiping Baby’s Face and Mouth During Feeding
I have TOTALLY fallen victim to this mistake in the past…in fact, I used to do it all of the time before I started working in the field of baby-feeding.
Don’t wipe baby’s face during feeding.
This is a very important piece of information I picked up from working with my friend and colleague Dawn Winkelmann, MS, CCC-SLP (@msdawnslp) feeding therapist and feeding specialist for ezpz.
As Dawn likes to point out, “Do you know ANY baby or child who likes having his or her face wiped?”
Constantly cleaning up while baby is trying to eat interferes with the joy and process of self-feeding.
This intrusion by your wet wipe or washcloth is also unappealing to baby from a sensory standpoint…which can lead baby to have negative associations with food.
Chill out about your baby’s mess. Allow baby to self-feed during the meal - no matter how messy it is - and resolve yourself to clean up the mess AFTER feeding (…but do it quick, because dried food is the DEVIL!!).
Mistake #5: Intervening During Baby’s Gag
If I had to go back and ask the thousands of families I have now had the honor to teach baby-led weaning to, “What’s the number one thing you were scared of when you started BLW?”… it would definitely be gagging.
Knowing the difference between a gag and a choke is of key importance when starting solid foods. It is always advisable to take a refresher infant CPR course when baby starts solids at 6 months of age.
But to sum it up - the difference between a gag and a choke is:
Choking is usually silent aspiration (no noise) and baby will turn blue
Gagging involves noise (coughing) and baby’s face turns red or pink
And when it comes to intervening:
If a baby is choking, an adult needs to intervene and follow CPR protocol
If a baby is gagging, the baby will self-correct and adults should NOT intervene
So, why not jump in on a gag?
Well, lunging at the gagging baby can startle or frighten baby further, causing him to suck food in to the airway and actually increase the risk of choking on what was originally just a gag.
Furthermore, gagging is a natural and necessary part of learning how to eat….baby will not be able to fully master feeding milestones if she is not allowed to practice along the way.
If you are freaking out about not intervening during a gag, keep this learning to walk analogy that Dawn Winkelmann cites often, ”When your baby is learning how to walk, he or she falls over, right? Do you then stop all attempts for baby to learn how to walk because he or she is going to fall down? No.”
It’s not pleasant or fun to watch our babies fall (or gag), but it is a necessary part of learning how to walk (…and eat too!)
So, now for the solution (…and this is another great Ms. Dawn tip): when baby is gagging, use a soothing voice and talk your baby through it, “That’s good baby, cough it up…you got this…”
If you don’t stress and trust baby’s ability to self-correct, it will happen. If you stress and intervene, you could make the already uncomfortable situation worse!
Moving Beyond the Blunders
So there you have it - 5 baby-feeding blunders that are now well equipped to avoid!
If you’re looking for more info about getting a SAFE start to baby-led weaning, check out my e-book The Quick-Start Guide to Baby-Led Weaning.
This ebook is 16 pages jam-packed with everything you need to start baby on solids safely, from a nutrient deep dive, to tips about seasoning without salt, what to avoid when you’re feeding, some sample starter foods and a few of my favorite combination food recipes too.
Click here to get the Quick-Start Guide to Baby-Led Weaning…and Happy Feeding!