Self-Feeding – # 5 of 7 Parenting Mantra that helped my sanity
The sight of my Sister in Law & my Mother running behind my niece with a plate of food in their hand, coaxing & distracting her to eat food & yet ending up tired & unsatisfied with the outcome was a nightmare to watch when she was younger. Then I saw my best friend too struggling in the same department with her baby. The frustration, the tiredness & the helplessness was so apparent. If one kid can drive parents crazy about food, imagine what my plight was going to be with 2 of them? The answer to all this stress was Self-Feeding.
Well, The story did not begun as happy as it is today. I did not choose the Baby Lead Weaning to begin with. My both kids were asked to begin solids earlier than 6 months. I was totally lost & I began with fruit & vegetable purees as instructed by the doctor. His reasons were also valid at that point, but as soon as my daughters were 7 months, I realized now that I can, I SHOULD move to training my girls to self-feed. I have time & again said this in my different articles & would say it again, Self-Feeding was such a blessing – a boon for my ageing joints 😉 We can freely go to house parties, dine out, go on vacations & all this without worrying about what & how kids will eat. They eat whatever they like & feed themselves and our sanity is saved.
The Road Was Not Easy
But The Destination Is Beautiful
Here are 5 Rules that we followed to transit from Traditional Feeding to Self-Feeding
- No “Clean Plate” Rule – Even when we were feeding our kids purees with our own hands (rather spoons) we made a point to never force feed them. But it is difficult for a 6 month old baby to tell you when she is full, thus we had to rely mostly on our judgement. SO, when we moved to self-feeding, we never had a clean plate rule in our house. They eat the amount they want to eat. If they are done, they are done.
- Eat What the Family Eats – This meant for the first 6 months, we too had to eat bland food (although we secretly did add salt in our food) And this also means we never got to eat desserts in front of kids. But as long as it pays up, parents are ready to make all sacrifices for kids. Now that they have been introduced to all kind of flavors, we serve them the same plate as we eat. Thus they get all the pastas & noodles we eat & we adults too have a regular fruit & milk intake in our daily diet. A Win-Win.
- No Replacement Food – This is a rule for which I sometimes get criticized also. But initially when we were moving from purees to self-feeding, this rule was a blessing in disguise. The transition was not easy on kids as well, they wanted to fall back on the comfort & ease of purees rather than taking the effort to chew food. Thus at times they just refused to eat. I never gave them a meal replacement. What’s served is what you get & if you dont want to eat, wait till next meal. It was a little harsh as they sometimes didn’t eat at all till next meal, but it helped them to get into habit of eating family food on meal time along with everyone else.
- No Screen Time – This is a rule I myself have miserably failed on many times. At times I am busy & can’t eat food on time, I do switch on some songs / animations for them to watch. But screen & food is the worst combinations. Kids miss the cues from their body & tend to overeat. They do not enjoy the food rather just fill their tummies. So now I am more strict about this rule. Screen & food is not combined.
- Positive Reinforcement – Whether it be a child or a grown up, a word of encouragement makes everyone feel charged up, positive & happy. Whenever my girls showed progress on cutlery or interest in self-feeding, we used to shower them with hi5, appreciation & positive reinforcements. This helped them gain confidence in themselves, become more independent & keep trying.
This blog is written as a part of a series of 7 blogs on the theme of 7 Parenting Mantras that Helped my Sanity written as a part of Bar-A-Thon 2017.
You can also read what my Fellow Bloggers are writing as their entry for Bar-A-Thon. Read Dipika’s entry HERE. (Click for direct link)