This is our final instalment to our weaning series. We hope you have found the previous posts helpful to you, whether you are approaching weaning with your first child or are in amongst the thick of it and want clarity and inspiration. We hope we’ve made it easy enough to understand without over complicating it too much with exact amounts and times but with a demonstration of what an enjoyable and flexible experience it can be and how to over come the inevitable tricky times that can occur with any child.
We’ve called this Stage 3 to follow on with the series. At this point your child will be a year older and onwards, becoming and being a toddler. A time of huge learning, one that comes with fierce independence and a whole range of emotions.
To recap on the weaning journey so thus far, your child should have experienced plenty of first tastes, whether this be fruit and vegetables through purees or straight into simple finger food meals with baby led weaning. To help create a varied diet and remember how each meal went it is a good idea to make a food diary and record what the child had, how much was eaten and whether they liked it, as well as whether a reaction occurred with any are food. Babies were then introduced to more substantial carbohydrates and proteins and textures were introduced for puree led babies and proper meals had been lovingly prepared by yourself for your child to try. Baby’s enthusiasm to try food was high and for puree led babies you could introduce soft finger foods to them. So now, and onwards these babies, now young toddlers, should be enjoying a wide range of meals with textures increasing all the time and being presented with whole foods to bite too. Your list of restricted food reduces and family meals can start to become the norm for everyone.
What is to come?
With babies entering the toddler stage you will find with increased mobility, understanding and independence the chances of them beaming distracted whilst mealtimes are happening increase. Babies will often get very excited when they initially see food but can soon want to escape from their highchair and get on with the next thing that has caught their eye. This can be the cause of some slightly stressful mealtimes that once have been fairly relaxed, quick and enjoyable.
However; with this increased mobility and brain action comes the need for more energy. In equal measures babies will tell you expertly if they want more or if they have had enough. Give small portions that can easily be topped up if needed – but also a way of not wasting too much if it ends up being thrown on the floor. A sure sign baby is done!
Babies will really want to fed themselves…let them! Embrace the mess for a while, whilst teaching them how to use their cutlery for some meals, others not. Make meal times into lunch and dinner and give a clear difference with the food you provide for your child. If you are looking for children’s cutlery for your toddler, Nana’s Manners cutlery is a fantastic place to start!
Staying calm – Our top tips.
A baby that once ate anything you gave them can become fussy in their toddler years and at time refuse food all together. See our post on a great reason behind this here. This can be ever so frustrating for you as a carer or parent seeing all your hard work unravel in front of you…not to mention the amount of home cooked food on the floor. Below we’ve listed some of our top tips in order to overcome this period. Believe me, we’ve all been there!
- Eat with your children. I cannot stress this enough. I have been asked to help out with many families who children ‘don’t eat’, but who leave their children to get on and eat alone. I totally understand that as parents there are other jobs to be done which would be great to get done whilst your child is in one place but it really does make a difference. Even if it means eating a little earlier than you would like and having a tiny portion if you want to eat later, children LOVE TO COPY and often if are being fussy, want to eat what someone else has. So have the same and give them some – they may eat their whole meal off your plate. If they do that for a week – who cares?!
- Don’t get attached to the food you’ve cooked! I’m totally aware how crazy that sounds but it’s very easy to get quickly irritated with your child and the whole situation when you’ve spent so much time cooking and see it rapidly end up on the floor. Clean it up and move on.
- Snacks. Don’t over do it on the snack front. Children’s tummies are so so small, they really don’t need a lot of or a big snack. I’ve seen parents chase their children round all day with snacks because they don’t eat at mealtimes. But it is no wonder as they are never properly hungry. Your child is not going to starve but it is ok for them to feel hungry. If anything, bring mealtimes slightly forward so you don’t meet the time where everyone is over hungry and now tired and won’t eat anything anyway!
- Don’t get cross with your child if they don’t eat. Children’s eating patterns will fluctuate with growth patterns, seasons, environment, time of day, just like ours. If a child doesn’t eat as much as you would like at one meal, give them a slightly bigger and earlier snack and carry on at the next meal. Do your best not to make it into a big deal if they don’t eat, this could cause more problems later on. With most children, more often than not if there is a series of meals a child doesn’t eat you can probably be sure a small virus is on it’s way, at which point let the child eat what they want. Your body tells you want you need when you are ill.
- Choices. If you want to give an older toddler a choice of meal or snack, give them two. Give two things that you know you have, you are happy to prepare so that whichever one they choose it makes no difference to you in the slightest and it makes the child feel like their needs are valued, making for a happy food environment for all.
- Making family meals makes your life easier! You don’t have to cook twice and it will make going out for food or to other people’s house to eat much easier and enjoyable for you if children are given the opportunity to eat a range of meals you find elsewhere. So many recipes are one pot recipes which are great for children and adults alike and can be easily reheated later. Take a look at our recipe tab on our website for inspiration.
Photos: Little Pip Eats The Colours of the Rainbow recipe book.