This is something I quite commonly hear from parents about their little one’s when we get started with sleep support.
Your little one might be 6 months, 12 months or 18 months + and meal times just feel like an absolute fight.
You feel anxious leading into meal times, you already can forsee that your little one isn’t even going to try most of the food you’ve prepared for them and they’ll just be really disinterested. They might just throw it all on the floor (or at you). You might be offering them extra milk or liquid meals (smoothies) to try and get extra calories into them during the day.
This is sooo frustrating for parents and I totally feel your frustration.
So what can we do about this? How can we make meal times more pleasant and enjoyable for everyone involved? How can we encourage our little one’s to try food that we offer them?
𝙏𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚 𝙞𝙨 𝙨𝙤𝙤𝙤 𝙢𝙪𝙘𝙝 𝙄 𝙘𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙘𝙤𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚. 𝙄 𝙢𝙖𝙮 𝙚𝙫𝙚𝙣 𝙙𝙤 𝙖 𝙡𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙞𝙨 𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙮 𝙩𝙤𝙥𝙞𝙘 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙙𝙤 𝙖 𝙌&𝘼 𝙨𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙙.
1. Sleep and feeding go hand in hand. When our little ones are overtired - they’re just not as likely to eat well and be interested in meal times and can become fussy quickly. It’s no coincidence that once parents make some changes during sleep support and their little one sleep improves - often their eating and drinking (milk and food) both improve in leaps and bounds as well. Book in a 15 minute chat if your little one’s having some challenges with sleep and feeding.
2. The more we ‘try’ to get our little ones to eat - it actually seems to have the opposite effect and they’ll eat even less.
My top tips:
Prepare your little ones meal (if 6 months + include finger food options as well as some mushy food) and pop it down in front of them. Offer a few different options within the meal.
Leave them to it for a good minute of two and let them explore, make a mess and trial things.
If your baby is able to bring food to their mouth or bring the spoon to their mouth then leave them to it!
Sit with them and have a cup of tea or even better eat with them
Tell a story or sing a song (dont focus on the food)
If spoon feeding, follow their cues. If they’re opening their mouth for more - offer more. If they’re turning their head away or not opening their mouth when you present the spoon, don’t keep trying to get it into their mouth.
Offer sips of water before during and after the meal
Avoid continuing to get other options out of the fridge or pantry if they aren’t eating what you’ve offered (I know this is tempting!)
Once they are showing they are done, pack away the food, say something positive like ‘that was a yummy lunch wasn’t it, you loved that carrot and turkey!’, clean their hands and face and move on with the day!
3. The extra calories we sneak in throughout the day due to feeling panicked they haven’t eaten any solid foods actually then can reduce their appetite for the next meal or milk feed and lead to ‘snacking’. I'de suggest following a routine for the day with sleep and feeding to help your little one build up some appetite in between meals and feel well rested too. Check out the Let's Sleep routine eBooks to help you with this!
𝗜𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲’𝘀 𝗱𝗶𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘀𝗼𝗹𝗶𝗱𝘀 - 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗚𝗣, 𝗠𝗖𝗛𝗡 𝗼𝗿 𝗮 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗰𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗶𝘀𝘁 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗳𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗶𝗰𝗲.
𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸 𝗶𝗻 𝗮 𝟭𝟱 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗶𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂’𝗱𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗳𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁.