Expert talk: 5 feeding tips every mother should know
We sit down with Dr Glenn Berall, an expert on pediatrics and feeding difficulties, to bring you 5 feeding tips that every mother should know...
About Dr Glenn Berall:
Dr Glenn Berall is the Chief of Pediatrics and Medical Program Director, North York General Hospital, Toronto, ON and the Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto.
Abbott Nutrition invited Dr Glenn Berall to speak at the Scientific Updates in Paediatric Feeding Difficulties Seminar on the 31st of March.
Introduce variety early on
Dr Berall suggests introducing a variety of foods into your child’s diet as early as you can, as this will increase the chance of them maintaining a balanced diet in adulthood. As soon as babies start having purees and solid foods, try to include as many different flavours and textures into their diet as you can.
It will be good to try introducing only one new food item at a time, and make sure that their meal has at least one item that you know they like. Also, don’t get mad when children want to touch, prod or smell food before eating it; they’re simply using their investigative habits.
Lead by example
What parents do, children follow. If children see their parents eating balanced meals and having their meals at the dinner table, they will follow suit. Both parents should actively set a good example for their children by eating right and observing good eating habits.
Dr Berall states that studies have shown that fathers have a greater influence over what kind of food their children accept and mothers have a greater influence over what kind of food is provided.
Moderation is key
If your child is slow to accept new foods or develop good eating habits, always remember to relax. Forcing a child to eat when he isn’t hungry or sit down at the table when he’s throwing a tantrum may be more detrimental than helpful.
If you want your child to start eating more vegetables, introduce them slowly and not all at one go. Each child has his or her own developmental phase, and parents need to accept and respect that. "Moving into any phase of transitioning in a child’s life requires both patience and moderation," says Dr Berall.
Work with child’s developmental abilities
Instead of forcing a child to eat when he doesn’t want to, work with their developmental abilities so that they can harness their own capabilities. When a child is between four to six months old, their neck muscles are strong enough to move their mouth to the spoon, instead of waiting for their parent to bring a spoon to their month.
Watch out for these simple gestures, because they are a telling sign of whether your child is actually hungry at that point. "The more we let the child be involved with their developmental curiosity, the more the child will lead themselves in a positive direction," said Dr Berall.
Choose the correct feeding style
Controlling: A controlling feeding style is one in which parents are forcing, pushing or bribing their child to eat.
Responsive: A responsive feeding style is one that works with a child’s developmental abilities but also sets limits for the child to adhere to.
Neglectful: A neglectful feeding style could be due to many factors, including the busy lifestyle of the child’s parents, failure to address feeding difficulties or even abuse. Whatever the cause, this eating style is defined by parents not paying enough attention and time to a child’s eating habits.
Indulgent: An indulgent feeding style is one in which parents allow their child to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, with no limits.
Ideally, parents should strive to practice a responsive feeding style that encourages a child to harness his developmental capabilities, while still putting boundaries in place to discourage bad eating habits.