Picky eating is a common problem many parents face with their children. Read this article to find out if baby-led weaning is the solution.
The worries parents have about picky eaters are many.
You fret about little things, like how you can’t go even on a simple trip to a mall for the day, because your child won’t eat.
You worry about big things, like his nutrition and development.
You stress about preparing his meals, because you know that however much effort you put into it, he’s probably going to reject the meal anyway.
All this may leave you feeling quite disheartened and anxious, and wondering if it is just a phase or a habit here to stay.
Mums, you are not alone.
Feeding difficulties are actually quite common in young children worldwide, with around 50 to 60 percent of parents globally who consider their kids to be picky eaters.
The issue of ‘picky eating’ among Singaporean children is also more common than you think.
In fact, a study (Goh, D and Jacob, A, 2012) conducted by the National University Hospital (NUH) found that nearly 1 in 2 Singaporean parents say their child is a picky eater.
What do the experts say?
Dr William Maclean was recently invited to speak at the International Summit on the Identification and Management of Children with Feeding Difficulties by Abbott Nutrition.
According to Dr William MacLean, who is a clinical professor at the Department of Pediatrics, Ohio State University, picky eating in children is generally a matter of parental perception, and of those kids who are considered to be picky eaters, only 3-4% are of great cause for concern.
He says that when children start eating, it’s quite natural for them to show a dislike for vegetables because of the initial unfamiliar flavour to their taste buds.
Also, parents tend to give up on a particular food if their child rejects it once or twice.
However, Dr MacLean explains that a child needs to try a new food 10-15 times before they can truly decide whether they like it or not.
Is baby-led weaning the solution to picky eating?
Baby-led weaning (BLW) means allowing your child to eat by himself, right from the age when you first introduce solids (around the 6-month mark, in accordance with WHO guidelines).
While there are many advantages of waiting until your baby is this old to start solids, baby-led weaning advocates argue that around this age, babies are developmentally ready to feed themselves proper food, and not purées such as those that are traditionally offered.
This way, the baby learns to eat with the family and learn about what they are eating from a very young age, and completely bypass the mushy food stage.
With baby-led weaning, babies learn to eat what they are given. They form a natural appreciation and enjoyment of food because they are allowed to handle, taste and eat the food by themselves.
Because of this, the chances of them turning out to be ‘picky eaters’ is highly unlikely.
Read on to find out how the baby led weaning process works.