Oh man, does baby Parker know how to ham it up for the camera! I usually don't share that many pictures of my bambini on the blog, but I had these outtakes photos from my book and thought they were just perfect! <- proud momma moment there.
But they are too perfect!
Don't be fooled into thinking that because I make and blog about baby and toddler food, that my meal times are like these serene photos. They are not even close.
Trust me when I say that these pictures do not imitate my real life. Usually one of the two girls are crying and one of them doesn't want to eat, or sometimes they are both crying and both refuse to eat - you know sisters have to stick together.
And usually there isn't this clean mess going on, it is usually just a mess, like a real mess! On the table, under the table, on each other - that kind of mess.
So don't be fooled.
But over the course of three years, 2 babies and thousands of ounces of purees later, here are some baby feeding tips I have for you -
5 Tips for Feeding Baby
Be Realistic - People see my Instagram account and are usually blown away by how much food Baby Parker ate when she just started out on purees. The first thing they ask is 'how can I get my baby to eat that much?'. My answer is always the same - there is no right or wrong amount of food for baby to eat at any given meal. You have to be realistic to what is possible for your own baby, which might be 6 ounces or 1 teaspoon. Baby might want nothing to do with food after their first bite or they may want to eat an entire batch. It is all normal. Feeding and eating takes patience and practice for both you and baby and will probably not be an instant success. Be realistic that it will take some time for baby to start eating like a champ.
Don't Give Up - You plan ahead and make a delicious puree just for baby, get everything ready for their dinner, and then finally you take the spoon and hold up for baby to happily eat off of and they just turn their heads away. You try again, yep same thing. I know you just want to slam your head onto the table and give up. It can be hard after your baby refuses to eat, again and again. You will want to give up. But trust me, it will all be okay. Stick to it and keep at it. Baby will eventually come around and start eating.
Let Baby Decide Eating Schedule - I am a big believer in family dinners (not sure why after my honest thoughts in the intro) so I thought it would all work out if we feed baby at 6 o'clock, when the rest of us eat. After 4 nights of pure chaos and nothing but tears from baby Parker, it was clear this was not a good time for her. So we moved her feeding to 5:30 where she would be able to eat on her terms and without distraction from her older sister. This simply switching of the time has worked great for us. After she is done eating she usually is happy and full enough to sit at the table and play while the rest of us eat. Listen to your baby. Find out when they want to eat and adjust, as much as you can, to their schedule so it is a positive meal for all of you.
Go With the 'Baby' Flow - It might be because I have some control issues, but I want to be the one that decides what baby is going to be eating for each meal. I like to plan it out for the day and then stick to that plan, I blame my many years of management on this one. The problem is that babies have their own ideas on what they want and don't want.
So just go with it.
Baby might want to eat only purees and have you spoon feed them to her for an entire year, or baby might not want you to spoon any food into her mouth and is completely happy just eating small bites for herself, or quite possibly baby will be okay with you feeding her purees if she has something in her hands to keep her busy. Turns out that Baby Parker wants to be in control as well (like mother, like daughter, uh oh!) and is happiest when she is trying a eat her own finger foods while I spoon feed her in-between her attempts at getting a piece of something into her mouth. As long as baby is eating healthy food and growing big and strong, there isn't one feeding method that is better for baby.
Keep It Fun - The more we play silly games like 'sounds animals make at the zoo' or 'sounds our mouths make while eating' (Ellie made up that one) around the dinner table, the more we all relax and enjoy the meal together. When baby sees you having fun, laughing and talking over your food, the more they will mimic you and open their tiny mouths to their food. And if not, at least no one is crying!