Introduction to solids and weaning is a process of exploring, learning about foods, learning textures and also transiting from completely milk-fed which could be breast milk or formula milk to adult-like eating behavior. So, imitating an adult is a crucial part of this whole process too.
Consulting a professional is important because we are in a world where there are several theories that co-exist like baby-led weaning, traditional weaning, pureed food, assisted and non-assisted weaning. So, a professional will help you demystify what all these terms means and help you find the right approach which needs to be chosen based on your circumstances. Like for instance, if you live in a large-Indian family where everyone has a say in how to bring up your child, it may not be prudent to take a complete theoretical baby-led weaning approach sometimes, because there is a lot of push back from your family resulting in added grievance and anxiety for the mother.
If you are living in a situation where you can make complete decision and be responsible for those decisions without any interference, then you can absolutely choose to have a cold-turkey approach to baby-led weaning. Personally, I recommend combining different approaches, which includes an autonomous learning while eating, for the child. It includes an approach to also eat independently yet with the parent.
Few essential things that need to be learned in this process are:
Eating is an imitation game: so, monkeys see, monkeys do.
There should always be a primary caregiver or an adult who is eating with the child so that they can imitate and learn.
A child should never be crying and being force-fed. Eating must not be associated as a negative activity where the child is crying and force-fed.
There should not be so much entertainment and distraction while eating that the child starts to react in a way as if they are performing and starts to fuss even more. So, exclude any excessive entertainment and distraction while the child is being fed.
A child should not be walked around in the lap and shown birds and tress to distract them while eating.
Always allow the child, to hold few things in their hands to explore the food such as child-friendly spoons and forks, also textures that they can use to self-feed.
In addition to this, if your child allows you, then you can feed the child with a spoon provided you are choosing a natural weaning process where you are being participative in offering foods as well as encouraging a child to eat by himself / herself.
Weaning and introduction of solids is a process in which we look at being holistic, creating a nurturing environment and also where we look at food as a staple. Additionally, we suggest an experiment in the beginning from 6-9 months where we encourage the child to explore and build a healthy, nurturing and a positive relationship with food.
This is why it is essential to consult a child nutrition expert or toddler nutrition consultant for toddler weaning, so they can help you find the right course of action as well as demystify theories on weaning.
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