Weaning and food quantity
We all want to know how much our baby should be eating. How much is enough? How much is too little? Why isn’t my baby eating the same as my friends baby? Who is doing it right?
It’s a parents’ instinct to seek out these answers and to know they are doing the right thing for their baby. As a children’s nutritionist I get asked this question all the time and I can almost sense the pure disappointment in parent’s voices when I tell them there are not set guidelines for how much. So what should we do and how do we know if our baby is eating enough?…..
Feed to appetite
Well my advice is to ‘Feed to appetite’. This means you decide what to feed your baby and then put trust in your baby to eat however much they want (within reason!). There are no evidence-based portion sizes for infants. Why? Many reasons and here are the key things to remember…..
- Every baby is different
- Appetite will vary from day to day and week to week
- Teething, illness, tiredness, weather, developmental stages and growth spurts will all affect a baby’s appetite
- If their appetite has been reduced for a few days or weeks, don’t panic, it will usually pick up again and they’ll make up for anything they lost out on.
- Fluctuations in appetite and very normal for babies and young children. They aren’t programmed to think about 3 meals a day yet and will eat when their body needs to eat.
Look out for signs of fullness such as clamping their mouth shut, turning their head away, pushing the food away, becoming restless, frustrated and upset when you feed them. These are all ways your baby is trying to communicate with you. They are trying to say “I’m not hungry” “I don’t want that right now”.
Put yourself in their shoes
Try to put yourself in your baby’s shoes. How might it make you feel if someone was pushing you to eat even though you have told them repeatedly that you don’t want it?
As parents we want our babies to eat well and eat lots to help them grow. It goes against our instinct to rest until they’ve had a good fill but try to put trust in your baby that they will eat when they are hungry. Allowing their natural satiety cues to be in charge of portion sizes is not always easy but it’s the best way to make them feel comfortable and more in control at mealtimes. Putting trust in your baby’s ability to ‘eat-what-they-need’ helps to set up positive eating habits for the future and can mean more enjoyable and stress-free mealtimes. Now there’s an incentive!
If you want to find out more about baby weaning. our online Weaning course gives you access to a full weaning workshop with Catherine Lippe, Registered Nutritionist, as well as 8 weeks of support as you start on this exciting new journey with your baby.