As an adult, eating is a pretty easy thing. No matter what your food of choice, an adult can look at it and determine the appropriate way to transfer said item from the table to their mouth. Generally speaking, we don’t make messes, we don’t throw tantrums, and we don’t harm ourselves in the process. Babies, however, do not have this set of skills. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about feeding a baby.
1. Bibs don’t really work that well. A bib covers one tiny swatch of clothing beneath the chin, but when you’re feeding a baby, that stuff goes everywhere. Bibs don’t do anything to stop food from getting in their hair, on the ground, on their pants, behind their ears… so, while it may save you a tiny bit of your mess, it will not solve all your problems. That’s what we call “false assurance.”
2. Messes are inevitable. Along the lines of that bib lesson comes the fact that messes are entirely unavoidable. Hands, face, neck, hair, ears, floor – food gets everywhere. Understand this. Embrace this. This will happen.
3. Remove all jewelry before feeding the baby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of pureed sweet potatoes crusting my watch. It’s a little thing, but helpful. Take off the watch, the rings and the bracelets, because food will end up everywhere.
4. When a baby doesn’t like something, you’ll know about it. They make faces. They cry. They pound their hands on the table. Actually, I guess it’s pretty similar to adults. Your baby will make sure to let you know what they don’t like, so don’t be startled by the negative reactions. Consider those “learning experiences.”
5. Eating can be frustrating. Between the textures, the inability for the body to catch up to what the mind is doing, the different flavors and the fact that this food is not mom, babies can get pretty frustrated at eating time. This happens. Meal time is a roller coaster – ride it.
6. There are way too many baby food options. The amount of baby food brands is completely and totally out of control. Why are there so many options that all look exactly the same? A PUREE IS A PUREE. This is not difficult. Oh but that one is Organic, this one isn’t, that one has “Natural Flavoring” (MSG), this one has another word I can’t pronounce… it’s exhausting.
7. Babies will gag themselves. They gag on food. They gag on spoons. They gag on their own hands if you let them. When you give your baby solids and they start to gag, I assure you, you will lose your mind. But one thing I’ve learned is that the gagging is part of the process for them – just like everything else, they have to learn how to do things us big people take for granted, and chewing and swallowing is one of them. So, don’t get your undies in a knot. They’re fine.
8. Food temperature is a really big deal. Some babies are more particular about this than others, but if her food is not warm, my daughter will absolutely not touch it. Actually, I take that back – she’ll throw it far, far away from her. But it will not be consumed.
9. Let them play with their food. Personally, I find this to be a really important step in the process. Let your kids grab and play with new foods – it helps them get accustomed to these new feels and smells before shoveling it into their face. So, I know it’s counter intuitive, but at this stage, let them play with their food.
10. Don’t stress too much. Most importantly, don’t stress yourself out over what you’re doing right or wrong for your baby. Yes, do your research, talk to your pediatrician and make the best choices you can, but know that your baby is going to be just fine. It’s all going to work out.
Remember, everything is going to be okay. Just prepare yourself for the messes that will happen, teach your baby what you can, and don’t stress the little things. You’ll get through this.