Have you ever thought about how foreign, unusual and plain scary it might be for your growing baby to start eating solid food?
Just imagine yourself in this situation: you are in an exotic country and you are offered something mysterious on a stick. The person who is offering it to you is super enthusiastic about your tasting it because....well, he knows you are going to love it! It's THAT good, he says!
What are you going to do?
Devour it with gusto? Hardly.
Even though you are a grown adult who knows a thing or two about food. After all, you have been doing this thing called eating for years!
Now take your baby. The world is new to her. EVERYTHING is new to her. She barely knows where her body parts are, let alone anything about strange looking mushy food that smells nothing like mommy's milk.
She is hesitant and her protective instincts kick in. We, as parents, need to be mindful of that. And instead of being that enthusiastic voice pushing something at them WE believe tastes good, we need to gently help them along in their discovery process.
The most important thing is to manage our own behavior in such a way that we help the child continue feeling connected to us when it comes to eating. When there is connection, there is trust. When we push our agenda on to them, regardless of how old they are, we damage that trust.
As they wean off breast milk and being physically close to you, their mom, they continue to seek that same emotional connection to you in the very place where they found it at birth: during feeding time.
What goes on at the table during their meal is extremely important. One of the most helpful things you can do for your child during the transition from breast milk to solids is to continue that emotional connection with him. Look into his eyes, talk to him, stay engaged, act interested (I know it's tough when you do it day in and day out, but try), and even take a few bites of their food yourself! It's good for him to see you eat the same thing along with him.
As the child reaches the toddler and pre-school years, the dynamic changes as she starts to feed herself. But our job as a parent, remains: stay emotionally connected by sitting down at the table, sharing a meal with her, talking to her, laughing with her, looking into her eyes and teaching her to enjoy the process. And never apply any pressure.
I know being a mom is the hardest job the in world. But you were made to do it. Keep at it and keep building the trust.
What are some other things you do at the table to keep emotionally connected to your child?