Believe it or not, from birth your child can regulate their own food intake. So it is your job as a parent to learn and listen to your child’s signs that they are full from the very beginning.
Some parents do not learn to do this and end up overfeeding their child. Overfeeding will cause your baby to ignore his natural ability to stop eating when he is full, and can lead him to continue to overeat throughout his life.
Even a baby as young as 6 months old can tell you when he is full. Pay attention to your baby and watch for these indicators:
- Turns his head from the spoon
- Swats at the spoon
- Closes his lips tight as the spoon approaches
- Spits out every spoon of food you put in his mouth
Note that a baby may not be interested in solids at first and may do any number of these things in the beginning. Just give him a few days and try again. Don’t pressure him and know that he will eat what he needs to grow. If you are concerned that he isn’t getting enough, you can talk to his doctor for advice.
As long as your child is developing and growing, healthy and full of energy, your doctor will probably agree he is getting enough to eat.
Get Your Juice On
Juice is healthy, to a point, as long as you remember that some beverages that are called “juice” aren’t juice at all. Be sure to read the label and give your baby juice that is 100% fruit juice. Anything less is offering too much sugar and not much nutrition. Even at 100%, juice is not something that you have to give your baby if you don’t want to. When you do, don’t introduce it before 6 months and don’t give more than 6 oz. a day.
Once your baby is two years old, you can just feed him what your family eats as long as it’s healthy. Offer a variety of foods and include lean protein, whole grains, fruits, reduced-fat dairy foods, and vegetables.
Your toddler may resist new foods and request the same foods over and over again. A good way to combat this is to offer them a couple of spoons of new foods along with their old favorites. Keep trying and don’t make a big deal out of the new food.
Toddlers eat small amounts at a time because of the size of their stomach. Because of this, they usually need to have two snacks and three meals a day to prevent hunger. Snacks can also fill in when your child doesn’t eat enough at meals for one reason or another. Just make the snacks nutritious and think of them as an addition to a meal and not a replacement. Some snack ideas you can offer include:
- Cooked and chopped vegetables
- Whole grain crackers
- Hard boiled or scrambled eggs