One of the most challenging aspects of parenting, hands down, is mealtimes. I won’t lie, having four children only increases that challenge and with all four of them being fairly fussy eaters, food has often been the source of many tears, frustrations and arguments over the years. The thing is, I’ve tried really hard to make sure that any associations the kids have with food is positive, and with two of them having allergies and intolerances its not always been easy. There are so many pressures piled onto parents when it comes to feeding their kids- and news reports on childhood obesity and related illnesses are increasing the overwhelming necessity to get it right.
The Infant & Toddler Forum has been featured on Ghostwritermummy before- check out my posts on toddler portion sizes, and the Tot it Up food tracker here. The latest development on the site is the launch of their really hand guide Ten Steps for Feeding Babies, an amazing resource designed to help parents feel confident in all aspects of feeding, right from the word go.
How you feed your baby is often an emotional choice as well as a practical one- and while debate still rumbles over whether or not breast is truly best, I stand by my conviction that it is a personal choice. The guidance you receive officially will always promote breastfeeding as there’s simply so much evidence to support it as the most nutritional method, but there can be so many reasons why a mother may choose not to do this. There may also be many reasons why a mother cannot breastfeed, and again this decision should be respected and supported. The reason I mention this is because the Ten Steps for Feeding Babies states as its first step,
Breastfeeding helps protect your baby from illness
and goes on to advise that while it is not always easy for all mums, support and guidance is out there should you need it. The message being, we’re not here to judge, simply to advise and support. With 60 % of surveyed parents reporting that they felt anxious, judged, guilty and lonely when asked about their experiences of parenting in general, this is a crucial aspect to the guide.
A supportive resource
With breastfeeding disclaimers out of the way (!), the Ten Steps for Feeding Babies is a really handy resource for new parents, and I think its a great way to help educate younger families who may not have support networks readily available to help out. With so many different family dynamics and lots of other reasons why the traditional ‘village’ is dwindling, resources such as this can be so helpful in aiding parents to make informed decisions about all aspects of feeding. The steps are clear, easy to understand and supported by up to date guidance that takes into account the pressures families can face. I love this.
The survey ran by the Infant & Toddler Forum also found that
over one third (35 per cent) of parents reported that they often put more value on the feeding advice they received from online communities and social media than from healthcare professionals, and around one in ten (11 per cent) felt pressured and stressed by the volume of information they were receiving. Eight per cent even felt judged because others suggested their baby should be making more progress.
Parenting isn’t easy, and the minute your baby is born you’re bombarded with opinions, ideas and beliefs that you then need to somehow decipher and mould into your own shapes. Sometimes all we need is for someone to tell you the facts and allow you to find your own way with it all. The Ten Steps for Feeding Babies does exactly that, in my opinion. While its handy to know that your aunty gave your cousin mashed potato when he was 12 weeks old, its also handy to know that introducing solid food that early might not be best for your baby too. And when the lady next door swears your baby is hungry every time they cry and wastes no time in telling you so… just remember that YOU know best. Trust your instincts, and be led by your baby. As the guide states, your baby will let you know when they’ve had enough milk- and in no time you’ll be able to decipher the different cries and what they mean. Its not always hunger!
There are two things in particular I love about this guide.
When I was breastfeeding, often I was asked by other mums how I knew my babies had had enough milk. A valid question, seeing as boobs don’t come with measuring markers! The Ten Steps for Feeding Babies recognises this as a valid concern and offers advice on how to determine this, allowing you to develop your own intuitive parenting style. This, I believe, is invaluable and truly aids in strengthening the bond between parent and child.
Another fantastic aspect is the recognition of allergies, and an introduction to a really simple way of identifying possible allergens when you introduce solid food. With Luka and Elsie, we knew really early that they were allergic to cow’s milk protein, but other allergies were a real possibility as we started to introduce new foods to their diet. Having solid guidance on how to tackle the mountainous task of weaning on to ‘real’ food is fantastic.
Please do check out the Ten Steps for Feeding Babies resource, and when you’re ready you can move on to the toddler portion sizes information and the Tot it Up resources too.