For parents, complementary feeding is about ensuring that your baby gets adequate nutrition to grow and develop well whereas for your baby, it is an incredible adventure of new tastes, textures and smells (not to mention the amazing discovery of what happens when food is thrown onto the floor!). Continue to offer your baby a well-balanced variety of foods as you prepare her to one day join the rest of the family at the dining table:
Be realistic – you cannot expect your baby to eat without making a huge mess, can you? After all, her motor and chewing skills are not fully developed yet. Simply line the floor with newspapers or an old bed sheet. The sheet can be washed and used again for the next mealtime.
Spoons & fingers
Encourage your baby to eat with a spoon. However, if she is not too keen, let her use her fingers. It is okay if she tries to grab her cereal with her fingers as long as they are clean. Alternatively, you can offer her finger foods from about 8 months onwards in addition to her cereal meal.
Colourful plates, bowls & cutlery
A colourful, non-breakable plastic spoon will be more appealing to your baby than a plain one. So use attractive, baby-friendly bowls, plates, spoons and cups to make mealtimes more interesting.
Serve foods creatively
Foods that look the same can be boring. Present them in different ways: you can cut bread, fruits or vegetables into various shapes and sizes, or serve fresh fruits as juices.
The high chair
Use a baby high chair with a rim around the edge of the tray so that food does not fall onto the floor. It should also have a restraining strap or bar to keep your baby from slipping down between the tray and the seat.
Keep calm at all times
If your baby does not seem to be enjoying her food, do not worry and do not force her. Learning to eat takes time and practice, so be patient. Do not expect her to be able to eat like older children.
ALL ON THE FLOOR, NONE IN THE TUMMY
You may wonder if your baby is getting enough food since most of it ends up on the floor. You need not be overly concerned if she is still being breastfed as breast milk provides her with most of the nutrients she needs. However, do be persistent in getting some food into your baby – while allowing baby to feed herself, you can ensure she gets some food into her little tummy by spooning food into her mouth yourself.