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    Baby Led Weaning more tips by Natalie Peall founder of Baby Led Weaning Cookbook

    Tip No.1: Set realistic expectations about food dropping and gagging Your baby will view the food you offer in the same way that he does his toys, so don’t be surprised if a lot of it ends up on the floor. Expect lots of gagging and try not to confuse this with choking: a choking baby will make no sound and rapidly turn blue. Gagging describes when your baby turns very red and coughs/splutters very loudly (almost as if they might be sick). This is your baby’s way of learning how to move food around in their mouth and prepare to swallow, so although rather unpleasant to listen to, it’s actually a positive sound! Tip No.2: Stay positive around the 8-9 month mark At this age some parents start to get fed up because baby still isn’t eating a lot of food and they want to see faster progression, however, this is totally normal. Some babies don’t really get to grips with self-feeding until they are over a year old . On down days, try to remember that this is only a temporary learning stage in your baby’s development. Continue to offer your baby healthy, balanced meals and try not to let the uneaten food grind you down; your baby is learning and is probably having loads of fun, so persist – I promise it will be worth it! Tip No.3: It’s OK to have off days If your baby cries when food is offered or is not interested in trying food one day, don’t force him, take the food away without any reaction and try again at his next meal. You don’t want him to learn that he can get a reaction from you by not eating his food. Just like us, babies appetites will differ from day to day.  Tip No.4: It does get easier, I promise! There may be times you feel like you are constantly feeding your baby, whether it’s meals, snacks or milk feeds. I remember my NCT group moaning a lot particularly around the 9 month mark because we felt like we were constantly serving a meal or breastfeeding/preparing bottles which make getting out of the house quite a challenge! However it’s hopefully reassuring to know that by the time your baby reaches 12 months, he’s likely to only want two milk feeds a day, morning and night, so your only daytime feeding duties will involve solid food! Tip No.5: Slow and steady wins the race If you have concerns that your baby is making really slow progress, just remember that some mothers decide to exclusively breastfeed until 12 months and delay weaning. There is always so much pressure put on mothers and I don’t think weaning should be another one. Weaning takes as long as it will take because your baby cannot be force-fed, your goal is for your baby to have a healthy and happy relationship with food for the rest of his life — so what does a few months matter in the grand scheme of things? Tip No.6: Keep notes You might find it handy to have a food notebook so that you can jot down any new foods or meals your baby has particularly enjoyed so that you can make them again. This is also really useful to refer back to if your child is unwell, teething or becoming a little bit fussy. It’s handy to have a list of go-to recipes that might entice your little one to eat and make life that little bit easier for you too. If your baby is teething then try my teething soup, mighty mash or bubble and squeak bake, these have proved very successful with many teething babies. Tip No.7: Fussy eating is normal Firstly, I want to say this is totally normal! It’s one of those things in motherhood that comes and bites you on the bum just as everything is going swimmingly. My advice is to continue offering balanced meals. OK, your toddler might ignore the vegetables, but you cannot force feed your child, it is your child’s responsibility to feed himself. Tricks that have helped us are:
    1. No snacks 2 hours before a meal
    2. Keep snacks light – fruit and veg are best
    3. Don’t react to food refusal, take the food away without fuss and either pop it in the fridge and try again in 30 mins or hope for better luck at your next meal
    4. Exercise is key to a healthy appetite so get out and have some fun running around
    5. Keep emotions away from the dinner table and avoid showing any joy or disappointment, you don’t want your baby to know that refusing food gets a reaction from you because he then might play on this to get his favourite foods at every meal.
    If you are very worried that your child is not eating enough vitamins you could try the following:
    • Grate vegetables into meals like Bolognese
    • Offer home-made smoothies in a beaker
    • Spiralise vegetables to look like pasta
    This is a hard phase to deal with, as you have worked so hard to avoid this. However, this phase happens to many toddlers, regardless of how they are weaned. Natalie Peall is the founder of Baby Led Weaning Cook Book

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