FEELINGS ABOUT FOOD
Feeding is an area of child care that causes many mothers great concern. They wonder what to give their child to promote healthy development and how to encourage good eating patterns – but most often their biggest worry is that their child is not eating enough.
Food and what it conveys has great significance in most cultures. In the West it is very often seen as a means of expressing love. And love is the one thing a mother wants to show her baby. It is also true that preparing food with thought and care is a loving thing to do and when it is rejected, spat out and pushed away by your baby it takes a lot of self control not to lash out or feel personally affronted.
So let us get things into perspective because battles over food are a great waste of energy and emotion and if you inform yourself properly you will most likely find that you are worrying needlessly and creating a problem where none exists.
Firstly, a baby’s main source of food in the first year is milk. Before six months, solids are not usually necessary at all and when they are added afterwards they supplement the role of milk, supplying iron, roughage and extra protein and minerals. Remember that all children are individuals and need to be acknowledged as such. Your placid baby who took her bottle without trouble at three months will be developing her own personality with likes and dislikes at eight months. Because your baby rejects the food you give her it does not mean she is rejecting you. She may no longer enjoy the foods she relished before, so try a change of menu and keep your sense of proportion and humour!
On the other hand giving your baby something to eat every time she grizzles can lead to a life-long dependency on food as a panacea. Propping a biscuit in your baby’s hand when she is niggly may keep her quiet, but it does not prove she was hungry. After the first few months she is more likely to be bored and frustrated than starving. In later life she could continue reaching for food every time she is unhappy, frustrated or under stress.
Food allergy. The most likely cause of allergic reaction to food in babies is cow’s milk protein. Breast fed babies are seven times less likely to develop allergies and they are not allergic to their mother’s milk except in the rare instances of lactose intolerance or galactosemia – although allergens may occasionally pass into the mother’s milk. Allergy to cow’s milk is possible even if the formula has been modified, evaporated or humanised. It is far more likely if ordinary pasteurised milk is used.