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Healthybaby because baby is soaking it all in
Baby may have added sitting and crawling to their repertoire in recent months. This newfound mobility means new adventures, new dangers, and new fears around separation.
Picky eating is directly connected to baby’s recent stops in the flow—increased mobility and stranger anxiety. As their world expands, they seek more “choice” in what they do, where they go, and what they eat.
The stream is widening. As baby discovers the concept of “where” they use pointing to get your attention, to signal their interest, and to share a moment of connection.
Gather several materials with different textures. A hand towel, onesie, wet or dry wipe, a silk scarf, or a fluffy throw are all great options. Support your baby so they are standing upright and allowing their feet to touch one of the fabrics, and then move them over to a different one. Watch your baby’s reaction and see if you can discern a preference. If your baby is already walking or about to walk, you can set up a pathway of different textures, and hold their hand as they step across them.
Allowing your baby to experience different tactile experiences through this sweet and gentle exercise will activate their brain and enhance communication between multiple, complex neuronal networks. Indeed, tactile stimulation in infancy has been linked to visual-motor functioning, gross motor development, and emotion regulation in childhood.
Start by making sure your expectations around how much food baby needs are realistic. They may have grown a lot in their first year, but growth slows in year two, and baby’s stomach is still only the size of a clenched fist. Your job is to provide a variety of healthy and nutritious foods at each meal, not piling up a plate and forcing them to finish.
• Only stock foods that are acceptable to you, involve baby in food prep whenever possible, and model eating the same choices at mealtimes.
• Let baby feed YOU first.
• Make sure to pair new choices with some old favorites, and offer foods that baby can feed themselves alongside new consistencies to explore. Continue to offer new choices, but remember that it can take up to 15 tries for them to like a new food or texture.
• Sit together as a family whenever possible and take “polite bites” of all the food offered at the table.
•Let them decide what and how much they eat. Let them practice asking for more (agency!) and choosing between what is offered at each meal.
We want baby to be aware of being hungry or full and not force feed them. Help them to make good choices, but back off when there’s no interest. It can feel like they’re not getting enough, but chances are that baby is eating sufficiently over a 24-hour period. Always ask baby’s provider if any specific concerns come up.
When offering baby cut-up food, make sure it’s generally soft as their jaw isn’t quite ready for cracking hard foods, and continue to be vigilant about choking. Rule of thumb: any bites bigger than the circumference of the base of baby’s thumb can get caught in the trachea. To avoid some of the mess (mess is the name of the game at this age), offer just a few pieces of food at a time instead of a full plate. And, whenever possible, serve baby whatever you’re eating.
Babies work hard to feed themselves. They may rake food at first, but they are actually practicing their pincer grasp–a precursor to writing–when they pick up small pieces of food. They are working on hand eye coordination to get the food to their mouths, the small muscles in their hands to feed themselves, and on the musculature of their jaw, tongue, and cheeks when chewing and swallowing. Eating is a social activity, and watching others eat, sharing food, and taking turns with conversation are valuable lessons.
Submerge one wet or dry wipe in warm water and another in cold. Wrap one wipe around each of your baby's hands or allow your little one to grip, holding for a sec≈ond or two and then switch sides. Repeat this exercise, but this time add a drop of essential oil to each wipe and allow your baby to smell the wipes before wrapping each hand. At the end massage your little one’s fingers.
During this exercise you are engaging both sides of your baby’s brain at once. Bilateral activation helps to strengthen and build new pathways on the corpus callosum, which is the bridge that connects left and right hemispheres. This can aid your baby's motor coordination, speech and language development, and emotion regulation as they get older.
Science is constantly gathering information about the impact of pesticide exposure on developing bodies and brains, and abaout pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables. Organic options exist in a variety of grocery stores and markets and are worth the effort. Let our friends at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) help. They offer some great resources on what to buy safely and what to avoid (The Dirty Dozen). You’ve got this.
Yes on all three? Great! One or more No’s? Let’s talk about it.
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