What’s the Big Deal about Infant Self-feeding?

Infant Self-feeding

Today we have our resident Nursery Collective Kid Approved Food Blogger Rachel Cassidy, from Little Peeps Eats, discussing Infant Self-feeding and an awesome product called Mashblox!

The move towards infant self-feeding is gaining strength due to the many benefits, both for your child’s development and for family life. If your child is developmentally ready and you can get the confidence to trust in a ‘winging-it’ approach, as well as put up with the mess, you may see many great things come out of it. Here we outline various ways to help your child self-feed.

What’s the Big Deal about Infant Self-Feeding?

If your baby is ready to start eating solids there are generally two schools of thought on how to introduce them to new foods. The more common and traditional method is parent-led, where we spoon-feed purees to our baby, and the adult makes the decisions about which foods to serve, the texture and how much.

The other method is where your baby explores different kinds of food and makes the decisions about what to feed themselves. Baby-led weaning is one method of infant self-feeding that has become popular recently and offers many benefits for your child’s development.

In this article, we have partnered with Australian infant health business Mashblox to look further into what the big deal is about infant self-feeding.

Why have we traditionally fed purees?

One of the reasons why we conservatively lean towards purees comes from history. The idea of pulverising our food was popularised by one of the first proclaimed health gurus in the 1900s, Horace Fletcher, in a time that fibre was thought to carry disease. We’ve been doing it ever since, especially for our most vulnerable new arrivals. This pushed us towards spoon feeding and controlling intake, since cleaning liquid food spills off a cloth bib was a bigger deal back then.

It is easy to understand why first time Mums might lean towards what they traditionally understand should work, like parent-led feeding. Most maternal and child health care centres will recommend starting with purees, such as rice cereal, weet-bix, blended up fruit and vegetables and plain yoghurt. It’s what I did with my first born, and whilst he was a good eater, I must admit I quickly grew tired of the time I spent in the kitchen making baby purees. With my second born we moved onto baby-led weaning, which much easier and I enjoyed simply letting my bub take control of what they were eating and be introduced to solids from what the rest of the family was eating.

self-feeding

The benefits of self-feeding for your child’s development

Through baby-led weaning, you present your child with a range of age-appropriate food cut into shapes and sizes that they can grasp hold of, then let them choose what to try. This might include:

• Broccoli spears
• Fingers of toast
• Mini Rice cakes
• Watermelon fingers
• Pear slices
• Blueberries, chopped strawberries
• Grated carrot or apple
• Cheese sticks
• Fingers of ham, chicken or roast meat
• Meatballs
• Mini-muffins
• Mini pancakes

Some children just aren’t developmentally ready for these and other foods at the firmer end of the scale, so this needs to be considered per child, while taking into account parental confidence. This method of eating is a way to encourage your child to build a healthy relationship with food, by establishing intuitive self-regulation habits. Children who self-feed are less likely to become fussy eaters and less likely to develop overeating habits, since your baby is the best judge of when they’re full.

Fussy eating often doesn’t come from the taste of the food itself, but from how the food looks and feels when presented to your child. This is their first experience of ‘plating up’ that may see them going on to become food connoisseurs as adults!

Children this age love to feel different textures and discover things for themselves. If you present a range of colours and textures of inviting food, your child will be enticed to try all sorts of different things. They are also learning how to grasp and manoeuvre items, as well as discovering how it feels in their mouth. This kind of eating encourages motor skills as well as independence.

mashblox self-feeding

They key benefits of infant self-feeding

Self-feeding helps your child to recognise when they are full and encourages them to stop, rather than finishing everything on their plate or bowl, as a spoon is repeatedly bought to their lips before they are aware their belly is full. Self-feeding is a great start to self-regulating how much a child eats and learning to not overeat. They learn to connect food with an internal feeling of satiety instead of any external triggers.

“If all has gone well in their development, most kids have built-in instincts for how fast to eat and when to stop that are calibrated to their energy requirements. We just need to support those instincts to flourish into their childhood.”Alix, CEO, Founder and Inventor of Mashblox

If you introduce self-feeding, this frees you up to eat your own dinner, or help older siblings with theirs. This schedule means that your baby can eat with the family, starting a routine of sitting down to meals together, which is lovely for the family as a group.

• Your baby learns to control their own intake
• Learn about and explore food at their own pace
• Self-regulate for their energy requirements
• Encourage healthy eating patterns that carry through to childhood
• Become happy, independent eaters
• Develop motor skills
• Support a wide range of textures
• Benefits to family dynamics in that everyone’s able to focus on feeding themselves

Mashblox – Makes Mealtimes Fun

Baby-led weaning can be a messy process, because you are allowing your child to explore their own food, as well as put it literally anywhere. Hopefully, it ends up in their mouth, but it will probably also end up in their hair, on the walls and floor, on you, the family cat and a bunch of other places.

Younger children will also be learning about the gag reflex through self-feeding, which means they will often stick things too far into the back of their mouths before they work out not to do this. We’ve also acknowledged that some children’s gag reflex is not well developed enough for adult textures. Some won’t like having spoons shoved into their mouths by other people, but will happily explore this process themselves.

Some parents are reluctant to try self-feeding because of the mess, or because their child doesn’t seem ready for it. Some may try initially and give up. Others may start with parent-led purees and meet ‘fussiness’ from the start, with babies rejecting basic healthy foods like mashed banana, mashed avocado or porridge. Often this fussiness is not from the taste, but from the texture or how the food looks, or displeasure in being spoon-fed, problems which can be sorted easily by using Mashblox.

“Not all children are developmentally ready for typical Baby Led Weaning methods. The gag reflex isn’t always enough in the early days, but Mashblox offers self-feeding options of broader textures than just finger foods! (Without the messy floor)”Alix, Mashblox

Mashblox encourages motor skill development, independent learning and exploration, and turns mealtimes into a fun activity for your child. They are unique, and unlike anything you or your children have seen before. These clear hollow silicone blocks can be filled with food, no matter how squishy or messy. Children find them intriguing, and play with them, stack them, grab, squeeze, suck on and drop them.

They are engineered for minimum spillage of “mash potato consistency” foods and turn inside out for a simple clean. They can also used as a teether, without teaching snacking habits.

Some ideas for what to offer your child in Mashblox:
• Weetbix & milk
• Scrambled egg
• Mash pumpkin, potato or carrot
• Avocado
• Cottage pie
• Spaghetti bolognaise

Check out these quotes from some very happy Mashblox customers:

“Picked up a Mashblox… and it was a big hit! Banana usually gets tossed and not eaten, put it in the Mashblox and it was devoured!” Lauren, Mum to 11-month-old Owen.
“We have had success! Tried spinach, green peas and a little bit of coconut yoghurt. She is still so curious and loves to investigate the Mashblox and explore what is inside. Very excited that she was so happy to eat green veg. The Mashblox really makes it fun.” Kat, 14-month-old Madelyn’s Mum.
“You can’t just give one to the baby because every one wants one. Kids of all ages love them. A pleasure for parents to watch mealtime being purely joyful.” Ruby, Mum to 9-month-old Angelica, Eduardo 18 months and Trinity 3 years.

SPECIAL 15% OFF DISCOUNT OFFER!

mashblox offer

As an exclusive for The Nursery Collective readers, Mashblox are offering 15% discount using code #selffeeding4thewin at checkout. Head here to shop!

Resources:
Baby self feeding: solid food solutions to create lifelong healthy eating habits. Nancy Ripton & Melanie Potock
Feeding my kid
Mashblox has engaged four Universities between Australia and UK to coordinate further trials into self-feeding. All references for their research case can be found HERE.

Rachel Cassidy

*This post is a collaboration between Little Peeps Eats and Mashblox, published on The Nursery Collective

Rachel Cassidy Little Peeps EatsRachel is the Founder of Little Peeps Eats, as well as being a mum to two cheeky boys, aged 5 and 3. Rachel has experienced fussy eating from her kids and understands how stressful mealtimes can be. Little Peeps Eats was developed for Rachel to share her own experiences, tips and tricks, healthy recipes, lunchbox ideas, and inspiration on how to make mealtimes fun!

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Breastfeeding Confidently and Comfortably with Smylyn Bubby Covers : Review by Fi Morrison

Smylyn Bubby Cover Review

Fi Morrison, Nursery Collective Mama Blogger Expert, reviews the Smylyn Bubby Cover.

I recently welcomed my second son to the world, embarking on my second breastfeeding journey with a (slightly) clearer idea of what I was doing. After breastfeeding my firstborn for 14 months, I was aware of the different types of holds, the mechanics of getting a baby to latch, and how to express for bottle feeds. I thought I would feel confident and comfortable breastfeeding the second time round.

However, that hasn’t necessarily been the case, because what hasn’t changed for me is my discomfort feeding in public.Continue Reading →

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The Things I didn’t know about Breastfeeding

The Things I didn't Know about Breastfeeding

Lisa Collis, Owner and Creator of Smylyn Bubby Covers shares her story about all the things she didn’t know about breastfeeding when she had her first baby.

My breastfeeding journey started like I am sure many do. I was pregnant and keen to do all the right things. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby, but in my circle of friends and family I had not ever really seen it, talked about it or understood what it involved.Continue Reading →

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Infant Reflux : One Mum’s Journey through Silent Reflux

INFANT REFLUX

Today we are chatting to Mum Sarah Stacker about infant reflux. Sarah is a dear friend of mine, and I have a huge amount of admiration for her after watching her journey through infant reflux with her daughter, which can only be described as she once put it , as “hell on earth”. I’ve been wanting to share her inspirational story for some time, to help raise awareness with new mums on how to cope with an infant reflux diagnosis. Thank you Sarah for sharing your story.

Infant Reflux : One Mum’s Journey through Silent Reflux

Thanks so much for joining us Sarah! My daughter had a very mild form of infant reflux which we were able to manage without medication, but I know there are very differing degrees of reflux that a baby can suffer from – some that absolutely require medication to survive the emotional and physical onslaught reflux can bring. Can you tell us about your experience with your daughter, Amedee?

Where do I start in trying to describe our experience? It was like being in a boxing match – but imagine not being a boxer and not knowing how to defend yourself, and taking hit after hit after hit with no one able to rescue you, and no bell at the end of the round so you don’t know when it is going end. You might get a reprieve for a day and you latch on to the thought “maybe things are changing”, “maybe she’s growing out of it” (which is what all the doctors kept saying) until the crying, the screaming, the not sleeping and the pulling off the breast return – and just keep coming.

Amedee was an extremely unsettled newborn, but as a new mum with nothing to compare it to, you just roll with the punches thinking it’s normal – and that you’re stuck in this hell hole. She was formally diagnosed with silent reflux at 3 months along with failure to thrive, and finally the paediatrician prescribed medication and we were admitted to hospital for tube feeding. However, that was just the beginning of our reflux hell hole.

INFANT REFLUX - ONE MUMS STORY
Amedee at 3 months – sleeping upright in hospital to stop her refluxing, and being tube fed

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BIBaDO Catch-It-All Cover-All Bib : Review by Fi Morrison

BIBaDO review

I’ve always been the kind of person who hates mess. While I’ve never been titled a “neat freak”, there is something about muck and grime that really bothers me. As a primary teacher and someone working with children for over 10 years, this was bad enough. (I’ll give you one word – glitter!).

However becoming a parent opened my eyes to a whole other ball game of mess. Many people tell you that there is so much that you’re unprepared for in motherhood. And to some degree, I guess I knew mess would be involved (cause, babies). BUT I didn’t realise the degree of messiness would steadily escalate over the coming months – and years.Continue Reading →

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Introducing solids to your baby as a new mum

Introducing Solids to Your New Baby As New Mum

My journey through Baby Led Weaning and Solids - By Fi Morrison

A big thank you to Fi Morrison for sharing her experience with introducing solids to her baby as a new Mum x

Our "introduction to solids" journey began over 7 months ago, when my son was 4 months old. I was eager to start him on solids, because it seemed to be another “milestone” he could meet. Another step in his development, signaling that he was growing more and more with each passing day (how I could wish those younger days back!). I eagerly did the “mum thing” by creating purees from scratch – chopping, steaming and blending countless vegetables and fruits. I did this consistently for a couple of months, but not because I enjoyed it. No, it lost its novelty factor within a week. I continued on blending fruits and veg because I thought I was giving my son the best chance for a nutritious, healthy diet. And because the thought of baby-led weaning frightened me.

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The “BF” Edit

The Breastfeeding Edit

Our Favourite Breastfeeding Products!

* Cover image courtesy of Emily Nelson Art

Today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week (Aug 1-7, 2017) which is aimed at encouraging Mums to breastfeed their children for at least the first six months of their baby’s life. Breastfeeding my babies was one of the most difficult challenges for me as a new Mum, and I was fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed both of them with a lot of help and support! I barely made it to 6 months with my son, but made it to almost a year with my daughter and probably would have fed her for longer if she wasn’t so adamant that she was done (headstrong from the very beginning!).

It’s so important to talk about the fact that breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to every Mum and that it can be incredibly hard in the early days – but, with the right information and support systems in place, most mums can successfully breastfeed. Read about my breastfeeding journey here plus some fabulous Breastfeeding tips from Jessica McCarroll at First in Breast Dressed. If you’re struggling in your feeding journey, please reach out to a Lactation consultant, or pop over to our Facebook support Group FIND YOUR VILLAGE – our lovely group of Mums would love to support you!

In celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and to support all of our Breastfeeding Mamas, this Edit is all about sharing our favourite Breast-feeding friendly products from our wonderful Nursery Collective boutiques and services - and as always, some fantastic, exclusive offers!

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Mothers Day Edit

By Fi Morrison

This year is my very first Mother’s Day and I have to be honest, I’m pretty darn excited. Not completely for selfish reasons (although, which mum doesn’t like to have their ONE day of pampering a year?!). I am excited about celebrating almost a year of starting my motherhood journey, and spending time being loved and appreciated by my son (and husband). And as this is our one allocated day of the year to be a little bit spoilt, how can we not take this opportunity to find some amazing Mother’s Day gifts for ourselves (unless you are one of the lucky mums whose husband is a good gift giver… anyone?!). So if you’re looking to give hubby (and your kids) a nudge in the right direction, or find something for your own Mum, make sure you check out this brilliant range of gifts from our Mother’s Day Edit! - Love, Fi xxx

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BREASTFEEDING TIPS & FREE NEW BABY CHECKLIST

“Happy mummy, happy baby” - I’m a passionate believer in this mantra. I for one am totally pro-breastfeeding but I also believe that Fed is Best and that every mama needs to do what’s right for her and her bub, whether that be breastfeeding or formula feeding. But working that out as a new mum is easier said than done, especially when you have the crazy hormones and mama guilt to add to the mix!

How I would feed wasn’t really even on the radar during my first pregnancy. Most of my focus went into the kind of birth I wanted (which I didn’t get... but that’s another blog post!), decorating his nursery, choosing countless adorable outfits and making sure I had all the essentials. I did endless research on finding the perfect pram and car seat and had everything set to go for his arrival. I’d read the most popular parenting books, seen most of my friends have babies and thought I was as prepared as I could be. (I was also adamant he wouldn’t watch a screen for the first 3 years of his life – ha, I really had no idea!)

I planned to breastfeed and that was that. It looked easy enough and seemed to be the most natural thing on earth. I had my breastpump and a few bottles ready (so hubby could do some feeds), breastpads, feeding bras and lanolin cream. Ready to go.

But oh the PAIN!!! The toe curling, every-single-muscle-in-my-sore-body-clenched-in-agony pain!! What the hell was that about? It made the recovery of my last minute c-section feel like an absolute walk in the park! Before I’d even been discharged I ended up hooked to a hospital grade pump to give my boobs a rest because they were actually bleeding. I still remember being horrified to see blood in my son’s mouth. And wow, the engorgement. At one point I think each boob was actually bigger than my head. Yup, here’s the photographic evidence:

I don’t think I’d be exaggerating in saying that for me, it was probably the single most difficult thing I had to cope with in the early days of being a new mum. But I persevered, despite having to deal with a poor latch, flat nipples, thrush, blisters and blebs, and a baby that was a complete and utter milk-sucking barracuda. I used to dread each painful feed. I remember sitting on the couch one night in guilty tears after sending my hubby to the shops to buy formula, but then being unable to give it to my son due to the guilt. My hubby thought I was crazy. I was crazy. Crazy on pain, lack of sleep and guilt for not being able to do this most natural of things and feed my baby! And yet despite all this he was happily gaining weight and that kept me going. But it took almost 8 weeks before we finally managed to feed pain free.

I think it’s super important to talk about the fact that breastfeeding can be unbelievably hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I wished the midwives had talked about this in our antenatal classes. I wish I’d been a little more prepared. In the end my breastfeeding journey with my son ended around 6 months due to some other medical issues and by then we were already combination feeding. But with my daughter I knew what was coming. I asked for help early and we managed to successfully breastfeed for almost a year before she decided she’d had enough one morning and that was that. But that’s just my daughter, headstrong and already knowing what she wanted at that age!

So at this juncture I’d like to introduce our guest poster, the lovely Jessica McCarroll. Jess is the owner of First in Breast Dressed, one of the boutiques here at The Nursery Collective and her passion is “supporting Mumkind, one feed at a time”. She’s also a second-time Mum and we’ve asked her to share what she would have told her first-time Mum self about breastfeeding. We hope you enjoy her tips!

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BREASTFEEDING: Tips from a second time Mum

"Firstly I would tell myself to stop and smell the roses and chill the fridge out! Hindsight is a wonderful thing and here are some of my hints and tips for breastfeeding success now that I’m a second-time Mum.

Milk doesn’t make milk. Water makes milk
There are many old wives’ tales out there about increasing your milk supply and believe me I’ve tried them all! I absolutely believe that Placenta pills (yes I had my placenta encapsulated), Lactation Cookies and Nursing Tea have helped my milk supply this time around. There is one thing that the experts all agree on, however, drink as much water as you can! Trick yourself into doing so by any means needed. For me, that meant ditching the bottled supermarket water and treating myself to an awesome re-usable drink bottle. The breastfeeding Mum needs more hydration than the average woman. The exact amount is up for debate, but as a general guide 3L per day is going to get you there. If you are dehydrated, it is much harder for your body to function including producing milk. So get drinking!

Relax
How easy does that sound? But really no matter how many times you have contorted yourself into every uncomfortable position known to man, the best way to get that milk flowing is to relax. Sitting up not your thing? Feed your bub in side lying. Feeding not going amazingly? Try reclining in your feeding chair or lounge and let bubba do the work. I have seen some amazing videos about the ‘breast crawl’. These little creatures that you now call your own will not willingly starve themselves and it is inherent in their nature to find the breast. Ever wondered why your areolas and nipples become darker? It is literally to help babies find their ‘target’. Laid back nursing or biological nurturing was always the most successful way for me to feed my first born. Remember this is a skill you are both learning together, it takes time, practice and above all patience.

Seek Professional Advice: STAT
Did you know there is a difference between a Lactation Consultant and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)? I do, because I want to become one and my goodness there is a lot of work that goes into becoming an IBCLC. Entrust your breasts to the best! Explore your options, even if you are feeling house bound and unable to get to an appointment, some IBCLCs offer Skype consults. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the same token damage to your nipples should be looked at ASAP. Use nipple cream and fresh air to help heal and pre – cooled hydrogel discs to ease the pain. Then book yourself into your local Women’s Health physiotherapist for laser treatment. Laser works by stimulating healing to the area, and can improve pain even after just one treatment. Most public hospitals have a Women’s Health physiotherapist, otherwise there are more and more private practices with Women’s Health as their specific focus.

From me to you, these are my top three pieces of breastfeeding wisdom."

As another second-time Mum I totally agree with the tips Jess has shared. The game changer for me was seeking professional help. I waited almost 6 weeks with my first, however with my second I saw an IBCLC at the hospital and organised a few follow ups in the first 2 weeks. Experimenting with positioning was also key – the rugby hold was my saviour in the early days and as my daughter got older she liked to sit on my lap legs astride and have both boobs on offer, having little sips between both until she got her full feed, the little monkey! I also had less mum-guilt the second time around and told myself that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it if we ended up bottle feeding and that in itself made things easier.

Jessica is offering all our readers a 10% discount on her fabulous products! Just enter TNC10 at check out. You can shop First in Breast Dressed HERE on the directory.

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE JESSICA'S TOP 5 NEW BABY CHECKLIST: (available to all subscribers for one month from posting date)

I hope this blog post has given you some insight and I sincerely hope that you may be one of those lucky mums who has no problems at all and doesn’t feel one iota of pain! It is possible! But if you’re not, being prepared for what lies ahead is half the battle won, and both Jess and I wish you every success in your feeding journey.

Remember – Fed is Best, and a happy mummy equals a happy baby.

Love,
Cathy x

You can shop our Feeding Essentials section HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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