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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How Do You Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Celebrate-Valentines-Day

My husband and I won’t be spending Valentines Day together this year. Not because we don’t believe in celebrating and think it’s an over the top marketing exercise, but simply because we won’t actually be in the same country on the day. We’ve recently moved back to Sydney after living in Dubai, and after the first few weeks of getting organised, my hubby had to go back to work out his notice, and arrives back here for a short break on February the 15th, one day after Valentines Day.

It got me thinking about how Valentines Day has evolved for us as a couple.

Continue Reading →

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Things to do with Your Baby in the First 6 Months – Part 2

Things To Do With Your Baby Part 2

Kathy Stirrup, our resident Mental Health and Parenting Expert, shares some great ideas of things to do with your baby in the first 6 months, in this 2 part blog series. READ PART 1 HERE

8. Things to do with your baby: Roly Poly

Babies often enjoy the sensation of rolling even before they can do so by themselves. Help your baby to develop this skill by gently rolling them over on to their tummies and then back again to their backs. Make sure that the surface that you have placed your little one on is a soft surface such as a rug or blanket. Keep going as long as your baby seems to be enjoying the activity. When your baby starts to make attempts at rolling themselves then you can encourage them to do so by putting toys just out of their reach so that they have to move to reach it.Continue Reading →

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Things to do with Your Baby in the First 6 Months – Part 1

Things To Do With Your Baby Part 1

Kathy Stirrup, our resident Mental Health and Parenting Expert, shares some great ideas of things to do with your baby in the first 6 months, in this 2 part blog series.

Nine months of pregnancy ✓
Spent a small fortune on all the equipment required for a small person: clothing, nappies and changing stuff, pram, bath, cot, bassinet, etc. ✓
Birthed a baby ✓
Ran the rampart of conflicting advice on baby care and feeding from the hospital, assorted relatives and friends ✓
Survived those first days, or weeks, at home in a haze of birth recovery, sleep deprivation, new routines, and endless feeding ✓
Now what to do with this new little person when they AREN’T sleeping or eating? Continue Reading →

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5 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas Day!

5 tips for a stress free christmas

The day has almost arrived! Kids all over have been counting down to Christmas day for months. Mums and Dads have been stressing and fretting over the day for months. Now that it is almost here, you would think the stress would all be over – right?

Christmas Day can be a very stressful day, especially if you have visitors coming over or if you have a lot of travelling to do with a car full of kids. There will always be things that are outside of your control, and something bound to not go to plan, but there are ways to manage the day and reduce your stress where possible.Continue Reading →

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Our Tips for the Best Santa Photo Possible!

Santa Photos - Tips for the Best Photo Possible!

At any other time of the year, the thought of waiting an hour or more in a busy line with unsettled, hungry children and dozens of other families would send most parents running for the hills. However, throw in the words “Santa” and “Christmas” and all of a sudden it sounds like a perfect idea! Santa photos are a popular yearly tradition but can also be a stressful time for all involved.

Below are our best tips to help you through the day so you can hopefully leave your session with a wonderful Santa photo and memory!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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5 tips To Embrace Your Body After Baby

body after baby

So, you’ve had a baby. Like most new mums, you were probably super ready for the new arrival. You prepped the nursery, you read all the books, you even prepared yourself for the lack of sleep and thought you knew all about the affect it would have on your relationship with your partner. You thought you had this whole new mum thing in the bag. But then something took you by surprise. You didn’t realise how it would affect your self-esteem. You didn’t factor in the toll it would take on your body and the resentment you might feel now that things have changed.

If you’re struggling with the physical changes in your body post baby, here are some (no BS) ways to learn to love your body again, after baby.Continue Reading →

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Top Tips for Flying with Children

flying with children

These wonderful Top Tips for Flying With Children have been written by our friends at Kooshy Kids – who are all about making family travel easier! If you’re planning some travel with the little ones, make sure you take a read of these fabulous tips!

These days there are so many great family-friendly places to travel to with kids, and with international travel being more affordable than ever, families can easily embrace an overseas family holiday. But we all know travelling with children, particularly flying with children, can be tough – so it’s best to be prepared! Here are our top tips for stress free family flying!

Flying with Children Tip 1 – Keep them entertained

Ipads, tablets and gadgets are undeniably great entertainment options when flying with children. Pre-downloading their favourite shows to watch and games to play will keep them quiet and content. Remember to always fully charge electronic devices prior to departure.

flying with children keep them busy

Also consider other toy options to keep them occupied, games and toys that encourage creative play are great and will limit the amount of screen time they have onboard. Small portable toys and activity sets with options like colouring, stickers, magnetic games, cards, puzzles etc are the best for travel.

There are some really great pre-packed kids activity kits that are age appropriate and designed for travel. In addition taking a favourite soft toy along for the adventure will also help them enjoy the journey. Avoid taking toys with small parts as they can easily get lost under and in-between seats, and before its time for sleep, give kids a break from backlit screens to help them wind down. Packing a book to read onboard is also a good quiet entertainment option for kids that can read.

Flying with Children Tip 2 – Get some rest

Keeping kids comfortable is key, especially on long-haul flights which can be a nightmare if you don’t have a way of letting your child sit and fall asleep comfortably. You really want to try and avoid the uncomfortable situation where you’re stuck holding a sleeping child sprawled out across you for hours on end rendering you unable to move!

flying with children kooshy kids

Luckily there is a practical and affordable product now available to help your child (and therefore you!) fly comfortably and get some rest. The Kooshy Kids Kooshion can be used to create a flat, flexible space for kids to enjoy as a couch or bed on the airplane. It is placed on the floor between your child’s seat and the seat in front and then inflated, providing a large flat surface for legs to stretch out and little ones to lay flat on for sleeping. It’s simple to use, lightweight, durable and most importantly comfortable with a soft material on top. Over 50 airlines allow the use of the Kooshy Kids Kooshion during flight. This product is a must when flying with children…if the kids can get some sleep then so can you, and you’ll arrive at your destination feeling rested and ready to explore! For more information on the Kooshy Kids Kooshion, head here.

Flying with Children Tip 3 – Pack some snacks

Food can be a huge help – kids can get cranky when they are hungry and they may not like the plane food available. It’s a good idea to pack some snacks you know they like in your carry-on luggage for the journey.

Take a few options, something healthy and their favourite treats too, and carry them in a separate easy to access bag. Snacks are also a good way to pass some time and keep kids quiet when travelling. Also remember to encourage your kids to drink lots water, airplanes can be very dehydrating environments, and walk around the plane at regular intervals.

snacks when flying with children

Flying with Children Tip 4 – Be prepared

With the extra bags and gear that comes with travelling with kids, it pays to be well organised. If you’re travelling with a toddler you may find they can carry their own small backpack bag. This is great as it means everything is packed together and saves you from having to carrying all their toys, games, water bottle, snacks and spare clothes.

traveling with a toddler use backpack

A backpack style bag is also handy for parents’ carry-on bag so when your travelling through airports your hands can be free to help or hold the kids. It’s also very important to be organised when it comes to your families travel documents and passports. It’s a good idea to take copies and keep them together and safe, a family passport wallet is handy for this.

If your children are a little older it can help to talk to them prior to the trip about what is going to happen, so they know what to expect and also so they get excited and look forward to the journey.

Flying with Children Tip 5 – Focus on the positives

It can really help to remain calm when travelling with a toddler and focusing on the positives can help. There are so many amazing benefits to travelling with kids, the knowledge they will acquire, skills they will develop and memories you will all gain from travel makes the journey totally worth it! Sometimes reminding yourself of the positive impact travel will have on them and the great experiences you will have together as a family can help you get through any stressful part of the plane journey.

So go on, select your dream places to travel with kids, book the flights and rest easy knowing that you can have a stress free travel experience with your kids!

Written by Megan Maden from Kooshy Kids. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Looking for other essential travel items? Check out our Travel section in our shop here! 

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Think Peaceful Parenting is Impossible? Tips on How to Be Calm!

peaceful parenting

Let’s be honest. This parenting business can be stressful AF. And, unless you’re a practising Buddhist monk, you’ve probably flipped out at your kids a few (hundred) times. Like it or not, it goes along with the territory, and it doesn’t make you a bad parent. But, it’s important to know and understand the long term effects that regular bursts of anger can have on your children if you’re serious about trying to minimise them, and want to adopt a more peaceful parenting approach.

Kids who regularly see their parents angry end up being less empathetic than those raised in more calm households. These kids also tend to be more aggressive, are more like to suffer from depression, and perform worse in school*. So, if you’ve been convincing yourself that your anger issue isn’t something to worry about, think again.

The good news is, there are ways to get it under control, even if yelling has been your go-to disciplinary method so far. Peaceful parenting is an ongoing struggle for me and one of the things I need to constantly do is look at my own self care – if I let that slide, my patience wears thin and I find it a lot harder to stay calm. (Read more on Why Self Care Isn’t Selfish here).

Here are some easy tips on how to be calm and stop yelling:

Peaceful Parenting: Short circuit your anger

Notice the early signs of stress so you can become aware of when stress is coming on and stop it in its tracks. Be prepared for a potential meltdown from your tiny human and instead of getting angry, be ready to distract them with toys, food or one of their favourite comforts.

Peaceful Parenting: Give yourself a timeout

Take a break from the situation. Walk away or go into the next room. Distract yourself with an activity or simply bring your attention to your body. Watch the breath come and go, and as you breathe out imagine the anger being released from your body. Only go back when you have settled.

Peaceful Parenting: Express yourself

Explain your anger instead of releasing it. Pause, count to five and then communicate clearly what has made you upset. Own up to how you’re feeling and apologise for overreacting if you need to. Even if your kids don’t understand what you’re saying, you’ll benefit just from saying it aloud to yourself.

peaceful parenting how to be calm

Peaceful Parenting: Ask the right questions

Instead of asking why this is happening to you, ask yourself why this might be happening at all. Often, your kids don’t want to upset you, they are acting out because they want attention, or perhaps they are tired or hungry. See if you can be more compassionate with your kids by trying to understand where they are coming from, instead of going straight to disciplining them.

Peaceful Parenting: It Takes Practice

It will take to time to make each of these peaceful parenting habits replace your current reactions. Be patient with yourself and keep trying. Eventually you will be re-wiring your neurological pathways away from the angry route making way for a more calm, considered response and peaceful household.

*When Anger Hurts Your Kids, Matthew McKay PhD

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Catherine Nelson-WilliamsCatherine Nelson-Williams is the author of this article and founder of The Nursery Collective. She is a mum of two and juggles being a WAHM with blogging and running The Nursery Collective – a haven for mamas navigating the early years of motherhood, where you can find unique boutiques and services for Mum, Baby & Kids all in the one place.

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Parenting Advice for the Modern Parent – Introducing ParentTV

We all enter parenthood without a manual, and no matter how many parenting books we read while expecting, nothing truly prepares us for the onslaught of real life parenting once our little ones arrive. Most of us can admit to having had preconceived notions on what kind of parents we will be before we have kids – how our kids will behave, what food we’ll feed them, how much screen time they will be allowed, whether we will breastfeed or bottle feed, co-sleep or sleep train…and yet it’s only when we are in the thick of real life parenting that we realise how unrealistic our ideas of parenting really were.

I can still clearly remember an evening when my husband and I, newly engaged and yet to have kids, were having dinner out in a restaurant with some friends who had a 2.5 year old – their little one couldn’t sit still, was noisy, clambering on and off his seat and under the table in between bites of food. I remember thinking that I would never allow MY future child to do that and scoffed silently when the dad said “ah he’s such a boy” and that he didn’t believe in raising his voice to children. Looking back, I can now see that this little one was in fact being extremely well behaved for a boy of his age and that his parents were doing an amazing job taking him out with them, staying calm and collected throughout the entire meal.Continue Reading →

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Why Self Care isn’t Selfish: How to take time for yourself without feeling guilty

Take Time For Yourself

As a mum, you’re always feeling guilty about something. You’re constantly questioning yourself, wondering if you are doing it right. You’re probably always feeling like you could be doing something better. While you run around taking care of everyone else, who is there to take care of you? While it would be nice to have a designated carer, most of the time it comes down to you needing to take care of yourself. But I’ll bet that as a Mum you don’t quite know HOW to take time for yourself (away from the kids) without feeling guilty, am I right?

Continue Reading →

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