Feeding your baby and deciding between the different baby feeding products… when there are so many out there, can be overwhelming…
What works for us and what doesn’t.
I must confess that I can feel very overwhelmed by the number of feeding products on the market.
In the nature of my job, I do my research on topics that I’m passionate about. From the good old fashioned to the latest trending and gimmicky things.
My views are objective and when I launch the research I do it because I want to know, I want to really understand. I want to understand the benefits, the disadvantages. I want to know where I am going to get the best bang for my buck.
How much should I feed my baby?
Naturally, what works for one family doesn’t work for everyone and I like to understand why a product doesn’t work for us. There are products on the market that I wish worked for us, but they don’t.
I also like to get the input from the other moms and dads, their favourite products, YOUR favourite products, what I’m potentially missing you know. And this is how I get to a recipe and product mix that works in our home. And, I keep trying new things.
The main objective of testing and reviewing products when it comes to feeding is a healthy development. Formative years are the most important in our development as human beings. Physical and emotional development, early childhood development is really at the bottom of most of my research matters.
Feeding a baby is way more important than we realize and research evolves over the years. When I was feeding my sister-child as a toddler, a banana was one of the first things we started when starting solids. These days they tell us not to feed babies banana until 9 months old because it contains too much potassium for the little one to digest at 4 months of age. And no honey till 12 months, etc.
When should I start feeding my baby solids?
In most of the solid food seminars I attended, they made it quite clear that lumpy food like Jungle Oats is imperative for speech development and that Oats is one of the first porridges to start with when feeding your baby solids. Back in the day, it was the opposite, food was pureed to the pulp to avoid choking if I remember correctly. Nowadays we encourage gagging to build a reflex that helps to prevent choking. And, the lumpy oats help to develop the muscles for speech as baby chews it (and in some cases, fights with it) before he even has teeth.
We started Oats with Poppet when she was 5 months old, in a remote location on our December holiday. She hated it. I cried, I thought my child was NEVER going to eat. I battled to get two teaspoons down in a sitting. Today she will chow a huge bowl after she’s had an egg. For more on feeding babies and toddler food in our home, you can search the hashtag #WhatsPoppetEating.
I didn’t breastfeed Poppet for a number of reasons which are not necessary to list here.
She was premature and we were lucky that she took to a dummy on the second day in Neonatal ICU. Dummies are very important for the development of healthy nose breathing and sinus development. Some people check the tongue positioning in sleeping babies who don’t take to a dummy.
I myself have been a mouth breather all my life and the mouth simply cannot do what the nose does. Our mouth is not our breathing mechanism, it doesn’t purify air, it doesn’t regulate temperature, it doesn’t trap germs, it just doesn’t do the job properly.
My husband said that when his boys were babies and he was a young dad he thought that dummies were stupid. Now he thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread. Apart from promoting healthy breathing, they are indeed the bomb for babies to self-soothe when they wake up at night. Poppet goes back to sleep by herself thanks to the dummy and the chain (if she wakes up at night, who knows?). She’s got it and she knows how to find it by herself. The positioning of the dummy chain was part of the advice we got in a sleeping program we got from our Paediatric team – you can find our Sleeping Through The Night Recipe here.
Poppet was fed expressed breast milk when she was in the hospital. She also had top up formula feeds with NUK products, supplied by the hospital.
What are the advantages of formula feeding?
I am a big believer in the advantages of formula feeding and Poppet was exclusively formula fed by the time I had to go back into hospital to repair my spinal leak complication from her birth.
We stuck with NUK when we got home for many reasons. The Orthodontist’s choice probably being the main reason.
The mouth, the teeth, the jaw, the pallet, everything continues to develop throughout early childhood, not only in the newborn phase.
NUK products are interchangeable which means that we can buy accessories separately and all the bottles grow with baby. We aren’t spending a fortune on learner cups, trainer cups, sippy cups, sports cups, all the cups and more and etc, etc.
In short, for us, healthy development is at the bottom of choosing the feeding product. Many moms have told me that they let the baby choose the feeding product. Whilst it goes without saying that what works for one mom doesn’t work for another, I can’t say that I personally let my child choose what’s best for her when she’s only just a newborn baby. I think that my baby will take any bottle I give her if she’s hungry. If she refuses what I present or even 2 other options, I will investigate something like reflux before I investigate the product. That’s just me. There will be more than enough reasoning with her about choices of brands when it comes to the teenage years and her refusal of certain brands of shoes etc. and by that time it’s no longer a development issue but a fashion and price issue.
There are bibs on the market with little pouches that catch the food when things become messy and we simply cannot use these. Poppet thinks it’s a toy and she is entertained by this bib-food-catcher-thing. It’s just impossible to feed her when she’s wearing the food catcher.
I sometimes really wish we were able to use these food catchers as some are silicone and it seems so easy to wipe them and one could probably take two on holiday and just disinfect them? Some moms have told me they think this product is simply gross and they don’t want a food catcher on anything, let alone clothing.
We use the good old-fashioned bib and pile up the laundry.
Many moms really like the bowls that have a built-in straw, which is great. I mean if something works, don’t fix what is not broken. For me personally, I don’t want to use a built-in-straw-bowl-thingy. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where it is rather unacceptable to drink from your soup bowl at a dinner party. Why will I teach my child to drink from her bowl only to reverse what I’ve taught?
Teaching your toddler table manners
When it comes to the teachings of table manners I’m already in a situation where I have to reverse what I have taught.
We spend hours and sleepless nights winding our newborn babies and there were certainly times that I wanted to give my baby a high five for burping out loud!
I wanted to shower my mom with gifts and pour a drink every time my child burped out loud!
And then, later on, we must teach them to say, “pardon me” for the very thing that we have been encouraging. I didn’t personally want to add to the contradiction with the drinking from a bowl business.
Don’t get me wrong, I also drank the milk from my cereal bowl on the odd occasion as a child, it was a fun thing to do, like a secret thing, almost a naughty thing. It was a funny thing at home but it was certainly not encouraged by my parents or a product made for exactly that. This is just my opinion, I’m sure the moms who like the straw-bowl see it as a transition to spoon and bowl, I guess it’s like teat to glass. We don’t drink from a teat at a dinner party either. The straw-bowl is just one example of the many products that I feel was unnecessary for us, my baby went straight to spoon and bowl from early on, it’s just a bit messy in the beginning and I can deal with that.
Then there are a hundred little snack jars and cups with different handles and magic this and marvellous that.
As soon as the spoon was no longer foreign to Poppet we started feeding with a combination of spoon feeding and baby led weaning.
How to wean your baby
We give her some raw vegetables or whatever else on the side to feed herself (and often negotiate who’s changing the next nappy). It actually becomes a huge mess all over the dining room on the days that we can accommodate it. Peanut Butter and avo especially.
On other days and especially when we go out, we like the snack jars that she can stick her own little hands into. You know, the clever lids that allow the little hands in and prevent the snacks from falling out. She does however sometimes remove the lid – sigh – she engineers it into a toy and removes the lid when she’s not really that hungry for a snack – she WILL find a way to remove the lid from the snack box “toy” with certain brands.
Some of these containers’ lids don’t come off as easily as others. We recently bought two in the US that are made by Munchkin and they are quite tight. We haven’t had any little clever toddler-engineering-moves on these.
Poppet’s food is mostly homemade and I’ve only recently started looking into the organic shop bought food pouches on the market.
The pouches are popular for their convenience and they are the bomb for feeding on the go. For those of us who like to know exactly what is in our baby’s food, there are reusable Snack ‘n Pouches from ChooMee that are available from www.kidscargo.co.za
I absolutely love these pouches. They are BPA free and dishwasher safe. I fill these pouches with homemade goodness straight from my own kitchen. I also fill a few and keep them in the freezer to defrost in the morning if we are going out for the day.
We’ve tried the Sip’n Soft tops which you can buy separately, a silicone top with flow control and a cap that is super soft for baby’s mouth. These separate tops didn’t work so well for me when I filled the pouch with a risotto (the food was too lumpy for Poppet to get out of the flow control cap so I ended up removing it), but I think the tops are great for things like pureed apple and awesome for babies who are just starting solids and the little gums are still super sensitive. One can fill the pouch with yogurt and any finely blended food when using the tops and I’ve mostly been filling the pouches with lumpy food and then I use them without the tops. The tops also have a little travel case (separately) which is very nifty for the nappy bag. You can shop ChooMee from Kids Cargo here.
And then have you seen the bowls that have a suction base so they stick to the table? Yes, I’ve seen them too, on the floor more often than not.
I don’t know if it’s just my child who engineers a toy out of these suction bowls or if I haven’t come across the strongest suction power yet? I’d love to know? If you guys are using bowls that suck and stick to the table and they work, please let me know which brand you are using?
For plates and bowls, I’ve been using melamine plates, or shall I say I’ve been buying them and Poppet has been breaking them. She seems somewhat considerate when she’s eating from an adult plate, when she’s sharing from my plate the plate doesn’t end up on the floor, she doesn’t even pick it up. And then I also use the good old-fashioned Tupperware and to be perfectly honest I mostly put food straight onto the table – she is only 14 months old and sometimes a lot of it is still ending up on the floor anyway. We disinfect the table regularly, especially after chicken and I probably wouldn’t let her eat straight from the table if it were a wooden table but with smooth surfaces I don’t have a problem. I’d probably use a big tray for a wooden table?
There are also hundreds and maybe thousands of other little gadgets on the market, most of which I probably haven’t even seen…cooling things, warming things, to keep fresh, to keep air out, to freeze homemade baby food, to plug into the car and heat the bottle, you name it, you’ll probably find it. We were gifted these little lolly pop freezer thingy which are quite cute – I use them to freeze freshly squeezed carrot juice, mixed with a bit of orange juice. Most kids will eat (or drink) any vegetable they hate if it’s presented in a different way. Sometimes they just need a nifty little novelty.
My child for one doesn’t really fancy eating her carrots but she sure loves drinking them!
When Poppet was about 6 months old I thought she didn’t like water. She refused the water bottle almost every time. We were feeding water from the same bottles as the milk. Then one day I started feeding her water from my glass, from energade bottles from any other cup and she drank loads of water. The viscosity of water is so different to milk and it may feel foreign to baby when it’s coming from the same bottle, or shall I say teat. We then started feeding the water with the NUK sports cups, active cups and learner cups. This made all the difference because the different teat itself presents a different content. They immediately make a different association. She was totally comfortable with this and she drinks loads of water. She hardly drinks tea, she prefers water. We bought the teats/accessories separately so we could still see how much she was drinking.
I have also had so many success stories from the breast-feeding moms in getting their bubs off the boob with these sippy cups and accessories. It’s completely different to a nipple and the babies seem to take to the cups much easier than to a foreign nipple.
For cutlery, we use many different brands. Long before kids, someone gave me a Carol Boyes set of cutlery “For Tiny Hands”. I’m not sure if they still make it? When I give her a taste of what I’m eating I don’t always get up to get her cutlery, Poppet will eat from anything but one of our best spoons is the Rest Easy Spoon by NUK. This spoon doesn’t touch the table when you put it down so it keeps the germs off and the table clean (only when YOU put it down).
It has a long handle to reach the bottom of tall jars and has a very soft tip to be gentle on teeth and gums.
My favourite part about this spoon is its spatula like shape and the satisfactory feeling I get when I do the spoon-wipe. The Spoon in- mouth wipe-move.
I get such a kick out of feeding my child, I think most moms do? When my child is eating a healthy, balanced meal I just feel on top of the world. I imagine the birds in the nest feeling the same way when they put the little worms in their baby’s mouth. It’s so maternal, I just love it, and the Rest Easy spoon mouth wipe action puts the cherry on the cake for me.
With Love and Gratitude,
*English is not the first language of the author