Sometimes I feel like I’m in a foreign land speaking a different language when talking to other mothers. They tell me how they aren’t letting their baby do such and such and I respond with the exact opposite point of view. I don’t think I’m completely out to lunch on my perspectives. You tell me.
I was at a friend’s house today with two other babies around Hailey’s age. One of the other mothers was explaining that she gives her daughter toast by breaking up small pieces and putting it in front of her baby. She said she knows that if she gives her daughter a large piece that she’ll try to shove the entire thing in her mouth and probably choke. Translation: I don’t trust my baby to figure this out.
I give Hailey large pieces of toast (and other food too) and she bites off chunks to eat. Sometimes she puts way too much in her mouth. And then tries to shove more in! If her mouth is too full to chew she spits some out. I admit that this did concern me at first but now it makes me laugh. I trust that she knows what she’s doing and isn’t going to attempt to swallow a giant mouthful of food all at once. I laugh because it surprises me at how much she can cram in there.
Hailey gets complete control over her food. How much she wants to eat is her decision. If she wants to fill her mouth that’s up to her. I will usually caution her and suggest that she wait until her mouth is empty before adding more but I don’t jump in to stop her. I allow her to learn through trial and error.
When she first started eating solids I wasn’t this relaxed. She has earned my trust. I’ve watched her countless times cough food back up successfully on her own. I think it’s actually more traumatizing for me. The instant she deals with whatever has her choking she’s shoveling more food into her mouth. It doesn’t seem to phase her.
I know some of you may be asking what if she chokes? It’s possible and I trust that I’ll be able to handle it if she does. And I’m not saying this out of arrogance but rather confidence in my abilities. More importantly, I chose to focus on the benefits of Hailey eating because what if she doesn’t choke and instead learns what she’s capable of?
I also believe that it can only benefit our relationship if she knows I trust her judgement. In fact, the idea of not trusting her feels foreign to me.
We only have one rule when it comes to eating: we must sit down to eat. She can sit on the floor if she wants to but she must be sitting. I don’t want her mouth to be full while she’s playing or have an unexpected fall cause her to choke. That’s just dangerous.
So, am I completely out to lunch with my approach? What is your feeding strategy with your little ones?