FACILITATE THEM IN RESPONDING TO THEIR OWN BODIES’ NEEDS
OFFER AND MODEL HEALTHY EATING CHOICES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Give them the best start by TRUSTING (the best way to do this is by letting them breastfeed from their earliest years. They will know and build confidence in their abilities with regards to intake for their precious bodies and minds. Trust them to make the right decisions regarding what foods make them FEEL HEALTHY and GOOD.
I find it helpful to SHOW THEM through modeling how to RECOGNISE changes in their physical appearance and instead of using cream or Vaseline on their lips when their lips are dry or their hands are cracked (because of dehydration), instead of downing a few bears or wines when the heat is on or their feeling down, you show them how to notice their emotions changing and how the best way to deal with these changes is to protect the body accordingly.
NOT TO PUNISH IT.
Looking after their body WILL be something that THEY will learn to ‘FEEL’ and know INTERNALLY when something feels right or wrong for them.
It’s all about teaching them to listen and RESPOND to THEIR OWN body’s cues.
MODEL AND OFFER HEALTHY EATING CHOICES:
HEALTHY EXAMPLES OF FOOD CHOICES I eat and offer to my baby are:
Variety of cooked meat in as natural a form as is sold at local butcher/supermarket level (ofcourse you could also catch it – the best caught foods I enjoyed when young was seafood by my father’s catch out on his boat),
…accompanied by different vegetables (I try to offer and eat as many raw veg as possible as this is the most nutritious way to eat them since less nutrients are lost through high temps during cooking). It’s easy to do – the likes of carrots etc always taste better raw anyway.
Different fruits on their own (their are so many different kinds and it is excellent to leave them again in their natural form and without any sauces etc so that baby can really understand and experience the real taste of the fruit).
I drink water and my baby gets all the nutrients from food as well as when she breastfeeds from me. It is important to remember that water at this stage is not a substitute for breastmilk and that breastmilk is still the main source of nutrition.
When your child is able enough to hold a conversation – discussions on how they feel before and after food is a key way of focusing them into their own bodily needs and how things affect them. This should help them to stay focused and continue to listen to their body and meet it’s requirements.
WHOSE BODY IS IT ANYWAY?
At the end of the day you may have given birth to your child but your child’s body is their own and it belongs to them. The fact that own means to have and to belong to reminds us of how sacred our bodies are to us. I believe it is so important to ensure that everything is done to help your child realise what a special gift their body is and that when we look at it – we can see what it needs as well as when we listen to it.
SELF REGULATION AND TRUST
All the time a baby is breastfeeding in a way that is led by the baby, it chooses how much to take and when. This as we know is the most beneficial way for a baby to feed. Due to varying factors that have an impact on each individual body in a different way – then only the INDIVIDUAL body knows what is needed to meet is requirements for self regulation.
It is understandable that baby led weaning is about letting the child decide how much and what out of what you offer to eat. The nutrients that the child does not get out of any foods throughout the day and again – is made up for in what they decide to take in the way of breast milk feeds
from the mother.
This is also a lovely time to help and continue welcoming a baby/ toddler into the world by not only providing healthy foods in their natural forms for the first time as well as breast milk which is made specifically for them in every way as well as genetically, but also for the emotional needs of the child. Through baby led weaning breastfeeding and offering healthy choices of food the whole development of the child is nurtured in a holistic sense.
SURVIVAL AND SELF UNDERSTANDING
All the above is important as your child teaches the next generations the same skills – that of REALLY listening to their bodies to make the most out of it.
Know and understand that we’re not always perfect and we may find it difficult to be completely healthy all the time re no chocolate and value that accepting this and at least being able to interpret how your body is coping as a result of any food type and how to then sort it out by following it up and having healthy salad or simply drinking some water is just as important. Very lastly – show them food is fun and enjoyable and that BALANCE allows us to appreciate things and enjoy them even more!