It seems that every time I’m at a café, a Mum (or Dad – I’m starting to see more Dads!!) emerges with a stroller. Parent multitasks phone calls, instagram posts, drinking their own coffee – and taking care of feeding bub.
In all cases, this seems such a precious moment to half relax that they tend to switch off from the routine task of feeding, and I observe all sorts of things.
Overfeeding is more common than you may think.
Once, an overtired parent was simultaneously pushing pouch and spout baby food and a chunk of their jam doughnut into their bubs mouth. Lol. Well meaning parents raised to waste-not-want-not often push the very last drop of the baby food out of the baby food pouch….even if bub doesn’t want it. That’s not to say that they don’t want it sometimes. Now, we do all know that the recommended serving size on the back of these packages makes no attempt to (and couldn’t possibly) factor children’s rate or stage of growth, activity levels, illness, most recent meal, mood etc etc – right?
If you compare baby food pouch packs labelled 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, or any other age e.g. yoghurts, you’ll realise that recommended serving sizes don’t even factor their age. I call bullshit that they’re all “1 Serving Per Package”. Obviously babies who are 6 months old don’t require that same serving size as babies 12+ months old who are learning to walk?!
Back to the café: in most cases, a spoon of something is offered again and again on cycles too rapid for bub to finish (let alone savour) their mouthful. I totally get it. I mean, who has the time for conscious, paced anything nowadays? Baby’s hungry, baby must be fed, people are staring, must be done quickly. It’s a common problem for parents everywhere.
But what does that teach the kid?
I was horrified at a recent baby expo to see bub in a chest carrier squawking and struggling while their parent forced them to take another slug of their bottled milk. They actually twitched while the last of it was forced down their upturned gullet.
Does anyone still wonder why bottle feeding correlates with lifetime obesity? It’s very little to do with differences in nutrition.
Side Note: Here at Mashblox, we truly believe FED is best. Breastfed, bottle fed are both GREAT options. What matters is that you and your baby are happy and healthy.
The next Mum I spoke with there told me a story of her struggle with milk production, and how the most well-meaning advice was to feed a certain quantity of formula x times a day. Bub was plagued with reflux, vomiting and digestive issues that stopped when her milk production came online and she moved to the breast. The difference isn’t allergies – formulas are tested to exhaustion for this and simply wouldn’t make it to market if any more than the exceptional minority faced such issues. The difference is that suddenly bub is controlling their quantity and pace of intake.
Needless to say, Mum was fully aware of the research into self feeding. I nearly cried with relief!
Self Feeding Ideas Using Mashblox
In the last fortnight, I’ve had a bunch of concerned parents ask if Mashblox will help slow their child down? Until I start getting feedback on this, the truthful answer is that I don’t know – but here are my suggestions (assuming we’re talking about toddlers and up):
- Bake something dense inside Mashblox that they’ll have to work to get out of the cube. I’m thinking meatloaf, meatballs, frittata, potato bake with cheese and the like. On the sweet spectrum, probably avoid muffins (too soft) or biscuits (far too hard), but Christmas pudding or soft gingerbread might work. Keep your eyes on Facebook or Instagram for recipes I’ve sourced for you.
- Freeze something inside Mashblox so they can only eat it as it melts. Simple blended fruit is a favourite: I love frozen raspberries and pulpy orange juice.
- If bub is up to the texture (my youngest brother choked on *everything* up until he was about 7 or 8), then they might be slowed down by extracting small pieces of solid things. Strips of chicken, cubes of cheese, chunks of assorted colourful fresh fruit or veggies such as traffic light capsicum, cucumber, carrot or mushroom - I suggest to make them large enough to chew, about 1cm3
My instinct is that pace of eating, like fussy eating, may often be a habit developed over time and ideally prevented with patient, proactive feeding strategies while parents are in control of how this happens.
Part of our responsibility to the next generation is to teach them how to live, after all. This includes guiding all of their habits, as well as their beliefs and intellectual foundations.
No one can know how much, or how fast a child needs to eat to best serve this new body they’re just getting used to, better than the child themselves.
That’s why my very best child-centered recommendation is to let them feed themselves wherever possible 😊
How do you know if they want some more, or if they’ve had enough?
Babies tend to be very vocal about what they want and need. If they are turning away from the food and no longer seem interested, trust them! They are telling you they’re full and aren’t interested, or simply that you’re going too fast.
If your baby is happy, healthy and gaining the appropriate amount of weight for their age, they are thriving. Unless you’ve been directed by your doctor or pediatrician to feed your baby a larger amount for each meal, don’t push them.Written by Alix O'Hara, Mashblox Inventor, Founder, CEO
Mashblox are soft, squishy hollow silicone building blocks that you fill with foodstuffs (usually mash potato consistency for infants) to let bub feed themselves for control of their intake and less messy sensory food play. They are a serving instrument, not just for storage, that can be used to introduce foods, manage fussy eating, contain mess and more. We’re getting feedback from kids up to 3.5 that “cube risotto is better than bowl risotto”. Woop woop!
They are fridge and freezer safe, dishwasher safe (turn inside out to clean), and are Australian Made of medical grade silicone out of a factory in Melbourne.
They can also be boiled and sterilised, and you can bake or microwave in them. (Just make sure they’re cool enough in the centre to serve).
Mashblox are certified to Australian New Zealand standard ISO 8124.1 against choking hazards: no bits are going to come off if your child chews on them. I’ve tested this with adult teeth also.
- Mashblox are not just about complementary feeding! They are a self feeding tool which can be used for every meal.
- Mashblox are not just for freezing food for later! They are for serving food also.
- And, no, they weren’t inspired by the dog Kong! – though I understand the comparison, it’s never been my aim to create a feeding tool that is useful for storing treats and keeping babies busy. Although you can store treats in your Mashblox!
I am not a Mum. I want to be upfront about this. I know that there are things about being a parent that I couldn’t possibly understand yet. I approach this from an academic and highly empathetic angle, and tend to run with common sense rather than what I’ve been taught.
We’ve all been taught a lot of dumb, simplistic things that cause harm when followed to the letter. I’m not a doctor either. If your child has a condition or special needs requiring medical advice or intervention, please be guided by a certified professional’s advice… unless they’re recommending that you overfeed your child until it’s ready to pop.
Mashblox® are protected by Australian registered standard patent, multinational design rights and international patents pending. Mashblox® is an Australian registered trade mark.