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5 common feeding mistakes that can cause food aversion in children

There are some things a lot of us do while feeding our children, without knowing they can actually cause a feeding aversion. Good news: once you know, it's easy to make some adjustments.

Eating baby crying

In our article on how to prevent picky eating, we already mention some simple changes you can make to avoid feeding aversion. Now we want to give you 5 practical tips you can start implementing right away.

These are some things most babies don't like while eating and might cause feeding aversion and picky eating in the long run. Of course this doesn't mean every baby or toddler will get a feeding aversion, even if you did one or more of the things mentioned in this list. But they are very small and easily implemented changes, that can make a big difference.

What to avoid when feeding a baby:

1. Wiping the mouth in between bites

It's very tempting to wipe your baby's mouth with the spoon or a napkin in between bites. Babies don't like that very much though. It causes a negative sensory experience and might create a bad association with feeding. Resist the urge to keep your baby clean and go in with a wet towel after feeding.

2. Scraping the food off the upper lip

A lot of parents angle the spoon upwards and scrape the food off on the upper lip. Doing this helps getting the food in the baby's mouth but it can cause discomfort again. To add to that, babies need to learn to suck the food of the spoon themselves. Instead, just hold the spoon parallel to the table, bring it to your baby's mouth and let your baby take the lead from there.

3. Table side battles

The number one thing to avoid is pressuring your baby to eat by forcing open the mouth with the spoon. This works extremely counterproductive and can create a negative association with feeding. So if you notice your baby is not really into eating a certain food at this moment, don't force it. This will only work counterproductively.

4. Repeating the same tastes or textures over and over

Imagine you have to eat the same thing over and over. you would get bored of it and after a while even develop a dislike for it. Babies and young children are the same. Try to offer variation. Even if you notice your child developing preferences - especially then - try to serve a variety of flavours, and textures. Don't get stuck in the puree phase for too long. Babies will get used to it and won't be familiar to any other sensations in the mouth. As they get older, they will have a harder time accepting new textures. This means we have to keep track of their developmental signs and introduce finger food and more chunky purees when the time is right.

5. Overfeeding

Be mindful of your baby's signals. If baby is full, don't force them to eat more. Let your baby decide how much to eat. This is the concept of division of responsibility. You decide what to eat and when, your baby decides how much. We understand parent's worries if their baby is not eating much. Babies' appetite can vary and during those first weeks of solids, they will only eat a few teaspoons. It's good to know that babies can regulate their feelings of hunger and fullness perfectly themselves. Try to pick up and respect your baby's signs of fullness and wait for the next meal to start again. Remember, milk remains the most important source of nutrition during a baby's first year.