It has been a while since I have been fortunate enough to interview someone for the blog, but tonight I can finally share another post in my Baby Health Series (I think I’ll keep it ongoing as long as I can find professionals to interview!). I loved the opportunity to chat to my lovely friend, and feeding specialist, Simone from Play With Food. Simone shares some information about her job as a feeding specialist, as well as some useful snippets of information regarding starting solids with your baby. I hope you enjoy our interview, as well as some links to amazing resources she has to offer! x
Hi Simone! Thank you for joining us this week as a part of our Baby Health Series. Tonight we’ll be taking the series in a different direction from previous weeks. You’ll be sharing with us some important information regarding food and nutrition with babies, which is such a huge talking point for new parents! But to kick us off, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I am a mum to two girls. I write. Possibly poorly? … but I do it anyway. I have studied, worked and travelled. I am challenged in a very fulfilling way in my current job as a children’s feeding specialist. I nurture my blog, Play with Food, like a 3rd baby. I live for drinking a hot coffee alongside my husband, albeit once in a blue moon.
As a feeding specialist, what does your job entail?
I am trained in feeding therapy and work clinically following a therapy protocol known as Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding. I work with parents to help understand the ins and outs of feeding children considering the vast environmental, sensory, physiological, skill and communication impacts on completing the task of eating. I work 4 days a week at a feeding clinic in Sydney. I also write the blog and provide the parenting resources over at www.playwithfood.com.au
You’ve chatted with us before about starting solids, but could you briefly remind us what you think mums should consider when starting solids with their little ones? How would parents know when their baby is ready for solids?
The main things that I like mums to do is back themselves. Get the best knowledge that they can. This will lead to confidence. Learn infant first aid, read up-to-date infant feeding guidelines and be gentle on themselves when they are starting out. Iron rich foods should be introduced early and introduce foods one by one to watch for any reaction. Babies are ready for solids after 4 months and usually by 7 months. Developmental cues are a diminished tongue thrust reflex, ability to hold themselves upright with support and an interest in foods others are eating.
Are there any foods you recommend to start off with?
Iron rich foods are a perfect place to start because iron stores diminish over the 6 or so months since being attached via the umbilical chord. It’s the nutrient most required at the beginning.
You work a lot with fussy eaters. When do fussy eating habits start?
For children with problematic starts to feeding “fussiness” can start immediately due to allergies, oral motor concerns (like tongue tie), medical issues or reflux. However, typically as children get to about 18 mths – 2 years, they can start fussy behaviours due to the changes in their cognitive processing. This is the most common cause of a negative spiral in feeding patterns for typically developing children. However, just because it seems to happen to “everyone” doesn’t mean your child fits into the same developmental fussiness bucket or the same “solution” will work for your family. It is estimated that somewhere between 4-10% of children have feeding problems that are more problematic than being “just a phase”.
How might parents recognise these habits early on (as opposed to a little phase that a baby might be going through, say during teething, etc)?
Not meeting developmental feeding milestones are usually the best indicators for problematic feeding in infants.
What tips or advice can you offer to new parents who are dealing with fussy eaters?
The first tip is to take a step back and consider all parts of the eating task that are impacting your child. Often routine, sensory systems and environment have more to do with fussy eating than simply addressing the food alone. Feeding is a complex sensory task for children. Be patient with them and address their individual needs during mealtimes and the root causes of the behaviour (rather than reacting to the behaviour).
Plus Check out these amazing resources from Simone*:
Simone and Ruth have created a recipe book of Allergy Free Afternoon Tea foods for your whole family to enjoy!
*(I am an affiliate for Play With Food, which means if you make a purchase through any of the below links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you).