A crying baby will calm down if given a sweet liquid. Even if that baby isn’t hungry.
So much for the fact that babies who aren’t hungry always refuse food. That it’s impossible to overfeed an infant. And that babies don’t eat for emotional reasons. Maybe that’s true for calm babies. But what about a fussy baby?
I want to teach my child to reach for cake and ice cream when unhappy, said no parent ever.
In June, The New York Times reported on a study that taught new mothers “responsive parenting” strategies to read their babies’ signals so that parents learn to:
- Feed hungry babies, but
- Soothe cranky babies without using food.
Dr. Ian Paul, one of the lead researchers, told The New York TimesWhen babies who aren’t hungry are soothed with food, these infants lose the normal ability to regulate their emotions and this projects later into life. Food becomes the mechanism to soothe these emotions.
The “normal” biological reaction to negative emotions is to lose your appetite. People (like me) who were taught to respond to negative emotions with food, feel hungry instead. Read Using Sweets to Soothe the Soul.
Non-feeding techniques for calming a fussy baby include:
- Playing white noise
I’m a feeder, so know how hard it can be not to offer food to a fussy baby, an unhappy toddler (or even a teen). And, as the research shows, sweet gifts work.
But in this age of huge portions, cupcakes on every corner and constant snacking, it’s tough enough for people to learn the right eating habits – and that includes eating for the right reasons.
- Don’t feed your children to keep them quiet. Do feed them when they’re hungry.
- Don’t feed your children to make them happy. Do feed them when they’re hungry.
- Don’t feed your children to reward them. Do feed them when they’re hungry.
- Don’t feed your children when they’re bored. Do feed them when they’re hungry.
Most of us have problems in this department. My confessions:
Catch the habitude!
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~