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The Six Faces Your Weaning Baby Pulls - and What They Really Mean

29/04/2016 10:19

Admittedly, the timing wasn't great. My daughter was six months old - that's 182 sleep deprived nights for me - and I was attempting to juggle the following: weaning her, cleaning the splattered puree from the walls and also making a radio programme about it.

Which would have been more than enough. But then a book by the multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse dropped through my letterbox and I duly discovered I had completely misunderstood the job. It wasn't, as I'd previously imagined, merely a case of making something vaguely nutritious and trying in vain to get 10% of it inside the baby rather than over the floor.

No. My responsibility, according to his book Cooking for Kids, was to 'train baby's taste buds... Taste is formed very early in life... imprinted on the brain and lasts for the rest of their lives...' Eek.

Ever dutiful (or, some might argue, sleep tortured to the point of neurosis) I spent the morning sweating over a 'Belgian endive, potato and chervil puree'. And then had a mini break down when she turned away - her little face a pantomime of disgust - and spat, sending my hopes of raising a mini gastronome flying too.

Apparently, however, her reaction was neither atypical nor what I interpreted it to be. According to a new study by Organix, the baby food brand, more than half of mothers are deterred from presenting their baby with new tastes by the faces they pull. Yet those expressions often do not mean what we think they do.

Vivien Sabel, Clinical Psychotherapist and body language expert, explains that: "just as we learn to interpret our baby's signals when they're sleepy, hungry, happy or windy, we can also read what those eye, brow, mouth, lip and tongue movements say about a new taste."

"For example, what mums and dads might interpret as a look of shock or disgust, doesn't necessarily translate as not liking the taste, what's more likely is that baby is puzzled by the intensity of a new flavour. A surprised expression could be curiosity about the depth of flavour, the chances are they think the flavour is good but it's very different to what they've eaten before - it's all part of them experiencing and learning new tastes on their weaning journey."

So relax, weaning isn't anything to be frightened of. Neither is it a definitive, military operation, governed by strict rules and riddled with pitfalls and potentially calamitous consequences.

Studies suggest that it can take between 10 and 15 attempts for a baby to get used to a new flavour. Learning about food is all about familiarity and repetition. Which means it's quite simple, really: it's your kid's job to decide how much of what's on their plate, and which parts of it they want to eat. Your only job is to put something healthy on that plate. Then step back and - whisper it - enjoy the gurning faces along the way.

1) Yum, yum, yum!

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"Your baby loves the flavour, texture and everything about this food," says Sabel. Their happiness can be seen in every part of their body - their eyes, smile and posture. Mirror their happiness back to them, it's encouraging and a useful form of communication between you and your baby."

2) Hmm... This is interesting

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"Your baby is curious and surprised by this new taste sensation," says Sabel. They may devour it in an instant or it may take a little while to adjust to this new flavour."

3) I'm not sure mum... What do you think?

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"Your baby may appear disinterested but that doesn't mean they don't like what they're eating," says Sabel. "Your baby is seeking your encouragement and affirmation. They want to know that you are interested in their experience. You can give them positive affirmations through non-verbal mirroring, it will help encourage them to develop an interest."

4) Whoa! This is something different

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"You may see this expression when your baby tries a new flavour which has a spicy or sour element," explains Sabel. "It doesn't mean they don't like it, it simply means this is a new experience and it's creating a mind-boggling taste sensation in their sensitive mouths."

5) Mmm... This is new to me! I think I like it.

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"Your baby is born with an innate curiosity and a need to explore," says Sabel. "Use encouraging verbal expressions to enhance their interest."

6) Not now mummy

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"Your baby maybe tired, teething or feeling unwell," explains Sabel. "Don't give up on trying new foods simply because you experience the snub! Give your little one a cuddle and try again later."

IMAGE CREDIT: Organix

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