Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, capable of growing up to four feet a day!
It absorbs carbon dioxide and releases 35% more oxygen into the atmosphere in comparison to hardwood trees. Most of it is grown organically (though very little is certified organic) as it requires little irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides.
Containing a cup, bowl, plate, spoon and fork, our dinner sets are a fab alternative to 100% melamine or plastic products.
Whichever way you choose to feed your children we're sure you're doing a great job!
We chatted to gentle parenting expert and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith about encouraging children to eat more fruit and veg, what to do about picky eaters and how to create a healthy relationship with food from a young age.
Sarah is a well known parenting expert and a highly regarded popular parenting author who specialises in the psychology and science of parenting, ‘gentle parenting’ and attachment theory.
Sarah is famed for her gentle, science rich, yet easy to read books and her down-to-earth manner and ability to translate her vast knowledge of parenting science into easy to understand language.
Hi Sarah, firstly let's talk about weaning, how can I tell if my baby is ready for solid food?
" Babies are ready for solid foods at around six months of age; before this their bodies do not produce enough salivary amylase (an enzyme needed to convert starch to sugar enabling them to get the energy from the food they eat). They also have a prominent tongue thrust reflex, which means they tend to push most food out of their mouths. It's important to understand that 'about six months' does not need to be specific though, some are clearly ready for solids a couple of weeks beforehand, whereas some aren't interested until seven months or more. Some good signs to watch for are:
* The ability to sit upright (with a little support if necessary, e.g a cushion behind their back)
* Loss of the tongue thrust reflex (they don't push food out of their mouths with their tongue)
* Development of a pincer grip (picking up smaller objects with their thumb and forefinger)
* A real interest in food and eating, watching you eat intently, grabbing your food and putting it in their mouths
The following are often mistaken as signs of weaning readiness, but aren't:
* An increased number of night wakings (it is a normal stage of development for sleep to worsen around 4-5 months. Introducing solids doesn't improve sleep and usually makes sleep worse initially)
* Putting everything in their mouths (again, this is a normal stage of development, babies will start to grab and put everything in their mouths at around 4 to 5 months, it doesn't mean they want to eat it!).
* An increased frequency of milk feeds, especially breastfeeding (common growth spurts occur at this age that means babies feed more to increase milk supply if breastfeeding, it doesn't mean you don't have enough milk, or they need more. They also feed more in the warmer weather)."
Do you have any tips that will encourage my baby to love fruit and veg?
"It's really important to look at your own relationship with food as a parent. What we eat, how we eat and most importantly, the subconscious and conscious beliefs we hold around eating and our own bodies can and will impact on our children's relationships with food. Most importantly, you shouldn't label food as healthy and unhealthy, good or bad. Food is just food. It's the complete diet and intake that matters. There is so much research showing that restricting and labeling food actually results in disordered eating as children grow. The best way to ensure your baby grows with a truly healthy approach to eating is to adjust your own first. Something I cover lots in my Gentle Eating Book.
Next, it's important to understand the biological differences in eating between babies and children and adults. For instance, children have more taste buds than we do and food tastes stronger to them, especially bitter food. This is a common cause of pickiness and vegetable refusal. It's entirely normal and nothing you have created! Knowledge and patience here is key. Never, ever reward or praise babies or children for eating something, not only does it actually reduce the chances of them choosing to eat it again, it can encourage overeating. Instead, the best approach is to keep offering foods that have been previously refused. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't take 10,15 or 20 exposures to like a food, it can take nearer to 200 or more! Don't make a fuss - whether they eat something or not, just keep serving it up. Offer a wide variety of foods, but try to always include something 'safe' on the plate (ie something you know they will eat). Finally, make food fun, use it in play (potato and carrot printing, pasta and rice for sensory play, making broccoli tree forests etc..), read books featuring food in a fun way and better still, start a mini vegetable garden."
How do I know how much food to give my child?
"The beauty of being baby led when weaning is that your child will always tell you how much they need, through their actions or verbally when they're a little older. Be lead by them and you can never go wrong. This ideally means not spoon feeding them, we know from research that spoon feeding tends to encourage overeating, whereas when babies feed themselves using their hands (or a spoon you have pre-loaded for them to pick up) they eat only what they are hungry for.
One mistake parents tend to make however is piling too much on a plate. It's much better to serve up a small amount at a time, or even more ideal, use serving dishes and allow them to serve themselves (perhaps when a little older!). Having too much food on their plate tends to turn children off of eating. It's just overwhelming. It's quite common for them to throw the unwanted food on the floor too, so if you have a food thrower the answer is almost always serving less up!
I also recommend the idea of a grazing tray. Filling a little partitioned tray or container with lots of different foods and allowing them to graze on it throughout the day."
What if they refuse to eat the meal I have prepared?
"Calmly take the plate and say "oh you're not hungry now, that's OK, we'll keep it in the fridge for later in case you get hungry". Do make sure you always offer a safe choice though, to ensure they are not refusing to eat because they genuinely hate everything on the plate."
How can I encourage my child to have a healthy relationship with food?
"This starts with you. How you approach eating is paramount. My best tip for parents, particularly those new to weaning, is to understand both the biology and psychology of eating in childhood and to recognise how far we are away from natural eating habits as adults. It's hard to trust babies and children if we don't trust ourselves around food and as children, most of us were taught by our caregivers (parents, dinner ladies and so on) that we couldn't be trusted around food. How many of you were told to "just eat one more bite", or "you can't have dessert until you eat your main meal", or "you can't possibly be hungry, you only just ate" or "come on, eat it, you must be hungry, you haven't eaten anything for ages". Our whole childhoods were spent with well-meaning adults overriding our own satiety and hunger cues and disrespecting our (often genetically predisposed) likes and dislikes. It's so important to break this cycle with your own children, the more laid back and relaxed you can be about weaning, the more fun and enjoyable it will be for both yourself and your baby!"
Thanks Sarah 🙂
You can buy Sarah's book 'The Gentle Eating Book' on her website
We asked our Frugi Family members...
What are you making the kids for tea tonight?
From Sunday roast to homemade veggie burgers, join the group and find some foodie inspiration here!
Sarah Ockwell-smith's advice is her own. She is in no way endorsing or promoting Frugi Dinner Sets and has kindly offered her advice for this blog free of charge.