Feeding Readiness, Engagment, and"All Done" Signs with a Baby
This is definitely its own long topic but I am being lazy. So I thought I'd just post these two videos which I think highlight the difference between when a baby is actively interested and engaged in a feeding compared to when she or he is done. It's so important to honor those "all done" cues because it helps foster a sense of reciprocity and connectedness between parent and baby, as well as a feeling of safety around meal times that she will be listened to when she tells you she's had enough. Also, it lays the foundation of your child being able to rely on his own sense of hunger and satiety without over-eating or needing an adult to tell him when to stop or eat more. Additionally, acknowledging those "all done" cues as just that, communication, instead of bad behavior, can help keep us parents from getting man, which ultimately prevent those behaviors from becoming power struggles.
This first video highlights feeding readiness and engagement. Note how she leans towards the spoon and opens her mouth. Pretty obvious that she's into the meal and wants more food:
The second video highlights the same baby (my baby!) at the end of a different meal where she is clearly disinterested in continuing feeding. Note how she makes it perfectly clear that she is no longer interest in eating her meal:
While it can seem very frustrating to stop a meal when there is still food left, or worse, when your baby has not eaten anything, it shows respect and that he or she is heard and understood. Start with explaining the situation, such as "it looks like you are all done." Or, if it's more behavioral than that, consider, "food stays on the table. If you throw your food on the ground, the meal will end." If the behavior continues, most likely the child is done eating (or bored or tired but clearly not motivated to eat and therefore most likely not too hungry.) Honor the communication and avoid getting upset or making a big deal out of it. Just start your "all done" routine, such as you and baby wiping the table, wiping hands and face, then getting out of the high chair. Know that your baby will get another chance to eat soon. Move on and enjoy the next activity with your baby!