Feeding young children can be one of the most challenging tasks of a parent, much more of a babysitter. Children, particularly toddlers, seem to love upsetting parents and sitters during mealtime. They tend to snub almost any food you give them– especially the healthy ones. Other babies are very picky when it comes to foods – wanting to eat the same variety of foods throughout the day. Still others are very unpredictable, at first they love this certain dish, then the next hour they don’t.
Feeding children is the most basic skill that every babysitter should learn. Just for a moment, forget about first aid for burns or infant CPR or prevention of falls (although if you’re interested you can take a course for those here). They are not as urgent as knowing how to feed a picky, fussy and irritable child. Remember, if you are not able to feed a baby on time, you will certainly have a hard time sitting the baby throughout the entire day. You can end up hating babysitting ever.
So, how do you feed a baby?
Before you feed a baby, make sure that you ask the parents what, when and how much to feed. Pay special attention to the foods the child is allowed and not allowed to take (paying special attention to foods he or she is allergic to). It is recommended that you have the parents list down the feeding schedule and instructions.
Basically, feeding a hungry infant should not be difficult. Infants who are bottle-fed often follow a feeding schedule. Infants adapt to this cycle, so it’s easy to predict when and how much to feed infant. However, you should also be aware of some cues that may indicate the baby is already hungry, such as crying, waking-up, becoming irritable and thumb-sucking.
This may be the opposite for most toddlers and preschoolers. When children reach this age, they tend to become very active and explorative. Children become so excited learning new motor skills and becoming more physical capable. Most toddlers and preschoolers do not give attention to meal breaks, especially when they are engaged into some interesting activities. To make feeding easier, you should try to limit activities at least thirty minutes before meals. Have the child stop on whatever thing he is doing so that he can prepare to eat.
Toddlers who are just starting to eat from a spoon may seem to push the food away. Be patient and continue feeding them as long as they seem interested. Make sure to ask the parents whether the child is still spoon-fed and if it is safe to leave them with eating utensils.
Allow toddlers and school-aged children to try feeding themselves, even if they are messy. Anyway, you can clean them up later. Most school-aged children feed themselves, either with fingers or small spoon and fork. They often find eating to be fun. However, never leave the child unsupervised while eating. If the child does not want to or refuses to eat, don’t force him. Instead, wait for a few minutes and try again.
Finally, older children can feed themselves but you should prepare their food. Make sure you prepare them with a healthy meal or as instructed by the parents.