Ask Amma

Play or Eat? Why not Both?

In What on 26 May 2012 at 1:16 am

Our son turned-over more than a month and a half back and is extremely active – it has become challenging for us to feed him. He wants to play and eat at the same time – any thoughts on how to approach this phase? Also, any ideas on activities for him?
– Appa of a 5 month-old in Maryland

Since he is, as you say, extremely active, I am wondering why you think he is not getting enough food?

Keep in mind that play is a way of feeding the mind, which hungers just as the body does. A baby who knows where the milk comes from and how to get to it, will nurse. Do you think he is playing "too much" and not nursing "enough?" He may think differently. Trust him. Play with him. If you are still concerned that he is not nursing enough, proactively find times & places that are calm and encourage nursing. Use the sling, use skin-to-skin contact, use music. What I found was that taking a walk just around sunset time, with baby in the sling and able to nurse via nursing kurta was very much conducive to nursing and sleeping. Perhaps it resembled the womb. There were a few months when I did this every evening.

Sometimes babies go through phases where they are so keen to play while awake that they save all their nursing for night and naptime. Lest hunger for play take priority over hunger for food, pack in plenty of play so that he is satisfied and works up a good appetite. Play can take the form of singing songs, clapping, peek-a-boo, dancing, bathing (try all at the same time!). Babies also enjoy listening to conversations and watching others work, and generally being involved in whatever is going on. Soon he will be "helping" you with your work. I would recommend that you get a toy phone, preferably one that looks like a land line, and avoid exposure to the cell phone for as long as humanly possible. Likewise I would keep him away from any screen of any size.

Toys like rattles, cups, balls, socks are fun, but leave some scope for him to discover his own playthings. You will discover the hidden wonders of many ordinary things around the house.

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