When it comes to feeding infants solids, it is often not a straight and narrow path to success. Sometimes you and baby will hit some bumps along the way, which may leave you feeling confused, anxious, and not sure how to make things better. Below are several strategies to navigate this stressful time.
Tips to help navigate feeding your infant solids:
Be sure your infant is ready. As you may have heard, it is not as important to watch the calendar as it is to watch your baby. Signs of readiness include the following:
- Baby is able to sit independently or with very minimal support.
- Baby does not stick his tongue out as a reflex to putting the spoon in his mouth.
- Baby seems eager to eat food, opening his mouth when you bring the spoon to him.
Remember, eating solids is more for learning and developing skills, not as much for nutrition (until closer to 10-12 months). This is very important to remember and will help relieve your anxiety if your baby does not consume huge quantities of food, or if your baby does not accept particular foods right away. The major source of nutrition for your baby until 10-12 months is breastmilk or formula. Around this age, solid food will begin to represent a larger slice of the nutrition pie, so to speak.
Consider teething or illness. Is your good eater suddenly turning his head and pushing the spoon away at mealtime? If this happens, do not make a big deal about it. Just gently offer the food, and if he rejects it repeatedly, then just say, “That’s ok. We’ll try again later.” Leave it alone and don’t stress. The worst reaction would be to force the food into his mouth or to get upset with him. This can make him even more averse in future feedings. Often teething or a sore throat could be the culprit. You may get your answer within a day or two of baby not eating like himself when you find a new tooth emerging or a runny nose starting.
Note that babies have very different palates than we do as adults. In some ways, baby’s taste buds are a blank canvas. This is an advantage in terms of being able to introduce a wide variety of foods and textures. However, some foods may trigger baby to say, “No way!” for whatever reason. It could be texture, taste, or even the way it looks. If you find baby totally rejecting some foods, again, do not overreact. Just take a break from that food for 2-4 weeks, and try again. The key is to be low pressure, positive, and calm. Also, remember baby learns to eat well from you, so be sure to show him how great it is to eat green beans!
If your baby is showing more extreme aversions to eating solids, or is not developing age-appropriate feeding and swallowing skills, read Does My Child Need Feeding Therapy? or contact our Feeding Team at North Shore Pediatric Therapy for more information. Our multidisciplinary team of experts can identify and treat feeding issues to help your child thrive.