As those of you regular Freddie’s Food readers will know, from about 6 – 7 months onwards Freddie refused to eat off a spoon. I recently had a question from a reader who’s baby is doing exactly the same thing asking what to feed him or how to go about feeding him if she’s not going to use a spoon. I thought I’d put my answer in a post to hopefully help some other mums and dads who might be going through the same thing too.
This got me thinking back to how I felt at the time. All my mummy friends were also starting their babies on solids and it felt like their babies were all gobbling food of a spoon by the barrel load, eating everything and anything they were offered. Where as Freddie point blank refused to eat from a spoon clamping his lips shut and turning his head away.
This led to stressful mealtimes and looking back I wish one of the health professionals I spoke to had told me not to panic! Freddie was growing and developing and meeting his milestones so the fact that he wasn’t interested in eating off a spoon really shouldn’t have been too much of a big deal. Obviously this would have been different if he hadn’t been and if you are feeling concerned I would recommend talking to your health visitor or GP.
Yes babies are beginning to need more than just breast milk or formula from around 6 months, especially iron, but think about what you spoon feed a baby of this age. Fruit or vegetable puree, maybe some baby rice, a tiny bit of pureed meat all diluted with lots of water and probably only 3 tablespoonfuls at most maybe once or twice, at a stretch three times, a day. Babies are very perceptive and if you are getting stressed out at mealtimes they are going to respond to this. However hard it may feel try and stay calm and if your baby isn’t interested stop the meal and try another time. I would also recommend making sure your baby isn’t overtired when you offer meals especially if it is a new food you are trying.
So where to from here if your baby is refusing the spoon? Distraction techniques or sneaking in mouthfuls doesn’t sit right with my approach to feeding our family. I want mealtimes to be happy, social times wherever possible, when my children eat because they are hungry not because I tell them to and are adventurous eaters who try new foods and flavours but know it’s ok not to like something. So once I worked out that spoon feeding really wasn’t the way forward I switched to finger food. In a recent post about independence I blogged about why giving your baby finger food is so great and if you are going to be mainly giving your baby finger foods you might want to give it a read. I can’t guarantee that your baby will want to eat with their fingers anymore than off a spoon but it worked for us.
To make giving your baby finger foods easy I recommend only giving one or two pieces of food at a time. Simply put it on their highchair and let your baby explore the food, play with it and taste it. Place a splash mat under their highchair so you can pick up food that has been dropped and give it back to them knowing it is clean. If you are concerned about how much your baby is actually eating put whatever you would have pureed in a bowl so you can see how much they have eaten at the end of the meal. Try not to get too concerned about how much they are eating to begin with as the initial stages of feeding are about exploring new tastes and textures and learning how to chew and swallow. I found with both our children that it wasn’t until around 9 or 10 months that they were really eating for hunger and started to cut down their milk.
One concern I have often heard people mention when thinking about giving finger food instead of puree is will their baby manage if they don’t have any teeth yet? Lottie didn’t get her first tooth until after she started on solids and it didn’t stop her chewing foods. If you cover your teeth with your lips and bite down you will get an idea of how strong their gums are. I would recommend offering soft foods though so they don’t snap bits off and choke on them. You could also try a feeding bag that they can hold and suck.
So what to feed your baby? Basically whatever you would be pureeing up give it to them as finger food instead. Try and give them foods that aren’t too slippery or too small to start with to give them a chance to get it in their mouths! Some great foods to try are:
- Roasted vegetable sticks – sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin all work well. Cut them into strips, spray with a little oil and roast at 180 ‘C. You can do a batch and feed them to your baby over a couple of days.
- Steamed vegetable – broccoli florets, sugar snap peas, mini sweetcorn, carrot batons, cauliflower all work well. Very quickly your baby will be able to manage peas and sweetcorn too.
- Slices of avocado
- Beans and pulses – chickpeas are a favourite finger food in our house.
- Mini sandwich fingers filled with cream cheese, marmite, tuna, ham.
- Cheese on toast
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cheese sticks
- Pasta – fusilli is really easy for babies to pick up.
- Ripe fresh fruit cut into chunks that are easy for them to hold.
- Slices of meat for your baby to suck on a chew.
These foods are a mixture of stage one and two foods but if your baby is nearly 7 months and been having solids for a while stage two foods should be fine to as it is recommended to introduce them around 7 months. At first only add a new food every 2-4 days.
Good luck Joy! I hope this help. Do let me know how your little one gets on and message me again if you have more questions. I’d love to try and help make mealtimes happy and stress free for you and your baby. Kate x