As your baby takes their first steps in the eating world, it is important to watch closely and see how they’re tolerating the food they’re eating. When your baby first tastes pureed or puffed-cereal type foods, the process may require a bit of trial and error.
What do you do if your baby seems to be having trouble with the first few soft-textured foods they encounter?
Most babies can easily make the jump from formula to pureed foods, but problems typically pop up when they need to begin chewing foods rather than quickly swallowing and slightly manipulating purees.
Don’t be disheartened and keep working with your little one to move towards eating regular foods! There is no need to despair if this process doesn’t go quite as planned.
In this article, we’ll examine a few steps to help transition your 6-month-old from the pureed food stage to eating more textured foods along with the rest of the family. Let’s take a look at what’s important about this process.
The Importance of Moving to Solids
If your child dislikes or outright rejects the first solid foods they encounter, don’t feel alone. So many parents see their children having this same reaction.
Interestingly, research shows that there are so many long-term benefits to making sure that your child’s diet has as much variety as possible; especially at an early age.
A variety of research articles suggest that this stage of eating has an influence on potential allergies later in life. Evidence indicates that encountering a variety of foods during the first year of life makes a child less likely to become allergic to those foods as they grow up.
Beyond that, this stage of eating is when your child begins to develop their relationship with food. Children who learn to try and accept new foods and textures during the first year of eating are more likely to accept new foods even years after the fact.
Normal Responses to Solids
Gagging, lack of interest, refusing to try, and hating foods touching one another.
Reasons for Refusing Solids
If you’re introducing solids closer to the 4-month mark, your little one might not be ready yet. And that is perfectly normal. Many children aren’t quite ready until they are closer to 5 and even six months of age. They’re still learning important motor skills and learning to use their tongue.
Some little ones don’t like the texture, but with enough exposure and consistency, they will usually grow out of this phase.
Texture Exposure During Mealtime
If your child has reached the stage where they should be able to handle the solids but doesn’t seem to enjoy doing so, try taking a step back and slowing down the process. Here are a few tips and strategies to help introduce solids and increase your child’s confidence!
Let them get messy! Even if it’s pureed food, place this directly on their high chair tray and let them play. Especially if it’s a food they enjoy like yogurt, when it gets on their fingers, they are likely to put them in their mouth.
Keep placing new foods on their tray until they become more familiar. Gently encourage them to touch the food, but try to avoid forcing the experience. This may cause them to become even more resistant.
Lead by Example
Show them how to put the food that’s in their hand, into their mouth. If your child is resistant to you moving their hand towards their face, show them how you would accomplish this.
Keep it Stress-free
Kids pick up on our emotions and worries, especially if you’re getting frustrated. Feeling pressured to meet these milestones will likely only lead to more resistance. It’s important to try to stay calm and keep mealtime fun and lighthearted.
Slowing down the process like this can help because it allows your child to feel very comfortable with each food put in front of them. As long as you take each step slowly and wait until the baby has mastered that new food, you’ll be all set.
Texture Exposure Outside of Meal Time
Tooth Brushing– This experience helps desensitize your little ones mouth to texture and gives their tongue practice moving about their mouth. Make sure to run the brush all over their gums and tongue.
If they aren’t the biggest fan at the beginning, let them play with the toothbrush to become familiar and slowly increase the length of time you brush their teeth.
Sensory Exposure through Touch– Using sensory bins has become an increasingly popular way to help your little one become more comfortable touching new and different textures. There are a variety of options for purchase, or you can make one at home!
The most important rule when making your own is to avoid items that are a choking hazard for the age of your child.
Teething Toys– Some little ones that struggle with eating solids are also not a huge fan of putting toys in their mouth. If this sounds familiar to you, get a bunch of these teething rings, and let your child have at it!
When to Seek Professional Help
If you’re still struggling to get your little one to even try solid foods by the time they are nine months, it won’t hurt to have them evaluated by a speech or occupational therapist. All children are different, and some take a little longer to hit different milestones than others.
However, it’s always best to intervene sooner rather than later. Don’t hesitate to bring any of your concerns to the attention of your pediatrician.