You definitely don’t want to add having a child that is a picky eater on top of all of the other stress that comes with juggling parenting and life.
Meal time with a child that eats solid foods can be stressful.
Children are notoriously slow eaters, and make huge messes in the process. (Ditch that white dining room rug if you have one!)
When to introduce food
Most physicians say that the right time to introduce food is around 6 months of age. Of course, I would recommend consulting your child’s pediatrician to be sure that is appropriate for their individual circumstances.
I have always been told that food before 1 is just for fun. During the first year of life, a child’s diet should consist mainly of milk. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to formula feed, nurse, pump and feed, or a mix of all!
Methods of introducing food
There are two ways to introduce food to your baby. You can choose whichever way works better for you. If you’d like, combine the two! Each way has its benefits, so make the choice that works best for your family. The two ways to introduce food are through purees or baby led weaning.
Feeding your baby purees means that you’re spoon feeding them. You can make the purees yourself, or you can by pre-made mixtures from the store. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to feed your baby purees.
Spoon feeding a baby is an extremely special bonding experience.
Baby-led weaning is a second option for introducing food to your little one. This method involves handing your baby food and allowing them to feed themselves. Choosing the baby-led weaning method teaches excellent hand-eye coordination. This makes eating an interactive experience.
Babies love to think they have control in the situation, and it makes them more confident.
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Creating an atmosphere for eating
If you’ve decided to introduce food to your baby, and you’ve picked a method that works best for you, then you’re almost ready to begin! One extremely important step for encouraging a baby to eat is to create an atmosphere for eating.
What in the world do I mean by that? Limit distractions!
You can limit distractions by testing out the following situations:
- The family sits down to eat meals together.
- Limit loud noisy distractions like radios and televisions.
- Don’t allow the baby to crawl or walk around during meal time until they’re done eating. Having a high chair, sit-me-up chair, or bouncer chair are recommended.
- Teach your children sign language so that you can communicate with each other during meal time. Important signs for communicating about food are ‘hungry’, ‘more’, and ‘all done’.
- Talk to your child while they’re eating. Encourage them to try new things. Thank them when they do try new things.
Allowing a child to run around and play while they’re supposed to be eating can encourage avoidance and result in a picky eater!
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Transitioning from an only milk diet to introducing real food is an exciting time. These are the best products on the market to help make meal time a breeze!
- Utensils: I bought two different types of utensils for feeding my baby. The first type I bought was normal baby spoons that would allow for my husband and I to feed our son purees. We quickly added in baby-led weaning because our little boy was SO independent and wanted to take the spoons from us. I found that it was much easier for him to eat with these shorter utensils because they fit better in his little hands. When we started allowing our son to feed himself, he loved to eat fruit out of these silicone tipped spoons. They’re really easy to open up and wash whenever they’re finished. I felt better about him using those spoons because I knew he wouldn’t be able to push the spoon too far back in his throat, nor eat too much at one time.
- Plates and bowls: Whenever you’re feeding your baby purees you don’t have to worry as much about what type of bowl you’re using. If you decide baby-led weaning is the answer for your family, then invest in bowls and plates with suction cups like these. I’ve had more bowls of food than I can count be thrown off of the hi-chair tray. The plates are great as well because you can better monitor portion control.
- Chairs: My family has this space saver hi-chair that has worked wonderful for us. At the grandparent’s house we use this stand alone hi-chair that has an awesome basket at the bottom where I keep extra bibs. I think each option has its benefits. It comes down to price point and preference. The space saver hi-chair takes up a dining room chair, but it is less expensive than the stand alone hi-chair. Both options have adjustable backs, so you can slip your kiddo out without removing the tray if you don’t have enough hands! For younger babies, I cannot say enough good things about this Fisher Price seat. When my son was around 6 months old we would put him in the seat on top of the counter to feed him. The cover is machine washable and comes off easily.
What if this doesn’t work?
If you’re consistent with your approach and introducing new foods to your baby, and you’re still having a hard time getting them to try new things or eat, then you should discuss that with your child’s pediatrician. Some children have aversions to certain smells, tastes, and textures. There are incredible therapists for children to overcome those fears.
Understand that trying new things can be scary at first. Try your best to have patience with your children during these transitional times!
60 first foods
To help you with the transition of adding food into your baby’s routine, I put together a list of 60 awesome starter foods that will help you avoid raising a picky eater.
Remember offer small portions and cut things up.
If your baby doesn’t like the food the first time they try it, then give it a week and try again! Avoiding a food initially is common, and that doesn’t make your child a picky eater.