I have a one year old snack monster at home. His favorite food is food. Anything you place in front of him will at least get a taste. I fear for our grocery budget once he reaches middle school. He knows where the food is located now and will open the pantry to find his favorite crackers or will point to the refrigerator to request, “Cheeeese? Cheeeese?” His ravenous appetite is great, but how did we get here?
Baby led weaning or purees fo’ days?
I approached food introduction a little differently this time around. With my daughter, we went through the 1st foods, 2nd foods puree progression. She is pretty picky and gagged easily, so I didn’t push as many new foods on her as I should have. This time around, we did a little bit of a mix between baby led weaning and puree foods. With both children, I’ve waited until pretty close to 6 months of being exclusively breastfed to introduce solids. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, it’s just what we did.
Little guy has practically begged for whatever we are eating from the moment we sat him in his high chair. He didn’t like being spoon fed for long, so, it was either end up with pureed food everywhere, or let him start feeding himself. I started off giving him just very small bites of our foods, and then once he could move the food around in his mouth okay, he graduated to chunks or matchstick shaped pieces over the course of a few months. Sometimes, he’d still be SO HUNGRY after all this work of manipulating the food and getting it to his mouth, so I’d spoon feed him to get a little more substance in his belly. He tolerated being fed by someone as long as he also got a super-amazing red spoon to dip in the bowl. Once he started being “neat” enough with baby food pouches, I let him feed himself with those after eating “real” food. I feel lazy just handing a pouch over, but he loves the independence of feeding himself, so I don’t feel too bad about it.
I definitely recommend looking at baby-led weaning and using whatever combination of that and spoon feeding that you would like to do. Baby led weaning gives the babies more of a chance to learn how to move the food around their mouth at their own pace, versus eating purees for so long, then being surprised when all of a sudden their purees are chunky. It’s a very disorienting feeling when you get an unexpected texture in a familiar food, so it makes sense that a baby might reject the new lumpy food.
I do want to say that I was less nervous about him gagging than I was with his older sister. Gagging is a protective reflex that babies end up testing out a little while they are learning how to move food around their mouth with their tongues. Soft fruits and veggies are slippery, so they are going to end up a little far back on their tongue sometimes, and the baby will gag. Obviously, you don’t want your baby to choke, so watch them carefully, especially with baby led weaning. A little gag can make parents so nervous and feel like they need to back off trying new foods. Assess how your baby does after the gag- if he recovers and spits the food out or moves it off the sensitive area, he was just finding his boundaries and hit a spot that triggered that gag reflex. Trust your instincts. If the baby is repeatedly gagging on a food, move on to something else because they might not be ready for that texture.
I like to keep it simple with our eating supplies. Most of our bowls, cups, and spoons are from Take N Toss. They are durable, inexpensive, and hold up well in the dishwasher. As an OT, I love how the bowls of the spoons are shaped; they are deep enough to hold a little food, but thin enough to fit in a baby’s mouth easily. I’m a big fan of teaching straw use as early as possible. The Take N Toss cups have nice hard straws that don’t let the child just bite down to get liquid. They have to actually make a seal with their lips and suck the liquid up through the straw. The best part, is that all of the parts can go in the dishwasher. The “no spill” type cups never get clean because we have to hand wash them, so I got rid of most of ours. I’ll write another post about my in-depth thoughts on children’s eating supplies another day!
What does my snack monster eat?
I’m just going to list almost everything that Little Guy likes to eat! Remember that it can take TEN times of trying a food before a child will eat it. So, just keep trying. It won’t hurt anything to at least have that food on their plate so that it’s a familiar sight, even if they don’t try it.
Slices of cheese (I hand him the whole thing)
Cheese sticks (I break it into pieces)
Shredded cheese (gets thrown like confetti, but eaten)
Yogurt (eats with with a spoon and then styles his hair with it)
Bananas (I either break off a chunk and he takes bites or I cut it into pieces that he picks up)
Apples (sliced into matchsticks or cooked in chunks)
Plums (in chunks)
Berries (he doesn’t really like them all the time, but he’ll eat them in muffins)
Pouches (he loves to feed himself and he gets a big ol’ serving of fruit, veggies, and grains)
Okay, we aren’t great here, but we’re trying.
Sweet potatoes (cooked and cut in chunks)
Green beans (cooked)
French fries (do these count?)
Peas (well, we try these, but he doesn’t like the skin)
Carrots (he spits out cooked carrots, but he likes to get tiny nibbles of raw ones if I’m eating them)
We’ll do better here…
Peanut butter (peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, peanut butter on a spoon)
Chicken (especially Chick Fil A!!)
Ground beef (just little bits)
Shrimp (popcorn shrimp)
Fish (he’ll eat a few bites)
Pork barbecue (chopped up pretty small)
Bread (rolls, sliced bread, naan, tortillas, etc)
Cereal (mostly Cheerios)
Cream of Wheat (if I make it thick enough to where he can just pick it up
Coucous (HUGE mess)
Noodles from chicken noodle soup
Pizza (I literally just hand him a slice of pizza and he goes for it)
Fig bars/Nutrigrain style bars
Snack crackers (like peanut butter crackers, Goldfish, etc)
Anything dessert related
PB& J sandwiches
Grilled Cheese (Cut into triangles)
What does your snack monster eat? We could use some suggestions!! I’m in a bit of a rut lately!
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