6 Ways to Encourage a Reluctant Eater

6 Ways to Encourage a Reluctant Eater | reflectivemama.com

After exclusively breastfeeding Baby, we first tried feeding him solids when he was around six months old. I say tried, because Baby was not on board with this idea. At all. At the same time, I felt like I was surrounded by babies and stories of babies who loved eating solid food as fast as it was offered. Yet Baby continued to spit food out as soon as the spoon was in his mouth (sometimes before, but I still don’t know how he managed that feat). Thankfully, I had heard a few stories of other babies who reacted similarly to mine. It was reassuring to know that this too was “normal,” and if we kept patiently trying Baby would eventually eat solid food.

My initial plan was to start with homemade veggie purees. However, after consulting with our pediatrician and my step-mom (a pediatric trauma nurse), I decided to go the old fashioned route of (organic) rice cereal because of allergy concerns. When Baby actively refused, I tried oatmeal cereal, and then homemade pureed sweet potatoes and apples, and finally mashed banana. Despite repeated attempts, each one struck out.

At this point I was tired of making trays of homemade pureed food that would just sit in the freezer because Baby refused to keep any of it in his mouth. I decided to try some store-bought food to see if I could discover something pleasing to Baby’s ridiculously discerning palate, without all of the wasted energy on my part. I learned Baby was not a fan of peaches or peas, but a handful of others were making some progress.

1. Avocados

Granted, avocados came out of the same produce section as the pureed apples, I’m including them here because they’re much easier to prepare (and because Baby liked them). Baby would eat about a sixth of an avocado mashed with some breastmilk. He had expensive taste, but it helped that it was spring and they were always on sale.

2. Store Bought Veggie Purees

Of the different purees I tried, Baby seemed to like Earth’s Best First Carrots and Sweet Potatoes the best. Still, I had to feed him with a bit of bait and switch. First, I would give Baby a plastic baby spoon to play with. When he would open his mouth to chew on it, I would beat him to it with a spoonful of food. He spit out a lot of it, but I’d scoop it off his chin and keep spooning it back in. It would take three different sittings to get through one 2.5 ounce jar, but we were starting to get somewhere… until Baby learned how to spit. Spew is a more accurate term. Hermione would be proud.

3. Puffs

I started giving Baby Happy Organic Puffs when he was seven months old. At first, few actually made it into his mouth, but he loved playing with them. Baby put everything into his mouth, so I’m not sure if he knew puffs were food or not, but they kept him busy. I saw it as wonderful practice without much mess. I tried to give him some puffs to eat and play with at least once a day. They were a great tool to help him work on his pincer grasp (picking up something with his pointer finger and thumb), and they kept him busy so I could clean up the kitchen.

4. Baby Cookies

The last thing I thought I would give my baby for breakfast was a cookie, but many days that’s exactly what he ate. Since Baby liked to feed himself, I tried out Ella’s Kitchen Apple + Ginger Baby Cookies when Baby was eight months old. Baby could hold and gnaw on them until they dissolved in his mouth. They were pretty crumbly, so I would pick pieces up from his lap and put them back on his tray so that he could try again. They were pretty yummy. Once he started to eat better, I would break the cookie into three or four pieces and give him one piece at a time to eat.

5. Rice Rusks

Similar to baby cookies, Baby Mum-Mums were a great way for Baby to feed himself. Baby loved the Banana flavor, and I loved that they didn’t make a mess. They were great to give Baby when we were at a restaurant or Grandma and Grandpa’s house. They didn’t pack the biggest nutritional punch, so I put these more into the training food and entertainment category. Totally worth it.

6. Time

Baby was still breastfeeding like a champ and continuing to pack on the pounds, so I decided to stop worrying. He’ll eat more when he’s ready, and in the meantime we just kept going with the old favorites and continued to try out new ones. When Baby masters his pincer grasp, we’ll move onto more finger foods like soft cooked vegetables, ripe peeled fruit, and overcooked spiral pasta. Until then, I just might join him for a cookie in the morning.

When did your baby start to eat solid foods? Which foods were loved or rejected?

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  1. Pingback: 12 Month Old Developmental Check Up | Reflective Mama

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