A Six-Month Solid Food Reset
I am a mother of one year old baby girl from India. I tried to feed my daughter solids after 6 months with spoon and but she wouldn’t have it so in order to fill her stomach and get all the necessary things into her I started grinding all of her food and feed it through her milk bottle.
But now it’s been 6 months like that I have been trying to feed her with spoon and fork again but she does not want it and would not eat anything whether fruits or vegetables, no matter which one is on the table. I tried to offer her these in pureed form, juices, raw pieces, or steamed pieces, but nothing seems to be working. Is there anything I should be doing and I am not? This whole process increases my anxiety and stress. Please help.
Well, the feeding her “solids” through a bottle was a bit of a self-defeating move, and a kind of unnecessary one at that. For the first 12 months, breastmilk or formula are a baby’s primary source of nutrition — solid foods aren’t actually “necessary.” They’re more to help your baby practice fine- and oral-motor skills (i.e. picking foods up with the pincer grasp, hand-to-mouth coordination, gumming, chewing, and swallowing new textures, etc.) and to prepare her for the transition away from the bottle or breast. By reducing her solids to a liquid and offering them in the same format as milk, she didn’t really get any of that.
Lots of babies don’t immediately show enthusiasm for solids at right at six months.
And that’s okay! You can keep trying, or you can take a break and try again in a few days or even weeks. You can ditch the spoon and purees entirely and let them experiment with self-feeding (also called baby-led weaning). You can let them play with food and utensils on their tray for ages without ever witnessing them taking an actual bite. At some point, though, something will appeal to them enough for them to put it in their mouth and the lightbulb goes off that 1) food is good, and 2) food is another way to satisfy hunger than the breast and/or bottle. (Breast or bottle will likely remain their “preferred” source of nutrition, but again, that is also totally okay and recommended for the first year.)
Wean your baby off bottles when they reach 12-months old.
The last thing I want to do here is to increase your stress and anxiety about this, but Number One: Stop feeding her solid foods through a bottle. It’s not really doing her any good at this point. It’s also a choking hazard.
(Here I will fully admit to being a total hard-ass about weaning off bottles ASAP at the 12-month mark for both dental and oral-motor skill reasons. But until your daughter is successfully chewing or swallowing solid foods on her own, you should continue to ensure she’s getting a good baseline of nutrition from breastmilk or formula, even if that means continuing to offer her bottles. Talk to your pediatrician about your feeding concerns as well — you probably don’t want to switch to cow’s milk yet either, until she’s demonstrating an ability to eat on her own.)
Understand what you have control over and what you don’t when it comes to infant feeding.
Next up: I know this is anxiety-inducing. Believe me, I knooooowwww. But I want you to take a deep breath and repeat the next few phrases to yourself:
It is my job to prepare and offer her food to eat.
It is not my job to make her eat it.
She will eat when she is hungry.
Some babies will reject the same food dozens of times before finally accepting it. Some babies absolutely love one food for meals on end before suddenly rejecting for reasons unknown. Some babies hate the spoon and only want finger foods. Some babies throw the finger foods at the wall while screaming bloody murder for you to hurry up with the next spoonful of sweet potatoes. Some babies honestly skip over the entire “baby food” stage completely and go right for whatever is on your plate instead.
Which kind of baby is YOUR baby? You’ll never know! You just keep trying and experimenting, but while never, ever forgetting those three phrases up there. Once there is food in front of her, you’ve done your job. The rest is up to her.
Since she’s consistently shown zero interest in plain fruits and vegetables, have you offered her other options?
There’s no law that says she MUST start with plain fruits and vegetables, after all. Yogurt, eggs, cheese, meat, grains/rice/pasta/carbohydrates — basically all the other food groups — can be safely introduced at this age. You can even just give her exactly what you’re eating. (With the added caution that since she’s not yet consistently demonstrated the ability to chew and swallow, you may need to offer it in a slightly modified format to prevent choking, and of course supervise her very closely.)
Family dinners can be helpful.
Try including her in a family dinner/meal, even if she’s just in her high chair entertaining herself with a book or toy. Let her watch you eat. Make happy faces and talk about how good, yummy, and fun your food is. Offer her a bite if she shows any interest; otherwise ignore any uneaten or untouched food on her tray.
(PARENTING PROTIP FOR ALL AGES AND STAGES: DON’T EVER LET THEM KNOW HOW DEEPLY YOU CARE ABOUT WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT THEM TO DO. THAT’S HOW THEY GET YOU.)
When the meal is over, the meal is over. No bottle of pureed fruits, no deviation from whatever breastmilk/formula intake your pediatrician recommends. If she acts hungry, put her back in her high chair and try offering some “real” food again. If she rejects it: Again, try to stay calm. She will not starve to death after skipping one meal, or even two or three. Think of this as similar to sleep training — you know she’s exhausted, but you can’t MAKE her sleep. But you also know she can’t fight sleep and stay awake FOREVER. The same goes for food and hunger.
Maybe when she is actually hungry enough, she’ll accept spoon-feeding. Or she’ll finally decide some peas or bananas aren’t so terrible after all. Maybe she’ll go straight to “real” food from your plate, or some combination of all of the above.
Now, if you do try everything outlined here and still see zero progress — like she still refuses to voluntarily put any food in her mouth on her own and still won’t accept spoon-feeding, etc. I would recommend a developmental evaluation at that point, just to make sure there isn’t some underlying feeding issue.
Rule out any developmental issues and/ or medical problems.
(I realize I’ve been assuming that other than this, her general development/milestones has fallen within the normal ranges? No problems with sucking/latching/tongue tie, or other signs of oral aversion like not mouthing on her hands or toys or teethers, etc.? She has a good variety of babbling sounds and syllables, etc.? If not, consider getting her evaluated by a doctor first — this could be something that would benefit from proper Early Intervention vs. advice from some rando on the Internet.)
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Photo source: Depositphotos/BonNontawat