My eight month old hates being spoon fed. For the past month, it feels like I’ve been force-feeding him purees. He wants to eat on his own, so I cut up small foods and he has a strong grasp but never seems to eat enough. He loves his milk and would drink that all day long. Should I be worried? How do I make sure he is getting enough to eat?
Dr. James Feinstein, pediatrician in the Special Care Clinic and Child Health Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado
Kudos to you on raising an independent child! The incorporation of solid foods into meals can be so fun and so frustrating at the same time. Fortunately, your son sounds like he’s on just the right track.
At this stage, feeding with solid foods should focus on the experience itself (new tastes, new textures, and a big mess!) and not necessarily on the calories from solid foods. Until closer to his first birthday, the majority of his nutrition may still come from breast milk or formula, usually three to four servings of six to eight ounces per day.
I always recommend to parents that they let their child explore and eat solid foods two to four times per day on their own terms. Sit your baby in a high chair, minimize other distractions in the room, and hold off on offering a breast or bottle—this will increase the chance that he will be hungry and that he will attempt to eat what you put in front of him.
While it’s useful to introduce spoon feeding, don’t let it become a point of friction between you and your baby. If he resists the spoon, capitalize on his independence and offer finger foods that dissolve in the mouth like baby cereals, crackers, or pastas. Diced soft fruit, yogurt, mild cheeses, soft-cooked vegetables, or strained meats are also good choices. Even if he only tries a few tastes, that’s still a win, and then you can offer him the breast or bottle (or, even better, a sippy cup).
Although your pediatrician will continue to weigh your baby at every visit to ensure that he is growing adequately, know that infants are excellent at self-regulating how much nutrition they need. So, as long as you are feeding in response to your baby’s hunger cues, you will have a happy, healthy baby.