There will likely come at time after you begin baby food on a spoon but before your child is ready to eat a full and balanced meal that he refuses to eat off a spoon. He’s not interested in pureed anything (except ice cream, perhaps), and desperately wants to eat what you’re eating. This can lead to panic on the part of parents who want things to remain as it where they can easily control and monitor their child’s food intake.
This is a time, however, where parents must led their children lead. If your baby is ready to self-feed, and is doing so in a determined and stubborn way, play along as best you can. All the practice self feeding will help him learn to mash food more effectively leading to bigger portions and healthier, balanced meals in the near future. It will also help you to start preparing for life with a toddler.
Finger Food Mania
As babies transition from infant to toddler, they travel down many paths and across many bridges. Frustration can be high when they want to do something only to discover they can’t physically manage it. Self feeding might be part of this very issue.
Some babies are mellow and complacent when it comes to food, but others are ready to eat the way the big people do – only without the utensils. If your child has suddenly started refusing the spoon with baby food, try increasing finger foods to get you through this transition.
Of course your little one might not be as ready for finger foods as he things, but that is something you can work with over time. While you’re waiting for him to start wolfing down chili dogs and steak, try these suggestions to make mealtimes much simpler and more enjoyable for everyone.
Go with the Flow – Babies used to be fed milk exclusively up to the age of one. If your child refuses or is too tired to eat his peas and carrots off a spoon or his high chair tray, don’t force feed him. Just try again tomorrow. One night off isn’t going to hurt anyone.
Stick with his Stages
If he’s refusing to be spoon fed night after night, start offering him finger foods that he can handle. His first grip will be a full handed grasp where he will gnaw on any item that he finds delicious. So accommodate him with hard toast and crackers – whole wheat of course, toddler fruit bars, breakfast bars, bananas, and baked fruits and vegetables. If you bake apple slices, carrot slices, potatoes and other items to a soft state, he can gnaw on them much like a healthier version of French fries.
As his grasp gets better, he’ll be able to pick up small pieces of meat, fruit, vegetables, beans and pasta. Watch him carefully as he learns to gum up his food as he’ll likely shove a fistful in his mouth before he learns to pinch up one piece at a time.
Play by the Rules
Even if you know it’s pushing your luck, offer your child a balanced meal every time he sits down to eat. The best way to ensure this is to eat a balanced meal yourself. Only when you’re preparing food for babies and toddlers, you’ll want to skip hard meats or ones that require teeth as your baby might not get molars to grind with until he’s close to fifteen or eighteen months.
Prepare foods that you enjoy such as roast beef, potatoes, corn and beans. Then cut each item into pieces small enough for your baby and let him decide what he feels like eating that particular meal. So long as you’re offering a variety of healthy foods, his nutrition shouldn’t suffer. Especially as he’s also getting all the nutrition he needs from breast milk or formula.
Enjoy the Show
Once you know you’ve done what you can to give your child what he wants in a way that also provides as much healthy nutrition as possible, sit back and enjoy the show. Your child will most likely wind up with more food on his body, face, high chair and the floor than in his little mouth. But like all things, the more he practices, the better he’ll be at getting that food where it needs to go.