Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Helping babies feed themselves

Back in July, a reader emailed me with the following question:

"I've been pureeing (my 10-month-old's) foods, but he (and I) are ready for some solids. When I try to give him small pieces of bananas or avocados, they just slip through his fingers. The only advice I've seen online is to coat them in "Cheerio dust" or wheat germ, which I obviously don't want to do. Any suggestions??"

I didn't have any experience with this at the time, so I threw the question out to my Facebook followers. We received lots of great suggestions, so I compiled a quick list ... 

  • What about a little coconut flour?
  • You can start out with doing those mesh strainers to help him work on his grip and then transition to foods with more of a skin like a piece of orange or let him chew on a slice of grilled zucchini.
  • Put them in the freezer for like 10 minutes.
  • Or just start with foods that aren't aren't so slippery and are easier to grab...like blueberries or cut up carrots or sweet potato. Check out Wholesome Baby Food for good ideas (just ignore the grains part).
  • I say just let him practice, he'll get the hang of it!
  • We find that bananas are MUCH easier to hold if not sliced. We just break the banana into thirds and give him the big chunks. At 10 months of age a baby will have no problem biting small pieces off of a bigger chunk. With avocado, they are less slippery when they are a little less ripe, but often times we just finger or fork feed small bits of avocado because it's a lot less frustrating for everyone. BLW doesn't mean you can *never* feed baby with a spoon or fork, as long as you're respectful and don't force anything. It's a good learning experience for them, since the ultimate goal is for them to handle a spoon/fork by themselves.*
  • I liked to cut the avocado in spears and leave the skin on, so they could hold it and work around the skin, letting them figure out what part to eat and what part not to eat 
  • Wash wash wash the skin and give it (to) them with the flesh!
  • Almond meal or coconut flour.
  • Maybe try steamed chunks of sweet potato or pumpkin. That worked very well for our son. Also try steamed wedges of apple or sliced pear.

*This tip comes from Carli over at One Fit Mom. If you're not already reading her blog, definitely check it out! Lots of informative, detailed and well-researched posts about parenting and nutrition.
 
As for me, I used the practice approach. I actually spoon fed my daughter for quiet a while (we didn't do baby led weaning). When the time seemed right, I started giving her little chunks of food to work with. She struggled and struggled and struggled, until one day (about a week before she turned one) she just got it. Now, there's no stopping her.

How did your baby learn to grip food and feed him/herself? Did you use any of these tricks, or did you try some other method?

PS: Speaking of Cheerio dust -- have you seen this commercial? It totally perpetuates the idea babies need Cheerios to learn how to feed themselves. Soooo not true (Cheerios have only been around since 1941)! I think the first thing my baby picked up and put in her mouth was a piece of meat.





4 comments:

  1. We did BLW ourselves and it worked great. She ate avocado and sweet potatoes at first, and now pretty much eats anything. She loves red meat!

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  2. I couldn't handle the gagging with introducing foods whole, so I did a bit of puree-ing/mashing in the beginning. Little bits of sweet potato "fries" (oven-roasted in coconut oil with cinnamon), carrots from soup mashed/diced a bit and roasted meat in a small dice or small shreds seem to work well. Now (at 10 months), she can pick up slippery kiwi chunks and chasing those avocados is something of a sport. Since eggs are still out for us, I find breakfast to be a bit uninspiring. She will eat chicken soup or roast beef cheerfully. I've contemplated making yogurt from raw goat milk again, but I've never been too into dairy products. Hmmm. Any good egg-free baby breakfast ideas?

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    1. Hi Jennifer! My daughter doesn't eat eggs (yet) because I suspect an allergy (we are starting to reintroduce, though). So breakfast is usually leftover meat (beef or chicken), avocado, fruit and sometimes sweet potatoes or other veggies. I just try to keep it simple. :-)

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  3. Hi Jennifer! My daughter doesn't eat eggs (yet) because I suspect an allergy (we are starting to reintroduce, though). So breakfast is usually leftover meat (beef or chicken), avocado, fruit and sometimes sweet potatoes or other veggies. I just try to keep it simple. :-)

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