For the past week, my daughter has been quite stubborn about eating her baby food. Basically, she throws a fit if she doesn’t get her bottle right away. I’ve even noticed more soft bowel movements (formula bowel movements) because she’s not eating as much solids. Although it’s probably not that worrisome, as she is still growing quite well and doesn’t look starved, I find it a little frustrating that when I bring out baby food, all warmed and smelling good, she arches her back and smacks my hand away at the first spoon. How dare she?!
I’ve tried multiple methods to try to encourage her to eat her solids — because although formula is probably fine nutrition-wise, I want her to move forward to more independent eating which means, solid table foods, rather than back to the baby bottle fix, which, in a several months, she’ll need to start weaning off.
Maybe I’m moving too fast? Or then again, maybe not?
My first method was the good ol’ choo- choo- train technique: I tried to choo-choo the spoon towards her mouth in a fun, fantastic way, and she still smacked it away in disgust. She hadn’t even tasted the food yet! My second method was to try to eat a little off the spoon myself and make a big deal about how yummy it was. She took a few spoonfuls after that – so I knew – it wasn’t the taste of the food — it was something else. However, after the third bite, she smacked it away in disgust and made her sign for a bottle all the while shouting “maa-maaa.” Well, I thought, what do I do now? I wanted her to eat more solids because usually when she drinks her milk, she refuses solids outright because she’s full. My third method was changing the type of spoon used and as she opened her mouth to wail, I stuck a spoonful in — and she munched it and wanted more, so I continued to spoon it into her mouth – but at a rapid rate, as if she catches a lull in-between she gets cranky again and then she thinks about her bottle again. One other time, I had her hold her own spoon to scoop food herself – with guidance, of course, to scoop it into her mouth. It was a messy ordeal, but we made some headway with this.
I began to wonder: for the past 4 days, she has been doing this mealtime challenge with me, and so — is my 8 month old going through a growth spurt or a teething experience, or is she trying to assert her independence with me. At this age, she certainly can be doing either. I noticed that table foods she will eat on a dime, and her puff-o’s she’ll eat no problem, especially if handed to her to self-feed, but baby pureed foods… that’s questionable. Maybe she wants more self-feeding independence, and maybe she wants to eat what everyone else is eating. I mean, I don’t blame her. My 90-year-old patients in the nursing homes that have swallowing difficulty would avoid eating their pureed diet because it tasted bad, even though they were starving themselves to oblivion. In essence, I find that babies and the elderly very similar in many instances. For one certain 90-something, I had to convince the family to place her in hospice due to her malnutrition so that we can feed her what she wanted. Well with a baby, we don’t want her to choke and she shouldn’t be making any major decisions for herself, but she can certainly eat bite sized pieces at this stage, and so I’m going with that as my next step.
However, I will assert myself as the one who sets the mealtime rules at this early age – and if she continues unhappy mealtime behavior, I will be enforcing those boundaries with some Love-and-Logic empathy + crib time. I hope it all goes well… wish me luck.