A Parent’s Guide to Overcoming Feeding Anxiety
Introducing solid foods to your baby can be an exciting but sometimes challenging milestone. You may have concerns about when to start, how to approach it, and what signs to look for to ensure a successful transition. Know that you are not alone in seeking support as you navigate the introduction of solid foods.
Timing and Readiness
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing foods other than breast milk or infant formula around 6 months of age and avoiding introduction before 4 months. Look for these signs of developmental readiness in your child:
- Sitting up independently or with support.
- Having control over their head and neck.
- Opening their mouth when food is offered.
- Swallowing food instead of pushing it out.
- Bringing objects to their mouth.
- Attempting to grasp small objects or food.
- Transferring food from the front of their mouth to the back of their tongue for swallowing.
Approaches to Feeding
When it comes to feeding babies, there are several approaches: baby-led weaning, spoon-feeding and combo feeding to name a few.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this milestone in a baby’s development. The key lies in being responsive to your baby’s cues and respecting their pace. Here are a few different methods you can consider trying:
Baby-led weaning allows babies to self-feed with family foods. It promotes exploration of various textures and flavors.
Spoon-Feeding/ Stages and Purees
Spoon feeding is a traditional approach to introducing solids, where parents or caregivers feed their baby with a spoon, offering pureed or mashed foods. Gradually progress to thicker textures as your baby becomes more comfortable with swallowing.
The key is to listen to your baby, be patient, and offer a positive and supportive feeding environment.
Signs of Successful Mealtimes
Keep an eye out for these positive indicators as you navigate the world of solid food introduction:
- Your baby watches, touches, and tastes food.
- Your baby shows interest in sitting at the table during mealtimes.
- Your baby can sit happily for short periods during mealtime.
- Your baby has a safe and enjoyable way to eat.
- Your baby continues to grow according to their own growth curve.
What if Your Baby Shows No Interest
If your baby shows no interest in food up to 9 months of age, continue involving them in mealtimes, allowing exploration of safe foods from your plate, and offering tasty liquids and smooth purees. If there is still no interest beyond 9 months, establish a consistent mealtime schedule, provide preferred foods at family mealtimes, and model enjoyment of safe foods. Remember, mealtime skills develop at different paces for each child.
The journey of introducing solid foods to your baby can have its ups and downs, but with the right support and understanding, you and your baby can enjoy mealtimes together. Trust your instincts, seek guidance from trusted medical professionals, and remember that every child progresses at their own pace.
If something does not seem right, trust your intuition. When a child isn’t eating or drinking the quantity or the variety they need to grow and be healthy, it’s not just because they are being “fussy.” There is usually an underlying reason. Talk to your pediatrician about pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) and check out feedingmatters.org for more information.