Q&A: Food, eating, and emotions

J writes:

"I've been reading your website since before I had my now 8-month-old daughter and it's been SO helpful! As we're transitioning to solid foods, I'm finding some issues are arising that I was hoping maybe you or your readership could help me with.

Although I'd consider myself recovered for several years now, I have a long history of food issues and eating disorders. I'm doing my best to keep my own issues out of mealtimes, but when they combine with the mom-voice ("I KNOW you're hungry and if you would just FOCUS instead of smearing that in your hair or chewing on your high chair WECOULDALLBEHAVINGABETTERTIMEHERE"), I'm struggling to keep mealtimes fun, lighthearted, and issue-free. We've been breastfeeding on demand until now, and I totally subscribe to the idea that babies know what they need to eat and when they need to eat it, and I certainly don't want her to pick up on my stress level and begin to associate food with stress… so why is it so hard to act accordingly? I feel like I don't have the time or mental energy to be Awesome Food Mom for three meals a day.

Is some level of frustration normal or am I just totally nuts? What should I be doing? What's helpful for children? Any specifics on what's particularly unhelpful for children? And maybe most importantly – any tips on how to keep my cool?"

Food issues are awful, aren't they? Your own, and your own with your kids'.

First of all, I hope you can let it go a lot at this point, because your daughter is only 8 months old, which means food is just for practice now, so it's all about experimentation and play. You do NOT have to give her three meals a day, nor do you have to have any variety. She is still getting most of her nutrition from breastmilk and/or formula, so it's purely an exercise in "how can I let this roll off my back without repercussions?" at this stage.

Save the hair-pulling for 20 months when you want to bang your head against the doorfarme, hard, at each meal.

I am a huge, huge fan of the "babyled weaning" method of feeding kids. I did the standard bland rice cereal and mashed gruel buildup with my older one, and it felt like another job, and he wasn't all that thrilled with it, and I blame his mistrust of anything that's not white (rice, bagels, mashed potatoes) on the rice cereal. The second one just started shoving whatever he could get his hands on into his mouth (I was too busy chasing a 3-year-old around to bother with mixing up rice cereal) and he's continued to be a much more adventurous eater. I am SURE it's all due to the rice cereal or lack of it, and not their personalities or anything else. (Can you hear my eyeroll?)

Anyway, researchers have been researching when kids start eating solids when allowed to serve themselves, and they found that it was safer (in terms of choking hazard) for kids to eat bigger chunks of things than smooth purees, because they could control the chunks of food inside their mouths. And kids were ok eating something when they could pick it up (so a baby isn't safe eating a pea until she can pick it up with her fingers, but can handle a big chunk of banana because she'll gum off a piece she can manuever in her mouth). There's a ton of info on the website.

Hey, it looks like they've even published a book on it since I last looked it up, called (unsurprisingly) Babyled Weaning. I haven't read the book, but it's got almost 5 stars on Amazon–will anyone who's read it tell us what you thought in the comments section?

The main thing I like about the babyled weaning method is that it makes eating solids not a set goal that can be done a right way or a wrong way, but instead a process of going from baby-who-drinks-milk-only to child-who-eats-food in a slow and self-paced way. So instead of driving yourself nuts trying to be Awesome Food Mom you can think more in terms of what your daughter likes to eat, and not stress if she's into the other sensory aspects of food for awhile.

The other thing to remember is that unless your daughter has sensory issues that make food tricky, she's going to learn to eat solids no matter what you do or don't do. At some point in the future you'll walk into the room and she'll have made herself a sandwich and will be eating it and you'll flash back to right now and think about how you'd never have predicted it, but here she is, a fully-functioning, chewing, knife-skills-having child. (Now THAT is a nail-biter–the first time your kid uses a sharp chef's knife.)

Has anyone else navigated through introducing solid foods past eating issues? Advice or support for J?

77 thoughts on “Q&A: Food, eating, and emotions”

  1. I don’t have the same history with food that the OP has, but my 2nd child just refused to eat solid foods around 6 months. My husband busted out a baby book (a rarity with #2), and it said to just stop feeding her solids for 2 weeks. Inside, I thought “2 weeks is forever!” By the end of week one, she was grabbing bread off the table at dinner and gumming it down, much to my IL’s distress (they worry about choking a lot more than I do.)I guess what I’m saying is, I like Moxie’s take. Just let your child come at food at her own pace. We just skipped baby food at my house all together. Chunks of banana, avocado, piles of rice, rolls…that sort of thing made it onto the baby’s tray. By 12 months, both my kids weaned to solid food and we saved tons of money on baby food. On the downside, we got lots of weird looks at family gatherings because our kids didn’t eat any of the pureed things that their cousins of the same age were sucking down.

  2. Also, I just wanted to add, that lots of food got thrown on the floor at my house. When they’re disinterested or upset, it seems to be a common reaction. In fact, the almost 2-year-old still wings floor off her high chair when she’s mad.And finally, when I say “just let her come at food at her own pace,” please know I’m not being condescending. When I reread the comment it sounded kind of bossy, which wasn’t my intent. Just letting my kids pick at whatever we were eating worked at my house. If you have allergies in your family or other concerns, that might not work as well for you.

  3. I love BLW. I used it for all 3 of my kids and it was one of the best parenting decisions I made. It is so easy, such a natural extention of breastfeeding on cue, it is just great. Before my 3rd started solids i read the book above just to see if he had any new info I hadn’t seen yet. I LOVED it. I had two minor quibbles. 1) He is REALLY down on salt. I mean I get that salt isn’t healthy in huge quantities, but he is REALLY anti-salt. So I took that with a (heh) grain of salt. 2) I also was reading the earlier edition so this might have been changed, but the Britishism of weaning is confusing to many Americans. I often share info about it and get things like “weaning? I thought we were only talking about solids?” or similar. But overall, the book is WONDERFUL. It will defnitely set your mind at ease, is very pro-breastfeeding, and it helps calm the choking worries that everyone has.

  4. @J, you’re in recovery with a long history of food issues and eating disorders, and say you are “struggling” with some feelings of frustration/losing your cool triggered by your 8-month-old daughter’s eating habits. I commend you for reaching out to Moxie and for acknowledging you have a problem. I think it is really admirable that you want to handle it so proactively and figure out the behaviors that are going to help keep you and yours healthy.Is there a local addiction support meeting you could attend? Where I am (small town), people living with eating disorders can find some support in the addiction recovery community, in safe places like Alcoholics Anonymous. If you live in a larger city, I’m sure there are free resources for parents in your exact shoes.
    FWIW, I know Ellen Satter’s writings have been praised frequently on this site. You can learn more about Satter’s philosophy at
    http://www.ellynsatter.com/
    Best wishes!

  5. I don’t have a history of food issues, unless you count that I am a fairly picky eater- and was an even pickier eater as a kid.But I, too, really struggled with some things around introducing food to my first child. Maybe because I am a picky eater, I was worried I’d screw it up? Anyway- I did eventually manage to find some peace with the fact that she is, indeed, also a picky eater. And learn how to let go and follow her lead.
    I did better the second time around (and by better I mean “I only obsessed about food on alternate days”), and am now to a place where I don’t stress much about food.
    I second @Hush’s recommendation to look at Ellyn Satter’s books. The basic premise is that you decide what and when your kid gets to eat, she decides how much (and whether) to eat. We try to follow that, and it really does reduce stress. (We’re a little more laid back than she is about offering our daughters food that is different from ours- partially because I am perhaps more sympathetic to picky eaters, and partially because our older daughter would go to bed hungry rather than eat something that she’s got a strong aversion to. And you know what? So would I.)
    Anyway, despite the different maternal stress levels, both of my kids were mostly just playing with food at 8 months. They both eat solids now.
    And good on you, @J, for recognizing that this is a potentially troublesome area for you, and seeking help.

  6. My 1 year old still only eats pureed fruits, bread and yoghurt and sometimes it upsets me too, but she is very big and healthy. I still nurse her. I am sick of hearing people suggest that I stop nursing her or give her a banana… She does not like wet or squishy things so that rules out a lot of food. I am waiting for her to start eating herself and keep trying, but it is sometimes frustrating.

  7. Totally agree with Moxie’s comments. I’m also “food issues” girl, very much of “IKNOW YOUAREHUNGRYEATEATEAT”. What helped me tremendously was Ellyn Satters books – and the idea of divinding responsibilities at meal times, i.e. mama’s responsibility is to provide yummy nutritious meal, and kids responsibility is to chose to eat. Something about that work just made this shift for me from stressing about how much/what my kids actually consume during a meal to really just trusting in that their bodies will guide them in what they need. And believe me, it still is a rough road sometimes – my oldest one is a VERY picky eater and just generally is not interested in food, so sometimes I still bang my head on the door frame (@Moxie). But hopefully, with less fervor πŸ™‚

  8. With my #1, I was so perplexed by solid food. I knew eventually there would be a transition from all breastmilk to mostly solid food, sometime around one year, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how that might be accomplished. It seemed so stressful! And to top it off, #1 had a very strong gag reflex, so he often made sounds like seemed like choking and even followed by vomiting if we put something (small and soft) on his tongue. Which of course terrified me as a first time mother. So it took him a while to “catch on” to eating solids. But by 13 months he was getting most of his nutrition from them and eating like a champ. Like Moxie’s #1, he’s distrustful of anything with color and not very adventurous. I also blame the rice cereal! πŸ™‚ With #2, I tried babyled weaning and have found the whole process so much easier and more relaxed. #2 eats with gusto. The thing I’ve noticed, and I bet it’s not just my kiddos, is that babies really like to feed themselves. I think that’s one of the big advantageous of BLW – they often get frustrated or bored with being spoon fed. My 13 mo old is SO happy now that he can feed himself his yogurt. They just ate a lot more when they could physically get it to their mouths themselves.One thing occurred to me, OP – if being around your baby while eating is something you find really stressful, you might think about removing yourself physically from her a bit. I mean, you’ll want to be in eyesight in case she has trouble, but if she’s playing with soft solids/ cheerios you can be 5 or 10 feet away. It’s possible that letting her eat on her own might help you separate your eating issues from her eating. If that makes sense.

  9. @Cloud – Yes yes yes to feeding them separate food. Sometimes I blame myself for my DS’s pickiness because we’ve always fed the children separately (he went to bed at 6PM as a baby, so there was no way I could get home from work and dinner made for all of us before his bedtime). But the truth is, he’s just very very sensitive to textures and flavors, as I was at his age, and what do I care really if he eats a PBJ every blessed night? Or goldfish crackers and grapes. When I start to blame myself for his pickiness, I try to remember the gagging when he was 7/8 months old, and I think, yeah, he’s just wired a certain way. I eat almost everything now.I actually found being a picky eater did result for me in a host of food issues. People were constantly talking about what I was eating or not eating, and it made me very stressed out about eating around other people. Then I had IBS and got very thin and the amount of attention my eating habits/appearance received was overwhelming. It took the better part of my early twenties to work through all that.

  10. I don’t do baby-led weaning because I have big fears about choking, and I know it’s idiotic but I have accepted this in myself. But I thought I would comment in case someone else is like me and just looks at a banana and her 5 month old (who is super into food) and thinks instant death.I do believe in it, I just can’t trust it. I lost a child to brain damage so that’s why anything involving oxygen is way overblown in my mind.
    So for me right now…I make the sweet potato puree, I offer it to my 5 year old, and sometimes he eats it and sometimes not, and then I give him the baby spoon and either talk with my 5 year old or (if we’re alone) do dishes or something and my baby smears it all over and then we have a bath.
    And I really wish I had the Ikea highchair instead of the big old crevice-laden Fisher Price one I have. πŸ™‚
    For me the key at every age has been that last bit… to start the meal with my child and encourage some adventure, tasting, etc. – basically set the context – and then distract myself and let the child come to the food on his own terms.
    My 5 year old is an amazing eater, and I don’t take credit for that except that I let it happen. Well also here’s my one secret weapon for an older child: Get produce delivered, either an organic food box or a farm share or something, and treat it like Christmas every time: OH! the FOOD BOX CAME! Let’s open it up and see what’s here! Oh look…SWISS CHARD YUM, I can’t wait to have that.
    Years later, I was at the grocery store and my son saw (winter, overpriced) asparagus and said oh please please can we get the asparagus, we haven’t had any in SO LONG MUMMY. And I said no honey, it’s not in season and expensive. And then this nosy older woman came up and told me off nicely “If my child were begging for a vegetable…” and…she was right and we bought the asparagus. πŸ™‚
    However he did also ask for the gummy bears. πŸ™‚

  11. @Erin – “what do I care really if he eats a PBJ every blessed night? Or goldfish crackers and grapes.” Ditto.

  12. @Shandra – I was really paranoid about choking, too, and that made BLW hard for me. So basically I just fed the baby purees until he got old enough to have a really good pincer (c. 8 months) and then started feeding him little chunks of soft food, pea-sized, so I didn’t worry about choking. I would only put a few on his tray at a time so he couldn’t jam them in there.

  13. One thing that really helped my stress level around meal times was teaching #1 the sign for “all done” early on so that he could tell me he wanted down without spitting/screeching/up-ending his food on the floor. I think he picked it up around 11 months. #2 (7 months) isn’t signing yet but does seem to recognize the sign and gives me either a happy wiggle or opens up wide for another bite. We do purees but always make sure she has something to feed herself too. That helps to stave off frustration.

  14. I’m running with the theory that not doing family dinner table at all, is better than doing family dinner table badly. I’ve got problems among the adults (non-24-hour sleep schedule, snack food, strong preference to eat alone) that I just can’t solve (I can do my part, I can’t fix other people).In the “anything but breastmilk all the time” phase, my best strategy has been snack traps, sippy cups, and baggies of toast/pizza/pb&j in the stroller while we walk the dog. I don’t carry a big bag, and I let the little one satisfy himself that he’s seen everything I’m carrying, and can’t hold out for a better option.
    My kids both seemed to have a hungry day every third day, though age two or older. The older boy, especially, would appear to subsist on air and bread crusts for two days, then eat everything in sight on the third day.

  15. I have nothing very helpful here — all these comments advising relaxing about what’s going in the mouth sound good to me — but as a former eating disordered person, I have two comments:- When you are tired (and who isn’t, with an 8-month-old), food or exercise issues (directed at yourself, not your child) may want to rear their ugly head. Be gentle with thyself!
    – I personally look inwards occasionally to see if any food issues I have are affecting my daughter’s eating or my attitudes towards my daughter’s eating, and I have not found anything of concern. Having been through lots of therapy (as I bet you have), you are probably fairly self-aware! Don’t worry! You are normal!

  16. What helped me (along with some of the same things PP have said) was to re-frame the goal of meal time. Instead of the goal being DS eating something in particular, I reframed the goal to be something I could control (Γ  la Ellyn Satter): what was served to DS.Around the time DS was about a year or so, my goal was (and still is, quite frankly, at 3yo for DS) to have meals include:
    1- Something DS would almost always eat (bread, pasta, rice, cheese, yogurt, etc.),
    2- Something he may eat,
    3- Something he would very likely not eat (something appealing, just something he usually refuses, usually veggies and fruit now) and
    4- Milk.
    I essentially considered it a success if I got the food on the table, not if DS ate it. I kept the portions really small, so waste was not huge. It was amazingly liberating to know that the goal was to serve him something he would not eat. I would win either way. Either I fulfilled the category, or he ate it. Win/win. A bit counter-intuitive, but I didn’t/don’t want to fall into the trap of not offering because I was getting discouraged.
    When he was a baby I would just try different purees everyday (I wanted him to be exposed to a bunch of different foods) and try to include purees or foods he was more likely to eat at least once in the day. The last part helped immensely with the sanity factor. And I felt like at least I was exposing him to different tastes & textures.
    At 8 months, I think if you can re-frame the goal to be exposure to food and experimentation with it, it will be easier to give yourself a break. That being said, I know I had my meltdown moments when there was just a lot of playing and not a lot of eating. But I’m blaming it on my short fuse during the 8/9-month sleep regression. πŸ™‚ And also, I hadn’t read Ellyn Satter which I think would have helped a lot. Especially since she explains why kids tend to play with their food / spit it out etc. before actually eating it.
    FWIW, DS started on boxed rice cereal. It made me gag. He loved it. He then went on to eating lots of homemade veggie based purees (broccoli! eggplant parmigiana! leeks!) and he hated mashed banana. He was pretty adventurous through to about 2 yo. Then we hit the wall. Goodbye veggies & fruit. At three now he won’t eat most fruit & veggies (occasionally a few small pieces of broccoli and he eats a banana every day), loves the white foods and most meats. So yeah, not linear this eating thing. Maybe it was the rice cereal… πŸ˜‰

  17. Okay, this will be my last comment, I swear – but on the subject of rice cereal, I just want to add that when DS was a baby, I discovered Happy Baby Happy Bellies Multigrain cereal. It’s basically like rice cereal, except multigrain, and once you put it together it actually tastes good. (I have a rule that I don’t give my babies anything that doesn’t taste good to me. As toddlers they can eat anything that a human can digest! @themilliner – we have all the same eating issues. I was just going to email you to see if you had any picky toddler eating tips!)

  18. Moxie… can I just say, I did baby-led weaning with my kid (now 18 months) and while it was way WAY easier than the purees (which we tried a bit and she didn’t like anyway) and I will totally want to do this with any other kids we have, she now… distrusts anything that isn’t white carbs. Well, she eats peas too, so that’s something :)OP, I remember that time being very hard, and my daughter was actually pretty good about eating at that time as opposed to playing with the food. One of the advantages of the baby-led weaning method Moxie proposes is that I could leave her alone with a couple of pieces of bread or carrots or whatever and let her play with/stick them in her hair/eat them while I chopped up veggies or whatever (I was right next to her at the table usually)… that way she could learn about food without my being so focused on it that I transferred my stress levels to her, and I could feel like I was getting something else done.
    Oh, the other useful thing was getting Very Long Bibs. I don’t understand why most bibs are so short, when my kid gets food All Over herself. And we always had a bath after dinner because her face and hair were inevitably covered with something. (Another advantage of non-pureed foods: usually crumbs rather than puree!)

  19. Hmmm. I’m some distance, time-wise, from 8 months, but I know I used prepared baby food and mixed enough of the rice cereal into it to make it into a sort of pasty texture, something a not-yet-toddler had some chance of keeping on a spoon (I also did this with yogurt and other stuff). Then I pretty much left him to his own devices (in my sight, of course) to figure it out.I don’t have food issues nor experience with same, so I may not be a good source of advice to J. But honestly I generally just provide 2 or 3 healthy choices to my son (at that stage it might have been e.g. (1) pureed squash with rice cereal mixed in and (2) some banana chunks on the side; today it’s more likely whatever we’re eating or, say, some (1) cheese chunks, (2) apple slices, and (3) toast) and then let him each as much of each — or not — as he wants. And I’m definitely not above either (a) offering an additional alternative if he seems unenthusiastic and I think he’s hungry (particularly if I’m worried his hunger will later lead to a mid-night waking and thus, affect me) or conversely (b) telling him that if he won’t eat “X or Y” (whatever is in front of him, provided I know it’s something he usually eats), he must not be THAT hungry.
    Good luck with managing this. My blasee description of my approach notwithstanding, I know it can be difficult at times even for run-of-the-mill parents/kids, and obviously there are plenty of issues/situations ranging from histories to allergies that can make it more complicated. I hope you’re able to find an approach you’re comfortable with.

  20. I used a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach to baby-led weaning. My daughter chose to play with food from 6 months until just after her 1st birthday. Soon after that, she just decided that she was an eater of foods, and our nursing sessions dropped in number. She weaned herself from her last daily session at almost 23 months, and is now a newly-two-year-old who uses food as a control issue. *sigh*I’ve tried very hard to tell myself ‘There are really very few 30 year olds who only eat fruit and bean and cheese quesadillas – this too shall pass’. Of course, as a (fairly new) parent, I say that about a LOT of things as we learn how this all works!
    You’re doing better than you think! I say stop putting yourself through the stress of offering 3 meals a day. Do 2 or even just one. Show her how fun it is to try stuff. Let her have a taste off of your plate if she’s interested. It’ll unfold as it’s meant to, Mama πŸ™‚ (she says from the couch in a state of utter exhaustion after battling about breakfast, clothing, shoes and sippy cups with a toddler :-P).

  21. FWIW, distrusting anything that isn’t white carbs isn’t catastrophic. You can grow up just fine, and maybe even start eating vegetables later.I speak from experience- as in I was that kid.
    @Erin, our approach to toddler (and preschooler) feeding is very similar to @the milliner. Also, we have noticed that our picky eating preschooler is more likely to try new foods when we eat outside. So we do that sometimes. Hey, our weather is nice, so why not?
    I have lots, lots more on my own blog about my approach to food, so I will stop writing novels here. If anyone is curious, click over and click on the “food” category.

  22. I did baby led weaning with my daughter. Our doctor, who advised us to go the rice cereal progression path at 4 months, did not support this at all so we just lied πŸ™‚ My daughter had an aversions to being spoon fed so after months of frustration, not to mention throwing out homeade organic baby food that I had lovingly made, a friend had suggested BLW so we gave it a go. She started feeding herself around 7 months old. At first it was very little and I went through the “oh god, she’s going to be breastfeeding until she’s in high school because she just doesn’t EAT”. I was paranoid and jealous when I heard other moms say how their kids (same age as mine) DEVOURED baby purees and how they couldn’t keep up with the spoon feeding! BUT. Gradually, she ate more and more, and at 17 months, she’s a pretty good eater and yes, we’re still breastfeeding too. I’ve also got food issues myself (European background, where its an insult not to eat the heaps of food pushed in front of you) so I wanted to make sure my daughter never went down the overeating path. As long as your baby is healthy and happy it will work out.

  23. My babe HATED baby food. Rice cereal, purees, it all ended up on the floor. He wanted to eat what mama was eating. So that’s what I started doing. He’s 10 months now and eats everything. My husband was freaked out about the choking thing too so I usually will chew up the food first and then give it to the babe, like a mama bird feeding her chicks. Foods that are already mushy I just put on his highchair tray and he will happily feed himself. I think Moxie is right that for now it’s just practice. If your baby is hungry they’ll let you know. I think if you can try to look at the situation from your baby’s perspective meals might be less stressful. Right now it’s all about exploration and enjoying discovering their world. There’s so much joy to be had in being able to witness them trying a new food for the first time or what it feels like to squish a piece of banana between their fingers. Yes, it’s messy but it’s also fun and a time to just sit back and enjoy watching your baby learn about the world. Good luck!

  24. We really like “Child of Mine” by Ellyn Satter and FamilyFeedingDynamics.com, a blog written by a doctor who has studied with Satter. “My Child Won’t Eat” is another great book.I also think that probably focusing on working on your own food issues (with a professional if necessary) might be helpful, because I think, as much as one tries, it’s hard to hide something that is still there.
    Also, for a child that age, I agree with what others have said, they are really only practicing. Eating a few teaspoons a day (if that) is really all that one should be aiming for (not one jar of baby food per meal). My own kids didn’t get really interested in eating until closer to a year or later, and they both eat a lot of foods now.
    Of course their likes ebb and flow and what they loved as babies they sometimes don’t want now, but if you look at it long term (healthy eaters for life) and not just what they are eating today, it helps.
    I look at myself and think of all the many things I wouldn’t eat as a child that I absolutely LOVE now. I think the key was that I was never, ever (once that I can recall, but not in my own home) forced to eat something, cajoled into eating more, or told that I could have dessert after I ate my healthy food. My mom was pretty hands off, and I’m a very well rounded and eater now. I also think it helped that I observed my parents as adventurous eaters.
    My husband was forced to eat things and pressured, plus his parents are pretty limited in what they’ll eat. He’s more “wild” than them, but he’s definitely a way more limited eater.
    I’m not saying that how parents act is 100% responsible for how kids eat, but I do think it makes a difference and that pressure almost always backfires.
    Another idea would be to sort of set a time in your mind of how long y’all will sit there (10 or 15 minutes) and if she’s still playing at that time, just happily say, “Lunch time is over” or whatever, clean her up and get on with your day. If you are waiting for her to eat a certain amount or frustrated by the play (which I think is actually good and healthy) it will seem so much more stressful.

  25. I live in the UK and BLW is becoming increasingly popular over here. I did the purΓ©e thing with my 3.5 year old and found the whole thing utterly soul destroying, like a battle of wills every meal, and he wasn’t even a particularly picky eater. With my 11 month old we have been doing BLW with gusto and she loves it! We’ve got a chair with a tray that gets plopped in the middle of the dining table so that anything that gets dropped can go back on the tray, and she loves being in the middle of everything! She definitely eats at her own pace and to her own timetable, but simply the fact that we can all eat the same meal makes my life so much easier! If you’re worried about choking or them not getting enough to eat the book is really informative and reassuring.

  26. OT aside: @Cloud: Thanks! I’ve poked around your food posts in the past, but I’ll return now that DS’s “pickiness” is really picking up. So far, nothing really helps. He won’t eat if there’s too much stimulus – restaurants, other people’s houses, outside. He loves to bake, but won’t necessarily eats what he helps prepare, either. Though I can get him to eat things *while* he’s cooking. He devours raw tofu if he’s “helping” me cut it up. I often wish I had a Montessori sized table and a Montessori knife and he could start chopping his own things – he might eat more. Maybe not, though. Part of all this was aggravated by a dramatic period of constipation he suffered as the result of switching to a daycare and refusing to eat or poop there,w hich in turn made him not want to eat at all, etc etc. I use Dora, too, though DS likes Busytown Mysteries better -via netflix.)

  27. @Erin, OMG- Busytown Mysteries??? I must investigate this. Pumpkin loves Richard Scarry!In a way, being a picky eater myself- and having been an extremely picky eating kid- has helped me keep this in perspective. I now know why I don’t eat some vegetables (they taste really, really bitter to me), so no wonder I hated them as a kid.
    I also think that a little neophobia (fear of trying new foods) isn’t so bad, from an evolutionary standpoint. I mean, who knows if that new plant is safe to eat? So I think to a certain extent some of us are just wired to be picky.
    And as I like to say: picky eating is not a character flaw! My refusal to eat peas doesn’t hurt anyone else. Neither does the fact that my child won’t eat any veggie in its native state. So why do so many other people seem to care?

  28. I haven’t read through every response, so this might be a duplicate, but I’d recommend taking a look at the blog http://www.itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.comWhile much is geared toward older kids, she has a lot of good points about feeding your kids, and not pushing it.
    We also did baby led weaning. My daughter wasn’t interested in solids until 8 months and even then it was sporadic and she would sometimes only “eat” one meal a day. I miss the days when I didn’t have to worry about bringing food along because I could just stick her on the breast when she was hungry!
    Everyone I knew had kids eating so much earlier and multiple times a day and, at first, I was worried that I wasn’t trying hard enough. When I let that go and just let her explore the food at her own pace it went much better. Not only did I just give her chunks of food, but I also let her have a spoon early, maybe 10 months, so she could start feeding herself with it when ready. IMO, At this age, the main thing is to let them explore, anyway. It’s not so much about filling their bellies with solids, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Maybe it would help to try to approach it as another “activity”, like tummy-time with babies, instead of “meal time”. Meal time, as we adults do it, can come later.

  29. Freeze-dried stuff was a big hit around here near that age. A lot less messy than purees, which generally made me want to scream, plus they’re easier to pick up than a lot of softer things (8 month olds squash stuff so much!).I agree with everyone else: at this age, if they get two pieces of whatever in their mouth and eat it, that’s fine!

  30. OP here -Thank you all so so much for the helpful comments. I have indeed been round and round with professionals in regards to my own issues – I guess I just find myself getting so frustrated sometimes that I can feel my own issues bleeding into the regular baby-feeding frustration… and it’s hard for me to tell whether what I’m feeling is normal or exaggerated and inappropriate for the setting. I’m going to check out all those books and websites. I read Playful Parenting (as recommended here in other threads) and found it a big help so I definitely appreciate the other recommendations.
    I guess I was also looking for some reassurance that this process CAN be frustrating to regular people, and that I’m not doomed to give my child an eating disorder because I get the urge to shout, “FINE. FINE THEN, WE’RE DONE. DONE. NEVER AGAIN WILL YOU GET ORGANIC PEAS MIXED WITH PRECIOUS BREASTMILK AND LOVINGLY HAND-MUSHED BY ME. THERE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?” Not having the best food approach modeled to me as a child, I’m sometimes finding myself at a loss as to how to handle food conflicts.
    We’re doing a mix of BLW and purees now. I’ve been afraid that doing only BLW would lead to zero solid-food intake and perpetual nursing, so it’s nice to hear that others had the same concern and that’s not how it worked out.
    Again, thank you all so much. This has been really helpful and I so appreciate it. πŸ™‚ *bookmarking page*

  31. One thing that isn’t applicable now, but that I haven’t seen covered in Moxie much was self-serving food.Apparently my family is odd because ShortStack has been self-serving at the table since he got the motor skills to do it (he was 2 or maybe a little less). Some nights he chooses just noodles but often he will opt into unfamilar foods and get his own *tiny* portion.
    He almost always eats a bite of everything he takes on first serving (2nd serving is a little iffier).

  32. This really stuck out for me from J:”I feel like I don’t have the time or mental energy to be Awesome Food Mom for three meals a day.”
    No parent, personal food issues or not, is patient with a young child all of the time. You are responsible to feed them, sleep them, and keep them safe – and children don’t always cooperate! You are doing great – pat yourself on the back!

  33. I haaaaate the initial stages of eating. So annoying. So messy. And not to mention the nasty awful poops (we use cloth diapers, so it really makes an impact).Here’s what helped me: Strip baby down to diaper. Put baby in one of those booster chairs with the tray *straight on the floor* (less spatter that way when things drop), and then get the sink ready for a sink bath afterwards.
    I find that if I embrace and “allow” – or even invite – in my head the inevitable mess, food refusal, etc., I’m much less likely to be irked by it when it happens.
    With #2, I actually didn’t even begin offering ANYTHING but breastmilk until she was 8 months (again, the mess, the diapers) and she has been spoon fed way more than #1 because I just haven’t had the gumption to clean up the disasters!

  34. I love Ellen Satter, and we try to follow what @the milliner does with the 4 different types of foods.I also LOVED baby-led weaning, from concept through action… for my daughter. It went great for my daughter, and she is generally an adventurous eater with a good appetite. Although some messy items would tense me up (hands in the yogurt cup, comes to mind), I learned to just put my focus somewhere else and not worry about the mess.
    Unfortunately, BLW did not work for my son.
    At about 6.5-7 months, we reach a state of crisis in my house. I could no longer wake up every. single. hour. of the night to nurse my son. He wasn’t just reverse-feeding and/or missing me. Turns out he was actually incredibly hunger, as we learned one night when he drank 6 bottles of hard-earned breasmilk from my SIL.
    BLW was not filling him up. I could no longer deal with our nights. I wasn’t pumping enough to fill him up otherwise. So, we switched to purees and cereals. My boy gobbled it up like you wouldn’t believe!
    That’s just a story to remind everyone that even though BLW is awesome (I seriously love it!), it may not be best for every child/family. So don’t be as upset as I was if you have to try a different method of feeding.
    Although I don’t know what kind of eating disorder you had (and it doesn’t matter), I also want to point out that many kids go through phases where they eat so little that you think they are living on air and sunlight! Because my daughter was such a “good” eater, when she finished a growth spurt and basically ran around all day without eating more than a small yogurt or two, we kind of freaked out. But I decided not to worry (thanks, Ellen Satter!), and sure enough the phase ended when it was ready to end. Now, my son is going through the same phase.
    @Heather – I love the idea of self-serving! I remember reading that previously and thinking we should try it, but I had forgotten. I’ll bring it up tonight to hubby. Thanks!
    @Cloud – From purees on, my son has been a picky eater. I often think of you during dinner when he snubs his nose at the delicious meals, and just try to keep my calm. That said, I think it’s time I reread some of your picky eater posts…

  35. No reading time, but quick comments (yeah, quick for me!):I don’t have a lot of food issues, but I got a bunch with my eldest because HE had food issues (oral aversion, trauma based plus silent reflux plus choking incident = strong avoidant behavior with food). He ended up in a feeding clinic when he was 5. So, where I didn’t have food issues before, I sure got some landing on me! πŸ™‚ And I did normal American FOOD STRUCTURE on him, and boy did I learn how much that did not help.
    BUT, his little brother we started baby led because he just Did Not Like baby food. He was ‘meh’ entirely until he saw squash with onions garlic and black pepper on my plate, and went after some. I thought ‘okay, someone gave me a grinder, let me try it’ and WOO! He loved food from that moment on. He was about 7 months, I think. So, just over a month of ‘American Feeding By Rote’ heck-pie, and then ‘whoa, this WORKS!’ – I just ground up whatever we were having, put some either on the edge of my plate (so he could grab it while sitting on my lap) or on his tray, and off we went. Meanwhile, mr. I eat only white things was starting to head smack into full panic when exposed to a new food zone (not yet in feeding clinic, but actual fleeing the room in terror when new items were offered… uh, yeah, you’d think I would have noticed that as a Food Issue…)
    So, off to clinic, and… well search on ‘hedra food’ here, I bet you’ll find the whole series on the things that quantify as normal feeding behavior, which is pretty limited for scope! If they’ll taste it, they’re normal (even if they don’t like it). And food behavior is variable (not the same all the time).
    Mr B, who got to run with BLW? Has dietary issues, strictly limited for what he’s allowed to eat, and within that will eat almost anything, and try almost anything, too. When we did the food diary for the feeding clinic, they looked at us like we were aliens, because on his list was stuff like bison and avocado and broccoli and salmon…
    Mr G had the reflux issue – if a child post-actual-weaning age starts to decrease in growth rate significantly (G did) and refuses to try foods and panics around new foods and so forth, there’s likely a health issue under there. Mr G does not have a normal relationship with food, and probably never will – he actually could not sense hunger, it was that shut down. (talk about mommy regrets…) But once medicated for the reflux, and treated for the aversion (through feeding therapy and PT/OT), he became mostly normal (he’s also a supertaster, so everying tastes really LOUD to him). He will eat salads, he’ll find something he likes at almost any event, he keeps himself reasonably nutritionally balanced, even when there’s not a lot of variety in his diet.
    And then we had twins, and if that won’t teach you to completely let go on food control, nothing will (heh). We were chasing two older kids, and just throwing food at the twins on their trays (BLW again). At 9 months, I was getting a little concerned that the girls would always trade food items (miss M would take the majority of the meat between the two of them, sitting next to eachother, and Miss R would take most of the carbs, miss M liked dark green veg, Miss R liked yellows and lighter greens…)… and then they were tested for iron levels, and sure enough Miss M was actually low on iron (and was self-selecting toward iron-rich foods). So, hey, they were listening to their bodies. That was SO reassuring.
    Now, they also had digestive issues, and we did have that (mommy traumatic) choking incident (I swear by those safe feeder things, if your child will accept them at all, and also by Infant/Child CPR training, which really reduced my anxiety around choking, especially after having to use it and finding that using the skills was easy and quick and worked). But they eat stuff. They cut things with knives, they help cook, they have generally good range, and the food issues they have are entirely related to having super-restricted diets since they can’t absorb fructose effectively.
    I really liked baby-led weaning in terms of ‘allowing them to pick from the family meal items’. I also found Ellyn Satter’s stuff useful for getting over the trauma of having a child who was in a feeding clinic. It gave me a real sense of the range of normal, and knowing how broad normal was, I could be less concerned about where exactly in that range any of us were (and oh, yeah, I did spot a few items that were food issues of my own, and was able to manage them much better once I could identify them accurately!).

  36. I love the idea of chewing it up yourself and then feeding it to baby. Can’t seem to scrap up the money to buy a baby food grinder thingie so I might try it. My 8 mo. old seems to only be interested in what we’re eating as well. Thank you for the great comments everyone, I feel better now! Also I agree with PP’s about the precious pumped breastmilk. It’s SOOO hard to mix it up lovingly in the food and then have it go to waste.

  37. @Heather, one of the things the clinic taught was ‘family food culture’ is important for picky or restricted eaters. ALWAYS having at least one thing in the family meal that each person likes (even if it is just bread) means they learn that ‘we eat together from the same things’ and it isn’t all short-order cooking with something different for everyone. We only sometimes do the serving from table (due to logistics), but regularly do it in plating out in the kitchen. That approach fits nicely with yours – and allows even the picky ones to be ‘normal’ in the family food culture.@caramama, good reminder on the changes in appetite with growth phases – we have some kids who stop eating before or after a growth spurt (and sleep instead), and some who just kind of wander through the phase without much notable difference. I can’t even remember who except G tended to eat a ton before phases, and then stop eating and just sleep through the spurt (still does, at 13). Likewise, appetite drops normally after mid-afternoon for younger kids, so a good reminder to Not Stress At Dinner (when they really should not be hungry at all, for typical, except for those kids who didn’t get the memo!).
    Also, if you have food issues yourself (anyone), something that helped for me from the clinic (and to keep from traumatizing ANYONE) was to limit feeding time to 20 minutes. Don’t hang out longer than that, don’t press longer than that, don’t do anything longer than that. Let them down and let them go. For kids with reflux, they may need to come back for seconds later (doing two small grazing feedings), but otherwise, let them loose and give them a quality snack later before bed.
    And if you think something’s up, have it checked out – sometimes something is actually up (such as silent reflux, or sensory issues, or oral motor skills, or just simply being a supertaster, as I think 1 in 35 or so are…).

  38. We’re using BLW with number 2, who turns 7 months old tomorrow (!!), and I like it SO MUCH BETTER than the messy, frustrating purΓ©es we did with number 1. So low maintenance! So much fun for baby! And I’m sure it helps that I’m pretty laid back about solid foods this time. As I see it, right now my main goal with anything other than breast milk is to keep baby occupied during family meal times.FWIW, baby cereals are not recommended by the pediatric powers that be here in France, so I decided to skip them, as they looked messy and unappetizing anyway. They advise starting with vegetables and fruit. My pediatrician gave us this whole ‘first day one spoonful, second day two spoonfuls; veggies at noon and fruit at four o’clock’ thing and I just smiled and nodded.
    Most of my experience is with my oldest, of course, and what kept me relatively sane during the ups and downs of feeding him over the last four years is this:
    1) It isn’t linear. I was a smug parent of an 11-month-old who would eat anything, and later I was a chastened parent of a 3-year-old who wouldn’t reliably eat anything but applesauce and pasta (I exaggerate only slightly). Now I’m the parent of an almost-four-year-old who will occasionally scarf down raw carrots or insist that I buy mushrooms at the store. Sometimes he only nibbles at a green bean or two, or paradoxically declares that he LOVES sweet potatoes while barely touching the sweet potato I put on his plate. Take the long view, and don’t sweat the two-steps-forward-one-step-back-ness of the whole thing.
    For a month or two your baby may just be playing with things on the high chair tray and then all of a sudden the pincer grasp will click and WOW, I can pick this up and put it in my mouth! More, Mommy, more! And you’ll feel like a chef that just won the Michelin three-star rating, even though you’re just chopping up bits of avocado. Then a few months later avocado is sooooo last week, and anyway looks better scattered on the floor, and you don’t think you have anything in the house that your child will consider eating… yeah. Take a deep breath and remember it’s all normal.
    2) For me, the long view is this: ending up with a kid, and more importantly an adult, who eats a majority of healthy food and knows how to listen to and respect his body’s hunger cues. When my son decides NOT to eat because he’s not hungry, I see it as just as much a positive thing as when he gobbles everything in sight. That he goes from one extreme to another from one meal to the next is positive to me, too. “Just listen to what your tummy needs!” I tell him.
    3) Remember, you can’t control what they do eat, but you do have some control over what they don’t, at least when they’re little. I offer my kid only stuff that I think is “worthy.” Most of it is healthy, and the stuff that isn’t is at least high quality indulgence: the best chocolate and ice cream, the most meltingly all-butter cookies. (Of course, this is also an excuse for me to indulge as well, and I sure as heck am not eating anything that has red dye number whatever.)
    Granted, some day he will probably ask me to take him to a fast-food restaurant that I otherwise wouldn’t set foot in except to use the restroom. I’ll happily oblige, because I think nothing should be absolute. I’ll just explain that I don’t like it, but he’s free to make up his own mind.
    I haven’t read Satter and probably should, and I may be guilty of some practices I should avoid. For instance, I let him know that it drives me NUTS when my son asks for a food and doesn’t touch it (unless he’s trying it for the first time, when we welcome any willingness to even put it on his plate). We don’t make him finish what he asked for, but we do emphasize that he should be sure he wants it before he asks. Second, I do insist he eat “growing food” before dessert. And I try to remember to do the same.
    Finally, sweet potato “fries” (basically strips of sweet potato tossed in olive oil and baked in the oven for 30 mins at 400Β° F) are a huge hit with my little Mademoiselle right now. Also steamed zucchini and broccoli. She also loves ratatouille. Of course, all of this ends up in the intact in the diaper and spread on the floor in about equal proportions. I just try to work something into our meals that she might like, and most importantly might distract her. I’m so smug right now, but I know that in approximately 18 months she may very well be eating nothing but applesauce and I’ll be eating crow.

  39. @Erin, Ha! E-mail me with your specifics. You never know… Oh, and I had totally forgotten about multigrain cereal. Once DS was eating a few different kinds of cereals, we introduced multi-grain and I think that’s actually what he ate the most of. He didn’t eat straight rice cereal for long.@Cloud, Good point about eating outside. Sometimes works for us too. As does restaurants. DS will eat salsa & chips galore at a restaurant. Even really spicy salsa. No go for the salsa at home. And re: white carbs, DS & I were having dinner with some of my cousins recently. For some reason DS only ate bread (was probably too excited all day) and I lamented about his love for white carbs. To which my cousin piped up “Um, I remember a certain someone who didn’t eat much more than bread when she was little.” Uh, yeah. I remembered I was picky, but had totally forgotten I went through a white bread phase myself. Really, I’ll just be happy if DS can eventually eat enough different foods to get the nutrients he requires.
    @Erin & @Cloud, Busytown Mysteries has been pretty popular here too. We have it on during breakfast. I must admit that there was a time when DS just seemed to eat more in front of a video or TV, so we did that. Despite all the warnings not to. Slowly we transferred over to the family dinner table (once we, the parents, got our act together to eat together for dinner most nights). It’s amazed me…now DS wants to eat at the big table. And if it’s just he and I, he asks where his papa is. If we take a night off and I let him eat at his little table in front of a video, it really slows things down. He’ll eat, but it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
    @Katherine makes a very good point about the actual amount kids need to nourish themselves. It’s insanely small. Kids often eat more than they need, but the requirements, as Katherine says, are in teaspoons or tablespoons. Not cups.
    @J, the OP, this process, esp. when you’re near the beginning can be SO frustrating, even for ‘regular people’. It takes a while to get used to the ‘love it today, hate it tomorrow’ fickleness of kids’ eating habits. I think I started off thinking I could predict what DS would eat. Ha! The joke was on me. There is no predicting. Lucky guesses, maybe. But that’s about it. Hang in there. It’ll get better, and I think it will also get easier for you to distinguish when your own feelings regarding food are colouring your reaction.
    When you think about it, it’s the same for so many parenting issues. It’s hard to separate our own experiences from what is happening with our children. You have more of a challenge considering your background regarding food, but I think over time, with self-awareness and continually addressing our own issues, it can get easier.
    Oh, and I think we got a bit of a free pass in the food department in a way, as we have a dog. So much of the clean-up was taken care of by the dog.
    @Moxie, “Now THAT is a nail-biter–the first time your kid uses a sharp chef’s knife” Ha. Meant to comment on this earlier. I nearly died when DH was showing DS (2.5 at the time) how to chop herbs – holding the blade on the top with both hands and rocking the knife back and forth. He was using a paring knife and had his hands over DS’, but still! We love to cook and DS does too, but that’s a little too soon for a sharp knife if you ask me! And then the other day I turn around in the kitchen to see that DS is holding our biggest chef’s knife (by the handle luckily). Ahhhhhh! Note to self: push knives back FARTHER on the counter. FARTHER!!!

  40. @the milliner – I love your goal of serving something he won’t eat. I think I may adopt that. I started calmly setting down a little piece of something likely to be rejected on the edge of his plate and saying, “Here is X. Mommy thinks it’s yummy, and you can try it if you want, but you don’t have to.” He usually pushed it off the edge of the plate, but I decided that my job was done no matter what.

  41. I did a somewhat traditional introduction to food with both DD’s. And both of them didn’t eat until I gave them something that was not plain cereal. DD1 is now 2.5 and she can live on air. Especially in the evening. She doesn’t eat food she likes because she is too distracted to sit at the table. My hubby says whatever to the eating, but then when she wakes up at 5:30/6am hungry he complains about how early she wakes. UGH! I probably am starting to make too big of a deal out of it, though. One thing that has helped is cutting out snacks close to mealtime (duh, right?). DD2 is 9 mos old and eats whatever I put in front of her. You can’t keep up with a spoon, so I got a Tilty cup with a smoothie lid ( http://www.amazon.com/Tilty-Smoothie-Cup-Lids-Pack/dp/B003V5LA5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309551998&sr=8-1 ) and put in purees that are slightly watered down. And tons of finger foods. She doesn’t turn down anything and grabs at my plate and screams for more. I remember when DD1 was like this… I suppose when she gets older she’ll (DD1) be a better eater again. And then DD2 will go through a don’t eat anything phase.Good luck!

  42. We’re doing babyled weaning with my 9 month old and it’s been an interesting experience. I haven’t read all the comments yet, so I don’t know others’ experiences, but I did want to say that I haven’t found it an entirely stress free method, myself. I think if I were cooking and pureeing a lot of foods for her, my worrying and frustration would probably be even worse, but I still find myself wondering “Why isn’t she eating this” or “Why is she rejecting that?” And it’s not even that I want her to be getting most of her nutrition from solids or anything like that. At risk of making a long comment longer, here are the pros and cons I’ve found so far with BLW.Cons:
    -It’s still more work than breastfeeding. Sounds stupid, but I really was thrown by what a pain any sort of solids feeding turned out to be compared to just popping my kid on the boob. Even just taking a couple of bites out of an apple and letting her have at it meant rinsing it off multiple times when she threw it on the floor or (if we were already on the floor) rolled it in cat hair. That probably makes me sound lazy, but … actually, there is no but. I’m totally lazy.
    -It won’t keep you from worrying about allergies, if you are so inclined.
    -It won’t keep you from worrying about choking, if you are so inclined. My daughter gagged a lot, and choked once on a piece of cucumber (once they have teeth, what was safe to gum can become unsafe for them to bite off, oops), and based on our reactions, she now coughs all the time when she’s eating, primarily just for show.
    -It won’t keep you from worrying about forming bad habits, if you are so inclined. My daughter eats very little in her high chair, preferring to throw most food on the floor from that thrilling height. She eats much better if we feed her from our plates while she’s cruising around the coffee table. Bad habit, formed!
    It won’t keep your child from refusing foods. Cricket went through a phase of seeming to like everything, and then a phase of spitting everything out like she’d never tried it before. She’s still hit or miss with most foods, especially if it doesn’t come right off my plate.
    So what are the pros? Well, like I said, I’d be putting in a lot more work and still worrying just as much if I were doing purees. More importantly, my daughter really does seem to know pretty well how to move food around her mouth. Since her one choking incident, she’s excellent at spitting out chunks that are too big, and she makes great use of her four front teeth to take perfect-sized bites out of just about anything. Overall, I recommend baby-led weaning, but the most important thing I think I’ve learned is that infant feeding is not linear. It will go great, and then you’ll think you’ve messed up somehow, and then your kid will eat a dozen steamed turnips and you’ll think you’re awesome again. But as you can see, worrying about it is totally normal πŸ™‚

  43. @the milliner – My husband made lemonade from scratch with the kids last weekend. I heard him explaining how to cut the lemons to my 4 yo daughter. I made sure to stay out of the room, because I know how sharp the cutting knives are. I totally trust him, so I knew she’d be fine. I just didn’t want my nail biting to make her nervous!!

  44. @parisienne mais presque, my DS is the same as yours in many ways. He’ll say “DS loves X (fill in some vegetable or fruit he doesn’t eat)”. And then he’ll try to shove it in my mouth (even though I’ve just been eating my own portion for the last 10 mins), or when I say ” Great, wanna try some?” He says “No.” Oh well, I suppose it all starts with the idea that you could potentially eat something.

  45. I have had some food issues, and I have two girls ages 4.5 and 20 months. My pediatrician said something to me that clicked- “hunger and thirst are the two strongest instincts- your kids absolutley will not starve”. So, I stock the house with 99% good food and the kids eat what they like. I offer foods with zero pressue and that seems to work best for both of my kids. The more invloved/invested I become in what/how much they eat, the grouchier they become. Now meals are low stress and after a period of having a short list of foods, the eldest is expanding. I wish you luck!

  46. BLW is great. But parents need to remember that the goal is to teach kids how to eat right. We have to provide some structure and be mindful of the lessons we’re teaching our kids about food and eating. Research shows that kids learn to eat for emotional reasons as early as age 3.When it comes to teaching young children how to eat I would say one of the most important things is to pay attention to varying taste and texture. All too often kids get fed (unintentionally of course) a diet that is dominated by either crunchy, or sweet, or smooth foods and then they become resistant to trying other foods.
    There’s good evidence that kids who eat a diet high in sugar, salt and fat don’t eat natural foods like veggies. You’d be surprised how much salt there is in Goldfish, how much sugar there is in sweetened yogurt…
    So I say, BLW is good, just make it mindful. http://itsnotaboutnutrition.squarespace.com/

  47. @caramama, Yeah, I’m not so worried when DH is with DS, but more worried about him thinking that since he uses the sharp knife with papa, surely he can use it himself (as witnessed with DS picking up the big chef’s knife). My biggest fear is that he’ll pick a sharp knife up by the blade, cupping his whole hand around it. Especially if he did it with the bread knife (which I’ve already sliced off a good portion of one of my fingers with). Though that one I’m pretty vigilant about putting back in it’s holder which is out of reach for DS, even when he’s on his helping stool in the kitchen.

  48. Boy, this food thing is SO PRIMAL isn’t it? I don’t have eating issues myself, and I never ever thought I’d be one of “those moms” who make a big deal of food but I find it almost impossible not to. Here is this being, and it’s my job to keep her alive, and if she doesn’t eat she doesn’t stay alive, so EAT ALREADY!!!Whew.
    My daughter had no interest in solid foods until she was well past her first birthday – like 13 or 14 months old. I tried. I tried rice cereal, bananas, avocado (she still hates avocado), pureed sweet potato mush, everything. I had faux-concerned insulting inlaws who said “Well, do you COOK?” Guess what? She’s now 7 and still doesn’t eat as much as my amygdala reptile-brain would like, and is still healthy and growing.
    I leaned a lot from La Leche League, and most of what comforted me applies whether you’re feeding formula or breastmilk or a combo. I learned that there are 4 signs that a baby is ready for solid food: 1) She can sit unassisted, 2) She has mastered the pincer-grip, 3) She no longer has the tongue-thrust reflex, and 4) She shows interest in solid foods (i.e. grabs food off your plate and gobbles it down while you watch in shock and/or attempt the Heimlich Maneuver ;-). If a baby isn’t demonstrating all these signs, she’s probably not ready. Any age between 6 and 12 months (or more) is “normal” for being ready for solids.
    The other thing I learned is that as long as my baby was alert, growing, sand developing appropriately, she was getting the nutrition she needed. I could stick my fingers in my ears and sing “LA LA LA” whenever one of those condescending food naggers started asking me what she was eating and blah blah blah.

  49. After reading a bunch of posts here, we also started with BLW and since BabyT was a champion nurser I wasn’t all that pushy about getting going on the solid food. I would have delayed until 7 months but had to do the first intro at 6.5 due to some family visits. She was pretty much not interested in real food until around 8.5 months, and that’s when I noticed a decrease in her nursing sessions. And then she picked up again at 11 months and dropped even more nursing sessions.It also seemed to help that she started daycare 2 days/week at 12 months and for whatever reason, eats like gangbusters there. She won’t eat most of those things at home, but will eat them at “baby school”. Hooray for 21 months, I guess.
    We weaned at 14 months and only around 12 months did we actually start doing 3-4 real meals a day for her (before that we’d try food once or twice a day, depending on how the day was going). And she still eats random stuff – a little of what I make for us, plus a bunch of miscellaneous things like fruit, veggies, cut up tofu, BBQ chicken, etc.
    She does have a dairy allergy which we found at 8 months when introducing yogurt so we have to be vigilant about that, but otherwise we’re pretty laid back. I also read “Child of Mine” and have adopted the concept of the division of responsibility. I don’t stress when she doesn’t eat because chances are she’ll make it up the next day.
    Our pediatrician advised us to look at her diet over *6* weeks and it should be balanced, so eating nothing but applesauce one day is just fine.
    Good luck!

  50. Sorry, I haven’t read through the comments, but my fave web site on this topic is http://familyfeedingdynamics.com The author is an MD and a disciple of Ellyn Satter– so the whole philosophy is about Division of Responsibility (DoR). Basically, you decide when food is offered and which food gets offered, and it is the child’s sole responsibility to decide when and how much to eat– this works at pretty much any age.As for BLW, we did a mix– I offered some purees in the beginning with my son, but pretty soon (i.e. about 8-9 months) was just feeding him stuff from our plate (within limits of course) kinda mashed up or in pieces. My six month old daughter is going after food and is clearly interested but doesn’t quite have the motor skills to put the food in her mouth every time, so she’s getting some help with purees, too. But I watch her cues carefully– opening mouth, leaning toward spoon, saying ‘mmmmm’, feeding continues; but as soon as she turns away, gives a little sigh and indicates she’s not interested, I leave off.
    You don’t have to do pure BLW to get a good eater. My son is an outstanding eater– very adventurous. I think DoR helped, as well as exposing him to lots of flavors (why does everyone think baby food has to be bland and unseasoned– that’s a cultural thing that varies hugely around the world, so don’t be afraid to put some butter and salt on those peas, or sautee that tofu with a bit of garlic, you know?).
    Keep in mind, at this point, it’s just about educating your baby’s palate, not about getting the majority of her nutrition from food. You want to teach her what is good to eat, how to feed herself and how to listen to her body’s cues. The long term goal is eating competence, not finishing the plate tonight, you know?

  51. Can I just say thank you for mentioning 20 months is the bang-your-head-on-the-doorframe stage? If it weren’t for ice cream, grapes and nightly breastfeeding, by 20-month-old would waste away to nothing. I guess she’s getting what she needs, but ugh… I want to take her to the ped to be weighed every week to keep my sanity!And yes, 8 months–food is just for play, for discovery. Someone somewhere said if they just taste the food your good to go. No need to eat or enjoy, just trying a food is an excellent step towards broadening their tastes.
    I guess if food has been an issue with you, it’s almost inevitable that it will be an issue with your baby. I feel that way about cleanliness; I like to be clean, and I like baby (ha!) to be relatively clean, too. I have to let Daddy take her to the park to roll in the sand. I’ve tried to cut myself some slack and remember that I can only raise her with my own sense of values, and that will mean raising her with some of my obsessions, too. But she has balance, and lots of love, and I try to relax when I can. You’re doing fine! Your baby sounds content. Great job!

  52. Let me rephrase: “If food is an issue with you, it’s almost inevitable that it will be one of *your* issues with your baby.” Yeesh–sorry about that.

  53. We have an 8 month old and we started off with oatmeal- she hated it! any and all purees. They were so much work and she hates them. After reading about BLW, we are now having a more successful food experience. Less work for me, more fun for her. Yesterday she had cooked egg yolks (cooled) and banana. All the size that she can grab herself. I will always watch her like crazy- but she sits down with us for breakfast (or dinner) and feeds herself (essentially).it is not all roses- last night she had a major meltdown at dinner- but it was more that she was overtired then not liking the food.
    I hope you find success in whatever approach you choose- I just know that sitting and fighting to get food in my kids mouth was totally not working- luckily BLW is working for us.
    good luck!

  54. sounds a bit basic, i know, but when i was at this mothering stage, a very wise family member reminded me: think of eating in terms of week-long stretches. instead of saying to yourself: oh we had a tough eating day, look at the week. kids at this stage tend to function that way so it makes sense…to me, it did, at least.

  55. Oh baby feeding, how you ruined me.From the first time someone told me I needed to supplement my low supply to last night’s pizza dinner four years later, I am consumed with food issues that I didn’t know I had. It makes me think that parenting truly is 90% about me and my garbage, and 10% about my actual, real life, living with me children.
    Some helpful things for me:
    1) Learn how to deal with choking. Go by the fire department and ask them to show you the choking maneuver for babies – it will take 5 minutes and will give you all the freedom in the world for letting your babe explore food. I unchoked both of my children more than once and it was not a big deal – quick and easy and carry on. You can do the full course, but honestly, I didn’t feel like it – if I had an extra 6 hours to do something other than feed and sleep a baby, it wasn’t going to be doing that. Firefighters are in the family, so maybe I cheated, but I can almost guarantee they would help you out if you dropped in.
    2) Choose language that reminds you what you want to think is important. When they were young (sub- 18 months) I was all about “Ten Days”, as many commenters have mentioned. What has gone in there in the last 10 days? Now that they’re older, we talk about the major food groups: energy foods, muscle foods, bone foods and vitamin foods. And of course, treat foods. But our daughter in particular (4) can help remember if she’s had any bone food lately, or if she’s feeling low, if maybe some energy food would help. And then I remember that I want to have a few of each available through the day and that’s about it. If I worry about more than that (variety, ethnicity, ingestion methods), I try to make myself turn the worry off.
    3) Nothing’s permanent. A version of This Too Shall Pass. But with luxury of number 2 is knowing that not only will they change and adapt and surprise, but *I will too*. I can change my mind. I can add a new skill. I will hear or read a new tip that changes everything (family-style dinner has revolutionized my life).
    4) To the OP: Reading your second post, what struck me is that this food thing is hardest because it brings you to your knees and you end up in Mommy Anger because your sweet thing is the one hitting your buttons and holy hell, she’s Just A Baby! The mommy anger is awful, and I’m so sorry. I think Moxie has lots of good advice for managing it somewhere on here. I found swearing really helpful, but have had to find a new one. Some people like exercise, TV or loud music. But invest in figuring out how you want to handle that because from what I can tell, it doesn’t go away any time soon, even if the food issues do.

  56. @Dina Rose, the problem is: the research shows a correlation, but does it show causation? I suspect not, because it would be very hard to design an experiment that shows that.So comments like yours and from other well-meaning “food experts” often come across as blaming the parents for having a picky eater. If only I hadn’t given my daughter goldfish! Surely she would be eating her veggies!
    Of course, the foods offered have a huge impact on what gets eaten, but I do not think that is the full story. Taste receptors are just proteins, so they, like any other non-essential protein, almost certainly show variation across the population. Is it not equally possible that my daughter happens to have inherited taste receptors from me that make vegetables taste as bitter to her as they do to me? If that is the case, is it really surprising that she won’t eat her broccoli? And that since she dislikes veggies, she gravitates towards other foods to get her calorie intake requirements met?

  57. caramama’s tale is resonating with me here, and I wonder if anyone else has dealt with a very hungry six-month-old. I’m doing BLW with mine after having done the puree thing with his big sister 3 year ago. I love BLW in almost every way, except that he seems to consume almost nothing. He is actually really good at getting food to his mouth, loves to suck on things, is good at taking bites and even chewing them around between his gums but very little goes down. And he is a VERY active guy–already fully crawling, pulling up to standing, scaling furniture like a rock climber and even starting to cruise (which is a whole nother can of worms actually, because his sister was the opposite and how am I going to parent this one?) so he’s very hungry. And, of course he is. not. sleeping.I cannot say for sure that the not sleeping is because he’s hungry, but it sure seems that way, as he howls desperately for food every 2-3 hours (if I haven’t already just shoved the nipple in there). I am so tempted to start heaping purees into him, but it feels wrong after watching him learn to self-feed, and when I did it a bit a few days ago it just ended up constipating him and giving him gas, which disturbed his sleep even more.
    I guess I’m just wondering…I’m not sure what my question is exactly. Any thoughts on this besides that I should try to nurse constantly during the day and This Too Shall Pass? Is it actually likely that his sleep issue is hunger, or is it just the 4-month-sleep-regression-that-never-ended, as many others have reported? And if it is that he’s hungry, shouldn’t I actually try to up my milk supply and supplement with formula instead of food, for optimal nutrition?

  58. @aa, there is a 6 month growth spurt, I think- and I guess the way you normally deal with growth spurts is nursing lots. I don’t remember either of my kids eating all that much solid food of any kind at 6 months, although they certainly had that option. I think they were still getting the majority of their nutrition from breastmilk then. But it is all a haze….I will say that we did a mix of feeding options- some purees some finger foods a la baby led weaning recommendations (i.e., long, and easy to grasp and gnaw on). That’s what worked best for us. My younger kid loved to try to eat cooked carrot sticks at about this time. She won’t touch them now- and hasn’t for over a year. But it was nice while it lasted.

  59. 6 months was a big growth spurt with my DD and as she was truly not interested in solids until 7 months it was breastfeeding lots day and night. Like @Cloud said so well. Here in London in 2008 solids were not supposed to be given until 6 months. Now it’s four months again.I got all the puree books and kit and DD hated purees so after we were BLW. As in she chose.
    I had no idea then of the food allergy and give her egg, hard boiled which she handed back and bell pepper strips, ditto. Because is was so into the nursing on demand thing I avoided dairy until one year. Big reaction on her birthday meant a Restricted Diet.
    All the reassuring noises paediatricians make about your kid eating only applesauce disappeared. Doom and gloom from the nutritionist. I just worked it out with books and dr. Google and DD grows fine.
    Many allergic children become scared of food and picky, and lose weight and all that but that’s to do with the individual child, not the parent. You can offer a menu to rival a French restaurant in diversity and your child might only eat one cracker and one type of sausage.
    In practice DD’s approach to food was like any other toddler I know. Some days she won’t eat, some weeks is big starch, some weeks it’s all meat, veg comes and goes but there’s always one she will eat on the plate. I do have to sit on my tendency to panic when we have protein free days but it’s vital DD enjoys food and not a ” diet of nutrient rich foods”.
    I’m a strict vegetarian and picky and don’t eat lunch really. I grew up in this tense house with what seemed unending meals at table.That worried me a lot when I had DD.
    I did meals at table for DD from the start of solids and when able to I eat with her; often that’s only dinner. If it gets too much for me to sit and eat I move away from the table and stay in nearby at breakfast and lunch.
    DD likes meats and she won’t gladly miss lunch or other meals. She will remind me if I don’t start preparations early enough.
    In other words my picky avoidance and other food issues did not rub off.

  60. Okay I just wanted to make a few comments, most of which other people have said I think. My little girl is nearly 2 years old now, and we continue to have the odd food battle every now and then.She initially was into the whole solid food thing, then around 9-10 months just stopped being interested. It wasn’t until I weaned her from the boob at around 14-15 months that her appetite for solids really picked up. Looking back, I think she got all she needed from me.
    You’ve probably heard this over and over, but trust that your baby will eat when he/she is hungry. There are some days when my little one only eats a few spoons of cereal, maybe a few bits of diced beetroot (oddly, this has always been a fave of hers!) and maybe a cracker. And then one day she’ll eat whole sandwiches, bananas, 2 weetbix, etc.
    Over time I’ve just learnt to be less stressed about her varying appetite levels, what she’ll try or not try, etc. And you will too. Good luck.

  61. We did not go the BLW way either due to my fear of food allergies. I have anaphylaxis to walnuts and buckwheat and am allergic to all other tree-nuts and peanuts, along with such foods as rye, soy, eggplant and wheat and corn meal ( IGe reaction to last two, but no real reaction when I eat them). So of course there was always the fear allergies ran in family ( fortunatalely, food allergies have not been an issue with us, or at least not yet.) Needless to say, introducing solids was a great source of fear and worry to me.Both kids (6.5 and 4.5) now are great eaters despite my own issues feeding them. Both kids were breastfed into toddlerhood (18 motnhs/30 months), and took to solids slowly, but I do not believe this was due to my anxiety. They were simply a couple of breatmilk drunks who were not going to forsake the tit for the finest Italian cuisine in the world. DD, ( no2) was very slow when it came to solids. She was not at all experimental, relying on 6 staples until 18 months when she finally found her taste buds. She is by far the best of my two eaters, very curious with a particular preference for savoury ( gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, carpaccio being among her favourties). DS (no1)started off a bit better, but would not eat meat, unless it was hidden in slop until 2.5. All pretty normal toddler behaviour from the sounds of things.
    Good luck. You’re doing a fanatasic job.

  62. I am a little bit late in on this but share the OP’s experiences on all fronts. What got us through the first food crises were two books – the Baby Led Weaning book Moxie mentioned and one our very kind and understanding pediatrician recommended – Ellyn Satter’s “How to Get Your Kid to Eat, But Not Too Much”. It is really a miraculous book. I particularly loved the chapter “Is Your Toddler Jerking You Around at the Table?” Not applicable to an 8 month old, but it sure is to our 22 month old! Best of luck to you, OP. I completely know where you are coming from and really urge you to take a look at Satter’s book.

  63. I wanted to say a couple of things. First, we did baby led weaning with our now 20-month old. He is an okay eater now, but since his “okay” includes pretty much every fruit under the sun, I feel like he’s probably fine. I few things that are/were helpful for me. 1. Adjusting expectations. It’s really not necessary for 6-12 month olds to eat much if any solid food. They should be getting most of their nutrition from breastmilk/formula and any solids are just bonus. 2. Nursing as long as possible — this is good nutritional insurance, to my mind. I know it’s not easy or possible for many women, but if you are inclined, this is another good reason. 3. My kiddo loved frozen fruit, and we used the mesh feeder thingys for quite a while — he loved these when he was teething. 4. To go with the baby led weaning, I am convinced that there are tons of things that babies do not need but that are marketed to us– such as baby food, or special toddler snacks (puffs –ew). Not that there’s anything wrong with these things, per se, if they make your life easier. But since they cost a lot of money, and up until just a few decades ago, babies just ate whatever their parents were eating, I don’t think they are necessary. Since for babies, eating is just practice, it seems like they should get a variety of textures/flavors, not bland or processed foods. We still eat a lot of things that people might think are “snacks” — fruit, yogurt, cheese, crackers, cereal. I just try to make sure that almost all the options are healthy and as unprocessed as possible — and what he eats, he eats.Finally, eating disorders are not something I’ve struggled with, but I wonder if it might be helpful to hand over some of the solid-food feeding responsibilities to your husband? If not every meal, whichever meals he his present for. Just a thought.

  64. I can’t speak to the eating disorders aspect, however, I did find moving to solid foods really stressful. I was having a hard time keeping up without having to do all those meals! What worked for that was just doing fewer meals. It’s true: their nutrition is really coming from breastmilk (or formula) in that first year.The meal prep with standard baby feeding was awful. And my son didn’t want anything on a spoon. (Now, at age three, he wants me to feed him all. the. time.) So I scrambled to find healthy things he could gum (kavli soaked in broth), and I threw in the less healthy but still okay stuff I remembered from childhood: graham crackers, animal crackers, etc.
    Maybe think of mealtime as art, or sensory exploration, or motor control practice? It’s all those things as much as it is nutrition at this age. If you’re eating well yourself, just give him a little of what you’re having, modified if need be. I liked _Feeding the Whole Family_ in this regard: it was geared towards meals that the whole family could eat and enjoy, with small tweaks for wee ones. It helped me understand feeding a baby differently (though I’m still not a vegetarian).

  65. @kelly – the chewing it yourself thing is not a good idea. You don’t want the baby to pick up your mouth flora that will contain the bacteria which cause dental caries – babies and children don’t have these bacteria and only pick them up through saliva transfer from us.Other than that, agree with everyone. The stressing over it is a thoroughly bad idea, although SO HARD to do in practice. I have the opposite problem of two children who want to eat ALL THE TIME and who will eat pretty much anything except lettuce. My son is active enough that he is still of a healthy weight, my daughter despite us doing loads of exercise together is on the heavy side of healthy, and I don’t know whether to keep on controlling what she eats (she’s nearly 4) or let her just eat as much as she wants of the relatively healthy food we provide and teach her to set her own limits. It’s a minefield.

  66. @Dina Rose & @Cloud (and anyone else worried about the salt content in goldfish):Just checked the package (Cheddar, Whole Grain version) and 37 crackers has 170mg of sodium, 7% Daily Value (of presumably an adult diet). RDI of sodium for kids 2-3 is 1000mg per day, so 37 crackers would be 17% of their RDI.
    I doubt my DS eats 37 crackers in a sitting. Probably 1/2 that. This doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable amount of salt intake to me.
    I agree that we should be keeping an eye on salt intake and the like, and setting our kids up to crave healthy food. But with so many other dynamics at play, especially during the young years, I think the balance of the food equation (nutrition, calories, enjoying the family meal, texture/supertaster issues, control issues, etc) needs to be looked at. While goldfish may not be the holier-than-thou ideal, it could be a lot worse.
    I’ve pretty much let go of my foodie ideals of what my kids’ diet should look like (that’s me waving as I see it disappearing off in the distance). Picking my battles now and holding up my end of the bargain to provide healthy food and other food we like as treats in moderation, weather or not any of it gets eaten.

  67. @ paola: “They were simply a couple of breastmilk drunks who were not going to forsake the tit for the finest Italian cuisine in the world”HILARIOUS!

  68. Children need to be taught how to try new foods. It isn’t something that comes naturally. Personality and developmental issues affect willingness to try new foods for sure, but mostly kids are reluctant to eat a wide variety of foods because: a) parents train kids’ taste buds to like certain flavors and textures by over-exposure to these; b) parents put too much pressure on kids to EAT new foods when the goal should be a VERY small (microscopic) taste; c) not giving kids ANY information about what something new tastes like (saying “Yum” isn’t the same thing as saying “This is crunchy like the toast you like,” or “This tastes a little like the yogurt you like because it also has blueberries.” It’s not what you feed, but what you TEACH, that matters. Dina http://www.itsnotaboutnutrition.com

  69. I may be too late, but I have two top tips for BLW (which worked brilliantly for me). Firstly, get anyone involved (husband, grandparents etc ) to read the BLW book by Gill Rapley. Otherwise they’ll undermine you by urging the baby to eat more, spoon feeding, praising eating, rewarding with pudding etc (not to say these things are wrong, just perhaps not what you want to do, if you’re following Rapley’s approach). Secondly, watch the videos in YouTube which show the difference between gagging and choking. My daughter never, ever choked, and always sorted herself out with a bit of gentle reassurance from me. But I had several friends who nearly did the Heimlich manoeuvre on her, as they thought she was choking when actually she was gagging. Finally, if you really can’t be relaxed at the table, give yourself some chores to do nearby, to distract yourself and take the pressure of her.

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