Overcoming Fussiness in a New Eater

Dear Daughter,

Shortly after you turned six months we offered you some banana, as you were so very interested in it and you had met all of the milestones with the exception of having sprouted teeth. (You and your brothers seem to be late teethers. They got their first teeth close to a year).

You were absolutely horrified by the experience and bananas became the one thing that you no longer tried to put in your mouth.

I was given a lot of advice.

“She’ll be a picky eater” they said.

“It’s about overcoming resistance. You have to stubborn it through” they said.

“You just have to keep trying” they said.

I looked at you and what I got from looking at you was that you simply were not quite ready. So I stopped offering for a bit.

And we waited.

And then an interesting thing happened. When we would eat you would look at us and you would start chewing air. Your little jaw would work up and down and you’d chew along with us.

Out of curiosity I offered you a piece of smushed food on my finger tip. You chewed it up and swallowed it. Not a puree. Smushed food. No gagging on the clumps. You  just glomped it off my finger and chewed it up and swallowed it as though you had been eating this way all along.

Now you’re seven months old and you eat many things. Blueberries, pears, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi, broccoli, carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas, potato, beef, chicken, fish. Anything that is either finger-shredded or that can be chewed with your gums.

You know what you don’t like? Spoons. If I try to offer you a spoonful of pumpkin soup you gag on it immediately. Spoons apparently put the food into your mouth in a really bad place.

With your brothers when they started eating purees the food came out in their poop undigested. I was told that their systems were “just getting used to it”. They would nurse constantly like they were going through a growth spurt as their bodies could make no use of the stuff that filled up their bellies and then they’d have to catch up with milk later. It felt completely wrong, but I figured it was like walking and it needed to be taught. See the problem there? Walking doesn’t need to be taught either.

The things that we need to be taught to do are the things that are not necessary to survival. Things like reading, and saying please. We need to be taught the things NOT to do. Things like “don’t fall out of windows” and “don’t touch hot stoves”. We do not need to be taught to eat, to crawl, to walk, to sleep, to breathe. (Unless we have an issue that lies outside the norm.)

With you I now understand this: You don’t need to “get used to it”. You simply needed to be ready.

Your poop is perfect. You digest everything that you are eating. You do not nurse constantly to make up for things later. You nurse before you eat, you eat until you’re done, and your little system can digest the food and make use of it.

Eating is a natural need of humans. As with all things, waiting until you’re ready has been our “solution” to a problem that doesn’t need solving because it was never a problem to begin with. You just needed to be ready.

And ready you are. You eat your meals sitting on my hip and you eat what I eat at your pace. A finger tip of food at a time. I tried offering you a spoonful of food today without thinking. You gagged on the food and spit out, coughing and yowling your displeasure.

You’re a finger-fed baby. Or a self-fed baby. Like a little parakeet. It makes sense. Spoons are man-made food shovels. You’ve never done well with man-made things. Table manners and utensils can come later along with strawberries, honey, grapes and all those things you don’t give babies until they’re over a year or two old.

For now I’ll listen because you’re wise and you find a way to tell me when you’re ready for each new thing.

Thank you for the constant reminders that if I slow down and listen to you, you make perfect sense.

<3 Mama

 

  7 comments for “Overcoming Fussiness in a New Eater

  1. November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for this post. I offered my son a little bit of mushed banana on my finger a couple of weeks ago. He liked it, but I didn’t try to feed him again until last night. I gave him sweet potato purée on a spoon and he looked at me like I was trying to kill him with that thing! I’ll be trying the finger method again to see if it was just the spoon that he didn’t like.

    • sarah
      November 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      The method I use is I put the food on my finger tip or between my index finger/thumb and I offer it. She opens her mouth and I bring it over to her and she bites it off my finger. If I “put it in her mouth” she becomes upset or gags because she can’t control where it goes. I discovered this when someone else tried to feed her and it didn’t work too well. :p Spoons basically scrape the food off into the baby’s mouth wherever the parent wants, and keeps the food away from baby’s tongue which they need to be able to use to transfer the food to the back of their mouth.

  2. Melissa Yeager
    November 20, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I’ve learned so much from your blog: maybe now I can offer something. Have you read Gill Rapley’s book, Baby-Led Weaning? It sounds like you have fallen into it serendipitously. http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Led-Weaning-Essential-Introducing-Confident/dp/161519021X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353434498&sr=1-1&keywords=baby-led+weaning

  3. Melissa Yeager
    November 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I should add that it isn’t about weaning from breastmilk, rather a different way of introducing solids.

    • sarah
      November 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      Yep. Although technically speaking, the introduction of anything that is not breastmilk starts the weaning process. It’s just that it can take one week or 4 years or whatever depending on the pace and whether it is mom led or child led. :)

  4. November 21, 2012 at 10:51 am

    My second son is having just this experience! He scoffs at purees and we thought we’d be on a long journey toward solids, but it turns out he just wants to feed himself. We just put mushy things on his tray and he eats them. Bell peppers, scrambled eggs (lots of these!), fresh bread, apples…anything as long as *he* feeds it to himself.

  5. Hilde
    December 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    You’re describing my daughter! Although having her first teeth showing up at 4 months, we didn’t start introducing solids until 6.

    She hates spoons. I tried to feed her freshly expressed breast milk by spoon, and she looked at me with utter contempt.

    I’ll fingerfeed her until she starts feeding herself. She doesn’t eat much, though, despite her being almost 8 months old, but she eats everything as long as it’s fingerfed. Indian spicy food, clementine (I remove the skin and feed the insides in suitable chunks), bread, banana, fish, egg, meat, onions, what have you. (No allergies in our family, so I feed her everything except honey, of course, and limit the sugar and salt contents.)

    And as for the meat, I prechewed it a bit first, and then gave it to her. This I would have thought was rather yucky or creepy pre-child, but now it just makes sense. Yes, I do have a blender, but I don’t want to make meat mush, so prechewing it myself gives it the perfect consistence for my daughter to eat without choking.

    Since she doesn’t like spoonfeeding, she also is not fed porridge, as is the norm in Norway. My mum says I should keep trying and not give in, but then I list all the foods that she does accept and wonder why is this porridge so important?

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