My LO wants to eat all by herself, and has been resisting/refusing purees for several weeks. I am finally ready to change something for her since I often have to trick her into taking a bite, which I don't like at all. I want to support her developing independence with this but I also want her to eat a balanced diet, especially more vegetables. How can I expand her self-feeding options without making complicated baby recipes? I'm stuck since she only has six front teeth so she can't chew unless the food is soft. She just seems done with baby food.
I've tried letting her use a spoon herself and she seemed to get the idea but decide it wasn't worth it, and mostly flings the food across the room or all over herself, which I don't want to deal with (open to suggestions here too). I can sometimes get her to eat purees from my finger, or to taste it and then have a few bites once she realizes it's something she likes. Is this a normal consequence of having mixed in a baby-led weaning approach, or is this just her character or the beginning of toddlerhood? It's fine by me and as soon as she gets more teeth I'll just give her our food, but what do people do in the meantime?
Thanks for any suggestions -- I'll be so grateful to have some ideas to get through this stage!
(edited to shorten, assuming you don't need the full story to toss out helpful ideas!)
Anyway, you can just feed her what you eat. They don't need teeth to be able to eat adult food. They can just mash it with their gums. DS had only 2 teeth at that age and I still gave him anything I was eating (including hard foods like carrots, whole apples) and he worked it out just fine. Those gums are HARD.
DS is 3.5 now but he didn't really take to solids until age 2 (basically just nursed a lot, with some occasional bites), but it seems to have really paid off -- he is the best eater of any toddlers I know, he loves everything, eats a really well-rounded diet, loves trying new foods, etc. Maybe just coincidence -- maybe he would have been a good eater no matter how I fed him -- but we did do baby-led solids. We did not use baby food (store-bought or homemade) and he self-fed, sometimes with utensils, sometimes with his hands, often making a big mess, chewing things up & spitting them out, etc. The messiness and spitting out subsided for the most part by the time he was 18-24mos.
Come to think of it, the only other 2 kids I know who are great eaters were also fed with a baby-led approach. Everyone else I know did more traditional spoon-feeding/mashed baby food, and their kids (ages 2-6) are incredibly (though typically) picky. Again, could just be coincidence in my circle, but it's enough to convince me to do baby-led with any future kids I have!
DD is 11mos an semi baby-led...she gets some chunky purees but she reallly prefers to self feed and if the stuff I make is chunky enough I do toss it on the tray and let her figure it out herself with her hands. Sometimes I'll put things on the spoon for her and then she takes it from there. I've never forced or tricked her into anything from the spoon. If she turns away she's either done or doesn't want my help. Only 3 teeth here with 2nd top making it's way down and she's got no problem devouring veggies. Whole head of steamed broccoli? That's how we keep her occupied if we go out to eat! Black beans are a favorite snack and she's beginning to snack on strips of toast with sunbutter on them. Celery is fun and has helped with teething. Also things like quinoa salad are easy to pick up. Anything you eat is fair game at this point. I know bigDH was paranoid about choking when I started giving her non-pureed foods but we've never had an issue.
Thanks for the responses - I'm still not sure what to change but I've been thinking about it. I think I've been stuck because she's really interested in food and loves eating, but there are a lot of foods that she can (enthusiastically) take a bite of but then not be able to chew or swallow, so she just gags and spits it out, and doesn't want more. I thought this was because she has only a few teeth in front, but maybe there's something else.
We started semi-baby-led solids along with purees, and she's been happily eating cooked veggies and pieces of fruit, and gnawing on biscuits since about 7m (she's never finished even a 4oz jar of baby food; she always loses interest and I have to keep giving it to her for a day or two - the only exception is yogurt). Broccoli was an early favorite, and whole tomatoes. More recently she also eats cheese, tofu, avocados, all kinds of biscuits and bread, and she'll still let me feed her yogurt or fruit purees, and sometimes cereal with milk (tiny puffed quinoa). She's also been routinely grabbing fruits and veggies from the basket-shelf-thing where we keep (kept) them and taking bites (pears, plums, etc) or trying to (banana with peel, pomegranate, squash), and wants to walk around with it. She's been walking for about 3 weeks, maybe this goes together?
Maybe this is backwards but today I tried a chia seed "pudding" with almond milk and pureed apricot, and it was a hit - she let me feed her with a spoon. I also tried mixing in a little fruit with her (complex chunky) veggie puree today and she let me feed her that too, she was actually asking for more even after having her finger foods. So I guess she's just refusing veggie-based purees when they're not sweet? I could use this approach for a while at least to finish the baby food we have and get her some veggies (this is important for her digestion and habits, more than for immediate nutritional details), but she prefers eating by herself and I have no objection. I just never know what to do besides cooked broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms...
I like the beans idea - I had searched here before for ideas and tried canned chickpeas (without the skin) but they were too hard for her, so maybe overcooking would help? She'll try pretty much anything from our food, but she really can't eat it unless it's pretty soft (veggies from pizza, Thai curry, etc). She usually goes to bed before we cook for ourselves, so I'll pay more attention to saving a little for her to eat the next day. And keep my eye out for more relatively soft and easy foods to offer.
Maybe you could make a minestrone type soup. Cook lots of veggies like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, peas, broccoli, celery, squash, green beans, etc. in tomato broth with sauteed garlic, onion and spices, and then add some pasta and cooked beans. My babies have always loved it when I would make soup and then take all the pieces out to cool on a plate. My youngest also enjoyed eating off a chopstick. I would poke the food for him and then he could bring it to his mouth. Somehow it took less coordination to eat with a chopstick than with a fork or spoon.
When my kids were little, we got a "safety feeder". We actually got it to help with teething, but the kids really liked chewing on fruits/veggies in the thing too. It might help you out.