Is my baby ready for spoon food feeding? Ask these 5 questions.
A feeding therapist uses her expertise on when to move your baby to pureed foods.
I think my baby is ready for pureed or spoons foods. Now what?
With so many things to consider how will I know when my baby is ready? Where should my baby sit for feedings? What should I offer my baby to eat first? How do I do this anyway? Should I try the spoon or just go for the squeezy pouches?
As a feeding therapist these are questions we hear a lot. When your baby is ready for the introduction of pureed foods around 4-6 monhts, it's time for the messy fun to begin! If your baby is showing the following signs, it might be time to give it a go:
- Takes a bottle or breast feeds with ease.
- Watches with interest when caregivers eat.
- Brings objects to his mouth.
- Sits comfortably in a bouncy or infant seat.
Here are a few questions you may have when you are ready to take the plunge:
1. Where should my baby sit for the feedings?
- Stable seating is best for your baby. Babies should not be bobbing, leaning or lounging on their back. In the beginning, babies should be in a semi-upright position, like they would sit in a bouncy seat or infant feeding seat. As babies become more stable sitting up, a booster seat or highchair can be used.
- Position baby at caregiver's eye level.
- Remember, as babies grow their seating will need to be adjusted.
2. What should I offer my baby to eat first?
Start with thin baby food cereals. Rice cereal by spoon is a good choice. Gradually increase the thickness of the cereal as your baby tolerates. Alternatively, Stage 1 or homemade single ingredient purees may be offered.
3. How do I offer these foods?
- Show your baby with your expression and tone of voice that this is going to be fun and enjoyable.
- Show the baby the spoon; a small plastic toddler spoon works well.
- Dip the spoon into the puree wiht a small taste on the end of the spoon.
- Offer the spoon slowly. Place small taste on lower lip.
- Caregiver should model smacking lips.
- Continue to give small tastes of puree modeling "Aaahhh" for baby to open mouth and "Mmmm" for baby to close mouth and use lips to clear the spoon.
- Follow the cues of the baby to continue offering more bites and bigger bites. Hint: If he pushes your hand away or turns his head, he's most likely done. However, if he opens his mouth, he's letting you know he's ready for more.
- Keep mealtimes short and sweet. End feeding in a positive way.
- Let baby get messy, messy, messy! While we're at it, don't scrape food off of baby's face during the meal. Save the cleaning up for after all the bites are done and baby is out of the feeding seat. Washing off at the sink works well.
4. Why should I start with the spoon and NOT the pouch?
Here are all of the wonderful things your baby is learning when you offer pureed foods from a spoon:
- Practice getting the tongue and jaw to move in more coordinated and controlled movements getting them ready for harder solids.
- A chance to work on lips clearing the spoon rather than just sealing as they do for breast and bottle.
- A chance for baby to begin working on moving tongue from side to side and biting on a firm object.
- A chance to build a feeding routine that fosters skills and confidence.
- A chance to work on building trust and incidental feeding experiences as they see someone they love and trust offer and explore foods with them.
- A chance to begin working on the co-feeding stage, redefining the parent role and the child role in feeding as babies move toward independence with finger feeding and spoon holding and licking while still needing help from their caregiver.
5. While we are on the subject, how about pureed from pouches?
Pouches are so convenient. They offer parents an easy way to expose their little ones to a variety of flavors, they're easy to transport and easy to offer on the go. For those times when you simply can't pass on the pouch, remember these tips:
- Consider squeezing onto a spoon.
- Remember to get face to face with your baby when using a pouch.
- Offer pouch foods that are more single ingredient or just a few ingredients so that the pouch is an added food, not the whole meal.
- Offer the pouch when seated in a stable highchair with a tray, offering some of the puree on the tray for the baby to touch and practice licking from the fingers.
About the author
Melissa Smith is a speech pathologist at Cook Children's. Speech/language pathologists focus on oral motor, speech, language and communication skills to enhance development, restore function and to prevent disability from pediatric conditions, illness or injury. Click here to find the closest Cook Children's Rehabilition Services near you.