Friday, November 4, 2011

Feeding Babies Lumpy Foods Before 9 Months Prevents Picky Eating

By Julia Moravcsik, PhD, author of Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food

Your baby has made the transition to "solid" food.  She opens her mouth like a little baby bird whenever she sees a spoonful of jarred baby food.

But now you're wondering "When do I start feeding her lumpy food?  When do I put the purees behind and feed her food with some texture?"  Is your baby ready for the next step?  How will you know when she is?

Babies Gag When They Encounter a New Texture

You decide to experiment.  You mash a banana, leaving almost imperceptible lumps.  Your baby opens her mouth, takes the banana, and then...gag...choke...!  As a new parent, you're terrified!  You try frantically to remember the baby Heimlich maneuver.

Your baby spits out the banana.  "Well," you think, "That's an obvious sign.  She just isn't ready."

Babies Need to Learn New Textures

What you may not realize is that many babies gag when they experience a new texture.  They need to learn to swallow new textures, and this learning takes time.

The banana encounter was a first lesson for your baby.  Even though it seemed to end badly, your baby did experience the feeling of slightly lumpy food.  She may spit out lumpy food dozens of times, but each time is a new lesson.  Over time she will feel more comfortable.

If Your Baby Does Not Learn to Eat Lumpy Textures Before 9 Months, She May Be a Picky Eater for Years

Why not avoid all the drama and wait until a baby is developed enough so that she doesn't have to go through dozens of texture lessons?

There is a very good reason not to wait.

Studies like this one have found that parents who wait until their babies are 9 months old before introducing lumpy textures have children who, at seven years old, eat many fewer foods, including fruits and vegetables!  In other words, these children have been made into picky eaters!

It's amazing that just a few months difference in timing can create fussy eaters six years later!

How Our Ancestors' Babies Learned to Eat Solid Food

The original solid food came, not from a jar, but from the mother chewing up food in her mouth and giving it to her baby.  This food was "naturally" textured.

I'm not advocating chewing food for your baby, although many parents do this.  But it's nice to know that for hundreds of thousands of years, babies' first solid food was lumpy, and they did just fine.

Start at 6 Months

You can start serving lumpy food to your baby at 6 months.  Start with tiny, soft lumps and slowly work your way up. 

Your baby may accept lumpy food better if it is mixed in a puree that she loves.  So if she's a carrot fan, mix small lumps into her carrot baby food.

If you have been trying for weeks to give your baby lumpy food and she still gags and chokes, check with your physician.  She may have an oral motor issue that can be helped by a visit to a speech pathologist.

Would you like a simple, easy-to-follow program that will teach your child to love healthy food? See my new book Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food on amazon.com.

Related Links

Give Your Newborn Baby Tastes of Real Food
Feeding Your Baby Salt Can Make Her Like It For the Rest of Her Life
Children Like the Food They Grow Up With

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9 comments:

  1. I agree. We started feeding our kids solid food at four months and they were teething on lamb chop bones as soon as they could hold one. In addition to feeding them 'off our plates' they got plenty of lumpy food and we have only ever given them meat on the bone. A lot of kids (the chicken nugget generation) do not know what to do with meat on the bone and it is frustrating to see parents cater to a child that can't eat a normal healthy diet because they are too picky.

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  2. It is very important to start feeding your kids the good whole foods as soon as they can handle it. Babies don't care what it looks like, they just want food and you have control over what food they get. When they get older it is a whole different ball game!! I have a difficult time trying to get my kids to try anything new and I know most of that reason is because I didn't introduce it to them at a early age.

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