How do you know if your baby is hungry? What are the best foods to feed a growing infant, and when should they eat them?
The “how to spoon feed baby milk” is a great way to get your baby started on healthy eating. It helps them develop their motor skills and teaches them how to drink from a cup.
Learn how to spoon feed your kid even if you’re doing baby led weaning, as well as how to deal with gagging, tossing food on the floor, and other issues.
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It’s an exciting moment for you and your baby to start eating solid meals! However, it’s easy to get confused about how to spoon feed your kid.
Is there a correct way to do things?
Is there a bad way?
Perhaps your child is having trouble eating from a spoon?
As a pediatric occupational therapist, I’ll be able to answer all of your concerns so you can feel comfortable starting or troubleshooting spoon feeding your baby.
When Should Purees Be Introduced?
Let’s start with the optimal time to introduce your infant to spoon feeding.
Solid foods were formerly suggested to be introduced between the ages of 4-6 months. Some physicians even advise introducing thin cereals or putting them in the bottle before that.
It’s possible that your parents fed you in this manner.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics now advises waiting until your kid is 6 months old before introducing solid foods. To avoid choking, they continue to suggest soft or pureed meals as the initial exposure to solid foods.
We now know that newborns’ digestive systems are just not developed enough to handle solids, and that most lack the postural control required for safe swallowing until the age of six months.
A vigorous tongue thrust is also likely to be present before 6 months, which means that spoon feeding your baby at a younger age may mistakenly push the food back out of their mouth.
This is sometimes misinterpreted as a baby refusing to eat the baby food, although it is merely an unintentional move.
So, despite what well-intentioned grandparents may say, we now know that starting to spoon feed your infant around 6 months is the optimal time range.
To obtain an idea of how and how frequently you should spoon feed your baby, check out our Feeding Schedule for 6-7 Month Olds.
What Is BLW (Baby Led Weaning)?
There has been a big trend towards Baby Led Weaning in recent years (BLW).
Baby led weaning is a strategy of introducing solid meals to your baby that involves letting them to eat themselves rather than being spoon fed by you. Learn about the benefits and drawbacks of baby-led weaning.
If your kid isn’t getting the hang of eating BLW type meals, it may lead to a delay in solids introduction within their ideal window.
Some infants learn to eat with BLW quickly, while others struggle.
Whether you follow the BLW path or not, purees are still necessary to give your baby on occasion since you’ll want them to be able to consume things like applesauce, yogurt, and soups.
Start with our Mega List of Table Foods for some amazing meal ideas.
How to Begin Spoon Feeding Your Child
Step 1: Make sure they’re at least 6 months old, have decent head control, and can eat and swallow while sitting upright.
Step 2: Place them in the appropriate location.
Your baby’s position is often ignored. It’s simple to feed them while sitting on your lap or while they’re in the car seat. However, this is not the safest posture for them to be in, and it may hinder their ability to eat.
Babies find it more difficult to sit on your lap or in an unsupported seat. Your baby won’t be able to utilize his or her mouth as well if they are concentrating all of their efforts on sitting upright.
Place your child in an age-appropriate booster seat or highchair with a footrest to ensure correct seating.
If at all feasible, their hips, knees, and feet should be at a 90-degree angle.
This implies that while newborns are beginning to eat, they should have support beneath their feet and not seem slouched. Not every highchair or booster seat performs an adequate job of keeping your child in the proper posture.
The Tripp Trapp is my absolute favorite chair that grows with them through childhood; it’s an investment, but they’re so wonderfully crafted that they last a lifetime.
My kid, who is now seven years old, has been using it since he was six months old!
Another choice that is a bit less expensive is the Keekaroo.
Step #3: Use a spoon with a flat tiny bowl so your infant can remove the food more easily.
The spoon’s bowl is really significant. It should be mainly flat or have a slight bowl to it. That implies it won’t be able to contain a lot of puree.
A tiny bowl is also required on the spoon. Your baby’s mouth isn’t very huge when they’re approximately 6 months old. A tiny bowl fits much better in their mouth than a large, broad spoon.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a list of our favorite spoons.
Step #4: Select a baby meal that is completely smooth and thinner.
Use stage 1 for the initial feedings if you’re using store-bought baby food. If you’re creating homemade baby food, be sure it’s not too thick. Make it thick enough for the infant to swallow, but not so thin that it becomes liquid.
At this point, homemade baby food should readily fall off the spoon, but some should remain adhered to the spoon when turned upside down.
Step #5: Spoon on the appropriate quantity of puree.
It’s important not to overfill or underfill the spoon. Some puree should be on it, preferably at the front of the spoon.
Avoid scooping and cramming as much puree as possible into the spoon. This may be quite stressful for your baby, particularly if he or she is just starting to consume purees.
Their gag reflex may also be triggered by too much food in their mouth.
Don’t be alarmed if your infant vomits; it’s quite natural. Choking and gagging are not the same thing. Learn more about what to do if your baby gags while eating.
Step #6: Allow your infant to pick when he or she wants to eat.
Place the spoon in front of your child’s mouth and wait for them to open their lips. This puts children in command of their own destiny straight away; they are the ones who determine what to consume.
You don’t want to open their lips for them or attempt to sneak a mouthful in while they’re looking away.
Feeding fights and fussy eating may be avoided in the future if your baby learns that they get to choose when to eat.
Step #7: Place the spoon in their mouth’s middle.
The spoon should be placed over their tongue, in the middle of their mouth. Apply a modest amount of pressure to the center belly of the tongue with the back of the spoon.
If their tongue seems to be moving a lot, this is useful.
Step 8: Hold your breath until they shut their lips.
It’s difficult to wait when you’re enthusiastic and really want them to take a mouthful! However, wait until they have closed their jaws on the spoon before proceeding.
This informs children of their responsibilities and lays the groundwork for them to be self-sufficient.
When spoon-feeding a baby, there are a few things to keep in mind…
You just have to follow eight basic steps! However, there are a few things you should avoid. Because they’re all quite common, you’ll probably witness others performing them while feeding their baby.
However, each of these has the potential to make eating and swallowing difficult for you and your baby, both now and in the future. Here’s something to stay away from…
- Scrape food from the roof of your baby’s mouth as little as possible. You should wait until your child’s mouth closes around the spoon before proceeding.
- Feeding them in a reclining posture is not a good idea. Avoid using car seats, strollers, and baby positioners. To prevent your infant from gagging, choking, or aspirating, use an upright high chair or booster seat.
- Distractions such as the TV, phone, or toys should be avoided. They won’t be able to completely appreciate all of the tastes and sensations if they’re preoccupied while eating.
- There will be no forced feeding. Allow your child to determine when he or she wants to eat. This decreases the likelihood of finicky eating in the future and sets them up for a nice mealtime experience.
Some newborns take a long time to adjust to purees in their early days. However, if your infant is still suffering at 8-9 months, there may be some underlying issues that need to be addressed.
To learn more, attend our free session or contact your child’s doctor.
- Don’t fill the spoon to the brim. On the spoon, place a medium quantity of puree at the front of the bowl.
Spoon Feeding Issues: Troubleshooting
It’s common for newborns to need assistance in learning to consume purees. They’re still learning and may need some more time. Here are some frequent difficulties and what you can do about them…
The first challenge is that your infant refuses to open their mouth.
As a parent of a new eater, it may be quite disappointing when your baby refuses to open their mouth for the spoon.
In these situations, modeling is extremely useful. Take a little mouthful of puree with your own spoon. Exaggerate what you’re saying by opening your mouth wide.
Demonstrate how to do it to your child.
You may even put a mirror in front of your baby’s face as they eat, or give them their own spoon with puree already on it to test out.
Challenge #2: Your child refuses to shut his or her mouth around the spoon.
Scraping the puree into your baby’s mouth if they won’t shut their lips on the spoon is enticing. This is something you want to avoid!
It does not teach them how to feed with their muscles. It also teaches kids that they must consume a certain meal, which might lead to subsequent pickiness.
If they don’t shut their lips on the spoon, it’s usually because they don’t realize they should.
You may promote this by softly moving your finger down from over their top lip toward their mouth. It’s also a good idea to show them how to bite with an exaggerated close.
Continue practicing for up to 8 months before seeking further assistance from a doctor or a nutrition therapist.
Challenge #3: Purees make your baby gag.
Gagging has a negative reputation. Gagging begins as a preventative measure to keep your infant from choking. It may, however, become an issue if it occurs often. Or even before the meal reaches their lips.
Excessive gagging might occur when your baby’s mouth is sensitive to sensory input, such as food textures.
Teethers or toothbrushing may be used to help desensitize their mouth. Even if they don’t have teeth yet, you can clean their gums!
Challenge #4: Your child tosses their spoon or bowl.
Parents often tell us that their child is always tossing their food, plate, or utensils. You’re not alone if your child is acting this way!
Usually, this occurs simply because they are trying things out for the first time. When they do that, it produces a hilarious noise or you make a goofy expression.
When food is tossed, it might be tempting to respond badly. Try to remain as neutral as possible while resisting the desire. A negative response is still a reaction, and it may inspire them to repeat it.
Move on with a simple remark like “our food remains on the platter.” To give you a little more time before the food flies, you may choose plates and bowls that suction nicely to their highchair.
Find out how to get your baby or toddler to stop flinging food.
Challenge #5: Your child insists on holding the spoon.
Even while it might be annoying when you’re first introducing purees, this is really a positive thing. They’re hungry, and they’re driven to eat!
Give them their own spoon, which has been dipped in a little amount of puree, as well as your own spoon. You may take turns feeding each other.
It may be aggravating since they will create a huge mess at first and will most likely just receive a little amount of puree in their mouth. This is a huge step forward in their journey to self-sufficiency!
While starting spoon feeding your baby around 6 months is ideal, and you should allow your baby plenty of time to get the hang of it, your baby should be eating purees on a regular basis by 8 months, even if it’s just a tiny quantity.
If you’ve tried all of our suggestions and they’re still not eating solids at 9 months, it’s time to seek more assistance.
Our no-cost Table Foods Workshop is a great place to begin. It’s chock-full of ideas that you can put to use right now. CLICK HERE to reserve your spot.
Baby Feeding Spoons We Recommend
- Take the spoons and throw them about.
- These spoons are fantastic. Their bowl is small and flatter. They’re also quite inexpensive. You may surely take and throw them as they recommend. They may, however, be readily cleaned and reused by hand. The spoons are a little more flexible and softer. They’re excellent spoons to begin with!
- Spoon in maroon color
- Spoon in maroon colors are spoons you commonly see therapists use. They’re a bit pricier though. The bowl is relatively narrow and flat, which is perfect for babies to pull puree off of more easily. These spoons are made from harder plastic.
- Dippers for flat spoons
- These spoons were designed for infants who were self-feeding. The bowl is textured and absolutely flat, and it is thin. There’s also a protection to prevent your child from pushing the spoon down too far. It’s excellent for minimizing gagging.
- EZ PEZE (easy peze) bowl
- While it isn’t a spoon, it is a useful tool to have on hand while giving purees to your infant. It adheres to the tray and does not readily slide. It’s particularly useful if your child likes to chuck his or her dish.
You’re ready to go! It’s time to give that adorable little infant something to eat. Make an effort to enjoy yourself. Allow your child to explore, play, and giggle while eating.
Allow them to get a little dirty! (Here’s why.)
Do you have any questions? Please leave them in the comments section below, and we will answer to each and every one. And, if you’re ready to move on to table meals, check out our guide on teaching your baby how to chew and eat them.
More on Baby Feeding
5 Things Parents Wish They’d Known About Feeding Their Toddler or Baby Earlier
Why Should Your Child Put Toys in Their Mouth?
Feeding Schedule for Children Ages 8, 9, and 10 Months
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Baby Food Pouches
Andrea Timler is a member of the Your Kid’s Table Team and is a qualified occupational therapist. She has almost 7 years of experience with newborns, toddlers, and children’s growth and eating. Andrea also has four children of her own.
Spoon feeding is a way of giving babies food, but baby-led weaning is a different approach to feeding. The difference between the two is that spoon-feeding involves prepping and portioning food for baby before they eat it, while baby-led weaning allows babies to self-feed themselves with small amounts of food. Reference: spoon feeding vs baby-led weaning.
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