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Helping Transition to "Real" Solid Foods

My daughter is 8-1/2 months old+. We started rice cereal when she was 4 months old and veggies and fruits at 6 months. She has now tried almost all of the "jarred" baby foods and definitely has her favorites. Our pediatrician told us we could start giving her cottage and grated cheeses, yogurt, tofu, meats, and cooked egg yolk at 7-8 months. She likes the yogurt but gags and spits out tofu and even (recently tried, at the suggestion of a friend) very soft rice watered down/flavored with chicken broth. I know from experience with my first daughter that it is hard at first to start them on "real" solids but I am wondering how to ease her into these foods. I also tried giving her a couple of those Gerber puffs but she just played with them and threw them down off her high chair! She loves her cereals and fruits and some veggies, too, but naturally I'd like to see her start eating some "real" solid foods. I know a few babies her age are already eating rice, ground beef, ground turkey, tofu, and fish! So is it kind of sad that my poor daughter is still eating "baby food"? I feel like we are way behind! Does anyone have any tips for me on how to make this transition from smooth pureed food to the more chunky textured stuff? I also just hate to see her gag! Any advice??

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Does she have any teeth? If so, how many? I watch an 8 month old right now and she is still on baby food with only 4 teeth. My doctor told me with my 2 sons to wait until they are a year old with solid foods. And you still need to mash the food, if they don't have all their teeth. Gerber and Beech nut make a stage 3 baby food and there is small chunks inside the food. If you still want to try solid foods, try the toddler food it is located where the baby food is in grocery stores.

I always liked avacado for my kids. Lots of nutrients, soft so small cubes are easy to eat/mash, and very portable. I would throw one in my bag and have a good snack for the kids. It even comes in its own bowl! You just need a spoon. It goes well with cottage cheese too. Good luck. Dont rush it, she will eat when she is ready.

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Hi C.,

I started offering my son food at 6 months and he wanted nothing to do with it. He didn't really start eating until he was 9 months old. We moved to the Dominican Republic and I was terrified that he wasn't going to be eating the right things. One day he just started eating. Now he scarfs down rice and beans every day for lunch, plantains, noodle soup, carrots, apples, cheerios, fish and he did like tofu when we went back to the states. I had to let go of worrying about every little thing that he was eating. I became a little more adventurous in what I would offer and less concerned about what other people's kids were doing. If I start worrying about that now and judging his development level against everyone else, when will it end?!
Your daughter is not going to eat baby food forever. Eventually she will catch on that there are other things available. But give her a chance to develop in her own time. Another thing we recently discovered is that my son doesn't like eating alone. He eats when we eat and if we try to feed him when we are not eating he looks at us like we're trying to pull something over on him. I'm not sure if you're eating with your daughter but it might be something to try. She will probably be interested in what you're eating and you can feed her right off of your plate.

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If she is gagging then she might not be ready for the texture. 8 1/2 is still really young I never worried too much about that stuff until mine were 1. Anyhow good luck

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She's not going to try the real foods unless she is hungry, so I would suggest putting them on her tray at the beginning of a meal. Cheerios are a favorite first finger food for most kids. And since they have a big hole in the middle, less likely to choke on them. But while you are preparing her "baby" food, put tiny chunks of food on her tray to play with and maybe try putting in her mouth before feeding her. If she is hungry, she is more likely to try new things. For first chunk foods, my kids loved bananas (although can be hard to pick up), avocadoes, soft cooked peas, soft cooked green bean chunks, really ripe peaches cut up, kiwi, melons, pretty much anything soft that you can cut up into tiny pieces works well. Baby carrots cooked in the crock pot almost always come out super tender, and also meat cooked this way is a great way to introduce to first timers. My kids also liked potatoes and scrambled yolks at this age. Once my kids got a taste for table food they started refusing the jar food and had no interest in being fed by me. It makes mealtimes take longer and they are messier, but both my kids were eating the same foods as us by about 10 months. Makes eating as a family so much nicer too, since you are all sitting eating the same meal etc. For hard fruits and veggies that you want to try to introduce the flavor of, they sell these mesh things that you can put food into and they chew on them and can only get the tiniest chunks out of or sometimes just juice from them, but they are great for teething if you put cold carrots in them or apples etc. My daughter loved hers and I loved it for car rides when she was teething to keep her occupied for a good chunk of time and not cranky. One other suggestion, try not to force the issue of her eating things. The last thing you want to do is set up a power struggle around food. Good luck and follow her lead. Once she actually tries stuff you will know what she likes and doesn't like. Just keep offering her variety and eventually she will start eating it.

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From everything that I have read and heard Dairy is supposed to wait until 1 year. Don't be in such a hurry with whole foods. She's still very young. You're not way behind! My son is 7 months old and we're still on mostly stage 1 foods, although we do some stage 2 and some homemade baby foods which inevitably come out a bit chunkier.

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Does she have any teeth? If so, how many? I watch an 8 month old right now and she is still on baby food with only 4 teeth. My doctor told me with my 2 sons to wait until they are a year old with solid foods. And you still need to mash the food, if they don't have all their teeth. Gerber and Beech nut make a stage 3 baby food and there is small chunks inside the food. If you still want to try solid foods, try the toddler food it is located where the baby food is in grocery stores.

Try not to worry or compare your daughter's development. I'm sure she's just fine, perhaps just finicky. She knows what she likes and doesn't like, at least for now it's a short list of likes. She'll gradually want more variety, I'm sure.

I would suggest taking real solid food and cutting it up really small & puting it in the baby food & bulking it up a little. I started puting small amounts of ground turkey in my daughters squash. I also learned with my 18 month old that is really does take 15 tries of a new food for them to develop a taste for it. I really wanted her to eat blueberries and she kept spitting them out or throwing them on the floor. I really do think it was the 15th try and she ate an entire bowl & now begs for more. Just hang in there and keep introducing it.

You got lots of great responses, but I just wanted to add my support and nod of agreement to what others are saying. My son still ate baby food until about 15 months old even though I gave him tiny bits of whatever I was eating around the age your daughter is. I would mash up banana or give him Cheerios, but he didn't really start table food (what we call "real" solids) until well after age 1. He's now 21 months old and eats just about anything! He also goes through his phases where he doesn't want a food that he's been eating every day for months (ie: yogurt), then will start eating it again after a few weeks.

Just trust that you're doing great!!! Remember she's only 8 months old :) It definitely sounds like these other mothers are far ahead or maybe their babies are. Watch your daughter for signs that she's ready. She'll definitely let you know!

Hi-
Both my sons began grabbing food off my plate at three mos! (Fairly early compared to my babyfood-fed friends, an I think I was tired of sitting down to feed the baby while I was so busy trying to eat and feed my older toddler too, so as soon as he could get the diced or small fingerfoods to his mouth, I let him go for it! At one year old now my youngest still loves to be breastfed as well-

Here a are a few things I would let him eat back then, and he still loves them now:
Avocodo spoon fed right from the peel, polenta and easy to hold plain pastas, blueberries (my best "on the go" food) cheerios, eggsalad, salmon. Diced pears, melons, and cheeses, even fresh cooked artichoke has a nice texture, try anything you can smash with your fingers- (not Peanut butter or honey of coures due to allergy warnings)
You are not behind, It sounds like she is just now ready to try some new things. :)

How many teeth does your young daughter have? Are you grinding her food? She will develop the desire for "table" food when she has discovered the ability to chew. It sounds from what you described she is still working out how to use her tonuge and the pleasure of the different types of food textures and tastes.
I have 14 grandchildren and 4 grown children and each one had different food and eating processes. I would not rush it.

My son starting eating "real" food at around 7-8 months and loved it. I think more so because the baby food was too bland for him. I started feeding him whatever we were having for dinner (which is usually well-balanced) and just used either an immersion blender (hand blender) or a food processor to get his food into into smaller pieces. I pulse the food a couple of times (but not too much or you'll have pureed food). If the food is dry, just add a little bit of water or broth. It should be fairly moist so that it's easier for baby to swallow. For example, if you're having pork chops for dinner, cut small pieces of pork chop add some rice/pasta/potatoes (or whatever starch you're eating), and whatever veggies you're eating, say green beans. I then add a little water or broth and pulse. The food comes out in nice small chunks (save the leftovers for the next day). My son would still gag every now and then, especially if there is a chunk of meat that's a little too big, but just use a fork to cut it to size if need be. My son just turned one and he's accustomed to eating textured foods now, so I don't have to process his food anymore. At 7-8 months, babies are still learning to swallow bigger things. Be patient. It'll happen.

HI C.. I would start her meal with solids, hold off on the baby food. Maybe put a few cheerios (disolve easily) and something else, pasta, cheese, veggie and let her play with them. Try putting a piece in her mouth and you eat one too, showing her. She will eventually figure it out, it just may take time. But I think offering it first when she is hungry before the jarred food will help.

My husband and I were also sure especially during dinner to give food right from our plates, so that our son was eating what we were eating.

And remember they don't need teeth to eat solid food, they use their gums.

Happy Eating!

She is not behind! In 10 years, you can look back on the days when ALL she would eat are fruits and veggies! My little guy didn't want texture in his foods, either. So please just take your time, and don't worry about what anyone else is eating.

My son was a gagger too. It scared me when he gagged so we went really slowly and just did pureed foods and broths for a long time. Yogurt was fine, and he loved pureed avocado and watered-down pureed sweet potato. I don't remember how long it took but I know that by 18 months he was eating a lot more actually-solid foods. Every baby is different and I wouldn't be concerned about comparing your child to anyone else. Just go with what works for her. They don't need a lot of solid food until at least a year old anyway; they get everything they need from breastmilk, so you can just give her what she likes and slowly introduce new foods as she tolerates them.

Well, you're NOT way behind. Most doctors advise not to start solid foods (and they mean pureed) until 6 months. Some say a little rice with their milk is okay if they have trouble sleeping. Then introduce one new food at a time to see how they handle it. I would say another couple of months at least before eating a "real" foods - like chucks of things. Be patient - your baby is doing fine, and so are you - some other mothers are rushing things a bit it sounds like. Trust your doctor, and talk to someone you trust who's had kids. By all means, though, let your daughter decide. Just stay away from things that need to be chewed well before swallowing until she has enough teeth to do it safely.

Soak some cheerios in water and then feed them to here. This makes the texture really soft and she will get used to chewing. Once she gets the hang of it, introduce other soft foods, such as string cheese, etc. Good luck!

This really worked for us...you can even break the "wet" cheerios in half.

Or even start to mash bananas, avocado, etc.

Hi C.!

I just wanted to offer when I started my daughter on solids, we alternated between making "baby" versions of some of our favorites, and then used a baby blender (Tommy Tippee) for others.

One of her cooked favorites was pastina and peas with ground turkey flavored with a little grated parmesean cheese. One of her blender favorites was trout and mashed potatoes with carrots or spinach. We didn't make it completely smooth, but
safe enough there were no big chunks.

My mantra when my twin girls started solids was "they still get all the nutrients they need from breastmilk" so any solids were just bonus, not a nutritional necessity (up through age 1, all a baby's nutritional needs can be met by breastmilk and/or formula). So knowing that they didn't *need* the solids to have their nutrtional needs met helped me relax, and when I was more relaxed about the feedings-not feeling anxious that they would be nutritionally deprived if they didn't get that last spoonful of sweet potatoes or whatever - I think my kids were more relaxed too.

My advice is just follow your child's lead on the feeding - like any developmental milestone there's a wide range of when different children feel ready for it and that's totally normal - and a child who's wolfing down portions of his/her parent's dinner at age 8 months isn't necessarily any healthier than a child who's still exploring purees and chunky steamed veggies. So go ahead and offer different foods to your child and if she resists, just try to let it go until another time. Children change and grow so quickly during these stages that chance are, it won't be long before she thinks "hey this is interesting I think I'll try it". personally I waited until almost a year until introducing meats and fish - I think I started tofu around 8-10 mos and the first time I tried tofu it seemed to have a constipating effect on my girls and my theory (which I admit I didn't back up with any research) was that the more complex proteins were probably taking longer to digest so I wanted to wait until my girls' digestive systems were a bit more developed before trying chicken or fish.

One thing I did for transitioning from purees was use a potato masher on steamed veggies or fruits - that way you get some chunks with the squishy stuff.

Hi C.- Have 2 boys, almost 3 and 20 months. The three year old took to food very easily. The baby still eats pureed food at 20 months!! He gagged for well over a year. He likes the finger food cheerios-type stuff, and will eat soft cooked veggies, but he prefers dipping things in his pureed food. Frankly, I like knowing that he is getting plenty of protein and veggies, so I am totally okay with it!! My little guy also has food allergies, and no matter how much I tried to push the yogurt and tofu, he wouldn't even put it in his mouth. Well, it was a good thing because he was allergic. He knew what he could eat before we did. Good luck!!

I found it helpful to feed my baby whatever we were eating with my fingers. I'd take some first making all the yum yum sounds and then offer her some. At first she'd just stick her tongue out I guess to "taste" it and then she would open her mouth for more. Now we can't eat anything that she immediately doesn't demand some of. She's turned into a real food lover. Good luck and don't worry, she'll turn to table food when she is ready.

Have you tried mixing the new foods w/ some of the pureed baby foods she really likes to eat. If she will eat the new foods w/ the ones she likes you could eventually just start giving her less and less of the baby food until she is only on the soild. Maybe by introducing the new food w/ something familar to her will make the transistion easier. Just a suggestion, both my boys have been so different when it comes to eating, each day is a food adventure, and most of the time not one I look forward to. Good Luck

Don't worry about it. Just let her eat what she is used to. She has the rest of her life to eat solid foods. Babys know when to eat and what they like. Also, don't water down the rice. Would you eat watered down rice? I wouldn't. If you want to give her solids, give her what is on your plate just smash it down so she doesn't gag on the food. She'll love eating from your plate. All babies do. Start slow. Don't worry about what other babys are doing either. Not even your 3 1/2 year old. Your 9 month old is who God made her to be and He made her "wonderfully and beautifully". May God give you wisdom and strength to be a wonderful mother.
I'll be praying for you.

I did not even start rice cereal until 7 months! Relax, your little one is doing fine. In fact having preferences shows independance. I would work with the purees that she loves and alter them. Add wheat germ, oatmeal, cottage cheese or rice cereal to add texture to the purees. I also changed the temperatures that food was served. I would serve the same food at room temp and then heated and then cold. I like to think it helped introduce differences in food. Once my son started putting his hand in the bowl and grabbing the spoon I would put the puffs on the spoon or on the tray. I would also mash fruits and part of my food for him. I have to say teething helped. He wanted to put anything in his mouth. He now prefers finger foods. We are still taking it slow. Yesterday I put whole wheat noodles pieces in a veggie puree like spagetti. We have also cut toast fingers and dipped them into the purees. The delight of feeding herself and sharing with you will kick in and she will have new favorites! By the way I have not introduced meat and my son is a healthy 12 months!

There are so many yummy foods to try dressing up some of the foods you have already tried. Like the ground turkey or beef with pasta. Just mash the pasta a little and make sure it the texture is soft. Or putting the ground turkey with a little mashed potatoes and gravy. It sounds like you are trying all the right foods, they just need a little dressing up. I have to say I never had a picky eater or an issue transitioning with my 3 kids (2,11,13 years old). I do remember seasoning everything so it made it more appealing. Also bananas, pears, and other fruits and cooked veggies are soft enough as long as you cut them and keep in mind the choking issues.

As many other mothers have sated there is nothing wrong with your child at all. She is gaging because she is not ready. When she is ready she will stop gagging. I know that sounds very simple and almost contrite but as a mother of a 13 yo and a 3 yo I have learned that each child is different and it is in our best interest(to keep our sanity lol) not to expect from one child what another child is doing. There is NOTHING wrong with your child and in time she will eat when she is ready. Not when you or anyone else wants her to be. Good luck!

I always liked avacado for my kids. Lots of nutrients, soft so small cubes are easy to eat/mash, and very portable. I would throw one in my bag and have a good snack for the kids. It even comes in its own bowl! You just need a spoon. It goes well with cottage cheese too. Good luck. Dont rush it, she will eat when she is ready.

Hi C.,
Don't worry about feeling behind. Eating is a very personal thing and we all have different levels of interest in food (not just babies). I promise you that your daughter will not be packing Gerber jars in her lunchbox when she goes to Kindergarten ;-) Try to relax and let her eat what she's interested in.

That said, keep offering new healthy foods and see what she likes. Sometimes I think its a texture thing, so you might try making a lumpier version of baby foods by mixing the real thing in with the jar food (ie sliced bananas mixed with jar), so that she can experiment in the context of sometthing she is already comfortable with.

HTH,
T.

PS A good friend daughter did not eat food until well after her first birthday. She is totally healthy and happy and now eats just fine.

I'm a working mom of a 3-1/2 year old and a 7 month old too, so I thought I would chime in! I just started my guy on solids last week. As far as being "behind", don't compare you little one. We just saw the pediatrician and his opinion was that variety in foods is more about texture than it is about nutrition. Be glad she eats veggies and fruits - that's the hard stuff to turn them on too! My first son had no interest in many of the foods you mentions and after age two, he started eating more meat and dairy. If you have a Kidco grinder, you can grind up what you are eating and maybe she will want what you are having. Also, one week in a babies life can change her whole world, be willing to try that food a week later and wait until she is really hungry! Hope that helps!

No, I dont think she is behind at all. My little guy did not like or eat any meats until he was well past 1 (cant remember exactly, I think it was closer to 2.)

There were certain foods he would have nothing to do with - until he could have dressing or dips or sauces with it -- like salad lettuce/veggies, once we put dressing on, he went for it, but NOT the plain stuff. Chicken strips with dipping sauces is good, but they may not want to even touch the strips if they're plain, for example.

I know this is not a real helpful answer but hoping it helps anyway.

Oh yeah, and also my son did NOT like jarred baby foods at all!! It was just a big waste of money for us. We did puree or mash a lot of our dinner foods for him and he liked that. Feed him small/soft bits off your plate (it's always better if it's YOURS anyway!!!!)

Dear C.,
Neither of my kids liked baby food. Except for the tangy fruits.
I learned the hard way with my first baby that the food was just too bland. She wanted nothing to do with the baby food and was eating mashed potatoes and gravy, scrambled eggs with mushrooms and garlic, fish, roasted chicken...
She wanted the flavor of food. I knew better when my son came along and he was the same way. I gave them eggplant, brussel sprouts, steamed and raw cabbage...you name it.
They are both very healthy and will eat EVERYTHING!
You don't want to give your baby flaming hot sauce or anything, but I'm telling you, my first baby ate like a little horse once I gave her the stuff I was afraid she wasn't ready for. She wanted to eat. She could smell the food cooking and the baby food just didn't do it for her.
Try flavoring things up a bit. Have you tasted what you give her? Brown sugar on rice cereal or yogurt helps. My son at 3 wouldn't have a sandwich without onions on it. He still won't. He wants something good to taste.

Flavor it up a bit and see how she does.
Best wishes!

Honestly, my suggestion is to not worry. You are not "way behind" in terms of what your daughter needs biologically. If she's gagging, she's just not ready. There are some families who skip jarred baby foods completely and let the baby eat by self-feeding when and what they are comfortable with, a method that we are using with our dd. When following the baby's cues in this way, often children will add foods to their diet more slowly than the "Gerber" schedule suggests. And that is probably a good thing, there's really no need for a nine month old to be eating three meals a day - especially if they are breastfeeding, overfeeding solids can cause premature weaning.

Texture is a big thing with some children and as their mouth and coordination grow they will change their preferences to accept more and more. There's no need for speed here. :)

In addition, grains and meats are some foods that need specific enzymes for digestion and babies don't make higher levels of those enzymes til later on anyway. We didn't give any grains at all til about one year and are going very slow. It's been really great to not have to add packaged "baby food" to our grocery budget, not to mention never having to struggle to feed her something she's rejecting.

I suggest simply fork mashing the food well and putting a few little lumps of it on her tray at mealtime when everyone else is eating too, giving her more whenever she finishes what she has (putting it all on the tray at once just invites a finger painting session, lol). Don't expect anything, let her play, and in six month's time she will likely be eating all those things she isn't comfortable with right now.

I still think she is a baby. I don't ever give jar food to my babies. Try grinding foods on your own and maybe you can get her more used to some texture in her food.

C.,

My daughter went through the same transition of gaging at 8 months. We introduced her to stage 3 foods with meats and she gagged. So we switched her to stage 2 foods with the taste of meats like (turkey w/gravy, chicken w/gravy, and ham w/gravy). We also gave her the Gerber Gradates finger foods puffs since they melt in mouth then the lil' crunchies. I think that broke the ice of chunky textured and the taste is great. Then little by little she started getting used to it. Then we gave her mashed potatoes, white rice, and beans little by little. She is now 11 months and eats pretty much anything I feed her. For some reason she still gags on stage 3 meats so we skip it. I think because here is no real flavor to stage 3.

I have friends that have kids close to my daughters age and they are more advanced in there eating but my daughter is a tiny one. As long as she is eating her cereal, fruit, veg, and drinks her milk I did not push her or worry. The doctor said she is good in weight and health. It will all work out in time :0) I hope this helps.

T.

Every child is different. I wouldn't rush it. Some children who are younger than one year old will have allergic reactions to table foods (such as fish). My youngest son welted up all over his body after eating fish. It took TWO times for me to figure out what caused it. He is my BIGGEST eater and ate foods younger than my other two, but had the reaction. After one year old, he was fine and LOVES fish (and everything else)! My daughter didn't even start baby food until 6 mos. My eldest son was a gagger (even on the breast) and a bit finicky.

Your daughter is fine. Don't rush it.

Mom of 4: girl, boy, boy, and baby due 10/1/08

Ha! I just wrote a request asking basically the same question! We are having the same issue... I tried to give my son cottage cheese and he gagged on it and looked at me funny. I was thinking watermelon but didn't know if that was a good idea. I gave him a teething buiscut and that worked well (of course the buiscut got plastered to his hair LOL). Good luck! I just thought i'd stop by ang let you know that you're not alone. Let me know if you find anything that works!

xo, H.

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