Introduction of solid food begins with offering food on a spoon in small quantities the size of 1-2 tablespoons for a meal, with one or two meals each day. The goal of offering food on a spoon to infants at 6 months of age is to help stimulate the development of mouth muscles, rather than to provide nutrition, which ideally is being done via breastfeeding. Spoon feeding involves two new experiences for infants in that a spoon has a different mouth feel than a breast, and the food does not feel the same as breast milk does on the tongue. Babies respond strongly new to new tastes or smells.
Tips for introducing solid foods include:
Spoon-feeding experiences should occur when your baby is not too tired or too hungry, rather she should be active and playful.
Use a small, shallow spoon, and consider the temperature of the spoon in that depending on what it’s made of, it may be hot or cold.
Let your baby open her mouth and extend her tongue toward the food, and if she cannot extend her tongue farther out than her lower lip, she is not ready for spoon-feeding.
Do not touch the spoon too far back on the tongue as it may trigger a gag reflex, keep it forward to the front of the mouth, and apply gentle downward pressure.
Keep the spoon level, your baby’s chin should be slightly down to protect her airway, and using her gums to scrape food off the spoon is not recommended.
Base the pace of eating on her ability to swallow so as not to induce choking.
First meals may be of small quantities, about 5 – 6 baby spoons of food, they may last about 10 minutes, and should be based on your baby’s interest.
As your baby masters eating from a spoon, learn to follow her signs to indicate the rate at which she wants to eat.
In the absence of anatomical problems or health conditions that make it difficult or uncomfortable for children to eat certain foods, picky eating can just be a normal bump in the road of childhood development. For example, learning to control the tongue is a skill that has to be practiced, and sometimes kids just have issues with certain textures. This is particularly the case when a child transitions to eating solid foods.
Brown J. Nutrition through the Life cycle 4th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth; 2011.