Q. My 9-month-old son is a healthy, active and happy baby who babbles, cruises and says a couple of words but he had some frightening feeding problems when he was an infant and my fears come back every time he pushes his bottle away. I try to act warm and yet casual, however, and we move on, with shared excitement, to solid foods.
I make most, but not all of them myself and now my son eats many orange and green vegetables, meats, grains and yogurt, and enjoys a variety of herbs and spices, and he loves bananas.
I have heard, however, that some babies will try coarser textures and perhaps even some finger foods at 9 months. Is that developmentally appropriate for my son? He can feed himself Cheerios and baby rice puffs, but he’s not that great at gumming them and he can eat coarsely ground food, but he eats it slowly. One time though, he gagged on a couple of tiny but soft broccoli sprigs, which brought up some of his breakfast and brought up some scary memories for me.
Should I help my son move to the next stage of eating anyway? Should we let him try to feed himself with a spoon first? And since he doesn’t like bottles too much, should we give him his formula in a sippy cup? I don’t want to pressure my son to do anything before he is ready, but I also don’t want to let my fears hold him back.
A. Relax and enjoy your little boy. You’re doing a great job. He just needs you to keep making as much of his food as you can; to use pure, organic ingredients whenever possible; to keep sugar, dyes and preservatives to a minimum and to let him try each new food for five days in a row, to make sure he isn’t allergic to it.
Your son also needs to smell the spices and herbs as you cook and to keep trying new foods, too. Shredded tuna or sardines, mashed avocados, hummus and an egg scrambled with tiny pieces of well-cooked pasta should please him.
If your son’s diet is restricted to a few foods, he won’t get all of the vitamins and minerals he needs and if he’s allowed to choose these foods, he may think that he’s in charge. A child is not the king of the family and the kitchen is not a food court.
Instead, you need to serve him the foods you eat; to have a calm and contented table and to read his cues with care.
To learn more about feeding babies, read “The Toddler Bistro” by Christina Schmidt, M. S. (Bull Publishing; $17) and “Mommy Made and Daddy Too” by Martha and David Kimmel with Suzanne Goldenson (Bantam; $18).
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