Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Baby Food Debacle

Zuzu turned six months old at the end of December and we were very excited to start the new year with the new adventure of NEW FOODS!

I had grand visions of my happy baby sitting contentedly in her high chair and plowing through mashed avacado and gulping pear puree and gnawing on well-cooked carrots and gobbling up mashed bananas and devouring sweet potatoes with cinnamon on them.  Maybe because this is my impression of how the baby food thing has gone down for most of my friends?

For Zuzu... not so much.  We've tried most of those foods and done a bit of cereal diluted with plenty of breastmilk and she's not really interested in cereal.  But that's better than her active distaste for... pretty much everything else.  Carrots are possibly the favorite?  I posted a picture of her on Instagram looking pretty happy with a mouthful of carrots and that was the first time she'd tried them.  Since then?

You guys, she basically hates all food that isn't shooting out of a boob.

At this point, she gets fussy and crabby the moment we start trying to get her to eat something.  I know food time is supposed to be fun time, so it's not like I'm going to shovel bites into her mouth when she's opening it in protest.  But that basically means she gets ONE BITE before she starts protesting.  And then unless one of us can put on a good enough song and dance routine to get her giggling, we give up pretty quickly because I don't want her to start associating dinner time with being pissed off.

Oh, and she did gag and barf on sweet potatoes.  I realize a sensitive gag reflex is normal in babies, but it's still discouraging.  I don't think they were smooth enough, which can be fixed, but even really smooth and sweet stuff I was sure she would like--like pears, she totally rejects. (Those pears are ORGANIC and from WHOLE FOODS you ungrateful little child!)

I'm just at a bit of a loss because I KNOW that right now food is just about exploring and getting used to tastes and textures and it's not like she needs the nutrition or calories from food for a while yet.  She's healthy and growing.  She just has no interest in eating.

I'm trying to tell myself this is fine and normal (somewhat normal?), but the truth is I find it really stressful and frustrating when my beautiful tiny portions of steamed and pureed organic produce get rejected night after night.

And in the few weeks that we've tried this, we've done various textures, mixed with breastmilk, warmed up and room-temperature, sweetened with a pinch of cinnamon, eating with us during dinner, eating earlier in the day before we're winding down for bedtime, making sure she's not hungry or cranky before she gets in the high chair, etc.  I'm trying to be consistent about just offering food and not taking it personally when she hates it, but SERIOUSLY.  Where is the happy baby with a face smeared with avocado and pureed apples that I had imagined?  Why does my baby get pissed off when a spoon comes near her face?

I know she's not going to be gulping down food at this point, and I was prepared for most it being drooled down her front, but I just thought it would be an enjoyable experience for both of us.  It really just seems like she hates it and she won't even pretend to tolerate it for my sake (babies are so insensitive that way).

I've read Baby Led Weaning and I had planned to kind of do a combination approach of baby-led gnawing on food and some purees, but I'm thinking maybe I need to focus more on the BLW style since she seems to at least enjoy playing with her food far more than being spoon-fed.

So... I just need to chill out and keep trying on a regular basis with low expectations and rest assured that my kid is going to eat something besides breastmilk someday... right?

Don't count on it, Mom.  These carrots aren't as good as I make them look.


  1. So ungrateful, these babies.

    Just who do they think they are? Shoot, I'll eat your fancy organic, Whole Foods pears! Send them my way!

    Ah, I can see why BLW might be a better solution for you guys. I feel like you know all the answers to her not really needing the food nutrient right now and all. She'll figure it out eventually and then you'll be cleaning up the slop from the floors like the rest of us. The days of boob are reaching their end here in the Wilson house and MAN if I don't miss 'em already.

    Rest assured, someday she'll go off to college and want to eat ramen at every meal because OMG! How can food be so cheap!

    p.s. I totally dance and sing at mealtime because my good eater isn't always HAPPY {like tonight when he was chewing and then expelling large amounts of tofu from his mouth}.

  2. Henry didn't like food much either in the beginning, unless it was bananas (I started @ 5 months out of desperation for some longer stretches of sleep @ night which totally didn't work). Anyway, long story short, when we were in the US over Christmas I noticed this baby yogurt that said 6+ months so I tried it and he absolutely LOVED it. Since then, it's been yogurt mixed with pretty much anything and he'll take it. Might be worth a try?

  3. One thing I remembered with Ella who was really a bit older before she even tolerated food, maybe closer to mind months. Anyway, she would eat he'd beat meal in the morning, so we kind if flipped the way we tend to think of meals- like easy sweets, cereal fruits in a.m. and hearty veg heavy meals at dinner. She rarely ate more than a couple of bites at night. So I fed her power packed foods in a.m. Including this disgusting juice of carrots and other crazy healthy things no real child should like but she ate it for breakfast. With that one power packed meal out of the way I felt no sweat about rest of day.

    I know it's frustrating, but she will figure it out and will get more jazzed as she gets closer to a year old, especially seeing other babies eating. Yogurt is a great idea too.

  4. It's probably b/c she's tasted rarebit and knows you're holding out on her

  5. I've talked to some parents whose kids just didn't have any Interest in food until 8 or 9 or 10 months so I think it's all still normal. We switched over to a BLW approach (you can probably tell from the pics on Instagram) than we had planned on because miss Ginny doesn't like anyone but her putting food in her mouth. Fair enough I guess. I'm sorry this food thing is so stressful for you guys so far!

  6. It took Finn a long time to be a good (better) eater. He was sassy and not interested and spit things out and it's hard not to get frustrated - especially when you took the time to make it and I got all excited about all the different foods I made him. They were very sweet and patient with him at daycare but I would say he wasn't a very good eater until 9/10 months. She will come around eventually.

  7. PS - have you hooked up the diaper sprayer? Probably gonna need that bad boy soon.

  8. Hi Brooke, I'm a long time reader but don't know if I've commented before. Our babies, four (1 at a time... Thank goodness). All chose to exclusively breast feed til 9-12 months. All were healthy robust babies and at 19, 17, 10 & 7, they remain so. Though at 6'3" mr 17 is barely a baby. They got in to food in their own time and virtually ripped it from our hands when they were good and ready. All weaned by themselves by 2 yrs. Whatever Zuzu decides she wants will be fine. Relax if you can. She is amazing - if our experience is anything to go by, you should enjoy the yummy foods as long as you can! x Bridg

  9. My second son was the same way. He had a difficult time adjusting to anything new. He refused to eat much when I started weaning him from breastfeeding, refused to take a sippy cup, hated baby food (I made it myself too-so frustrating when they won't eat it! :) But, he eventually transitioned to each new thing. What was really difficult was that my older son took to everything the first time and had absolutely no trouble transitioning to anything, so my second son's stubborness was surprising.

    Your sweet pea will decide when she's ready for changes, apparently on her own terms, which will come in handy when she's an adult, but might be frustrating until then! :)

  10. Many doctors believe that the introduction of food too soon is one of tge leading causes of allergies. Breastmilk is the absolute best nutrition for her... And here is Best part....all those dreams and fantasies you have of smashy baby food and eating etc... They will come true. Just on a different timeline than you anticipated. Babies rarely actually love food. It is a process. Kai was born picky, still is. It's a bummer. I even ate Indian food while he was in utero hoping to get the tastes in him through amniotic fluid. Ha. I'm not the best reference on weaning. Child lead weaning at our house would mean Kai was still nursing because he still asks. My goodness get off me boy! He nursed until he was 3 years old. But like a friend told me: every kid in kindergarten is potty trained. Developmental stages happen. They happen at different times for each kid... But they stil happen. 6 months is still really quite early for food. So freeze those organic pears and bust them out soon.

  11. Logan ate purees early and often...and I swear to you the kid still ate some at age 2. Gray could take them or leave them but the research showed that because of the food allergies, we should start him on food earlier. So we did. He was "meh" about them, then once he moved to solids and enjoyed that much, much better. The good news is she'll eat eventually and you won't be packing purees for her when she goes to kindergarten!

  12. I spent a million dollars on a fancy schmancy baby ood making system from Williams Sonoma for Coop because we eat so much organic produce that I didn't want to buy additional jarred food on top of the disgusting amount of fruits and veggies we already buy at WF. AND COOPER NEVER LIKED MY FOOD AT ALL. But he did like Earth's Best organics. The ungrateful little baby. He also liked feeding himself-- even purees-- with his fingers and sometimes a spoon eventually. He also really liked pouches and could manipulate them himself right away. I even bought baby cookbooks, but nope. He wanted the jars. WTH? And also from 7 months on, YoBaby yogurt was a massive hit.

  13. Hmm. V initially loved his veggies. He however hates fruits. Horrified look on the face and then swallow/gag. He also is not a fan of cereal and the Ped gave us grief because he isn't super chunky fat baby. In the last week or so, his love of veggies disappeared too. I am hoping because it is a combination of being sick and having thrush so he cannot fully taste or it is painful to eat? He also puts every darn thing in his mouth, but not puffs. I love the concentration on his little face when he's figuring out how to use that pincer move, but then he just smashes them in his hand. Know that I am feeling for you mama. They will have to eat something else one day :) ~Missy

  14. As you know, LB had all sorts of food struggles. He didn't show an interest in baby food until he was 9 months and then that's all he wanted. He did like the oatmeal cereal though. I do think you just have to keep at it. It will come. LB spit out pears at first and then it eventually became one of his favorites.
    Here are 2 thinks you might want to get if you don't have them already.
    The first is a little net you can put frozen food in and Zuzu can mouth it and sort of get at some of the food. It feels good when they are teething and is a good way to taste food.

    The other thing is a vibrating teether like this one.

    LB's OT used all sorts of little vibrating tools to stimulate his mouth.
    But I'm sure she'll get there!

  15. Little ones can be so stressful. One of the things that still stings from my loss is watching people with their babies in public, when mom or dad takes a bite of something delicious and then puts a nibble into their baby's mouth. Watching a baby's reaction to new foods is definitely such a simple joy and pleasure of parenting. Sharing what you love and the very best of what you enjoy with someone so new to the world is a real thrill. But at the same time, I'm a huge fan of the nipple and tend to think that the best time for them to eat real food is when they want to and when they're interested. They're this little for such a short period of time. I'd say enjoy nursing as much as you can for now. I have friends who nursed exclusively for up to a year, just because their babies really weren't interested in eating anything else. And now those babies are in high school, and they're not interested in nursing at all :) I nursed my living son for a little over two years and I'm so glad for it. There are plenty of meals to share and enjoy for the rest of your life.

  16. When Taya was a baby I made all of her food, except baby Mum Mums. They are rice biscuits (they come in Organic) that melt immediately upon touching their mouths. They aren't like the puffs that I was always afraid she would choke on, and they are much easier to grasp. I don't know that there is really a whole lot of nutritional value to them, but she loved them and it really helped us with that transition from breastfeeding to eating. It also gives them that sense of independence. Just a thought.

    I have never tasted breastmilk, but I hear it is super sweet, so going from super sweet to anything else is probably a shock. Like everyone else said, she will eat eventually!! And until then, she is getting the best nutrition she can...

  17. She is SO cute! It is so frustrating when they won't eat. I bet it will improve with time. We always start around six months too and then (for the most recent one especially) sort of do it on and off when it's convenient and eventually settle into a more regular pattern when it is natural for everyone. I don't know how long that takes but by one year all three have been gumming down grilled cheeses like it's their job, so sometime between 6 and 12 months. You might be onto something with the solids, though, especially if she's willing to "play". Maybe she just wants to eat on her terms? One of James's favorite foods at that age was when I peeled a pear and let him go to town on it. Super messy, but fun to watch!

  18. I had the same frustration with Henry - he was totally uninterested in food and it totally stressed me out. Eventually we gave up... and when we tried again, sometime between 7 and 8 months, he was way more into it. So, if none of you are enjoying it, why are you doing it? You don't have to do it now. Zuzu will be chowing down soon!

  19. OH MY GOD, Brooke. SERiously. I can't wait to read all the comments bc our Catherine is doing the exact same thing. And I was about to take to the net to find out how abnormal this was or wasn't and what tips were out there for how to deal. She was all good (or at least off and on) until Friday (coinciding with the day I got the stomach flu) when she refused all solids. Hasn't gone for them since. And this morning, like Zuzu, started protesting the second I put the bib around her. Gagged just putting the spoon to her mouth.
    What IS that??!
    And I laughed aloud at the "organic from Whole Foods ungrateful child" bit, because oh my good god, me too. I go to Whole Foods especially for her, grind and cook barley/brown rice/millet, get the good organic stuff, freeze up the extra in ice cube trays and mark the bags with the contents and date made...I mean, there was EFFORT there that I rarely make for my own meals! The least she can do is take a few bites, smile, heave a little sigh of satisfaction before telepathizing "I'm just not really that hungry right now, but jeez, thanks so much Mom!"
    Thank you for posting this! I feel less stressed already. Now, to find out what wisdom your other readers have that will fix our little vixens! :)

  20. B rejected all foods besides milk until he was 8 months. And then he was all, oh, hey, food, cool. I got this. I was all prepared to do purees (organic, home made!) but he went the BLW route on me. Once he was ready to eat solids at 8 months he started in with table food, no purees, thanks. Every baby is different, but it is frustrating when what you expect/hope for doesn't happen.

  21. No need to panic, I know the biggest thing is that she's getting lots of boobies. And that when she displays an interest in food she can have a try then. Grace never took to the cereals at all ( I have four assorted varieties in my cupboard to prove this). But carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. she gulped down. But she was also staring at me every time I ate anything, and so it seemed like she wanted it.

    You may just make particularly delicious milk and she is a dedicated and loyal patron! :)

  22. Uhh.. Mia is 2 and still does that. I work so hard to make her healthy things...she won't touch them. My parents give her crappy food just to try and get her to eat...won't touch them. It's SOOOO frustrating, I have come to hate dinner time. Sorry... hope it works out better for you guys :)

  23. We really struggled initially - it took me a while but the biggest thing I learnt was just not to make a fuss at all and to try and work eating into when everyone was eating so it just seemed like a social time when everyone happened to be eating. Also found it went much better when moved meals to after naps so not tired.

    Would love for you to link this up at the Friday Baby Shower link party - we're focused on weaning this week, Alice x