The recommended age to feed a baby solids is between 4-6 months. When Amira was 4 months old, she was still exclusively breastfed and didn’t eat any solids. Whenever people asked me if she did, I wondered if I was being too safe by waiting until she turned 6 months. I had tried bringing food close to her mouth and she just looked at me with confusion. She didn't seem excited, didn't open her mouth, and didn't give me any cues to let me know she wanted to eat solids. I was so eager for her to start enjoying food, but I knew I had to be patient.
Finally, when she was 6 months old, I tried to feed her purees. She didn't enjoy them, but gave them a try. She was more interested than she was when she was 4 months old, which was progress. But she sometimes pushed out the food and looked at me with this adorable face that said: "Hey mom, this isn't breastmilk. Stop feeding me this weird orange vegetable!" I tried carrots, avocado, and other vegetables as her first few foods. I started getting a little worried that Amira was falling behind. She should have been eating solids happily as a 6 month old, but she was barely opening her mouth and didn’t seem to enjoy it at all. What was I doing wrong?
I researched a bit and came across the practice of baby-led weaning. Baby-led weaning is the process of giving the baby solid finger foods to feed herself instead of feeding her purees with a spoon. Until this point, I had tried feeding Amira with a spoon. One day, I decided to mash up some blueberries in between my fingers and feed them to her. She first made a face and then opened her mouth for more. I was beyond excited to see her asking for more. She devoured the blueberries and the next day, I sat her in the high chair and handed her a banana. I peeled it in such a way that allowed her to have a good grip on it so she could hold it easily while she ate it. She mashed it up, made a mess, and some of it eventually ended up in her mouth. I could tell she loved it. I let out a sigh of relief and suddenly felt so much better, knowing that Amira was finally enjoying solid food.
Cut fruits and veggies with the peel, so your baby can use it to grip the pieces. make sure the peel is not soft enough to be bitten, as it can be a choking hazard.
I noticed that Amira preferred fruits as a first food than vegetables. Many sources say vegetables should be fed first, so the baby doesn't prefer sweets over vegetables. My doctor said either option is perfectly fine for a first food. After she enjoyed blueberries and bananas, I decided to hand her an avocado. She absolutely loved the flavor and enjoyed the texture as well. I then moved on to trying a variety of vegetables from squash to sweet potato, regular potato, peas, carrots, and more. I let her feed herself and eventually tried feeding her with a spoon and she ate happily.
Had I not tried baby-led weaning, I would have continued stressing out about getting her to eat solids. She now enjoys a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, and meat. There are days when she prefers holding the food herself and "feeding" herself (which basically means mashing it up and licking her hands sometimes, but hey, it gets in there!) and there are days when she's completely satisfied with being spoon-fed. Sometimes, you just have to try a variety of methods to see which one works for your little one.
Whenever your baby refuses something, try a different approach. I expected myself to puree all her food, freeze them into ice cube trays, and then move onto to thicker textures later on, but Amira had something else in mind. Babies have their own preferences, so follow their cue and go with the flow! I thought I’d share my experience, because I first came across baby-led weaning on other blogs and it was helpful to read about other moms’ experiences as I was going through a similar situation.
Please note: I am not a doctor. If you feel your baby is having issues while eating solids, consult his/her pediatrician for guidance. The information I share is based on my own experiences and may not be the way to go for your baby, as every baby is unique.