Monday, May 26, 2008

Tricks of the Trade

Help! My child won't eat! 

With the onset of teething a few weeks ago, 7 month-old Maria has decided that she is NOT interested in eating anything except for mommy's milk :) Now clearly, the little munchkin is not starving, but she is constantly HUNGRY and I'm having a hard time figuring out what to feed her! She has never been terribly interested in pureed baby foods, but now I can't even push the spoon into her mouth - when she sees the spoon coming, she clamps her mouth shut! I think that she may be like our eldest, C, who only ever ate food that he could pick up and put into his mouth himself :) 

So, I'm asking all of you mommies out there for some suggestions on nutritious finger-foods that I can feed my strong-willed baby! She still has quite a strong "gag" reflex, so even cheerios have a hard time getting into her tummy, but I'm sure that there must be some foods out there that I could try. She loves sucking on huge hunks of apple/carrot, but that's mostly for teething purposes since she's not really swallowing anything. Help! I'm starting to feel the effects of waking up a couple of times at night to feed my hungry child :)

Second question: How do you ladies tackle the weekly grocery shopping? Before Maria was born I would take C with me, but it has been pretty challenging to do a big grocery trip with BOTH kiddos in tow. I have occasionally put Maria in the Ergo carrier so that C can ride in the cart, but this is awkward and I'm usually exhausted by the end. Do you wait until the weekends when dad can help out? Do you use Peapod or another grocery delivery service? Do you make lots of smaller trips so that they are more manageable with the children along? I'd love to hear everyone's input!


Bethany said...

As long as you're sure she is not allergic to various foods... you could cut up pieces of soft fruit (peaches, berries, plums, bananas etc..) in very small pieces that she can pick up herself. As far as the cheerios go: First I have found that Aldi's brand of "Cheerios" is a little easier for little mouths to gum and chew up, it seems to melt in their mouths a little faster; Second, if you're willing to deal with a bit of mess you could always soak them in some expressed breast milk so they soften up a bit. Small whole wheat pasta pieces and diced up cooked veggies. Unfortunately it's just going to be a messy.

I know at 7 months, it may seem young to give them table foods, but if they have some teeth and already great "chewing" skills, just watch them closely and they should be fine. Though a talk with her pediatrician would be beneficial too.

My youngest has been eating table foods since she was 6 months. We started her out on some baby food puree, and even though she liked it, she liked what we were eating just as much (and it's cheaper). She'll be 1 on Friday and with her seventh tooth coming in as I write, she eats anything and everything off the table, and sometimes under the table before I get the chance to vacuum. Eww!

Good luck.

Joanne said...

I think pancakes can be good at this juncture, they help with teething if you give them to her frozen. I also liked those Gerber puffs - they have no nutritional or caloric value, but it really helped my boy learn how to pick things up because they sort of stuck to his finger. You can also buy one of those mesh bags and put food in there and they can gum away on them and get some food that way. I agree with Bethany, it is a messy proposition, but what are you going to do?

I have never brought both my kids to the grocery store, (Anthony is 3 and my Maria is 4.5 months) I just can't see it working out well. I usually go once during the week after bedtime and once on the weekend. We make a menu on the weekend for the following week and plan accordingly. I sort of hate it, I'd rather go daily, but I just can't make it work with two, especially as my three year old is kind of crazy.

Katherine said...

I know Cecilia loved the Gerber Wagon Wheels. They were large enough she had no problem holding them without the pincher ability, she gummed them until soft and then swallowed so they worked well with teething and eating/snacking. Dunno about nutritional value, but she enjoyed them. They come in apple and carrot/cheese flavors.

I like the pancake idea. I'll have to remember that one.

Usually DH stays home with one (hopefully napping) and I take the other. I have had to take both. When I need to take both, the infant sits in her carrier in the cart seat and the toddler walks beside me. I considered putting the toddler in the cart seat and the infant in the baby bjorn. That is another possibility.

Anonymous said...

I take my kids to the grocery all the time (2 1/2 yrs and 1 yr.) I go 2x a week, once to Trader Joes and once to the local farmers market. When the youngest was littler I put him in the front pack and the older one in the front of the cart. Now I put the older one in the back of the cart and the younger one in the front of the cart. My kids are pretty mellow and I have never had a problem with trying to climb out or anything. I just remember to keep the cart far enough away from the shelves so that little hands don't try to grab.

k said...

Ok so as I think most of the folks here know by now my kid is pretty picky (and tiny to add to the anxiety) some things he did enjoy when he was super picky (and he got a whole bunch of teeth right in a row so it was rough month or so right around 8-10months I think).

-yogurt, don't know if she has allergies but my dr. said yogurt was different then cow's milk and if we didn't have family history to try it. it is our life saver. he loves yogurt and we can mix more nutritious things into it if it is a strong flavor (peas into banana yogurt)

-little pasta like elbows or mini shells. when he got a bit older (over 10mnths I think) I would mix tomato sauce with butter & parmesan & a little yogurt until it got lighter, almost like a vodka sauce. you can mix veggies in then too either chunk or pureed.

-soup or more favorite bits of bread dipped in soup.

again some of these may be for when she is a bit older, but Jack really hated to be fed and really started eating more when he could master a spoon and pick up and eat things with his fingers.

um it was very messy, always. still is. need that super cool stain remover you guys were talking about.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kat, Julene here. I don't know if this is helpful, but J didn't eat solids (unless I practically force fed him) until he was 13 mos, and then he totally switched to finger foods. Now at 17 mos. he's an avid eater. After we ruled out any medical issues with our ped, I just ate constantly, nursed throughout the day so that I could get some sleep at night, always gave him plenty of opportunity to try solids,and played the waiting game. He never lost weight or even got skinny, as you've seen. The regret I have looking back is that I stressed out about it so much. M doesn't actually NEED solids for a while still. Hang in there!!

Ann said...

Kat -
I always do wheat puffs before I do Cheerios. You can get a big bag in the cereal asile. It is the first finger food I do because 1- they do stick to their fingers and 2- they melt really quickly when they get wet. Good luck!

As far as trips to the grocery - I do bring all mine during the day. Now my older ones are 6,5,and 3 so they can all walk and hold on to the cart. (and don't you DARE let go! lol) My oldest holds my list/pen and checks things off for me. This is great for reading/ spelling - and helps me a lot too!! And the baby is in the infant seat that they have on their carts.
I try to start them walking and holding onto the cart around 2 1/2 because you know the next child is not far behind!! lol
We have had many a trial run to the grocery store where they practice how to behave there - when I only have to pick up a few things.
Plus... my kiddos will do a lot for a cookie at Giant Eagle. =)

Anonymous said...

One more comment. If you put Maria on your back in the ergo, it's a lot more comfy while leaning over, down and all over while you grocery shop. And remember to use your ab muscles to hold yourself up with that extra weight so that your back doesn't feel it as much. To keep C busy, you could try enlisting his help with the shopping... finding certain items, bagging fruit, etc. I saw that on one of the nanny shows. Good luck!

Mary Alice said...

For quick trips, I can go to the store with all 5 kids, I have given each of the big 4 a "spot" on the cart to hold on to (they also have a spot on the stroller), and trained them that when I say "on your spot" they grab right on. I am surprised at how well this goes. They love to help unload the cart, bag groceries, etc. I do usually wind up buying a few random things when they are there, this week it was watermelon, but that was a great addition!

For our big shopping, though, I go on the weekend alone, or, better still, make a list and send Dad! This is the best because he doesn't fall for impulse buys and it forces me to use a list.

As to food, there are those dipping spoons, they are like short sticks and she could dip it into yogurt, baby food, etc, and feed herself even if she is not quite spoon ready? I don't know how old you have to be to be able to find your mouth with this, though, so you may end up with yogurt in the ear.

I love K's idea of bread dipped in soup, it seems like you could mix in a lot of veggies that way.

Cut up avocado is a good finger food, and you could also cook and then cool some chunks of apple that she could feed herself. Leo loves to suck on a piece of watermelon, but I don't think this has much nutrition.

BTW, he is also night waking and, I think, ready for solids, I am just waiting until we move to start, so I am glad for all of these tips as well!

Elizabeth said...

Just something to keep in mind - if she has a strong gag reflex and avoids spoon feeding, you might want to talk to your pediatrician to rule out any possible medical concerns.

We pushed to be sent to a pediatric gastroenterologist when our daughter was 10 months and still would/could not swallow baby food. I was nursing, good thing. But by the time she had the testing for swallowing dysfunction, she was officially failure to thrive even with nursing. She had 4 forms of swallowing dysfunction-- her muscles just didn't coordinate to properly move and swallow food and she choked easily.

We had a year of feeding therapy and early intervention and it made a WORLD of difference. She'll always be a little small for her age and light, but she's 7 and eats normal food. We still keep up high calorie nutritious food (instant breakfast, full fat milk, cheese, etc.) just to help maximize the impact of what she eats.

I don't want to be "that" mother who scares people. But I do wish we'd known sooner to look into things.

Right Said Red said...

I'd say one of the best things you can do is relax and try not to make food an issue. Before the age of 1, most children still get the majority of their nourishment from breast milk (or formula). I didn't start solids with Charlie until he was 8 months old--because of his reflux, he was always a large kids, until he was 18 months old.

One suggestion--make your own baby food. I really dislike the way baby food tastes, especially since it has absolutely no texture and sets kids up for having issues with real food textures, especially the textures of veggies. I don't give my kids anything to eat that I wouldn't eat myself, so try out some homemade baby food.

As for the food store. I generally go w/o the kids, but I do take all 3 occasionally. Charlie rides in the front of the cart, Gus in the baby carrier, and Gianna has a spot on the front of the cart where she "hangs" getting on and off as we fill the basket. They are generally well behaved, it is just trying on my nerves to juggle all 3 and all the food.

Melinda said...

Neither of my two girls ate much but breastmilk before a year. It's really frustrating, but not necessarily something to be too worried about. They are now both great eaters.

Yo-baby yogurt is always the first thing they will eat consistently. Also, little very soft cubes of yam and cheerios. But even those they don't really do before 8-9 months. Anything on a spoon is completely rejected, just as you describe!

I do take both girls to the grocery store, with one in the seat and the other in the back of the cart, but I've also become a huge fan of Peapod. At first I thought it was extravagant to pay for delivery, but I actually find I spend less overall, I think because I can watch the total as I add things to my cart, so I stay within budget. It's also great because you can stop shopping, go look at a recipe, and then go back and add all the ingredients to your list!

4ddintx said...

My family is really big on issues with wheat (lots of relatives with celiac disease and gluten intolerance) including at least 4 of my 4 children (haven't tested baby). So, I have to say it's hard for me to see wheat puffs as a first food and pasta that early on for a child. I know most people don't have the issues we do, but wheat is a big 10 allergen.

I do use puffed rice cereal (right beside the wheat puffs) for a first finger food for little ones. Tinkyada makes a great rice pasta that kids love to finger feed themselves.

If your little one wants to nurse all of the time, try adding coconut oil to your diet to up the calories in your breastmilk--at least it might help with not waking at night so much. There are lots of ways to add coconut oil to your diet--as cooking oil, as a butter substitute on bread, etc. Coconut oil is full of the medium chain fatty acids that are only found elsewhere in breastmilk, so it really enriches the great stuff about breastmilk (And will help with weight loss, not gain, for the Mommy).

I agree with trying cut up fruit and veggies and even cooked meat in tiny pieces. My dd#5 didn't ever do baby food as she loved to feed herself from the beginning.

texas mommy said...

Well, it's easy for me to say not to worry too much since my kids just ate anchovies off my ceasar salad and seabass with lemongrass for dinner tonight and hardly ever refuse anything. No idea why, though I now recognize it is a huge blessing.

I do know several moms whose kids have not eaten any baby food at all until they are ready for soft finger food just over 1. Some had babies unwilling to eat, one from having a large number of young children and not really being able to stand there with a spoon for 10 minutes.

I agree with Red that making the food helps. My kids would never eat baby food, which can make travelling and staying in a hotel complicated, but I do abide by the rule if I won't eat it, I won't make my kids eat it.

Also, while Jack-Jack would eat pureed foods, it took him a lot longer to get over his gag relex than it did Dash. Cheerios/goldfish weren't manageable until almost a year. So it's difficult to compare what a baby can eat when.

There were some good suggestions on meal planning on the post The Master Plan ( that helped me organize my grocery outings better. My kids seem to love going to the store, big boy in the big part of the cart, little guy in the seat part. I really like to get errands out of the way on weekdays so we have weekends more free. Oh, and the free samples help a lot, too!!

stephmomof6 said...


I love a little gadget that my son's Godmother got for him from Baby's R Us. It is a little netting that screws onto a hard plastic ring. You put pieces of apple or peach or even hot dog (greasy though) into the netting and screw it onto the ring. Baby can hold it and gnaw on it until it grinds down to something Maria can suck through the netting. No choking and it is dishwasher safe. Also, you can put the ring in the fridge and it will keep the food chilled while baby chews. It is difficult to describe, but look for it. We loved it!