My 7-month-old has suddenly become a fussy eater and won’t open her mouth
I am an older mother (nearing 40) of a seven-month-old baby girl, and pregnant with our second child (in the first trimester). Our daughter, Cassidy, is generally a very happy baby, and has been a Gina baby all her life. Her sleep patterns, her feeding, weaning etc have all been according to Gina, and this has worked incredibly well for us – if we had a wobble, going back to Gina has always sorted it out.
All Gina’s advice has worked really well for us until the last fortnight, when we were suddenly confronted with an apparently fussy eater. With a freezer full of puréed organic vegetables (as Gina advises) and her diet entirely according to Gina’s weaning book, all had been going swimmingly. However, we now have a prolonged session of pursed lips and spitting at every meal. The most frustrating thing is that if we trick her into taking a mouthful she quite happily eats it. So mealtimes are now a long series of tricks designed to get her to open her mouth.
She seems to particularly dislike mushy foods, and has taken to small sandwiches with gusto. However, we are concerned at how we get vegetables into her, and how we can vary her diet. And how we can make mealtimes a bit easier – like they used to be!
Any advice would be wonderful.
Cassidy is beginning to show her independence. I would encourage her to self-feed in a variety of ways. Try to use her love of mini sandwiches. Make her vegetable purées a little thicker, possibly mashing rather than puréeing. Spread these on small pieces of bread or rolls and serve as an open sandwich. Even something like Chicken Rissotto or casserole can be prepared and spread in this way. This way will encourage Cassidy to try a wider range of food. Begin to mash or pulse her vegetables rather than purée as Cassidy needs to get used to a denser texture. Make sure the food is not lumpy – but it no longer needs to be so smooth.
Cook a spoonful or two of mixed frozen vegetables and offer them to Cassidy on the tray of her highchair to feed herself. The colours and textures should tempt her. Make this a more nutritious meal by grating cheese over them whilst they are still hot so it melts. Offer steamed batons of carrots, broccoli, peas and other vegetables suitable for her age. Until she has teeth all of these need to be fairly soft, but firm enough for her to hold in her hand. If she feeds herself well with these you could try making dips of thick soup or casserole and encourage her to eat this way.
When feeding Cassidy give her a spoon to hold, whilst you feed her. This simple trick often works. Encourage her to push her spoon into the bowl, and try to feed herself. Whilst she is busy doing that you may find she will open her mouth for your spoonful without realising it. This stage of eating can be rather messy so be prepared. Use a bib which covers her well, the kind with arms are best. Roll up sleeves or remove any jumpers which may get messy. Cover the floor with a splash mat or newspapers and have face cloths ready.
Babies can often be tired by teatime, so make this an easy meal for Cassidy to eat. If she has eaten a good lunch, then give Cassidy things you know she can feed herself with. Rather than giving her milk at tea time, I would encourage Cassidy to drink water from her sip cup. She then should have her bath and enjoy a larger bottle before bedtime.
By encouraging Cassidy to feed herself, with some help from you, you should be able to continue offering her a varied diet. This is important at this age, as it is easy to go on serving the same meals you know Cassidy will eat. It might take a little thought as to how to present new tastes in a way that will be appealing to her.