Q&A: How can I introduce my 7-month-old to an adult diet? She refuses everything!
My baby is 7 months old and was exclusively breastfed. I have tried to introduce baby oatmeal, rice cereal, corn cereals, and all that, but she refuses to take them. I even express breast milk in a bottle. She refuses everything! What do I do? How can I introduce her to an adult diet?
It’s great to hear that your daughter has had the benefit of being exclusively breastfed for the first seven months of her life! Now that you’re trying to introduce solid foods, it sounds like the perfect time to check in with her pediatrician. The reason I say this is because whether babies are breast- or bottle-fed (or both), most are ready, willing, and able to start eating baby foods by six months of age.
The fact that your daughter is refusing your attempts at anything other than breastfeeding is certainly not uncommon. It’s going to be both useful and important for you and her doctor to determine the reason(s) for her refusal. While it may simply be that she’s not so sure what to make of solid foods on a spoon when all she’s had thus far is breast milk—babies can have a difficult time mastering the motor skills necessary to move solid foods (even those that are far from being truly “solid”) from the front of their mouths to the back and then swallow.
While your pediatrician is the one who will need to help you determine why your daughter is refusing her baby cereals and what you can or should do about it, I can offer a few recommendations that generally apply to babies six months and older who are being introduced to new foods.
First, let me point out that I have found that breastfed babies sometimes don’t take to new foods well when introduced to them by their mothers. Simply put—some babies so strongly associate their mothers with nursing that they often accept nothing “less.” If and when this is the case, it can help to simply have someone else do the feeding for a while when it comes to introducing foods by spoon rather than by breast. In general, the introduction of “solid” (pureed) baby foods is recommended at 4 to 6 months of age.
The other point to make is that how and what babies are offered when being introduced to new foods can influence how likely they are to accept them. For example, baby cereal that is too thick can pose quite a challenge in the early days of solid food, and something as seemingly straightforward as applesauce or pureed carrots can be rejected purely for its newness. Others, however, are lacking in the tongue and motor control required for eating and swallowing correctly.
And finally, given that you pointed out that you started the feeding process by introducing baby cereals first, let me also just update everyone on the current recommendations, which now suggest starting with not just baby cereals, but also pureed meats. While this may seem very different from past (and longstanding) recommendations that suggested baby cereals followed by fruits and vegetable baby foods and then pureed meats, the reason is that we now know how important protein (such as that found in pureed meats) is in a baby’s diet. Since there has been no good reason identified as to why we should wait to start including it in a baby’s diet, pureed meats can and should be offered right along with your baby’s introduction to the iron-fortified baby cereals.