We call complementary feeding the moment when a baby begins to eat foods other than milk. It happens around six months of life, and it is a very important change in their development.
This transition usually generates many doubts in parents and can sometimes be quite a challenge. In this sense, one of the main problems that usually appear is the baby’s rejection of the spoon, as they do not always accept its touch willingly.
If you find yourself in this situation with your baby right now, here are a few tips that can make the transition from breast or bottle to spoon easier.
Why does the baby gag when he feels the spoon in his mouth?
Babies have a natural reflex called the ‘extrusion reflex’ , which causes them to push out any food that gets into their mouth that doesn’t have the soft, squishy texture associated with milk feeding.
This innate reflex protects them from ingesting food that they are not yet ready to assimilate, which is why many babies initially reject spoon feeding, pushing the object or its content with their tongue.
The extrusion reflex tends to disappear between five and six months of age, hence the importance of not trying to introduce foods other than milk before six months of life (unless the pediatrician indicates otherwise), but also paying attention to the individual needs of each baby.
And it is that each child has their own maturational rhythms , so in addition to looking at their age, before starting with complementary feeding we must take into account the following factors: Check out more interesting articles on our parenting site.
- The baby shows interest in the food of adults (reaches out when he sees us eating, wants to take things from our plate …)
- stays seated
- Has lost the extrusion reflex
If we do not consider these requirements , the start of complementary feeding will be a moment of stress for the baby and for the parents, who will watch helplessly as their little one expels the food with his tongue and repeatedly rejects the spoon.
Tips for starting spoon feeding
Bearing in mind the tips mentioned above, if you see that your baby is ready to start complementary feeding and you are clear that you are going to opt for pureed or pureed foods , these tips could help you make the transition from the breast/bottle to the spoon easier :
– First of all, never force the baby to eat . Each child is unique and needs time to adapt to this important change, so it is necessary to be patient and respectful of their rhythms and respect the signals of hunger and satiety.
– It is also not necessary to follow to the letter the recommendations of amounts that are often offered by pediatricians or nurses in consultation. We will start gradually, and in case of doubt or if we have the feeling that the baby is not eating enough , always consult the pediatrician.
– In relation to the previous point, introduce the tip of the spoon with the food at first, so that the baby tastes the content with his lips. Do not force her mouth open or insert the entire spoon into her oral cavity at first. The process must be gradual.
– First let your baby become familiar with the spoon , play with it, observe it, put it in his empty mouth and check its texture.
– Preferably opt for soft and flat silicone spoons, avoiding hard plastic and metal. The cold and stiffness of these materials can cause further rejection of the baby.
– Try giving your baby the spoon so that he can handle it . Although at first it will spill a good part of the content, if we choose suitable cutlery for its physiognomy , we will not only be facilitating its autonomy and development, but also making the meal a fun moment of learning and experimentation, with all the benefits that this entails.
In any case, we remember that it is not essential that the complementary feeding be based on crushed foods . The Baby Led Weaning (BLW) method , which offers solids from the start, is gaining more and more popularity and is a valid alternative to purees and porridges.
Translated as “baby-led weaning”, this feeding method is based on offering different foods to the baby and letting him decide how much and how he eats it , always taking into account his psychomotor development.