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If your baby is around the 6-month mark, you may have started introducing solid food into their diet.
However, just because your baby has good head control and developed motor skills, it does not necessarily mean they are ready to self-feed. We will explore a few reasons your baby may not yet feed themselves.
Baby doesn’t bring food to the mouth – Reasons
Your baby may still need to gain the skills or interest to feed themselves.
While your baby may eat solid foods when you feed them, they are not making any effort on their own. They may not yet understand that they have the ability to feed themselves.
Signs that your child is ready for self-feeding include: grabbing the spoon during feedings, reaching for food on their tray, practicing the pincer grasp (picking up food with two fingers), or pushing your hand away during mealtime.
These signs may show up anywhere from 1-4 months after they begin eating solids.
Sensory issues can be a factor as to why your baby does not bring their food into their mouth. For example, they may not like the look, taste, texture, or smell.
If a baby is experiencing sensory issues, it can make it difficult for them to bring food to their mouth, and instead of eating, they may push it away or play with it.
All babies are different, so what one baby may find unappealing, another may find delicious. Some babies may be sensitive to certain textures, like pureed food, while others may not like how certain foods taste or smell. Even temperature may be a factor – some prefer warmer food, while others like cooler food.
Baby doesn’t bring food to the mouth – Solutions
By paying attention to the signs that your baby is ready to self-feel, you can then have them practice with foods that are easy for them to grab or pick up—encouraging them to use their hands first rather than a utensil is the best starting point for your baby to learn.
Some good options to start with include: baby food in pouches, cooked vegetables like carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes, or small pieces of fruits like bananas, kiwis, and string cheese. If your baby is just not ready for self-feeding, don’t worry. There is no rush, and you can try again in a few weeks.
A caregiver should be observant and try different foods and textures to see what their baby prefers. It does take time for an infant to explore the world of solid foods and get used to new tastes and textures.
You should be patient with your baby and give them opportunities to practice with a variety of food. Babies often learn by watching, so sitting with your child and eating the same foods as them while smiling and encouraging them can help them to start to imitate you.
How can I get my baby to put food in his mouth?
Since most babies will still be primarily getting their nutrition from breastmilk or formula until they are 12 months old, introducing solid foods at a time that doesn’t interfere with their scheduled feeding is best.
Your baby may be fussy and want milk, so they won’t be interested in trying new foods. At this time, you can eat with your baby and test out different foods to see if they respond positively.
When should I worry about my baby not eating solids?
If your baby is consistently refusing to eat solid foods or experiencing symptoms such as gagging excessively, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, you should take them to their health care practitioner.
It is better to have an expert determine if there is a medical condition that is causing feeding difficulties.
How do I get my 8-month-old to eat finger foods?
You can get your baby to eat finger foods by providing small pieces of food that are soft enough to squish between your fingers. This will make it easy for your baby to pick up and will reduce their chances of choking. Placing the food on their tray and eating with them will help them start eating independently.
Let your baby watch you eat and guide them through the motions to pick up their food and put it into their mouth. WebMD has a great guide on what foods to start with and what you should not give your baby.
Self-feeding doesn’t happen overnight and is a process that requires lots of practice and patience. However, over time, the pathways in their brain will develop, and they will soon learn how to bring food to their mouth on their own.