First Foods: Gareth on Solids

It is amazing that you can have two children and find that they are completely opposite of each other.  Gavin never really got into the whole “checking everything out with his mouth” although it is apparently a phase many babies go through – they like to put things into their mouth to “explore” since the mouth is so much more sensitive.  We can detect the presence of an object as fine as a strand of hair in between our teeth but we wouldn’t feel it between our forefinger and thumb, which are supposed to be one of the more richly innervated parts of our body – if that offers an example of just how sensitive the mouth can be.  Gareth is on the other extreme, he puts anything and everything he can get his little hands on into his mouth.  Because of this, everyone has automatically assumed that he will love eating when he starts solids.

Naturally, everyone has been very excited to see him eat. It’s been all I can do to fight off their eagerness to feed him foods before he is ready.  I don’t know what the recommendation for feeding solids was back when I was a child, but I’m guessing they weren’t quite as concerned as we are today about allergies.  Growing up, I only knew one girl in my entire schooling life that was allergic to nuts.  These days, they have nut-free schools and children who have to carry around epipens in the event of accidental nut exposure.  There are children who are allergic to bananas – one of the most “kid-friendly” foods around.

There have been a lot of speculation on the causes for the increase in food allergies.  Since we don’t know enough, I believe in exercising caution.  The recommendation is to introduce new foods one at a time and proceed slowly (the recommendation is to stay on the same food for three days before introducing a new one – we’ve been moving along a little faster than this pace but we’re sticking to introduction of one new food at a time).  It’s tedious and it spoils the fun of introducing first foods to a baby, but I’d rather wait a few months than to have my child suffer a life long allergy that could be potentially life-threatening.  We did the same with Gavin and he has had no trouble with food allergies so far.  Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about his food aversions but that’s another story.

When Gareth started solids on Monday, he did not disappoint.  He attacked his rice cereal with gusto to the delight of his father and grandparents whom, true to the typical Asian nature, find it an absolute joy to watch a child eat.  The next morning, however, Gareth showed no interest in eating. After two mouthfuls, he decided he was done.  At dinner time, I tried the rice cereal again and he wasn’t interested.  We tried sweet potato but he wasn’t interested either.

I sometimes wonder if Gavin was put off eating because we were a little too aggressive feeding him.  Not wanting to make the same mistakes again, I decided that if Gareth showed no interest in eating, I would stop feeding and try again another time.

There are a couple of reasons why an infant may not be interested in his food.  Firstly, he might not be hungry.  Alternatively, it may just be that he doesn’t like the flavour (although this doesn’t necessarily mean he might not like it tomorrow).  They say that you should try re-introducing foods that your child doesn’t like because their taste preferences aren’t really developed yet and they may enjoy something they didn’t like previously if you introduce it again.

Assuming that Gareth wasn’t very interested in rice cereal or sweet potato, I offered him butternut squash.  It appeared that the meal was going to go the same way as the previous meals when he suddenly grabbed the spoon and shoved it into his mouth.  When he released the spoon, I scooped more food for him and let him guide the spoon into his mouth.  I continued to feed him the rest of the meal with him leading the way.  I’ve discovered that it isn’t a disinterest in food, but a desire for autonomy.  He wanted to be the one to put the spoon into his mouth.  Since he lacks the dexterity to get it right, I try to help him a little with the guidance and accept the fact that meal times will be necessarily messy.

Whether Gareth will be more open to eating compared to his brother remains to be seen.  Everyone seems to think so, but I have my reservations.  If I remember correctly, Gavin was pretty good with eating for about the first month.  After that, it all went downhill.

As for the question about picky eaters, I now have the answer.  Strollerderby refers to an article in the New York Times:

“After examining the eating habits of 5,390 pairs of twin between 8 and 11 years old, researchers concluded that children’s aversions to trying new foods are mostly inherited. Apparently, 78 percent of food aversion is genetic and the other 22 percent environmental.”

Looks like Gavin’s fussiness with foods is inherited from hubby. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Gareth has inherited his taste buds from me.

About the author

Shen-Li Shen-Li is a stay-home mum to two boys who have been the inspiration for her interest in early childhood development and early child education. She searches for the balance in child development methods and the educational philosophies that will enable the nurture of happy, confident and successful children. She shares her views and findings at Figur8.


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Comments

  1. Yeah, better to stay on the safe side. We didn’t start both kids till 7 months and now they eat everything like there is no tomorrow. No allergies so far.

    With Jade we were more careful, one food at a time. She loves holding broccoli or cauliflower and feeding herself. Big mess on the ground though. :D

  2. Wish you good luck in getting an “easy-eater”!

    My boy’s fussy at bedtime yet super-angelic when it comes to food. It’s a joy watching him enjoy eating and sit in the highchair through long meals. Thankfully, God has been kind to us!