“All babies are different.” It’s a parental mantra, but it can be hard not to compare your child to others. Maybe your friend’s baby said his first word earlier, or rolled over at a freakishly early age, or took her first steps while your baby was just getting the hang of crawling. It’s hard not to feel like your baby is behind, or that you’re doing something wrong. This definitely comes into play when you compare your little one’s eating habits to others around his age.
I am lucky in that Nora is a naturally good eater.* She’s adventurous and will try almost anything once.
* I am talking about solids here. We had a pretty bumpy start with breastfeeding (latch issues), but she is still going strong at just past one year, which was my original goal. Woot!
Even my good eater has her moments, though. She has hungry days and not-so-hungry days, and teething puts a damper on things sometimes. This morning, for example, she took about two nibbles of her waffle, threw every raspberry I handed her on the ground, and would only eat freeze-dried mango. Fun times.
Nora has always preferred feeding herself, and she started rejecting purées at around 8 months, so it was easy to know when to move on to table foods. Now pretty much the only thing she’ll let me spoon-feed her is yogurt, and sometimes not even that.
Up until fairly recently, I thought that was totally normal. Then I talked to two people with kiddos about a year old who will still only eat smooth purées. Any hint of texture, and they’re out. Forget finger foods — that’s not their thing. Both moms were concerned and asked me how to get their little one to move on to “real food.”
On the other end of the spectrum, when Nora was still just doing purées, I talked to another mom who was giving her baby (who was less than a month older) whole plums to eat himself. I was still baking plums and puréeing them for her, and I felt like I must be doing something wrong! It was only recently that she figured out how to handle a whole fruit by herself.
The point is, all babies go at different paces, and that’s fine. I don’t know anyone who started college while still only eating purées, and some kids are just in a hurry to grow up. If you’re worried about your baby’s eating habits, it’s definitely worth talking to your pediatrician about it (that’s what they’re there for), but it’s likely normal. In fact, some babies don’t even show an interest in solid foods of any kind until 9 months or so!
As with all things in parenting, the key is patience. Patience, patience, patience. It’s a difficult lesson, but a necessary one, and one that I expect to learn over and over in the years to come.