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Responsive Spoon Feeding

Introducing solids in one of the most exciting milestones for parents AND baby. But sometimes it doesn't go as smoothly as parents had envisioned. Whether baby gags or pushes food out with their tongue, or refuses food all together, it can leave us wondering what to do next.

Regardless of whether you're team traditional feeding or team baby-led weaning, feeding specialists recommend letting baby lead. What this looks like for purees:

  • Caregiver pre-loading a spoon and passing it to baby or placing it on the tray

  • Offering purees directly on the tray for hand-feeding (messy is developmentally appropriate)

  • Offering a spoon and waiting for baby to lean in to accept

  • Offering hard, stick-shaped foods dipped in purees

The Role of Purees

Not only are puree foods a part of the average adult diet, they also serve an important role in feeding development and acquisition of oral motor skills. Benefits of self-feeding purees include:

  • Mastering hand-to-mouth coordination

  • Exploring foods and utensils

  • Engaging and activating the upper lip to close around the spoon

  • Moving the gag reflex back in the mouth while learning spoon placement

  • Having an increased sensory experience by touching the food

Other do's and don'ts of spoon feeding.


  • Offer flat bowled spoons, textured spoons, and spoons that fit into little hands

  • Emphasize exploration and skill-building


  • Directly spoon feed

  • Hold a spoon to baby's lips waiting for them to open

  • Sneak a bite in or scrape food off on the roof of their mouth

  • Emphasize solids as being a significant source of nutrition before 12 months

If your baby is struggling to accept solids, don't wait to get help. Nourish Therapy is Spokane's infant feeding specialist. We can help get you on the right track, and the sooner the better.

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