Some babies take very quickly to solids, others—like my baby—seem to take longer. Even though as a dietitian I knew babies varied in this regard, I think subconsciously I still expected my baby to progress pretty fast. But she proved me wrong.
I started giving my baby solids about twice a day when she turned 5 ½ months or 24 weeks old (pretty late in the game compared to some babies!). Since she was almost 6 months old and I was offering pureed textures, I thought she would be up to more mashed textures by a week or two. But it seemed to take her a good few weeks to even get established on pureed solids! I was surprised to see that it also took her body some time to get used to processing the food through her system. She was more gassy and uncomfortable, and this sometimes also made her less willing to breastfeed.
After more than a month, when she finally seemed more comfortable on purees, I started to slowly change the texture. But then it turned out she had a hypersensitive gag. If something in a meal was just a bit too lumpy or textured, it could cause her to gag and often bring up everything she ate beforehand. I’ve lost count of how many times she has vomited during meals (not because of a food allergy or other medical problem) simply because an odd little lump probably got swallowed too quickly and caused her to gag. In the end I learned how to transition the textures very carefully and gradually. What probably didn’t help was that she stayed toothless until 9 months of age!
In the drive to progress babies from pureed to minced textures by one year of age, I think it’s often easy to forget that eating involves skills that can take time to be developed. Skills like how to hold food in the mouth, mash, move solids from the front to the back of the mouth, and then swallow—especially if your baby still doesn’t have teeth and must mash food between the gums. It really makes me wonder—those advocates of the ‘baby led weaning’ approach must have to acknowledge that not every baby will be suited for it. I can’t imagine my baby trying to handle a piece of broccoli before she was really ready!