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Food for 9m. baby, no teeth, wants to feed himself

Right, well, that's it. I have a baby who doesn't want to be spoonfed (although he'll permit it at breakfast) and I'm looking for interesting things to feed him. Things that can be frozen or kept for a couple of days are the best, because he still doesn't eat much.

We're going through a lot of tofu (I doubt he's up to meat or fish), sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and soft pieces of fruit. I was wondering about alternatives to the teething biscuit stuff, with more nutrition? He can't have eggs or berries or milk yet (although cheese is fine).

Surely there are interesting and different things I haven't tried!

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  1. Avocado, bananas, boiled carrots, cottage cheese, cream of wheat, Ritz (tm) crackers?

    1. last year when our daughter was that age she loved bananas, avocado, mashed potatoes & gravy, mac & cheese, crab meat, any type of noodle, any rice dish, chicken noodle soup, bean with bacon soup, chicken or pork cut into tiny pieces.

      1. If they are still nursing/or on formula, food at this age has more entertainment and process value than for pure nutrition. The eye to hand skills, getting the mouth and digestive muscles to move soft/solid foods and increasing the general attention span while they sit for a longer time are the major goals.

        Choose items that they can pick up, squish and even experiment with while they develop first the fist and then their tiny fingers. And then there's the whole gravity lesson.

        Even the fact that there are no teeth shouldn't stop you. In enough time, they can chew almost anything to a paste. The friction on the gums will even help the teeth arrive. Just as long as there are no hard chunks (like raw carrots) that they can choke on. We are from a family of very slow teethers and my middle son didn't get his first tooth until he was 2! At that point he was eating bagels, pizza, basically anything his brother could eat.

        Lastly, I'm sure you know the trick of freezing the vegi's pureed chic, etc. that you prepare ahead of time in ice cube trays. Each cube is perfect for about 1 serving.

        Peas, cooked pasta, hard boiled egg whites, steamed butternut squash, pumpkin and the age old favorite................... CHEERIOS!!!

        1. Agree with MSK -- at this point it is more about learning to eat than about nutrition. Not that you want to feed them junk.

          Basically, he can eat anything that you are eating. As long as it is in small pieces and it is soft. Pasta, meatballs, chicken, broccoli, peas, pancakes, etc.

          My daughter went from eating baby food to completely eating regular food over a single weekend. We went to visit my sister, who started feeding her all regular foods, and my daughter totally rejected baby food after that. She was 10 months old. And my son gave up baby food at 9 months because he was only interested in what the rest of us were eating.

          As long as the pieces are small, anything is really fair game.

          1. To an adult it would be icky, but babies don't seem to care . . .
            cubes of cold cereal, like polenta, oatmeal, cream of rice.
            I'd just make extra at breakfast, once cold, it is finger food.

            I'm sure the teeth will be coming soon! It sounds like his diet is pretty nutritious as it is.

            1. Oh, I'm not too worried about him starving- he's still nursing, and he is getting some food into him. He's just barely learning to chew/smush, so we're still having gagging issues, and very soft is key, at least for another couple of weeks. I seriously don't think he could manage pork or beef or chicken, if he has trouble with bread.

              Thinking about meatloaf. He might be able to handle that.

              We do have a freezer full of smushed meals, and I'm using them to supplement when he can't aim anything into his mouth. :)

              Oatmeal or polenta sticks sound very interesting. Hm.

              Thanks for the hints! Keep them coming!

              1 Reply
              1. re: lissar

                As long as he is sitting up, his gag reflex will prevent choking.

                It's the walking/crawling around while eating that should be discouraged.

              2. Our son (now 1 year) really loved all forms of melon. We also discovered that he loved the taste of dill pickles. He didn't eat the whole thing, but gnawed on it. We gave him crackers and rice cakes at that age. And he went absolutely nuts with delight for any form of seasoned ground meat--kofte, burgers, meatballs We found he did better w/ ground meat than bread, b/c the bread would gum up in his mouth, but the fat kept the meat more moist.. We frequently ran the ground beef through the food processor to make the texture.

                Don't forget things like hummus, lentils, beans. You can smoosh them or spread them on the bread or crackers.

                Have fun! 9 mnths was a big change for us, b/c our pediatrician instructed us to stop giving him separate food, and start making sure he ate almost exclusively what we eat. It took a little work, but w/in a few weeks, he was eating mostly big people food!

                1 Reply
                1. re: sljones

                  All of my kids loved gnawing/gumming dill pickles at that age as well. I think they mostly liked them for the juice and saltiness. When they finally abandoned them the pickles were essentially mummified.

                2. I understand your frustration but do not worry. I had great success with incorporating a lot of the "non mushy" fruits and vegetables that have high nutrition into the diet.
                  I basically cut everything, everything into long vertical sticks( think french fries) and steamed the life out of them. The food is grab-able and soft enough that baby can gum on. This is a great chance to open him up to various different tastes without chocking.
                  And lastly they sell nets that can be wrapped upon hard fruit ( say an apple slice ) for real texture feel that baby can knaw on and slowly "work" at. Since this large .... is encompassed it will never be swallowed and chocked upon but the experience of the hard substance is probably glory to baby.
                  Best of luck... It's a great age that keeps getting better.

                  1. Is he off eggs because of a particular issue? If not, then the yolk is perfectly safe - it's the whites that are allergenic. Hard boiled egg yolk is a great food for babies.

                    Chicken noodle/rice soup, cooked carrots...I used to puree (slightly) chicken noodle soup for mine before teeth - or you could just leave the chicken out entirely and just add veg/noodles or rice to chicken broth Avocado was a favorite with mine, too.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jencounter

                      Yes, and the yolks are more nutritious for babies, too! Developing brains & eyeballs need fat and lots of it.

                      How is the baby with a cup? The pureed soup like Jen is mentioning above might be a nice idea in a little cup.

                    2. If you make a vegetable soup with small diced vegetables, and ABC macaroni or some other small macaroni/pasta, then drain the broth off and put the rest in front of him he can go to town! Another thing is cubes of avocado. Wacky Mac cut into small pieces is colorful and if cooked past al dente easy for baby to gum on.

                      A helpful hint to protect your floors is to get a roll of butcher paper so you can cut a large square of paper to put under the high chair to catch all the dropped food. It works better than newspaper, because that leaves newsprint behind. Also you can just scoop it up and toss in garbage. The food doesn't leak through the butcher paper. But, if you have a dog, your problem is already solved!

                      1. Since you mentioned that he is gagging a little, the 'chum bags' mentioned above might not be a bad idea, albeit a bit gross.

                        I wanted to mention that you shouldn't be afraid of foods with strong flavors -- you never know what he might be willing to eat and often, the simple fact that you are eating it too is sufficient.

                        My child surprised me by liking asparagus and green beans very early on (8 months) - you do have to cook them a bit longer than usual.
                        Steel cut oatmeal cools and solidifies into really nice finger food.

                        Good Luck!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: sebetti

                          Those "chum bags" as you call them, sebetti, are a really good thing to have. My daughter used them with her daughter and she enjoyed them immensely. When we went out she would put cantaloupe, or other melons in them and Bella would go to town gnawing on them. I wish I could remember the exact name of them. They were especially good for filling with ice to soothe sore gums.

                          1. re: danhole

                            Specifically for teething - my daughter loved frozen wheat bagels. She would hang onto one all morning, gnawing incessantly, but because they are so dense, she could never get a big enough piece in her mouth to choke on. Expanding on the frozen aspect, I also froze some of her other favorite foods and they seemed to give her some relief. We tried bananas, skinned apple quarters, and chunks of melon.

                            1. re: danhole

                              Oh, I agreed with you. In this situation where the child wants to eat adult food but is still developmentally not quite able to (i.e., the gag reflex mentioned by the OP), I think they are very useful.

                              But I have also seen parents so scared to give their children adult food that they used them when totally unnecessary or well beyond an appropriate age. Those gums are pretty freakin’ hard and beware your finger should it linger too long!

                              My son weaned himself at 7 months – so I know how scary it is to be faced with transitioning to a new feeding system when neither of you is really ready. Besides, based on the OP’s comments and later response, she seems to be handling the situation quite well.

                              (and yes, after 2 years of poopy diapers, snot, and spit up; I do still find the chum bags a little gross)

                              1. re: danhole

                                Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder... or Sassy and other brands sell similar ones. I'm thinking of getting some for my 7 month old to try out b/c he has been gagging too on larger pieces of soft food. Good to hear that other babies really liked these.

                                1. re: tiffany

                                  Thanks Tiffany! The Munchkin one is exactly what Bella had! Use a pacifier clip with it so that baby doesn't throw it on the floor. Grandbaby number 3 is on the way so I need to go get one sometime next year!

                            2. We had great luck with those authentic, really hard and thick Italian breadsticks. Good to hang onto, hard enough to gnaw and soothe the gums and help new teeth come in. They can never get it soft enough to have a chunk come off.

                              However, watch your DVD/tape player. We had a "malfunction" and found there was a partial breadstick stuck right in the slot!

                              1. At that age my daughter's favorites included:

                                Steamed beans
                                Steam carrots
                                Rtiz cracekrs with cream cheese or hummus
                                Deli turkey or ham cut up reasonably small
                                Lasagna
                                Lentils
                                Pancakes

                                At this point, we can usally give her what we are having, unless its something like steak.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Frobisher

                                  My daughter did really well with rice cakes. They kind of crumble and melt in their mouth, but they're easy to hold onto. And, of course, there are the standard Cheerios. Both my kids refused all baby food or mush--went straight to adult foods. It was a challenge for my younger daughter who tended to choke, and teethed late. Cucumber sticks were very popular for a while, cut into very narrow strips so that if she bit a piece off it wasn't chokable. Also, squished blueberries (so that they weren't so chokable--just smash each one with your finger). Unsalted whole wheat or spelt pretzel sticks (the skinny ones, not the fat ones which are chokable).

                                  Incidentally, to the poster who said egg yolks are OK because it is the white that is allergenic... It's true, but the problem is that it's impossible to get an egg yolk without some white clinging to it. So, kids that react to egg white can't have egg yolks either.

                                  1. re: flowergarden129

                                    That was me - I had really good luck hard boiling them. Then again, my kids weren't particularly sensitive to eggs, either.

                                    1. re: jencounter

                                      My kids were both allergic to eggs, along with about a thousand other ingredients. That's why I know. Luckily, they were both allergic to the yolk and not the whites, so I used to hard boil them and wash the whites to be sure there was no yolk clinging to them. It doesn't work the other way round as well.

                                      1. re: flowergarden129

                                        Gosh, and I thought I had it bad with my one kid who just doesn't like eggs. He loved them as a toddler and then one day he just...decided he hated them. The allergies can be rough. Can they eat eggs in baked goods?

                                        1. re: jencounter

                                          Nope, no eggs no where. My kids at their worst had lists of 20-30 items apiece they couldn't eat. Meal planning was a challenge for a while, then you figure it out and it's not a big deal. And, of course, their lists weren't necessarily the same so you kind of learned to make multiple choice meals.

                                          1. re: flowergarden129

                                            My son hasn't shown any signs of allergies yet, but his Dad had quite a few at his age, so I'm being fairly careful. No eggs.

                                            He's on a bit of table food now- can't cope with meat, even soft meat, so he's getting cheese and tofu. I think I'll try some salmon soon. These are all great suggestions. He had refrigerated oatmeal with prunes in it this morning, and I've done some polenta with carrots. I think I'll do some with squash and cheese.

                                            I'm going to steam and freeze a bunch of carrot sticks and apple slives, and maybe do some zuchinni and parsnips the same way a little later. Celery root? Turnip?

                                            Thank you all so much!

                                    2. re: flowergarden129

                                      rice cakes, cheerios and soft fruit was what we started our kids with (along with nursing.) the main game is the manual dexteritiy - no need to rush multiple foods - while food allergies are overdone, babies can develop sensitivities to foods if they are started earlier than neccessary. My son broke out all in hives over a bunch of asparagus he inhaled at this stage, and that got us to be more careful.

                                  2. Another thing that both of my kids loved (and still love) is tomatoes. Very ripe ones, cut into obviosuly small pieces.

                                    1. Wow. Impressive suggestions here. Our almost-7month old is still on fruit and vegetable purees. I've been steaming, pureeing, and freezing in ice cube trays. I guess I have to start finger food soon...

                                      1. After four stairstepped kids who all loved to eat - and feed themselves - here are a couple of my favorites. Time was always an issue, especially when the little one is number three or four and you still have two or three others to entertain. I leaned on canned Veg-All vegetables. It's colorful and fun for them to pick up. It has potatoes, celery, carrots, peas, corn ... all kinds of stuff, and you don't have to cook it!! Also got really good at peeling, coring, chunking, and microwaving apple bits. Just a few seconds with a splash of water, and the apple was soft enough to eat. I then stirred in three or four ice cubes, and within another thirty seconds or so, the apple was cool enough. Great for breakfast. I never planned ahead enough, but I bet you could put up these chunks and have them in the fridge, too.

                                          1. They love to hold and gnaw on fresh bagels!

                                            1. "Super Baby Foods" is a pretty good resource (but ignore everything she says about breastfeeding unless you are trying to wean). There's a website, too.

                                              Lots of good suggestions already.

                                              other favorite baby foods: small cubed butternut squash and sweet potatoes, lightly roasted on a greased (olive oil or butter) baking sheet. Organic frozen peas. Cubed cheese. Small pieces of steamed veggies or sliced fruit - if it's too wet and squishy to pick up, you can roll it in wheat germ for some texture.

                                              Meat is considered an excellent first food because it combines so well nutiritionally with human milk. Lots of iron just when babies' store of it (from the mother) is declining. Of course without teeth, it's harder, but you can braise the meat and then "shave" it with a knife to create very thin slices. I think teeny meatballs cooked in broth could be bitten with gums.