We've had my 7mo old on pureed foods for about a month now (she had a week off while she was sick). Prior to this she was exclusively breastfed and continues to be breastfed for at least a year. She doesn't open her mouth for me to feed her. She will take the spoon (knocking off most of the food in the process) and bring it to her mouth, but she doesn't open her mouth to put the spoon in it. She sticks her tongue out just a little to taste it, she'll kindof lick/eat the food slowly off her hands and the spoon and then mostly smears it all over her face. (It's actually quite an adorable mess!) I can sometimes sneak the spoon in her mouth if she opens it to smile, but I don't want to startle her or cause her to choke if she's not ready for the bite. When she gets food in her mouth she sticks her tongue out a little. It looks like she's moving around in her mouth, but I can't tell. I don't think it's a taste preference because she does this for all food we feed her, not just certain ones. I can't tell if this is normal and she's just experimenting with this solid food thing... or if she's not ready for solids?? I know she doesn't NEED the food because the breastmilk is enough to satisfy her nutritional needs. Thoughts?
My first baby loved food. Spoon fed from 5 months, devoured anything. My second baby was not really interested in food until 11-12 months old. He is mostly interested when he can feed himself. In the end, babies are different, and start eating at different times, and there is no one 'right' approach.
Not opening mouth:
Does she maybe not know there is food on the spoon? I found it helpful to put a little food on the lips to let my baby know I had food for him.
Taking the spoon:
Consider she may be like my kid, and really want to feed herself. There are different type of spoons or dippers that help with this - I have yet to find one that is super successful. She may also want to be 'part' of it - have you tried giving her her own spoon to hold while you feed her? That really helped for both our kids.
Sticking out tongue with food
when sucking, babies push their tongue against the nipple to suck. She is mimicking this behavior, so she knows it is food. In this case, you need to keep trying.
It sounds like she is experimenting with foods, and I would always continue to try. But do not get frustrated if she doesn't eat much - my second baby is now eating well, even if he started later really consuming food. Letting her experiment and taste stuff, even if she doesn't eat it, is good.
Type of food
We had success for baby 1 to start with breastmilk mixed with rice cereal on a spoon - the breast milk taste made him realize it was food. For baby 2, he really didn't want bland food. Pureed peas? no. Pureed peas & sautéed onions? yes. Some babies are the opposite, they only want bland food. Does she want to self feed? At 7 months she may be ready for baby 'puffs' - the little rice puffs that basically melt in your mouth or cheerios. Very soft cooked carrot pieces may work well too. Some babies don't really want to be spoon fed.
It sounds like she is ready for something more substantial/textural than just purees. With my son the nutrition specialist had us switch from purees to pastes, from pastes to disolvables, and then from disolvables to soft chewables. The specialist also said until a baby is on to chewables the progression is development based and nutrition should still come from milk.
On balance I'd say one of two things apply: either she's not really ready, or she hates purées and wants solids. It's hard to say without trying the latter, though. The fact that her tongue is still coming out and she's not really opening much is a developmental stage that she needs to get over, which is part of the point of solids at this age; but it's possible she just doesn't care much for the food, either. My first son loved purées while my second son hated them, and by six months we were already doing solid chunks (of things he could gum).