We’ve been introducing “solid” foods to our baby since he was six months old. We’ve been following the advice at solidstarts.com, though we haven’t done the “full on” baby-led weaning (e.g. a chicken drumstick just seemed too much to us). It’s mostly pureed stuff, though a few larger, soft items (overcooked zucchini, pieces of chicken, etc) have been in rotation.

At first, it seemed to be going OK—he wasn’t really eating any of it, but he was happy enough to play with it and stick it in his mouth and make chewing motions and such. Some of it might have gotten swallowed. There was always more trepidation about it than with anything else, though—everything else gets shoved directly in the mouth, where food sometimes got ignored.

Now, at 8½ months, when there is food in his mouth, there might be a little chewing, but most of the effort seems to be to get it out of his mouth. Or just crying, which is otherwise unusual for him. He doesn’t seem bothered by the flavor or the texture per se, though of course it’s hard to tell. He just doesn’t seem to know what to do with it and doesn’t like it hanging out in his mouth forever. I feel like he used to be a little more comfortable with attempting to swallow, but now that doesn’t seem to happen at all. Foods he can hold onto the other end of and pull out of his mouth seem somewhat more comfortable, though less interesting than literally every other non-food item in the house he can get his hands on and try to stick in his mouth.

We don’t want to force him to eat, but he rarely puts food in his mouth willingly, and is sometimes already upset just by being in the high chair. He is generally a very happy baby, but even just offering him solid food can cause bouts of crying. And his hunger is increasing beyond what we see recommended for milk alone (formula, in this case).

I suspect the cause is that a couple of weeks ago, he gagged a little bit on some food. We understood this to be normal, important even, to learn how to not choke on food and mash it into appropriate sizes, but I think he might be a little traumatized by it. I’m not 100% sure that’s when this started, but it seems to line up in my memory. We’ve been trying to go back to favorites that are easier—pureed—but it hasn’t seemed to help. If anything, he’s gotten worse.

All the advice I can find online seems to be geared for older kids—which I get, there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with a child his age being uncomfortable with solid food. But the refusal to engage with it at all concerns me, particularly combined with the hunger. Any advice on, ya know, baby steps we can take here would be appreciated, because it’s been a couple of weeks now where I feel that we are, if anything, regressing on this.

  • Are you eating together as a family, or is he given his foods separately?
    – Stephie
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:26
  • @Stephie Generally not literally simultaneously, since feeding him—even offering him the food—requires us to assist (e.g. pick up thrown or dropped food or utensils), which prevents us from eating at the same time. But often his eating is just before or just after ours, and we all sit together through both our meals and his.
    – KRyan
    Nov 29, 2022 at 21:30
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    could it be teething? how is he with his mouth the rest of the time?
    – R Davies
    Nov 30, 2022 at 8:44
  • @RDavies I mean, teething is pretty obviously a factor in general, and he definitely has some discomfort there. But we haven’t otherwise observed it getting worse during this timespan, so I’m not convinced it’s the full story? Then again, last night he happily ate his dinner with great enthusiasm and actually probably swallowed a good chunk of it, with no apparent changes on our part, so who knows. Still interested in learning if there are any suggestions for this, in case that was a one-off.
    – KRyan
    Nov 30, 2022 at 14:47
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    @Allerleirauh Of course, and he does have an appointment coming up where we’ll ask. I’d be surprised if there is any physical reason, though—he very happily puts plenty of non-food items in his mouth (teethers, plushes, plastic or wooden toys... if we’d let him, TV remotes, glasses, hair...), plus as I said, the night I asked this question and the following night (today) were no-fuss, even swallowed a certain amount as far as we can tell.
    – KRyan
    Dec 1, 2022 at 6:10

1 Answer 1


While teething could be a potential issue, I recommend providing foods that he can "explore". A little bit of mashed potato, a piece of Zweiback (toast your child can put in his mouth and "gum"), a little pieces of banana, or maybe a couple Cheerio's.

The transition from bottle to foods involves all of your child's senses. They want to touch it, look at it, lick/taste it, and examine it like a little junior scientist. Cheerio's will end up on the floor as your child learns how to manipulate his hands and fingers grasping and releasing objects. Mashed potatoes will get slung across the wall as your youngster tries to figure out how to get them off his fingers. This is that period of time when you find yourself cleaning a 10 foot perimeter around the high chair. A pain for the parent and an important part of your child's development.

So, offer your little one something to eat and something to explore and enjoy your dinner. As your little guy watches you put food in your mouth, he will learn that it's ok to put food in his mouth.

He might as well, he's been sucking on his toes for months now. ;)

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