Don't ignore your baby's signals about eating. Don't be deceived by facial expressions, though. If your child makes a face when tasting something new, he may be reacting to the novelty of the experience as much as the new taste itself. So, despite the face he makes, offer your baby a second spoonful. If he opens his mouth for more, you know you have a hit.
When your baby doesn't like the taste of a particular food, or when he has lost interest in eating from a spoon, he will send a clear signal. He might do one or more following:
- Turn his head away
- Close his mouth
- Spit the food out
- Push the food back out with his tongue
- Get cranky
Don't give up too soon. Keep in mind that a lot of food will come back out or get pushed out during the first months of feeding. The skill of eating from a spoon takes some time to master. But when nearly all of the food you give your baby starts to come right back out, then you know that he's done.
If your baby refuses food in any of these ways, don't force-feed him. When introducing solids, your aim should be to make eating as fun and pleasurable as possible for both of you. If you try to force your baby to eat things he hates or to eat when he's bored, exhausted, cranky, or already full, you will make eating from a spoon an unpleasant experience: something he will not soon want to try again.
Be as responsive to your baby when introducing solid foods as you would be when introducing a new toy. If he's not interested (or loses interest) in a new toy, you probably won't continue shoving it into his face. Why respond any differently when introducing a new food?
Respect your infant's individual likes and dislikes. If he indicates he wants more of something, by all means give him more. But if he doesn't seem to like a particular food, give him something else instead. Then try the rejected food again in a few weeks. Who knows? His tastes may have changed by then.
The patterns you establish in the first months of feeding may influence your child's attitudes toward eating for many years to come. If you put pressure on him, you will create an air of tension around the act of eating that may last a lifetime. But if you can relax and have fun, your baby will probably do the same.