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how to feed your toothless baby real food

by Heather

At 16 months I don’t really think of Zoe as a baby anymore.  She’s walking, talking, independent and already sharing her opinion (loudly) whenever she gets the chance.  She is so full of personality!  The only area that’s still baby-like is her mouth.  The girl only has one tooth!  She had her first tooth (a top one at that) pop through only a few weeks ago.  Having no teeth hasn’t held her back on bit though.  She’s eaten pretty much everything since she took off with baby led weaning around 7/8 months.  Since I get so many comments and interest on how to feed a toothless baby, I wanted to share my tips for how we’ve made it work so well.  She is a great eater and loves food.  Love is almost an understatement.  She’s obsessed.  I hope what we’ve done can help some other parents that are nervous about feeding their gum filled babies real food.


Start with baby led weaning right away

At 6 months with both kids we began baby led weaning.  {read more posts here: baby led weaning with Hunter part 1, baby led weaning with Hunter part 2, baby led weaning – Zoe at 7 months, baby led weaning: toddler versus baby}  That doesn’t mean that our kids took off eating everything that every first day.   The first couple months are totally used to just explore food, figure out how their mouths/tongues/swallowing works and then when they’ve figure it out the act of eating actually begins.


Let the first foods be soft

At this stage at 16 months I have no real worries about foods that Zoe can eat (except for obvious hard foods like almonds and baby carrots), but it didn’t start like that.  I was smart about what I introduced first.  I started mostly with soft fruits cut up or whole (banana, pear, peach, kiwi, berries, avocado, etc), steamed/cooked or soft veggies (sweet potato, carrots, bell pepper, broccoli, etc), ground beef, eggs, cheeses and pasta/tortillas/breads with spreads (avocado, nut butters, etc). I wanted to set her up to be successful as she learned how to eat.  One thing I didn’t do though was steam and make Zoe her own meal.  She got whatever components of the meal I made for everyone and we would eat as a family.


Once eating is established offer even more

I remember the first night Zoe took off eating.  She was around 8 months old. We were at the lake cabin and I’d made burgers for dinner.  Since we didn’t have her chair to sit in I was holding her as I was eating my burger. At one point she just reached over, pulled my burger in to her mouth and began chowing down on it!  It was quite funny and ever since she has taken off with eating.  Maybe it was from that night, but a favorite of hers has always been ground beef.  She just shovels it into her mouth like it’s going out of style. Around that time when she began eating everything, I made sure to offer other meats that were not an soft and gummable, like steak, chicken or pork.  When we’re having a big chunk of meat I just chop it up super tiny to around the size of a pea and she can just eat it that way.

IMG_6631{Hunter’s food in front, Zoe’s food in back}

Continue offering

I know feeding little kids can be discouraging sometimes.  They change their mind on what they do and don’t like all the time. You may feel like your kid will only eat a handful of certain foods and it can feel like a major bymmer.  My advice is to just continue offering foods and being positive about them.  Kids need 7-10 exposures to a food to sometimes learn to like them or even want to try them. That can be a lot of no’s and food being thrown on the ground, but it’s worth the effort.  Try to continue offering the foods you want them to eat instead of settling on the ones you know they will like.


Relax and have fun

I know relaxing might not be the easiest thing to do when you are worried about your wee little one choking on a piece of steak, but if you’ve set the foods up at appropriate sizes, allow your kid to take the reign with eating.  They learn so much just by doing, and it’s the same with food.  It is honestly a ton of fun to watch the kids chow down!

I hope these tips can help at least one person. I hear so much about moms being nervous to feed their toothless kid foods that they are eating and I just want to encourage them to give it a try.  If you have the desire to have your kid eating real foods right along with you, then just start it.  Kids will eventually catch on to what you are doing if it’s the only option they have.  Trust they will learn and have so much fun.  I know we do!


Any question about baby led weaning or feeding your little one?  I’m all ears!


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Lindsay July 4, 2015 - 7:07 am

Edith got her first tooth right around her first birthday but didn’t get any more teeth for at least another month and at 18 months only had I want to say 5-6 at that point. We also did BLW and she had no issues with eating solids. We like you started with softer foods and just kept offering. Alder on the other hand is 11 months and already has 7 teeth.

Jade July 7, 2015 - 9:22 am

I remember Hunter took forever to get teeth for you and this girl is the same! My first kiddo teethed early and fast, my second she is almost getting two teeth now at 10 months but I am surprised (and learning) that they can still not come for such a long time. Regardless, Zoe is such a cute cute cute baby!


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