My own mother skipped the pureed foods and spoon feeding, so I suspected that this was a viable option. After doing some research I came upon the idea of “Baby-Led Weaning.” In this case, weaning refers to starting solids, not to reducing bottle or breast feedings (I think it is a British use of the term, but don’t quote me on that). The basic premise of baby-led weaning is that from 6 months of age, baby is offered healthful table foods and allowed to self-feed. If you are interested in this method of feeding, here is additional information on the Baby-led Weaning website.
My daughter loved feeding herself from the moment I allowed her to grab food off of my plate. We started with well-cooked, soft produce such as zucchini, potatoes, and baked apples. Soon she was eating a wide variety of foods. I have never prepared any foods specifically for her to eat; she eats what my husband and I eat. And I have never spoon fed her. She loves to feed herself.
Is it messy? Very! Fortunately we have a dog who is happy to assist with clean-up. Do not be afraid of a little mealtime mess. Have a stash of bibs and a damp rag for wiping hands and faces (and tummies, toes, neck creases, ears…). The messy stage does not last forever, I promise.
And finally, I believe that self-feeding improved my daughter’s manual dexterity. She mastered her pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) very quickly after she started solids. By 7 months of age she could pick up a single grain of rice or a pea using her pincer grasp. I have no scientific data to prove it, but I confident that her fine motor skills have benefited from this style of eating.
So don’t assume that you have to feed your baby pureed foods with a spoon. That is a perfectly fine option, of course, but there are plenty of other styles of feeding that may hold greater appeal for you and your baby.