What to do when babies refuse solids?

What to do when babies refuse solids?

“My 10 months old baby refuses solid food and only wants breast milk, what should I do? 
Should I worry? Is there something wrong with my baby?”

What to do when your baby refuses to eat solid food?

When your baby/child refuses to eat any kind of food, it is always very worrying and frustrating, and we start to question everything:
is it something wrong with our baby? Are we doing it right? Is it the food? Are we offering the right things?

First thing to keep in mind when dealing with babies and food is this : every child is different!

Some babies will be ready to eat solids at 6 months or even earlier, some others might not be ready even at 10 months old.
Babies have what is called:  the tongue-thrust reflex, which causes young babies to thrust out their tongue when anything enters their mouth.
This is Mother Nature way of preventing them from choking when they are still very small.
Before babies can start eating and enjoying solid food, this reflex must fade away and although this happens on average when they are about 6 months old, for some children can happen a bit later.

That is why it is important NOT to force them but to follow their cues. Trust me, most of the times babies know better.

It is also equally important to look out for other signs that your baby is ready to eat solids, such as:

  •  An interest in food and others eating  
  •  Sitting up unaided  
  •  Head control  
  •  Growing appetite  
  •  Understand the dynamics of their mouth, lips and tongue. . ..  

It is not uncommon for babies between 6 and 12 months to still prefer breast milk/formula. This is most likely due to the familiarity and ease of sucking from the breast/bottle, versus the hard work of swallowing food.
Breast milk and formula are both more calorie-dense than any food a little baby is likely to eat, anyway, so babies can continue to grow and thrive on a liquid diet for at least a year.
Again, relax and trust your baby, (s)he will tell you when she is ready to eat. 

Here are a few TIPS on how to keep your child healthy and encourage him/her to eat solids:

Give plenty of milk.
Some might have advised you to reduce the milk feeds so that she/he will be hungrier and therefore more likely to go for the solid food. 
NOT.
In my experience this only makes things worse as baby gets more irritable and frustrated and will not associate the eating habit with a happy experience.
What you can do instead, is give the milk feeds not too close to meal times. 
Your baby needs about 2 ounces of milk per pound a day. On average at about 11 months they will consume between 30-36 ounces daily. As long as she/he gets this amount she will get all the nutrients and vitamins she needs.
As for breastfeeding babies, my advice is simple: feed on demand, as long  and as much as baby wants.
Breast milk is 50% fat, and FAT your baby needs. Which takes me right to the next tip:

Increase healthy fat in your baby’s diet.

 

If you worry that your baby’s growth seems to be slowing down, you can increase her intake of nutritious and healthy fat.
Flax seed oil is a great supplement for children. You can add two teaspoons to her formula daily. If breastfeeding, you can add it to a drink of water, or hand squeeze some milk and mix it with it.
Avocado is another “super” food filled with healthy fat and perfect for babies. You can mash it up and let your baby eat it off your fingertips for example.

Choose food that is packed with nutrients.
If you manage to give a few spoonfuls of food, you want to make those counts, so choose food that is nutrients-filled in a small volume. The best choice are: eggs ( after one year), tofu, yogurt, avocado, vegetables such as carrots and squash, flax-seed oil and avocado ( as already mentioned).

Upgrade your baby’s menu.
Maybe you are feeding your baby  ready baby food from the store and she/he is not so keen on it? Your baby is clever.
When I became a mum for the first time, I believed that these kind of food was better, and containing more nutrients, added nutrients.
Wrong.
Most of these baby foods are indeed with added nutrients, only because after being stripped of them, they need to be added again. 

Give your child the same healthy fresh food you EAT. The taste is completely different and baby will notice! By giving the healthy homemade food from the start, you are shaping her/his taste from an early age. She/he will grow up preferring this to unhealthy packaged foods.

Make meal times fun.
When I introduced solids to my kids, I often sat them on my lap with their plate on hand and started put some of their food on my plate, then proceeded to eat. Often babies want to copy what you do, and this might just do the trick.
Maybe your baby will be eager to try the meal from a grown up plate, thinking is grown up food. You have to follow babies’ logic sometimes.

Give finger foods.
Some babies will rather feed themselves than be fed. Try giving your baby finger foods, things he/she can easily feed himself with, such as: cheese straws, baked sweet potatoes chunks, steamed vegetable sticks etc…

Don’t obsess over the quantity of food your baby eats daily.
Look more at the whole week and mostly, at the all picture.

Is your baby growing regularly, meeting all his/her milestones, looking active and happy? 
If your baby is putting on weight regularly and meeting all his growing goals, chances are he/she is not lacking anything.
Remember how they say that food before ONE is just for FUN!

  •  Remember:  
  •  do not give up.  
  •  keep offering on a daily basis.  
  •  try to implement a routine, times for meals. So that baby starts to get used to the idea.  
  •  Smile while feeding, a LOT. Make it a positive experience, something for your child to look forward to.  
  •  Try not to show your frustration with refusals. Keep SMILING.  
  •  If after let’s say three-four attempt you still get a no, do not force her/him.  
  •  Try again tomorrow.  

Your baby WILL eat eventually, I guarantee you that.

 

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