We’ve talked already about what to do if you suspect that you’re feeding your baby too much solid food. But what if you have the opposite problem? What if no amount of coaxing or pleading or “here comes the airplane!” maneuvering can get your baby to eat a bite of food?
What should you do if your baby flat-out refuses to eat solid food?
Baby Refusing Solids? Don’t Panic!
First, don’t worry — just because your baby hates solids right now definitely doesn’t mean he’ll hate them forever! Some babies simply resist all the “newness” that comes with starting solids — new tastes, new textures, etc. After all, up to this point, your baby has known ONE taste, and ONE texture — the taste and texture of breastmilk or formula.
Second, remember that when you first introduce solid foods to your baby, she’s mainly just “practicing” with food. Breastmilk or formula is still her primary source of nutrition, so if she’s totally rejecting the pureed peas you painstakingly prepared, it’s okay. She needs breastmilk or formula more than she needs vegetables, at this point!
4 Things to Try If Your Baby Is Refusing Solids
Still, you want your baby to learn to love solids; eventually, that’ll be all he eats! If you find that your baby is resisting solids in a big way, try putting one of these four tips into practice:
- Try different foods. Does she hate rice cereal? Try applesauce! Does he despise peas? Try avocado! When you try a variety of foods, you’re more likely to find something he’ll like. Consider offering him pureed or chopped table food, too (if allergies aren’t a concern) — some moms find that baby will eat if he’s having what everyone else is having.
- Encourage her to do it herself. If your baby’s old enough (8 or 9 months), encourage her to feed herself. It could be that your baby hates mashed bananas on a spoon but adores tiny piece of banana that she feeds herself. Sometimes, being in control is all it takes for a baby who’s refusing solids to suddenly start eating with gusto.
- Get creative! Try having someone else feed him. Try feeding him at different times during the day. Try feeding him in different settings — he may refuse to eat in the highchair but will eat just fine while sitting on dad’s lap! It could be that a small change like this prompts him to get interested in eating.
- Give up (for a few weeks, that is!) If all else fails, don’t be afraid to give up for a few weeks. This isn’t a battle to be won, after all, and if your baby senses your frustration (or desperation!) she may be even less inclined to eat. Instead, take a break and try again later. You might be surprised at the difference a few weeks makes!
If you try the strategies above with no success, or if you’re concerned that your baby’s refusal to eat may be a sign of something more serious, consult with a healthcare provider to make sure your baby isn’t suffering from an underlying medical condition.