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Feeding can be one of the most enjoyable experiences you share with your baby. However, if your baby refuses to eat, it can cause anxiety, stress, and frustration. If your baby is refusing to eat, learn some techniques to get her to eat without causing undue stress on your or your baby.
Adjusting The Way You Present The Food
Try tiny portions. If you baby won’t eat her food, try feeding it to her in smaller portions. This may be especially helpful if you are trying a new food.
When you are trying to get your baby to eat new foods, give her a small taste from your hand or spoon.
You may also try to feed your baby small portions of familiar foods if she is refusing to eat.
Disguise the food as something your child likes.
Sometimes, your child may not want to eat an unfamiliar food. A way you might get her to eat it is to make the new food she’s resisting look like a food she enjoys.
For example, if your child really likes pureed vegetables, give her a new vegetable in the same form. You can also try foods of the same color.
Try changing the texture of the food she eats. When switching from baby food, try mashing the food or putting it in a blender if she won’t eat it in whole pieces.
Just make sure to increase the lumpiness of your baby’s food slowly, such as by mixing a bit of lumpy food in with your baby’s pureed food.
Allow your baby to smell the food.
When your baby is refusing to eat, try letting her smell the food. This allows her to become familiar with the smell and decide if it is appealing or not.
This might mean holding a chunk of food or the spoon to her nose.
Offer your baby options.
If your baby is struggling to eat, then try different foods. Give your baby options in case she will eat one thing and not another.
If your baby is being spoon fed and doesn’t like one baby food, try a different flavor.
If your baby feeds herself, set out multiple foods so she can touch, smell, and taste them and decide what she wants.
Eat at the same time as your baby.
Your baby may benefit from eating with you. As babies develop, they like to imitate what they see. Watching you eat may encourage her to eat.
Make sure your baby sees you eating. You can even demonstrate eating to your baby to help her want to eat.
Eat some of your baby’s food. If your baby sees you eat the food, she may be more inclined to eat it.
Creating A Good Environment For Feeding
Let your baby feed herself. Babies may refuse to eat from a spoon.
They may turn away, refuse to open their mouths, or even knock the spoon out of your hand.
If this happens, your baby may not want to be fed anymore.
Babies are usually ready to feed themselves at around eight to nine months old.
When this occurs, let your baby try to eat by herself.
Try small finger foods and letting your baby eat her normal meal with her hands.
Good finger foods to start with are small, soft pieces of peeled fruit.
However, avoid foods that are choking hazards for babies, such as peanuts, hard vegetables or fruit, large pieces of food like fruit, meat or hot dogs, or candy.
Feed your baby on your lap.
You can try to feed your baby on your lap if she refuses to eat.
By placing her on your lap, it might make her feel safe because she is close to you.
Offer food slowly and calmly to your baby, trying to make her feel comfortable with eating.
Make feeding time enjoyable.
If you are anxious or upset, your baby may feel the same. Instead, make mealtimes fun for your baby.
You can do this by singing to her or pretending the spoon is an airplane.
You may also want to talk to your baby in happy, light tones.
Make sure you smile and laugh a lot. This will help evoke a similar reaction in your baby.
When you feed your baby, make sure that is all you two are doing. Make sure all toys or devices that make noise, move, or may distract your baby are not where you are trying to feed her.
You may also consider turning off the television or the radio when you’re feeding your baby.
If your baby is having a lot of trouble eating, consider asking other members of the house to stay out of the room until she finishes eating so she doesn’t get distracted
Avoiding Common Feeding Mistakes
Determine if you are feeding your baby the proper foods.
Sometimes, parents may give their babies solid foods before they are ready for them. If you are trying to give your baby solid food but she won’t eat it, this may be your problem.
Most babies under six months old are not ready for solid foods. Wait until your baby is ready to start switching to solid foods.
Make sure to start with the right type and amount of food. Check with your pediatrician for advice on how to start giving new foods to your baby.
Keep your baby hydrated.
If your baby refuses to eat, make sure she gets enough to drink. Not eating may make her dehydrated.
Though food is important, keeping her hydrated is essential.
This might be the case if your baby is not eating due to sickness.
Try water or diluted juices, but do not give diluted juice too soon before a feeding, or your baby may not want to eat. You may also try soups, frozen-juice desserts, or juicy fruits.
Refrain from forcing your child to eat.
If your baby doesn’t want to eat, she might turn her head or refuse to open her mouth.
This is pretty common and can be normal. If your baby refuses to eat, don’t force her. Instead, come back later and try again.
Forcing your child to eat may make her want to eat even less than before or turn her off from a certain food.
If your baby continually refuses to eat, there might be a more serious problem. If the problem persists, take your baby to see the pediatrician.
Avoid punishing your child for playing with her food.
Sometimes your child throws food on the floor and none of it ever gets into her mouth.
Babies go through independent phases where they want to feed themselves and have control over their food, and when they are beginning them, they might start by throwing food.
Babies may also learn about new foods by squishing or smelling them.
Avoid rushing your child.
Your baby may be reluctant to eat if you try to rush her. Rushing or forcing her to eat may cause her to get cranky or agitated.
Instead, take your time feeding her.
Wait for your baby to open her mouth when you hold the spoon up to her mouth.
If she refuses to eat, try again later.
Sometimes, babies will eat very little at one meal.
Refrain from introducing too many new foods.
When you are trying to get your baby to eat new foods, like solids or an expanded menu, do this slowly.
Try introducing one food at a time.
If you try to introduce too many foods to your child at one time, it may overwhelm your baby.
Give your baby one new food each day.
If your baby doesn’t eat a new food, wait a few days. Introduce the food again. Keep at it and eventually your baby will eat it.
Take your baby to a specialist.
If you baby consistently refuses to eat, you should take her to the pediatrician.
Your pediatrician can do an exam and determine if it is a phase or something more serious.
If there is nothing wrong with her medically, your doctor may refer you to a feeding specialist.