Baby Not Eating – Reasons and Feeding Tips

Little boy refuses to eat food

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When your baby is between 4 and 6 months of age, you may want to give him something other than just liquids. If your baby eats, you will be proud, but most babies do not accept transition swiftly. It’s a messy process that involves a lot of tantrums and confusion. They enjoy the fact that they are doing something new like eating. It’s like exploring a new side of their mouth. But, most babies tend to slow down with the eating as their growth is less rapid, and hence they need less energy. Sometimes, you will find that your baby will be refusing food! This little person is making his opinions heard. Do not worry. There are many reasons why your baby is not eating, and you do not need to rush them off to the doctor just yet.

Reasons Your Baby Is Not Eating Well

It can be troubling when you see that your baby isn’t eating properly. He would not be able to tell you what is bothering him which makes it difficult to deduce the cause. However, you can check the below list to see what are the possible reasons for refusing food:

1. Too Many Fluids

Perhaps a baby had too much fluids during the day, whether juice or milk-based drinks. Giving these fluids can lower his appetite, so limit everything outside meals to a bare minimum.

2. Too Small

Your baby is not eating food because they may be too young to eat solids. A lot of mothers make the mistake of moving from liquids to solids too quickly. A good point to start with solid foods is 6 months.

A baby crying when given food

3. Tune It Out

A baby could be distracted by innumerable things such as TV, outside noise and what not. Babies process their environment differently, and something as simple as noise will draw them away from their food.

4. The Growth Change

As a baby grows, he requires less to eat; so you need not worry if your child’s appetite is shrinking with age. Baby growth is only natural and you should be proud that your baby is growing as per the development milestones.

5. Full Tank

He may be little, but he knows his belly. If he’s refusing every morsel, clamping his mouth shut and pushing the spoon away, your little bundle of joy is telling you that he has had enough. Trust him; he knows his body pretty well!

Child sad on seeing food

6. Doesn’t Want Something New

If your baby has decided that he doesn’t like this new food that you are giving him, he is likely to refuse it. Most kids grow out of this phase with time.

7. Allergies

If your little one could be allergic to certain foods and he will try to tell you that this particular item is not good for him. Monitor his behaviour, check for an allergic reaction and see if he is in physical distress.

Tips for Getting Your Baby to Eat

Here are some simple tips you can incorporate into your busy parenting schedule to convince your little one to eat what you serve:

1. Give Him Independence

Allow your child to feed himself. Do not force feed him. Keep options and let him choose what he wants to have. Do not give him certain food item because you like it or is healthy. Let him select and over the period of time he will be ready to try new things. You can also introduce finger foods to your baby.

2. Choice Matters

If you want to see your baby guzzling food, then offer a variety of healthy food choices. And do try to be creative with whatever you cook for him. Experiment with various colours of vegetables and fruits; children are attracted to colours, they will surely eat.

Baby eating a variety of vegetables

3. Threats Won’t Work

Don’t threaten them by saying things like “No playing with your toys if your plate is not clean”. This only creates a power struggle. You are not teaching him in a positive way but it is a kind of

4. Don’t Bribe

A lot of parents turn to the “One more bite and you will get a cookie,” approach, but this way you’re encouraging unhealthy eating habits. So abstain from doing these things.

5. A Family Affair

Try to have meals as a family. If your little one sees his siblings eating things they don’t like, they’re more likely to do the same.

Family eating together

6. Don’t Give In

If they firmly state they don’t like something, don’t take it off the menu. These little people adjust to new tastes slowly, and you need to introduce it into their diet repeatedly till they realise that they have no choice and give it a try.

7. Play With Texture

Once you switch to solids, you might realise they’re not ready to chomp on big pieces, so you either switch to purees or opt for soups.

8. Get Messy

It’s a discovery of something entirely new. Let them explore the way they choose! They will smash, sniff, and throw it across the room to really get a feel of what this strange entity is that you expect them to put in their mouth. So, be ready for that.

A baby eating messily

9. Fool Them

If they don’t like a particular thing, change its appearance or get them excited about it. For instance, if they don’t like the idea of eating lamb but prefer chicken, just tell them it’s chicken.

10. Ask a Pro

It’s always a good idea to consult an expert, especially if a 2-year-old baby is not eating food. He would be able to tell you the appropriate solution for your little one and his eating needs. What’s more, he will also offer some sage advice to put your question, My baby is not eating anything, what should I do?’ and your mind to rest.

When Should You Consult a Doctor

Keep a watch on your baby’s eating habits for a few days when he is refusing food. If he is still not eating a healthy amount, then consider taking him to a specialist. Do not panic if it has only been a few days as your baby could be adjusting to a new growth cycle. Although, if he seems to be having allergic reactions to certain foods, take him to a doctor immediately.

In rare cases, if you see these symptoms in your child, it is time to consult a paediatrician:

  • Vomiting
  • Blood in stool
  • Forceful vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Gagging
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain

Remember, you are going through what every new parent out there has gone through. There is no reason to worry. Your little one is simply communicating his opinions to you and letting you know he would like certain foods, a certain way. Your role as a parent has expanded to include a fresh responsibility that can be quite enjoyable! You do not need to give in nor freak out about your baby’s health or why your baby is refusing food. This is another step on the parenting path. Find your space within the realm of parenting and have fun with it.

Also Read: First Foods For Baby – What Foods You Should Introduce?