Baby Not Eating Food – Reasons and Feeding Tips
When your baby turns 6 months old, he/she will be ready to be introduced to solid foods. If your little one eats, you will be proud, but most babies do not accept the transition swiftly. Although babies enjoy the fact that they are doing something new, when they start eating solids, it’s a messy process and involves a lot of tantrums and confusion. Babies do explore new flavours, new textures, etc., but, sometimes, they will refuse food too! But, there’s nothing to worry as there are many reasons why your baby will not eat, and you do not need to rush him/her to the doctor just yet. In this article, we shall discuss some of the reasons why your baby is refusing his/her food and also provide tips to feed your baby. Read on to know more.
Video: How to Make Your Baby Eat Well?
Reasons Your Baby Is Not Eating Well
It can be troubling when you see that your baby isn’t eating properly. He/she wouldn’t be able to tell you what is bothering you and make it difficult for you to deduce the cause. Here are the possible reasons why baby not eating food.
1. Too Many Fluids
Feeding your baby too many fluids can be a reason why he/she is refusing food. Whether it is some juice or breast milk, if you have fed your baby too much liquid just before you feed solids, the baby will refuse food.
2. Tune It Out
Your baby could be distracted by innumerable things such as TV, outside noise, loud music etc. Babies process their environment differently, and something as simple as noise will draw their attention away from the food.
3. Full Tank
At times, your baby may not eat because his stomach could be full from the last snack/ meal. If your baby is refusing feeds, clamping the mouth shut and pushing the spoon away, your little bundle of joy is probably telling you that he has had enough food.
4. Doesn’t Want Something New
If your baby doesn’t like a new food that you are giving him, he is likely to refuse it. As a parent, you can handle this situation and help your baby grow out of this phase with time.
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.
6. Baby Activity
Your baby’s appetite will be dependent on how active he/she is. We do not recommend to carry out baby activities before or after each meal; however, ensure there are enough activities spaced at appropriate intervals through the day. An active baby will tend to eat well, while a less active baby will refuse food.
Ensure you stick to the meal times, as any change in the timing can cause excessive hunger or loss of appetite. Never skip the baby’s mealtime.
In the section below, we have provided some tips that could help you feed your baby.
8. Not Ready for Solids
If your baby has just started eating solid food, it might be the reason that they are not ready to eat solids. While most babies start eating solid food by the age of eight to twelve months, some babies may not feel ready to eat solids and thus refuse to eat.
9. Play With Food
When food is introduced to babies, they find its shape, colour, and texture fascinating and attractive, and they start playing with it rather than eating it. This phase usually happens when babies begin self-feeding. Don’t worry your baby will grow out of this phase eventually.
If your little one is teething, they may temporarily have a loss of appetite because of swollen gums and refuse to eat.
Starting with solids after breast milk is a huge change for babies and thus affects their bowel habits. Therefore, they may feel constipated because of this and temporarily refuse to eat anything.
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 feed him/her:
1. Allow Your Baby to Be Independent
When your baby is old enough, allow him/her to eat the food by himself/herself, and avoid force-feeding. You can also introduce finger foods to your baby. Ensure that the baby handles his/her food independently and encourage him to eat the food.
2. Choose Foods Wisely
If you want to see your baby guzzling down his/her food, then offer a variety of healthy food choices. Try to be creative with whatever you cook for your baby. Experiment with colourful vegetables and fruits; children are attracted to colour, and they will eat foods that look attractive.
3. Threats Won’t Work
Don’t threaten your baby by saying things like “No playing with your toys if your plate is not clean”. This only creates a power struggle, and your baby won’t respond positively.
4. Don’t Bribe
Just the way threatening doesn’t work, bribing babies also doesn’t work all the time. If you are one of those parents who has the “One more bite and you will get a cookie,” approach, you’re encouraging unhealthy eating habits in your baby.
5. A Family Affair
Try to have meals as a family. If your little one sees his/her siblings or parents eating foods they don’t like; they’re more likely to do the same.
6. Don’t Give in
If they firmly state they don’t like a particular food, don’t take it off the menu. Babies adjust to new tastes slowly, and you need to introduce foods into their diet repeatedly till they realise they have no choice and give it a try once again. Your baby will get used to most healthy foods this way.
7. Play With Texture
Once you switch to solids, ensure you introduce textures slowly. Do not feed your baby foods with big pieces; he won’t be able to chomp them down. Start with purees or opt for soups. If you have already introduced soups and purees and your baby is still not ready to eat other cooked solid foods, you may temporarily switch back to the soups and re-introduce other solids one by one after a while.
8. Get Messy
Let your baby get messy during mealtime. Babies like witnessing new things and each mealtime should seem exciting for them. Let them explore the foods the way they want to! They will smash, sniff, and throw it across the room to really get a feel of what this strange thing called food is.
9. Fool Them
If they don’t like a particular thing, change its appearance and get them excited about it. Conceal the foods they don’t like in the ones they like. Prepare mashed versions of foods so that they cannot identify or separate the foods they do not like.
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. It could be a nutritionist or a paediatrician who could suggest an appropriate solution for your baby, depending on his/her food requirements. What’s more, the expert would also offer some sage advice to put your mind to rest.
Your baby’s food habits are mostly dependent on how hungry he gets and what foods he likes. But, sometimes, the real issues could be something totally unpredictable. You must, therefore, take your little on to a doctor or a paediatrician. Read on to know when you must consult a doctor.
When You Should Consult a Doctor?
Keep a watch on your baby’s eating habits for a few days when he/she is refusing food. Do not panic if it has only been a few days. It’s probably because your baby is adjusting to a new growth cycle. After a few days, if the baby still refuses to eat a healthy amount of the diet, it’s better to take him/her to a paediatrician. In the case of allergies, you must take your baby to the doctor immediately.
Also, in rare cases, if you see these symptoms in your child, it is time to consult a paediatrician:
- Blood in the stool
- Forceful vomiting
- Extreme Weight loss
- Persistent diarrhoea
- Abdominal pain
1. Can a Baby Go for a Long Time Without Eating?
No, babies can’t go for a very long time without eating. They must be given something to eat every two to three hours.
2. Does a Baby Go Through the Phase of Not Eating?
Yes, almost all babies go through the phase of not eating properly. The reason behind this may be teething, or if your baby has just started with solid food, they might refuse to eat at first.
3. Why Does My Baby Eat Less and Sleep More?
The reason behind your baby eating less and sleeping more is because of the growth spurt. They might spend most of their time sleeping more and eating less at this stage.
Remember, you are going through what every new parent out there is going through. If your baby refuses food, there is no need to worry. A possible reason for this is that your little one is simply communicating and letting you know that he/she does not like certain foods. So, do not give in or freak out when your baby refusing to eat.
1. Feeding your baby: 6–12 months; UNICEF; https://www.unicef.org/parenting/food-nutrition/feeding-your-baby-6-12-months
2. Signs Your Child is Hungry or Full; cdc.gov; https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/mealtime/signs-your-child-is-hungry-or-full.html
3. Introducing solid foods for babies; betterhealth.vic.gov.au; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/eating-tips-for-babies
4. Feeding Your 4- to 7-Month-Old; kidshealth.org; https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/feed47m.html