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My 1 year old daughter eats very little. Infact she doesn't even drink bottled milk. Not to mention she hasn't gained much weight in the last couple of months. She mostly survives on mothers milk.

How to introduce her to eating food. She might take a morsel or two. She also takes a sip or two of the fresh fruit juices but nothing more. We try diverting her attention to something and than feed her but it isn't working much and we feel she doesn't eat enough. What are the best ways to introduce a 1 year old to taking food ?

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Don't worry too much about it and don't put pressure on her to eat something. An otherwise healthy child will eat enough and breastmilk is highly nutricious. It is not unusual for breastfed children to start eating much later than bottlefed children and it is nothing to worry about. My son was fully breastfed the first 10 months (he refused to eat anything) and even after that it was not much he ate. Nevertheless he is very healthy. Like the others said: Provide food at every meal for her and she will get know it better by playing with it. Once she knows it, she will more likely eat it. –  Katja Hahn May 21 at 8:04
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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Children need frequent and pleasant contact with a food to begin to eat it. Have her sit with you at the table for meals. Place foods before her with utensils and encourage her to play with the food. The goal at first is for the contact to be frequent AND pleasant.

Help her be creative in her play by modeling fun food play with her on your plate as you eat. This is a great opportunity for her to develop fine motor skills while she explores food textures and has great fun. Tapping and stirring with the spoon, pouring puree from one container to another, stacking food, and making figures or picture from various food items are all fun activities. Model "kissing" the spoon, food and cup playfully and playing "copy cat" with you eating one then she eats one. Also, have her help "clean up" by throwing the food into a trash can or even on your plate.

Avoid asking her to eat the food but rather focus on the play. In this environment, she is likely to look forward to mealtimes and "discover" the joy of eating. Also, limiting breast feeding to after the mealtime fun will also create a sense of hunger that is important for eating.

I would not try to transition her to the bottle but move directly to the cup. This is more age appropriate and will develop oral motor skills that cannot be attained from the bottle.

This strategy will provide a bonding/play time around pleasant food experiences, provide sensory experiences promoting sensory development, promote fine motor skills, condition to the mealtime schedule, develops oral motor and social turn taking skills as well as creating a desire for contact with food rather than rejection of it.

Be consistent and creative and be sure to have fun yourself!

Here's a link that may be helpful in deciding a sequence and rational for food choices. http://www.babycenter.com/0_age-by-age-guide-to-feeding-your-baby_1400680.bc

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Thanks for the answer. One thing, I want to mention migrating to the bottle might increase the intake ? From a cup how much she feeds will depend on her mood. My daughter does drink from the cup but like I mentioned a sip or two for taste is enough. I tried milk, flavored milk, juices, custard and the like. The quantity from spoon feeding or cup probably will not be enough. Also I would like to mention, she can drink water from the cup easily :-) she likes water but water has no calories :-( –  Geek Aug 3 '11 at 5:28
    
At one, she should be eating more than breastmilk as her main staple. Food is often introduced between 5-7 months. If you've tried and she is refusing, I'd ask a pediatrician about it. –  balanced mama Nov 26 '12 at 0:27
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I can't say I have all the answers since our 13 month old is kind of fickle when it comes to food. But I have noticed that if I try feeding him throughout the day at different times of day, certain times he's more hungry and interested in solid foods than other times. Mid-afternoon seems to be a good time in particular, and before bed is another often good one.

Also, pay attention to cues that may signal an interest in eating at that time, for example if I catch my son gnawing on a board book I take him into the kitchen and give him crunchy food to chew on instead, and usually he seems willing to eat then.

Experiment with offering different textures and items. Whole fresh fruit is a very different experience than eating purees. Likewise, milk at warm or cold temperatures, with fruit or vanilla mixed in if needed, in a cup or bottle. Try crunchy soft foods like puffs or cheerios. Try babyfoods with oatmeal or squash mixed in (those were our son's favorites/most likely to succeed flavors) Don't try any of these with huge quantities because it will take many tries before the baby is likely to finish anything.

And if your baby likes to pick things out, leave the food out where she can help herself when she's in the mood...or even just take her to the fridge and ask her "do you want blueberries? do you want juice? etc." and see if she gets all excited about anything in particular. It is better to try then when they do not already have a full tummy from nursing.

See if you can delay nursing a few minutes, by offering solid food first when she asks to nurse. Maybe she'll eat some? You never know until you try. And it may take more than one try before she'll eat solids, but being hungry definitely helps their appetite and willingness to try! After she eats (or doesn't eat) her solid foods, then offer the breastmilk as usual.

Oh, and it definitely helps to offer foods that the baby sees mommy eating and enjoying rather than special "baby" foods!

Just keep trying! Babies appetites can be finicky. One week they're all excited about food, and another they're not. It takes a bit of persistence to find success.

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What are the best ways to introduce a 1 year old to taking food ?

The best way is to start early and slowly. My 5 months old daughter eats vegetable soup with powder milk everyday. She likes mineral water as well. From 3 months old we started to put a few spoons of vegetable soup in her milk to get her used to and see if there is some taste she likes better and now she can eat anything (liquid).

For your 1 year old it's not the earliest time to start, especially since she can probably eat solids.

I would start from the beginning:

-Get her used to eat from the bottle. You can put pumped milk in the bottle.

-Add some taste to it and see how she reacts. Add more if she doesn't complain. Carrot is a good vegetable to start. (Cut in small cubes, cook to make it soft, put in the mixer with some water until you get a carrot juice with no pieces)

-Alternate with other vegetables. (avoid vegetables with a strong taste like cabbage, and put as little potatoes as possible. Don't use mushrooms)

-Occasionally let her try some solid with a spoon

EDIT:

It needs to be progressive and you will probably need to find some stratagems:

You say she accepts only breastfeeding. Try to let her mother breastfeed and alternate with the bottle every 1 or 2 minutes, discreetly. (everyday, progressively without forcing her) The mother needs to give her the bottle at first.

Eliminate all source of stress during feeding time. No big noise, no angry parents, no impatience...etc.

You can also teach her how to hold the bottle and put it in the mouth (if she doesn't know already) tell her she's a big girl and she can eat alone like dad and mom. Maybe show her how good it is and drink from it?

She's not going to take the habit the first few days, so no impatience, no worries or stress. Just let her know there's the bottle during feeding times.

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Thanks repecmps. Can you suggest something on how to change the behaviour of "No, I don't want it". She does eat a little but not enough. Is perseverance is the key ? She seems to get annoyed if we keep trying. –  Geek Aug 2 '11 at 4:45
    
@Geek: maybe you can find some tips in the edited answer above. If she eats a little it's good. Keep at it, everyday without forcing her too much –  user896 Aug 2 '11 at 6:45
    
Thanks for your answer. Your answer is encouraging, we were almost giving up hope that she will start using a bottle someday. Our worry is that the weight gain should be proportional to the age of the baby and her Mom's milk might not be enough going forward. Thank You !! –  Geek Aug 3 '11 at 5:23
    
Mineral water is not (at least, in the UK) recommended for children. Make sure you choose one with less than 200 mg sodium per litre; and for children under 6 months you need to boil it and allow it to cool. nhs.uk/Planners/birthtofive/Pages/Drinksandcups.aspx –  DanBeale Aug 13 '11 at 17:32
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Some things to keep in mind... allergies, sensitive taste buds, extra sensitive mouth, teething... let her lead you! I love the suggestions about having her sit at meal times and model eating with you. We had our daughter sit up at the table with us for every single meal and "gnaw" on the foods we were eating. Often this was 4 meals (I eat an afternoon snack!) It took over 3 months of this before she really started to eat. Read as much as you can about baby-led weaning and I think this will give you the confidence you need. Again, the first post is filled with great suggestions that derive from the baby-led weaning/traditional ideas of infant feeding.

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Can you post a link or two to some great "baby-led weaning" resources to help the questioner read up? –  balanced mama Oct 30 '12 at 0:45
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