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I introduced soup (with some meat or fish), fruit and baby food to my daughter when she was about 6 months old. It was relatively well accepted for some time. More recently (she is about 8 months now), she stopped accepting them even when she is hungry - the moment she sees the spoon she turns away and doesn't even care what is in the bowl.

I suspect this is due to some insistence on my behalf in order to convince her to have more than what she wanted (perhaps she developed some aversion to the act of eating?). Right now I am compensating with artificial milk, but I am worried that: i) she may not be getting all the nutrients she needs; ii) she will keep rejecting solid food in the future. Is it a good idea to compensate with artificial milk? In line with this, are there alternative strategies to convince her to go back to solids?

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  • Do not insist that your child eats a certain amount of solid food, or of anything else. The child will eat as much as they need. Keep offering your child solid food, but do not try to convince her to eat it.

  • Have family meals. The child learns good eating habits from imitating the family members. Children learn by copying, and it helps if adults are eating the same food (soup, fruits, veggies, etc).

  • Consider baby-led weaning (Rapley & Murkett, 2011). In this method of weaning, the child controls her solid food consumption by feeding herself.


Do not try to get your child to eat more or less than he wants of anything you have offered. What is the matter of trying to get him to eat more or less of something? It creates conflict and negativity around eating. Limiting a child's intake of a food he wants to eat or or making him eat more of food he doesn't want makes him upset and angry. Upset, angry children have trouble knowing when they are hungry and when they are full. They may undereat and grow poorly or overeat and get too fat.

(Satter, 2005, p. 108)

For the almost-toddler, family meals become critically important in supporting eating competence. If you haven't started already, have meals now. There is simply no way around it, and no way that your child can do a good job of eating if you are not doing a good job of feeding yourself and the rest of the family. ... Actually, your child weans herself as she takes more and more interest in eating solid foods and in feeding herself and therefore loses interest in nursing. ... Put formula or expressed milk in the cup.

(Satter, 2005, pp. 155-156)

How to introduce solid foods (provided your child is willing):

  • Have her sit in a high chair looking straight ahead.
  • Hold the spoon a few inches in front of her mouth and wait to see what she does.
  • Do it her way: let her eat or not eat, eat little or much, fast or slow.
  • Stop the feeding when she is done opening, swallowing, smearing, dropping, banging.
  • Give her plenty of chances to learn, have fun, and keep it casual.

(Ellyn Satter. Child feeding: ages and stages)

REFERENCES:

Ellyn Satter. "Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming", Kelcy Press, Madison, WI, 2005: https://www.amazon.com/Your-Childs-Weight-Helping-Without/dp/0967118913

Ellyn Satter. Child feeding: ages and stages: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/how-to-feed/child-feeding-ages-and-stages/

Rapley G, Murkett T. "Baby-Led Weaning: the Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow up a Happy and Confident Eater." Experiment; 2011: https://www.amazon.com/Baby-Led-Weaning-Essential-Introducing-Foods/dp/161519021X

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You mentioned the spoon, but does she eat without it? My youngest (now 10 months old) never liked to be spoon fed. She'd allow it but much preferred to feed herself. This obviously depends on the dexterity of your baby's fingers, but if she can do it herself you may have better luck. Mine loves puffs, tiny pieces of turkey (her favorite), ham, cheese, veggies, and fruit. Puffs are probably the easiest to learn with at first since they are bigger. She's been feeding herself since 6 months old and now is a pro. Yesterday I cut up a hot dog into 76 pieces (I counted the cuts for fun so I would know the exact number) and she ate the entire thing, even after finishing off her pieces of carrots and strawberries. She had Cheerios for dessert. (Note an 8 month old may not be ready for Cheerios yet.)

Other finger food related tips:

  1. Use one of those silicon bibs with a catcher. About 10-20% of what they attempt to eat will land in there, and until they figure out how to dig it out themselves, you can pull it out for dessert when they're done.
  2. Another measurable percentage of food will hit the floor. (Especially if she starts chucking green beans on purpose.) If you have a dog you can probably reduce his kibble by at least a quarter cup per day.

Also, have you tried little fruit and veggie pouches? You can hold it and let her suck on it, and you can squeeze it out to assist. Maybe she'll prefer that over the spoon.

Also, consider giving your pediatrician a call. Perhaps not all providers will do this, but ours will oftentimes give us tips over the phone without necessitating a visit. At least they can answer your question about milk and/or vitamin supplements until the solid foods pick back up.

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  • 2
    +1 on the floor! And if the table is on a carpetted floor or some other surface which can't be wiped with bleach, put down a plastic mat. It needs to be about 6ft square, with the child's seat in the middle of it. Don't underestimate how far stuff can be thrown. :) – Graham Sep 8 at 11:30
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One word: bananas.

There are many different reasons why your baby will refuse solids at those ages - sometimes it is simply uncomfortable for them, it may be "false teething" (not sure if this is a thing with an actual name, but some kids show symptoms like teething months before teething starts), it could be strong tastes (did you change the way you prepare the food? Different dishware or meat supplier?), or a temporary stomach bug. I have had a few times with my own children (as well as my stepsiblings way before) when they would just refuse anything. Every time, bananas saved the day.

Bananas have a very mild, inoffensive taste and texture, they don't contain anything that can cause weird effects, no chewing or preparation is required. Just peel one, make it into smaller pieces, offer up as finger food, or feed yourself - the baby will most likely ask for seconds if you say they're hungry.

Bananas are suprisingly nutritious, although probably do not contain the full range of vitamins and minerals - these should be compensated for with milk mixes as usual.

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If this is very recent then don't ignore the possibility of discomfort. It's always worth examining gums and throat for soreness which will show up as an obvious reddening of the tissues. Look inside the mouth, check for obstructions and soreness. Depress the tongue with a smooth rounded back of a spoon or similar and check the back of the throat. Better still get a doctor to check. Refusal to eat solids is not always psychological as you will know if you ever had a bad sore throat.

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