The transition to solid foods is both exciting and stressful. Parents worry about allergies, purées versus pouches, and even iron deficiencies. Naturally, everyone wants their baby to get the nourishment they need, and thus when feeding problems do arise, it's incredibly stressful. The good news is that most feeding issues work themselves out. But what do you do if your baby won't eat solids?
Your Kid's Table, a blog of eating strategies for parents and children, noted a host of reasons a baby might refuse solid foods. Some of them are age dependent. For instance, if your baby is younger than 7 months, it's possible that they're just not ready yet. While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends you introduce solids at 6 months of age, babies are little individuals, and they develop at their own pace. One indicator that your baby's ready for a bit more culinary excitement? They pay a lot more attention to what's on your plate.
Romper spoke with Anita Mirchandani M.S, R.D, C.D.N, Resident Dietician at Yummy Spoonfuls. She explained that while your child might initially reject food in one form (sliced avocado, for instance), you can try introducing it in a slightly different guise (delicious guacamole, perhaps, or the ever-popular avocado toast) and see how they respond.
Yes, this requires patience on your end, and the ability to handle some rejection. The fact that you child turned his nose up at the chicken purée you worked so hard on doesn't mean your child hates chicken. Like adults, explains Mirchandani, kids have their moods. Sometimes they crave a particular food, and will refuse others. As Mirchandani explains:
"Some people like tomato sauce but don't like tomatoes . . . also, environment makes a difference. Maybe they don't like pizza at home, but are willing to try it at a birthday party. You never know what will influence your child when it comes to food . . . So if you haven’t tried multiple food forms, don’t give up, and don’t stress out yet."
Mirchandani also recommends trying beloved childhood snacks, like oyster crackers, that have really stood the test of time. Additionally, you can try yogurt creams, Yummy Spoonful's Tot bites, and frozen patties (no preservatives) to heat and serve, that look a lot like food you and I would eat. In fact, children love to mimic you, Mirchandani explains. If you're eating broccoli with parmesan flakes, chances are, they'll at least want to give it a try. (Of course, if baby says no, don't force him. Think like a magic 8 ball, and "Try Again Later.")
"Breast milk and formula are the preferred nutrition source for your child until 1," Mirchandani explains. So if your child isn't devouring peas and chicken like a champ, remember that he's certainly not starving. Mirchandani recommends familiarizing yourself with age-based guides to baby and toddler nutrition, but allowing yourself (and your baby) some flexibility in how you approach those instructions. Like, if you're a locavore, don't feel you have to feed your baby peaches in October. Mirchandani was very chill about this, and considering she's a highly respected dietician, I experienced a nice contact-chill as a result.
So when should parents be concerned? According to Mirchandani, if your child is gagging often, or it seems like certain textures bother them, you might need to see a Speech Language Patholoist (SLP) to evaluate your baby's possible swallowing issues.
Otherwise, introduce food in novel ways — remember that a child under 1 still gets plenty of calories from milk — and keep on keeping on, moms and dads. If you have any concerns, of course, don't hesitate to call your pediatrician.