Introducing solids to your little one can be a mixed bag of emotions. It's exciting to see your baby reach new milestones, but it's also stressful because you don't know how it'll go. I won't sugar coat it — getting kids to eat solids can be kind of a nightmare. Many babies reject solid foods and for many reasons including exhaustion, lack of appetite, disliking of the color and shape — I could literally go on for days. It could also be because they're simply not ready. So what to do if your baby won't eat solids? Don't despair, as there are some good tricks to help you.
Before going down the solids road, the most important thing you can do is ask yourself if your baby is ready. Thankfully, there are some clues. According to the Baby Center, you can introduce solid foods anytime between 4 and 6 months. Additionally, if your baby can hold their head up or sit upright in a highchair, has doubled their weight from birth, and can move food from the front to back of their mouth, they should be good to go.
The second most important thing you can do is make sure you're feeding your child age appropriate foods. That means no filet mignon or tacos. In the beginning, it's recommended you only do puréed fruits and vegetables, plain yogurt, and cereal in very small amounts. I'm talking like one teaspoon. As your baby grows and gets older that amount will increase to meet their nutritional needs.
Say you've established that your child is ready and you've found the right foods, but the whole solid food thing just isn't working at all with your baby. Rest assured, it will happen eventually. Thankfully, there are nine simple things you can try to help you in your solids journey.
1. Set Aside A Good Amount Of Time For Feeding
This is not exactly a fine dining experience, but treating it like one might help. According to the Baby Center, you should set enough time aside for your baby to eat solid foods. This will allow them to soak in the smells, textures, feelings — all of which are important for your baby to process. If you don't indulge their sensory needs, the whole feeding session could be longer and more frustrating.
2. Join Your Baby In Eating
As explained on the New Kids Center website, seeing you eat will encourage your baby to eat. If your meal schedule is not the same as your baby's feeding schedule (in many cases it probably isn't), prepare yourself snack.
3. Sing Songs To Your Baby Or Play Games
It's all about the art of distraction with this one. With my two kids, "The Wheels On the Bus" was a big hit. It got us through many spoonfuls of puréed peas. The clichéd air plane game during meal time was another one of my fun and successful distractors.
4. Use Small Portions For Their Meals
Putting a mountain of mashed anything might be a bit much when you're giving solids a go. As suggested on the New Kids Center website, try starting off with smaller portions of food to create a less overwhelming environment for your baby. You can always get more after a few spoonfulls.
5. Keep Offering Solid Foods At Feedings
Even if your child refuses to eat solids, it's still important to offer them at meal time. When you do this, you make solids a part of their regular meal routine, thereby normalizing it for them.
6. Let Your Baby Feed Themselves
A quick warning about this tip: it's messy. Your baby might want to be in control — and it's totally fine to give it to them — as long as you don't care about the mess. Letting your baby feed themselves might be better in the long run too. Researchers in a 2012 TIME report suggested that babies who skipped spoon fed purées and went straight to finger foods, developed better eating habits overall.
7. Switch Up Your Menu Frequently
How would you feel eating the same thing over and over? Bored probably. You might even start to reject certain foods. It's the same with babies. Offering variety to your baby in color and texture might help you find something they like, as noted on the New Kids Center website.
8. Avoid Force-Feeding Your Baby
When parents are tired and frustrated they can resort to some not-so-good techniques. Force-feeding a baby or anyone is not OK, and it can lead to your baby not eating at all.
9. Try Not To Stress Yourself Out About It
This might be easier said than done, but try to keep your cool. As pointed out on Web MD, just about every child goes through a period of rejecting new foods. The good news is that most grow out of it. It may take weeks and even months, but eventually it will happen.
Introducing solid foods to your baby can be a happy and frustrating time. Ultimately, it's not a big deal if they're not interested in solids right away. They're probably getting all of their nutrients through breast milk or formula anyway. If you're ever worried about it though, you can always talk to your doctor to see if it's a medical issue that needs to be addressed.