And while your baby may be presenting all indications that they’re ready to transition to solid foods (you might find more in this article), and you were looking forward to starting the process, the reaction is not what you expected: they refuse or are uninterested in food, they’re grumbling, everything ends up on the ground, and more. It’s completely logical to feel anxiety about how they’ll gain weight or how their needs for iron or other nutrients will be satisfied.
Let me reassure you by saying that all babies will pass through a period of not eating. It’s mostly a transitory phase without a pathological problem that needs correction, and doesn’t cause negative effects on your baby’s health, especially when their weight isn’t stable. Unfortunately, it’s a situation out of our control, and our anxiety will only cause more problems.
Let’s go through some of the main reasons that might be happening, and how could we intervene and improve the situation, if possible.
- They start eating on a full stomach or are very hungry. You should remember that babies have tiny stomachs, so without a short time after breastfeeding or having drank formula, it’s possible that they’re still full and not really interested in food. On the other hand, if they’ve been hungry for a while, you’ll have a nervous baby without the patience to sit at a table. It’s a fact that there’s no rule regarding the interval between milk and solid foods. So, in the first few days, you’ll need to run some trials. It’s usually suggested to wait at least 1 hour (or less for breastfeeding), but that’s something that will be adjusted to your baby’s needs.
- Your baby is tired. In general, it’s not a good idea to start a meal just before the baby’s bedtime or very late in the evening. They’ll possibly show little or no interest and be anxious to get out of their chair. The first few days that you’ll be serving one meal a day, start in the morning, or at the time that you see your baby exhibiting the most energy.
- They’re in an overstimulating environment. This might be the television, a toy, looking out the open window. Your baby needs a calm environment that won’t distract them from the food.Υπερβολικό άγχος από τη μεριά σας.
- There is too much stress on your side. Making grimaces and pressuring your baby because they didn’t touch their food may negatively affect them. Additionally, if you’re feeding them with a spoon, you must be waiting for your baby’s sign to offer the next spoonful. Your baby is able to understand your mood and pressure isn’t helpful in such cases. Give them some time, allowing them to play with and get dirty from the food, you want this experience to be pleasant for them.
- The chair is not comfortable. A critical factor is that your baby must be feeling comfortable when sitting in their chair. There are many chairs in the market, something that might make your selection hard. It doesn’t need to be very expensive, only to have a straight back and ideally a footrest, since that helps to support their spine. If you don’t find a chair with those characteristics that fit your budget, get one and adjust it. As time passes, your baby will grow stronger and more stable.
- Your baby is teething, sick, or upset. This is possibly one of the most fundamental factors and one that you’ll be facing for a while… When your baby’s going through such a phase, it’s very possible that they’ll refuse all foods during that. You’ll need to be patient and offer food normally, or you might need to make some alterations. For example, in case of teething, colder foods might help, or foods with a different texture (crunchier or softer).
- You’re offering them “wrong” food. This might refer to a puree texture that your baby doesn’t like (try a thinner or thicker puree texture until you find what they like) or your baby simply wants to feed themselves. On the other hand, if you’re following the BLW method, it’s possible that in your fear of choking hazards, you’re cutting the foods in pieces that are too small, or the pieces are slipping through your baby’s fingers. That result in your baby growing angry that they’re unable to grab and deal with them.
- They don’t know what to do with the food. An important tool you can use is your baby’s desire to mimic you, so take advantage of that and try to always eat with them.
Other important things you need to remember are that:
- Solid foods, during the first year of your baby’s life, will complement breastfeeding or formula, and not replace them—that’s why they’re often called complementary foods.
- Chewing and swallowing are new abilities that your baby’s called to learn, with each needing different time to master.
- Each child has their own temperament, even on the subject of food, which they’ll display early on. Some children will always eat less than others, and that’s completely normal.
- In any case, you need to respect their desires. An expression of discomfort needs to lead to the end of the meal.
[This post is about the first months of your baby’s transition to solid foods. I’ll be posting another article for older children.]
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