Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 6mth daughter is happily established on solids but does not like home cooked vegetables or jars containing protein

My 6mth daughter has accepted her solids well and has been established on 3 feeds a day for the past 2.5 weeks. This has consisted of baby rice or mixed breakfast cereal and pureed fruit for breakfast, a variety of vegetables for lunch and baby rice and pureed fruit for tea (as per the contented baby book of weaning).

I have attempted to introduce fresh home cooked pureed vegetables but I find she will only take a mouthful or two before gagging and spitting them out. So as not to interfere with her feeding routine I opted to stay with the canned vegetables and fruit as she liked them and it was an easy option.

Now that she is 6 months of age and has been on solids for approx 6 weeks I would like to introduce protein. We tried her on the canned option of chicken and vegetables and she took one mouthful of this and then gagged at the next two before spitting out the third mouthful. I stopped offering her this food and went back to her normal vegetable lunch.

I tried her on fresh mashed banana a couple of days earlier and got the same result so again went back to the canned option.

Have you got any advice on how to get my daughter on to home made vegetables and rice and also how to introduce protein without getting the gag spit response.

My daughter feeds at 7am 200mls, 2 tablespoons baby cereal and 3 cubes of fruit puree. 11.30am 150mls formula or expressed breast milk, 5 tablespoons stage 1 vegetables, varied. 2.30pm 150mls formula or expressed breast milk, 6.15pm 200mls formula, 3tsps baby rice mixed with fruit puree. My daughter weighs 8kg [17lbs 10ozs].

She naps at 9-9.30am, 12-2pm and 5-5.15/30pm. She settles at 7pm.

The taste and texture of home cooked food is different from processed food in cans and jars so your daughter may take a time to adjust.

To help your daughter, make up a recipe similar to that in a jar of vegetables which she likes. When first starting to change over to home cooked food blend it to a very smooth consistency. Then mix one teaspoon of the home cooked food with the processed food and feed it to her As she becomes used to the denser texture and stronger flavour of home cooked food you can gradually increase the proportion of home cooked food to the processed food. Once your daughter is enjoying an entire meal of home cooked food you can gradually begin to blend it less so she becomes used to having food that is more textured.

When you introduce a new food, such as protein, you may find that your baby gags as the flavour is new to her. This does not mean she does not like it. Keep offering it to her over a period of several days, especially at the times you know she is hungry. It can take several attempts before a baby accepts a new taste.

A baby can soon learn that if she gags the food will be replaced by a familiar puree and so she may become a fussy eater. Getting used to lumps and textures can take time but it helps other areas of her development later on. Chewing is one of the early stages in learning to talk, so it is important to keep trying your daughter with more textured food now.

Now that your daughter is six months old the iron supplies laid down at birth are running low. Speeding up the weaning process to include iron rich foods needs to take place, especially as she is taking time to accept protein. Look at Gina’s article Weaning Guidelines on the site. You will need to work quickly through the food groups, introducing a new taste every other day to provide all the nutrients your daughter now needs.

Make sure you offer your daughter a cereal which is fortified with iron. Other sources include broccoli, green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils.

When your daughter gags, remain calm and reassure her, then offer her the food again. Gagging is a protective reflex. It helps get food back to the front of the mouth where it can be repositioned or spat out. Some babies will have a stronger gag reflex than others so you may need to proceed slowly but continue to offer new tastes and home cooked food. If your daughter seems to gag, or coughs, a great deal seek advice from your health visitor or doctor. Look in The Contented Child’s Food Bible, page 96 onwards, where gagging and lumpy textures are discussed.

As soon as your daughter is used to home cooked vegetables make up one of the simple protein recipes from Gina’s Weaning Book, such Chicken Casserole on page 75. To get your daughter used to eating home cooked protein, replace one tablespoon or cube of her vegetable meal with a cube or tablespoon of the protein. Increase the amount of protein cubes by one or two every day and decrease the vegetables until she is taking a full protein meal. This will get her used to the stronger flavours as they are mixed in with familiar vegetables.

Continue to blend your daughter’s food but gradually reduce the blending and begin mashing so the textures become less smooth. Getting used to lumps takes time. As long as you stay close, and don’t over react yourself should she gag, she will become more accepting of home prepared food and protein. Always offer new tastes with a smiling face and encouraging words so your daughter enjoys her mealtimes.