Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 8mth son eats well in the company of other people but is rather fussy when at home with us

My son eats his solids well when he is entertained: e.g. at Nursery – he has other children/people to watch, and he was quite content during our recent family holiday to eat whilst watching everything that everyone else was getting up to (we have a large extended family!). However, at home with just 2 parents, he fusses much more. He is particularly difficult in the evening – logical, because he’s tired (and so are we!) – But it is worrying because he may not take enough food to get through the night comfortably. That said, he hasn’t been waking, except when he had a cold. Do you have any strategies for making this time more enjoyable and less stressful for all of us, please? PS I am gluten intolerant, so my son will not be having gluten until he is 2 years old.

He is breast fed at 7am, 2.30pm and 7pm. He is offered juice and water after his naps and during lunch and dinner.

8.15am, rice porridge and fruit
11.30am, meat and vegetables [including potato], raw fruit given as finger food.
4.30pm snack of rice cake and fruit
6pm rice with vegetables and fruit followed by fruit puree

As your son is tired by his dinner time, this meal needs to be food which is easy for him to eat and will fill him up for the night ahead. Providing he has eaten about 2ozs of animal protein at his lunch there is no need to offer meat again at dinner.

Take a look at Gina’s Weaning Guide which has plenty of suggestions for dishes to make for this time of day. Although your son joins you for his evening meal it may help to give him dishes of food which are more suitable for him to manage at this time when he is tired. Some things to try are jacket potatoes and beans, thick vegetable soups [which you may enjoy as well], lentil and vegetable bakes. As these meals are all high in carbohydrates they will fill him up.

You may have to feed your son if he is getting tired but offering him some nutritious finger food as well should sustain his interest. Offer him sticks of lightly steamed vegetables or some fingers of cheese. You may like to offer a dip with these if your son will eat a little more that way. Encourage him to have a go, using a spoon or fork. Self feeding can be messy but he will soon learn how to lift his spoon if he is given the opportunity to try.

It is good that you are involving your son in family meals as this is the way he learns about the social side of eating. When there are lots of people around the table he is not the centre of attention and so probably eats far better. With just the two of you at the table it is likely that you pay him a lot more attention and are conscious of how much he is eating. He may well sense this and so play up more. Although you will want to involve him at mealtimes don’t always focus on him. If you and your husband want to chat about the events of the day then do so. If your son has enough easy to eat finger foods he will listen to your talk and feed himself at his own pace. Keep the atmosphere light and relaxed with no pressure from you to eat “just one more spoonful”. Try not to discuss within his hearing your concerns over whether he has eaten enough. Babies can very easily pick up on tension and stress. Once your son shows that he has finished his meal then remove his plate. If you are still eating your own meal and your son still seems a little hungry, offer him some fruit or natural yoghurt and fruit puree.

If you offer your son small amounts of a variety of food he is more likely to try them than if he is given one or two foods such as potato and meat mashed up together. Separating out his food into a divided bowl. so he is able to see exactly what foods he is being offered, may encourage him to eat a larger meal.