Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My daughter of 7.5mths has begun to refuse all savoury food

Over the last 4 weeks my daughter has been refusing savoury food. She had started on fish and chicken successfully for a week and then stopped eating any savoury foods. She will happily eat yoghurt and custard and can be tempted with fruit purees but is wise to any ‘tricks’ I try to sneak in some vegetables or protein. She has had various colds and coughs during this time and the week before last she had diarrhea, vomiting and an ear infection so did not eat any food at all (on GP advice). I am aware she is not eating enough as she has not put any weight on in the last 3 weeks and I know she also needs protein. She has no problem taking her milk or breakfast cereal (porridge or up to 1 weetabix with full fat milk) She weighs 18lbs 6ozs.

My daughter drinks 7-8ozs formula at 7am followed by breakfast. She is offered water and a small snack such as a rice cake at 10am. Lunch at 11.45am is 1-2cubes of fruit and a yoghurt or custard. She drinks 7-8ozs formula at 2.30pm and has tea at 4.30pm. This is toast and butter and/ or 4 cubes of fruit puree. She drinks 6oz of formula at 6.30pm.

My daughter naps at 9-9.45am, 12.30-1.30pm and 3.30-4pm. She sleeps from 7pm to 6.30am.

It can be difficult to tempt a wary eater, especially after a period of illness when her appetite may not yet be back to normal.

To encourage her to try more savoury things and eat protein again you will have to reintroduce them gradually. Begin with the sweeter root vegetables such as carrot, parsnip and sweet potato. Mix a very small amount of vegetable into her fruit puree. Gradually, over a period of days, increase the amount of vegetable and decrease the fruit puree. Don’t try to hurry the process. You will need to make the change from sweet to savoury slowly. In the same way you can begin to add protein to her diet again. Place a teaspoon of pureed chicken casserole into her fruit/vegetable puree at lunchtime and gradually build up the amounts. This method will take time yet it should ensure she begins to eat a far wider range of food. Always offer the food with a happy, smiling face and make encouraging noises to her as a baby will quickly pick up from you any hesitancy that she will accept the food.

At the same time offer her finger food. Cook a tablespoon of mixed frozen vegetables and offer her one or two pieces at a time. The different colours and textures should encourage her to pick up and taste the vegetables. Finger food can be messy and it can take time. Keep offering it to her even if most of it ends up on the floor. Once she is happy to try savoury things you can always spread casserole puree onto pieces of bread roll for her, so she can feed herself whilst you carry on spoon feeding her.

Unless your daughter shows signs of being really hungry at 10am offer a drink only at this time. Until she has a better appetite, giving her a rice cake mid-morning will take the edge off her hunger for lunch. It would be better if she was taking 4 cubes at lunchtime and beginning to cut back on her afternoon milk. This, in turn, would allow you to offer a more substantial savoury tea as her appetite returns. In the same way as at lunch, offer her a fruit puree mixed with sweet root vegetables. As she accepts a more savoury diet her tea can begin to be based around thick vegetable soups, vegetable bakes or pasta with vegetable or cheese based sauces.

Once your daughter is eating more savoury food offer her fruit puree at breakfast time with her weetabix. If she seems hungry after her savoury lunch and tea then offer yoghurt, milk pudding or fruit puree but try not to make this something she expects. If she knows that sweet things are always on offer she may cut back on her savoury intake again.