Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 8.5-month-old son has started to refuse both milk and solids

My son has been refusing his formula the past few days. First it was only mornings, now its the 14:30 and 18:30 bottle as well. I’m not giving him more solids, and he doesn’t get water or diluted juice when he doesn’t drink his milk. Today he even refused his evening meal. I woke him up at 20:00 to give him milk, but he simply refused it. He normally loves his home-cooked food. What am I doing wrong? I don’t think he’s teething at the moment.
He also started waking earlier and earlier. He cries 3-4 times a night, regardless of how much he slept through the day. He obviously gets less sleep at the nursery [3 days a week], but copes happily with it. At present he sleeps at 8.50-9.25am, 12-2.00pm and 4.30-4.40pm. He is settled by 7pm. Most times he settles himself during the night, unless his sleeping bag restricts his movements as he now rolls unto his tummy and he can’t roll back unto his back. He won’t sleep on his tummy. I normally go into the nursery, and turn him on his back, with the light still off. I never speak to him or pick him up during the night.
We’ve been so proud of him. He’s really doing wonderfully on the routine, even though it doesn’t sound like it now.

As your son has been both off his food and milk for the last few days, watch him closely for any signs of infection possibly in his ear or throat which could be causing this. If you are at all concerned then take him to be checked over by your doctor.

Teething can cause a baby to cut back on their food and milk, especially just prior to a tooth erupting. It seems that there are often three days leading up to the eruption, three days whilst it comes through and three days whilst the baby gets over it. If his gums are sore then sucking and chewing will cause him pain. He may take his milk and solids better if they are cooler than usual as this will cause him less discomfort on his tender gums.

As your son manages to settle himself at night, it does not appear that hunger or discomfort from teeth are the cause. It could either be habit, in which case letting him settle himself is the best policy, or he is very tired and falls into an exhausted sleep at 7pm. The cutback on daytime sleep on nursery days could be affecting his sleep overall. You may need to give him an extras 15 minutes at lunchtimes on his non-nursery days to make up for this.

Many babies do cry out in their sleep as they become more mobile and begin to move around their cots. They will bang against the side and often sleep in the strangest of positions. Their cries are usually when asleep as they move around a bit. Although you are aware he is uncomfortable, try not to go in straight away to turn him back onto his back but wait a few minutes to see if he is able to do this himself. He may begin to grow dependant on you to help him roll back and begin to associate getting back to sleep with your presence. Practice rolling both ways by day to help him be able to do this himself at night.