Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

Despite following the guide, my 6-month-old is cutting back on milk and solids

I am concerned that my almost 6-month-old daughter is cutting back on her milk, and taking less and less solids, despite having been following Gina’s guide for the last 7 weeks.
I started weaning at 17/18 weeks, following the weaning guide. Things had been going extremely well and my daughter was happily sleeping 11-12 hours at night without waking. However, she has begun to cut back on both milk and solids over the last week and, not surprisingly, has started to wake earlier in the morning (although she does not actually cry, neither does she seem to be very hungry). Her eating/sleeping over the last week has roughly been as follows:
7-7.30am 5oz milk (I make up 8 but she will no longer take it) plus a few mouthfuls of porridge and fruit (never the full amount I make up); 11-11.30 am: 3-4oz milk (sometimes as little as 2oz), 2 cubes of vegetables (she was taking 4+), sometimes 2-3ozs diluted fruit juice; 2.30pm: 4-5 oz milk (this is sometimes refused altogether); 5.30pm: 3 spoons baby rice plus 2 cubes fruit (this is the only meal that always goes well) plus diluted fruit juice or a few ounces of milk if she has not taken much at 2.30 pm; 6.45pm 8 oz milk (always finished).
Sleeping generally goes very well during the day: a 30 to 40 minute nap after 9am, between 90 and 140 minutes at lunchtime, and 20-30 minutes at around 4.30, sometimes a little later, depending on how the lunchtime sleep went. She goes down happily at around 7.15pm and was sleeping until at least 6.45am. This can now be as early as 5am.
I am not concerned about her early waking and accept that until solids are really well established she may not sleep until 7am. However, I am concerned that she seems to be eating less and less (and getting much fussier at lunchtime) and cutting back so much on her milk. Her present weight is 17lbs.

Your daughter’s sudden cutting back on both solids and milk could well be due to teething. Babies will often not want to suck so much or have a hard spoon in their mouths when teeth are about to appear. If she continues to not want to take so much solid food or her milk, try offering both at a slightly cooler temperature which will be more soothing to her sore gums. Once teeth have appeared a baby will usually go back to their old eating habits after a few days.

By six months a baby need a minimum of between 18-20ozs of milk if taking solids in the way your daughter is. This includes the milk which is being used for mixing food. At present your daughter is taking that amount (21-23oz). As you will be using milk to mix her cereal, she is getting quite a good amount at breakfast despite cutting back on her milk. Try offering her a different cereal as she may just be bored with the same one each day. Although you feel that she is cutting back, allow for the milk given in her food. In order for her to continue to eat better at lunch, offer her a smaller breakfast of 3tsp cereal mixed with a cube of fruit.

She will cut back on her 11am feed as she takes more solid food. It appears that you offer her diluted juice at this meal as well as milk and solids which could well be filling her up; 2-3 oz or more of juice will take the edge of her appetite as well as make her less hungry for the 2.30pm feed. As she is offered juice in the afternoon as well, cut out giving it to her until she has dropped her milk feed at lunchtime. This should help her increase her solid intake at lunch. Continue to offer her a selection of vegetable flavours making sure you are balancing them correctly, combining a carbohydrate such as potato or sweet potato with another flavour such as carrot or cauliflower.

Use the tier method of feeding for both breakfast and lunch. Offer two thirds of her milk first, followed by solids and then the remainder of her feed. This method will prepare her for dropping the 11am feed completely when protein is introduced at 6 months. Once this happens, then begin to offer her well-diluted juice or water after she has taken at least half of her solid food.

Using the tier method and cutting back on the juice offered at lunch, should see your daughter taking a bigger 2.30pm feed. The fact that your daughter accepts her tea well, showing that she is hungry does point to the fact that she is filling herself up with juice at lunchtime.

If early-morning waking continues begin to cut back on her late afternoon sleep by 10 minutes so it is really just a catnap to get her through to 7pm.