Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

Zak (7 months) is refusing all protein and most vegetables

When my son, Zak, was six months old, I introduced vegetables and protein at teatime, but he began to refuse his savoury altogether, even though he had previously taken vegetables at lunchtime. I think the texture may have put him off. Around the same time, we went on holiday for three weeks and, as he still refused his meals, he ended up on a diet consisting mainly of fruit. He will take his 8oz bottle & baby cereal without any problems and enjoy his 2.30pm (6oz) and 6.30pm (8oz) bottles. But he will not eat his protein lunch or any tea. I have cut out fruit for now and tried baby rice with a small amount of courgette in the evening, which he has eaten, but he will not touch his rice and sweet potato at lunchtime. Nor is he interested in finger foods and rarely puts any food near his mouth by himself. He will not drink much water or juice from a beaker either. Should I go back to baby rice with vegetables? I am, however, worried that he is not getting enough protein. He is not waking at night, sleeps within the routine times and still appears to be contented – but please help.

As you have already had success with courgette and rice at 5.30pm, then use that at lunchtime for a day or two. Very gradually introduce another vegetable, such as sweet potato. Start with half a teaspoon mixed in with the courgette and rice, and then very gradually increase the amount of sweet potato while decreasing the courgette and rice. Slowly introduce other vegetables this way, but always using a familiar base. Then try introducing very small amounts of protein into the vegetables in the same way, and build up the amounts slowly. Once he has become more used to the taste of savoury foods, then you can probably speed up a bit.

Be aware of the timings of meals. A baby of this age should ideally have breakfast no later than 7.30am. Try to push on a bit with lunch so Zak is eating nearer 11.45/12noon. Even letting him wait 15-20 minutes could make him hungrier than he has been, and therefore more willing to try his food and take an interest in his finger food. Also be aware that the amount of milk he drinks at 2.30pm will reflect how hungry he is at teatime. If you feel that this is affecting his appetite, then cut it back by an ounce or two.

Until he is taking a variety of vegetables, then try not to give too much fruit. A small amount at breakfast is the best option until you are happy with how he is eating at lunch and tea. Keep encouraging him with finger food. A spoonful of cooked frozen mixed vegetables is full of colour and will appeal to him. Let him explore the food with his fingers and hands and in time he will start to put some in his mouth. Continue to try Zak with his beaker of water at lunchtime; it can take time for a baby to learn how to drink this way, but practicing daily will help. Offer him his drink after he has accepted most of his solids. Please be aware that giving juice or water between meals will cut his appetite. If you serve breakfast at 7/7.30am, then offer a drink no later than 10am.

It is good to know that Zak is content and sleeping well at night. It seems as though he is a little wary of new tastes, especially vegetables, so take things slowly and let him get used to new flavours and textures gradually.