Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

My 10.5mth son is still needing a night feed and then does not feed well in the day. What can I do?

As a family we are seriously feeling sleep deprived including my toddler. My son was a contented baby up until six months of age following the routines to the latter. However he has now been waking in the night since and no matter how many times we try and settle with water he will only settle with a milk feed. Controlled crying has been difficult at night because of waking my toddler. His naps during the day are following the Contented Baby routines. I have to adjust the lunchtime eating to coincide with picking up my son from preschool. I have to feed at 11am and he sleeps at 12.15 to 2.15pm. I try to offer more food but he refuses to fill up in the day. My son likes finger food which does end up on the floor! As he feeds in the night he does not want breakfast, my eldest is not a breakfast lover neither are we as parents. My son flatly refuses his milk most days and we can only get a yogurt or two into him.
My son is a very active boy He is walking and likes lots of activity but he does become very demanding and clingy to mum when it is just the two of us at home. He wants holding the whole time even when I’m on the loo! This is just to give you an idea of his character. He weighs 21lbs.

7am: 4ozs formula. He is tried with yoghurt or takes 2tsps of rice and fruit pudding.
10am: small drink of water.
11am: small drink of juice, 4 cubes of homemade spaghetti bolognaise yoghurt and biscuit.
2.30pm: 2ozs or some times more of formula
4pm small drink of water
5pm: small drink of water, diced fishcake and diced potato [went onto the floor], 4 cubes of homemade custard and fruit.
6.30pm: 7ozs formula

When he wakes in the night my son takes on average 6ozs formula.
My son naps from 9.30-10am and 12.15-2.15pm. He settles from 7pm to 3.15am, 4-7am.

Your son’s daytime intake of food and milk is not large and, until he stops taking his night time formula, this is unlikely to improve and so a vicious circle is created. Your son is waking in the night through hunger. The best way to deal with this would be to gradually dilute the night feed down. Since your son is only waking once in the night for a feed he should begin to increase his daily intake once he begins to drop this feed.

Begin by diluting his feed by 1oz. For example, for 6ozs of water add 5 scoops of powder. Each night dilute the feed by another ounce until he is on 1 scoop of powder to 6ozs of water. Offer him this very diluted feed for a couple of nights. On the following night offer him only plain boiled water when he wakes. It may take you a while to settle him, but try not to go back to feeding him. The knock-on effect of having a diluted feed may have already encouraged him to have a larger feed at breakfast time.

Begin to introduce a very small amount of cereal at breakfast. This could be mixed with fruit puree to encourage him to have it. His breakfast milk could be offered in a beaker alongside his cereal. Make him some toast fingers which could be spread with soft cheese or another suitable spread for his age. Some babies do not have a large appetite at breakfast but it would worth encouraging him to eat food other than yoghurt or fruit pudding at this time, even if only in small amounts. When offering finger food, only put one or two pieces at a time in front of your baby. Any more, and he is likely to swipe them all off his tray. You could try some dry cereals as finger food, such as Cheerios, which are usually a great hit with this age. Their ability to use their fore finger and thumb in the “pincer” grasp is very apparent and they enjoy picking up small things. Although not much food seems to be consumed in this way, the more your son is encouraged to feed himself with different tastes and textures the more interested he should become in food in general.

Make sure you give your son all his savoury food first before giving him juice at lunchtime. He needs to increase the amount of solid food he is eating and juice may well just knock his already quite small appetite. Again offer him small amounts of finger food alongside his savoury course. Try a small spoonful of cooked, frozen, mixed vegetables. The different colours and textures should encourage him to pick things up. Often, if a baby of this age is busy trying to feed himself, you can spoon in quite a lot of food without his really noticing it. Encourage him to have less pureed food now, mashing rather than blending so he gets used to the slightly lumpier texture. Let him have a go at feeding himself with a spoon. You may have to load it for him but the more he is allowed to practise the better he will get at it. At 10 months babies can want to be quite independent. Make sure you do allow time at this meal for him to try to feed himself. Even though you have to begin early try to give him time to use his spoon as much as he wants to.

For tea try making easy things such as thick vegetable soups. Bulk these out with potatoes or lentils so they really fill him up but are easy to eat when he is tired. These can be offered with mini sandwiches as finger food. Again you could use a suitable spread on the bread to help him eat a good meal. Although your son enjoys finger food and should always be given some at his meal, it should be in addition to, rather than instead of, his main course. If he is too tired to feed himself something, such as fish cake and potato, he will be missing out on the carbohydrate intake he needs at this time to help him through the night. By using some of the recipes suitable for this age range in Gina’s Weaning Guide you may find he eats a more balanced meal. If he still seems hungry after his main course then offer him some fruit or yoghurt but try to make the main portion of his meal savoury and high in carbohydrates.

In a few months your son may be able to have the same tea as his brother but, until then, stock your freezer with soups and other carbohydrate based meals which can be given to him quickly and easily at this busy time of the day.

Once the nighttime feed is eliminated you will probably notice that your son increases the amount he eats in the day. Always offer him something at breakfast, but this may never be a big meal if he is like the rest of your family. Getting him to have a bigger meal at lunchtime and a filling tea should help him sleep better at night. Controlled crying should only be carried out when you are sure that your son’s waking is due to habit rather than genuine hunger.