Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

Since her recent illness my 10mth daughter is refusing food from a spoon

My daughter is a perfect model of the routine until last week when she picked up a viral infection causing her to have ear infection and her throat was sore. She had a high fever and diarrhea and was not sleeping well nor eating. The doctor advised giving her Calpol and making sure she had enough fluid intake and not to worry too much if she did not eat. That was 5 days ago. The temp and diarrhea has subsided and for the first time since she has been ill she slept through the night from 7pm. My problem now is that she refuses to eat. As soon as I put food near her mouth she cries and pushes my hand away. I have tried to leave food on her tray so she can pick at it herself but she just throws it on the floor. She is still taking a 7oz bottle in the morning and a few oz’s at 2.30pm and occasionally has taken a few ozs at 6.30pm. I have also tried to split the 6.30pm feed so she has some milk at around 5.45pm before her bath and some after. This has worked before but not at the moment.
She is at home with me at the moment as I want to ensure she is 100% before going back to Nursery as she does not sleep as well there at lunchtimes. I am worried about how long I should leave this go before I seek help as I do not want her to become a fussy feeder as she has done so well up to now.
She has been taking 7oz at 7am followed by porridge being offered which is mixed with formula. Lunch is her main protein meal and water is offered with it. 2.30pm 1-2ozs, 4.45pm sandwiches and fruit or yoghurt offered with water. 7ozs offered at 6.30pm but not taken well.
She naps at 9-9.45am and 12.30-2.30pm.

Encouraging a baby to eat after illness can be difficult. Finding ways to tempt her back to eating again will help. It can take up to two weeks for a baby to fully recover after illness. As your daughter was probably in considerable discomfort in her mouth and ears she may still associate eating with the pain during her illness.

Think of ways you can offer her food which will tempt her. You may need to go back to offering her food more pureed and sloppy, also at a cooler temperature.

Begin with easy things you know she likes, such as yoghurt, rather than expecting her to have a full meal. You could add mashed banana to this to make it more nutritious and filling. Try vegetable based soups with some cheese grated into them rather than full protein meals just yet.

Make an effort to eat one or two meals with her. You could prepare a simple dip with vegetable batons and breadsticks and offer to share it with her. She may be willing to try food which she see’s you are enjoying. It is difficult to know how lenient to be as you are not wanting her to become fussy, but you will have to make allowances for her in the next week or so.

Try to keep calm about mealtimes which is not easy if you are concerned about her lack of appetite. Offer her small amounts of food in a colourful bowl and give her a spoon to help herself with. She may get little into her mouth but will be busy trying so you may be able to pop in one or two spoonfuls. Once it is clear she is not going to take any more, take the meal away. If you usually offer her a snack between meals then continue to do so, but don’t begin to make food an issue, trying to tempt her with many different options throughout the day. That is far more likely to make her fussy and difficult about food once her appetite has returned.

Make sure she is offered plenty of fluids throughout the day, not only at mealtimes. A baby may not eat properly for a while but they must drink enough liquid to remain hydrated.

Providing she is sleeping well at night, and showing an interest in her surroundings in the day, try not to be too concerned about her eating for the next few days. Appetites take a while to return after illness. Keeping her at home until she is better is sensible. Once she is back at nursery the sight of all the other children eating may help her get her appetite back again.