Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

How can I help my son of almost a year to eat better? Meals are a constant struggle

I am becoming very worried about my son and his refusal to eat at meal times. I offer cooked vegetables as finger food, and some of his meals are fine, but many are not. Things such as beans on toast are great, but with meat he is inclined to chew it for ages then spit it out. I try offering him a spoon with food on it, but he gets frustrated and it goes from bad to worse. He has now started to wake around 4am hungry. I am back at full-time work, so my son attends nursery three days a week. They report that he eats well there. My mother cares for him two days a week, but like me she struggles with his eating. At nursery he only sleeps for 30-45 minutes all day. At my mother’s he sleeps better, but still not as much as at home during the weekend. I try to keep weekends as calm as possible so he is able to catch up, but this means we are not getting out with him as much as we would like.
Some days are better than others, but I don’t want him to become a fussy eater. I have read books about what to do and I do persevere, but the constant crying at the table is wearing me down. Sometimes I take his food away and pop him on the floor, but this also seems to upset him. At the moment I feel as though I cannot do anything right. Today he had soup with my mother at 1pm, but would take nothing tonight. She too is getting tense about meals and has taken to singing and clapping just to get him to take some more food. I thought maybe he was teething, but this has been going on for a month and is getting progressively worse. He is never offered snacks and I have also stopped puddings, but still I cannot tempt him. I cook homemade food and the nursery prepares food on the premises.
At 7am my son takes 5 tbsp apple puree with 1-1.5 weetabix, ready brek, or cheerios. He is offered a beaker of milk, which sometimes he will take. He is given juice at 8.30am. He has a proper meal at 11.30am and tea is tagliatelle, beans on toast or a soup snack on arrival home. Again, this is sometimes taken, sometimes not. He takes an 8oz bottle at 6.30pm before bed. At home he naps from 9.30-10.15am and 1-3pm. He goes down by 7pm, and often earlier as he is shattered.
The whole issue has got me down and I feel my baby hates me. Can you help please?

It can be very difficult to cope with a child who repeatedly refuses your meals, yet wakes in the night through hunger, and as a mother it may feel that your own child is rejecting you. Trying to cope with the situation on a daily basis is draining and depressing, and it is often difficult to look at the problem without becoming emotional. At your son’s age, however, he is beginning to leave babyhood and become more independent. He would like to do many things for himself, but the problem is he may not yet be physically able. Holding a spoon and getting it into the mouth before all the food drops off is a complex and difficult task. If it is at the end of a day without a great deal of sleep, it is easy to see why your son may become so frustrated. He needs to eat but cannot manage to do so on his own, but he does not want you to help him – a vicious circle. Stepping back from the situation is not easy for either yourself or your mother, but as the nursery are not so emotionally involved, he seems to eat better there. Babies and small children can be incredibly sensitive to adults’ feelings and tension, especially in those closest to them.

As your son wants to be independent and feed himself, you need to prepare food that he can easily handle. Use the time you have at the weekend to prepare some finger foods, which can be given to him on his return home at night. Giving vegetables is fine, but as you need him to take more protein, look for recipes that can be made up into finger food. Chicken and fish goujons, small meatballs, fish cakes and mini pizzas are all ideal. These can all be homemade, frozen in advance and quickly reheated. There are also dishes that can be prepared quickly once home, such as vegetable frittata, omelets, eggy bread or pancake. These can be filled with grated cheese and cut into small pieces that can be handled. He may also like dipping vegetable sticks, sticks of cheese or a chicken goujon into a dip, such as homemade hummus or vegetable sauce.

The more your son can feed himself, the more likely he is to eat. Continue to make main meat meals, such as shepherd’s pie or risotto, with finely diced or minced meat. Many small children find meat hard to chew, so finding ways to serve it where it is easy for them to eat should help. Another tip is to make a casserole dish of thick consistency and spread it on small pieces of bread roll, which again he can hold himself. Tempting a reluctant eater will involve you in thinking about what you offer him, as it is all too easy to fall back on things you know he will accept. But there are ways in which you can encourage him to try a wider variety of dishes.

A word of caution – learning to feed himself will be messy and time consuming. Have plenty of newspaper under his high chair and cover him with the biggest coverall bib you can find. He will want to use his fingers to dip into food and, although it can mean a lot of clearing up afterwards, let him try to eat as much as he can by himself. Give him a spoon of his own to hold and dig into his food. It can be very frustrating to watch the efforts of a baby trying to feed themselves, but your son will feel more in control of the situation if he feels independent. You may also be able to pop in a spoonful now and again while he is busy with his own. Although you may be concerned about his intake, keep your voice and face happy and encouraging. Praise him when you see him trying to get food to his mouth and give him a clap when he does pick up a stick of cheese and try to eat it. In the same way that he picks up tension about meals being refused, he will also want to try to please you and get your happy reactions when he eats.

There is no easy answer to his tiredness due to lack of sleep in the daytime. Putting him to bed earlier will certainly help, although it is hard when you would also like to spend more time with him at the end of the day. As he gets bigger he will be better able to cope with being at nursery all day – but it is a good idea to let him recharge and catch up at weekends. You may miss taking him out and about, but at this age he will enjoy time spent with you doing ordinary things, such as a trip to the swings or looking at a book together, as much as bigger outings. He will enjoy the simple, quiet routine of home life, as he is stimulated a lot in the week with nursery.

Thinking ahead at weekends and planning what you are going to give him for his weekday teas can help you make the most of the time you spend with him. Stocking your freezer with suitable finger foods and meals should help you to feel that you are doing something positive. Most mothers feel rejected by their babies if their carefully prepared food is refused. This is a normal reaction, but try to stay cool and focused on the positive things you can do. There are a few books on the market worth looking at for ways of tempting a small child who seems to have gone on food strike. Get a few ideas and keep trying with different things.

Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

My baby of almost 1 year refuses lunch and wakes in the night after illness and starting nursery

My daughter, who is almost a year old, started nursery approximately 4 weeks ago. Unfortunately in her first week she picked up a virus which I don’t think has helped in her settling in. Since having the virus my daughter refuses to eat any lunch. She wakes around 7am has 4oz of milk from a cup followed by cereal and maybe some toast. She has a drink of water at around 10am and nothing else until lunchtime at around 11.45-12 noon. However, despite various attempts, she refuses everything that is put in front of her. I have tried her favourites and even foods she has not eaten before, just in case she was getting sick of the foods I was giving her, but unfortunately nothing seems to have worked. She then goes through the day with nothing else until tea at 5pm where she may or may not eat. She has milk at bedtime and is always in bed by 7pm. Unfortunately however she has now started to wake in the night, some nights she has cried off and on for half an hour or more and then gone back to sleep but some nights I am finding I am having to go to her to comfort her before she will go back to sleep.
The nursery she attends is very good and they do follow my routine, although she is so used to being with only me or my husband she is finding it extremely difficult to settle. Could the eating and sleeping problems all be connected to nursery?

If your daughter is still refusing to eat properly after a week of having a virus it would be a good idea to have her checked by your doctor to rule out any further problems. If all is well you will need to entice her to eat again. It can take a week or more for a baby’s appetite to properly return after illness.
Try making her lunch easy; things which can feed herself. Make it as attractive as possible, separating out the separate items, perhaps using a bowl with divisions. She can then see exactly what she is eating. Cut everything up into small pieces and encourage her to self-feed. Use finger food as much as you can – even things such as casserole can be spread onto bread rolls and offered. Give her small portions so she is not overwhelmed by the amount. Even if she does not eat her main meal, offer her a small amount of natural yoghurt and fruit puree as she may find this easier to eat if still feeling unwell.
The night-time waking could be due to feeling a little hungry, although it would seem unlikely as your daughter is not having a very big breakfast. It is more likely due to separation anxiety and starting at nursery. If she will settle herself back to sleep with no intervention then reassure her by day with lots of cuddles. If you do need to go in at night, try not to lift her from her cot but reassure her with your voice and a stroke or pat. Try to use the same words each night: “it’s night time, go to sleep”, then tuck her in if needed and leave. As she becomes more used to her nursery setting she is less likely to wake in the night. Keeping your interaction to the minimum at night as she adjusts to her new routine, will ensure she does not become dependant on you to help her return to sleep.
If your daughter does not already have a comfort object it may be a good idea to introduce one to her now. A small piece of blanket or soft toy which she can snuggle would be ideal. You may like to sleep with it yourself for a couple of nights before giving it to her. The familiar smell of you may help her in the night once she has begun to eat better and is more settled at nursery. If she does become attached to a comfort object, consider having a replacement and alternating their use to allow for washing and maybe being mislaid. Keep such an object for use in her cot only to help settle for naps and sleeping, not something she needs with her during the day.

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.

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.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

It is a struggle to get my 7mth daughter to take milk or solids

My daughter will not take her milk. During the day she will have a maximum of 2-3 bottles; 2-3 ozs at each feed. Since birth her maximum has been 4ozs. Since introducing solids at 5 months, her milk intake has declined. Eating her solids is a struggle too.
At present she is fed SMA progress with an Avent bottle and variable teat. I use a small baby jar as a portion measure for her food.
During the day she takes:
7am: 1-2 ozs, breakfast: a measure of Ready Brek, with added apricot and banana, and 1oz camomile tea.
9.45am: 1-2ozs formula
11.30am: a measure of a recipe from weaning book; chicken hot-pot, chicken risotto etc, fruit yoghurt and 1 dried apricot (she has no teeth so she gums on this), 1-2 oz diluted juice from cup after meal (she will not drink all of this)
2.30pm: 1-2 ozs formula
5.30pm: a measure of a vegetarian tea, such as pasta or potato with cheese sauce, 1-2 ozs diluted juice from cup.
6.30pm: 1-2 ozs formula, 1 oz camomile tea
10.30pm: 2-3ozs formula
3.30am: 1-2ozs formula
She sleeps at 9-9.30am, 12.30-2.30pm and settles by 7pm. Her present weight is 13lbs 5oz (6.04kg)

Getting the balance between solids and milk at this age can be difficult, especially as your daughter has never taken a feed bigger than 4ozs.
At her present weight and age she should be having nearer to 18-20ozs of milk a day, inclusive of milk used in cooking, on cereals and given in the form of cheese or yoghurt.
In order to increase your daughters small milk intake, use the “tier” method of feeding her at breakfast; give her milk, followed by solids and then the rest of her milk. You may need to give her a break between the milk and solids, so offer her 2ozs milk at 7am followed by solids at 7.45/8am and then another 2-3ozs after. Banana is quite a filling fruit and although often loved by babies could be filling her up too much. Offer her pear or apple pureed or grated with her Ready Brek as a change.
As she is having milk at breakfast, there is no real need to offer camomile tea as well. The extra fluids could be filling her up, so she is resisting eating her solids and not wanting a full milk feed. This way of feeding should help her take more, and also cut out the need for a top up at 9.45am. This would be a better time to offer her camomile tea so she will have an appetite for her lunch.
Have you begun to offer finger foods at lunch time? Your daughter may enjoy trying to feed herself with batons of steamed carrot and other vegetables while you are spoon feeding her. Also, giving her a spoon to hold at the same time as yourself may encourage her to eat a little more. If she is busy trying to feed herself, you will probably find she will accept more from your spoon without really noticing.
Offering her well diluted juice or water after her solids is an excellent idea, as it is easy for a baby with a small appetite to fill herself up with fluids, if given at the wrong time. Your daughter will also be receiving fluids from her fruit and vegetables. It is quite normal for a baby of this age to take sips of fluid after a meal rather than a larger amount.
The feed at 2.30pm is usually slightly smaller. This helps your daughter have an appetite for her dinner. As your daughter does not take much milk at 6.30pm, push this meal back to 5pm. Again, beware of her filling herself up with the extra fluid from the camomile tea which could lead her to not wanting her milk at bedtime. If she could take nearer to 4ozs at 6.30pm and again at 10.30pm, it would be easier to settle her with cooled boiled water at 3.30am rather than milk.
The 10.30pm feed can be difficult if a baby is sleepy, but it is worth trying to keep her awake for at least an hour at this time.
Some mother’s find it easier to wake the baby at 10pm and offer them half the feed, then let the baby have a quiet kick until 11.15pm when they change and offer the rest of the milk before settling back to sleep. This may result in a bigger intake at this time for your daughter, and also help her not to need the night feed. Trying to settle her with water at 3.30am could help her to be hungrier in the morning.
As your daughter has gained weight quite slowly and never had a very big appetite, keep trying to balance how much solids she accepts with her milk intake. Trying to get her to take too much solid food will only result in her cutting back even more on her milk, which is a situation you don’t want to have. Monitoring her fluid intake and offering her the chance to feed herself with a selection of finger foods, should see some improvement in her intake. Discuss your concerns with your health visitor or doctor, who will want to see that she is reaching her developmental milestones despite her slow weight increase.

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.

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.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My daughter of 7-months-old dislikes milk and refuses to swallow her solids

My daughter has been a sick baby having had surgery on her bladder 2 weeks ago. She has not been a great eater since she first became ill at 8-weeks-old. She appears to hate milk and when offered will not take it unless she is starving and then it is only a few ounces at most. When she refuses she will drink water. She really does know the difference because when I try to feed her at night and she is sleepy she still does not like it. Given her poor weight gain we have to add calories to the milk and food. My problem is not only with the refusal of the bottle but also of solids. She was better on solids at the start but now will not swallow. She holds food in her mouth and refuses to swallow. I am at my wits end – please help. I have tried letting her go without food/juice but this makes no difference at all. I have to dream feed her at 9pm in her sleep as this is the best bottle of the day and she tolerates it – although again refuses milk after first 2 oz.
At present she takes about 8ozs of milk in 24 hrs, she is given SMA High Energy; each feed being 1-2 ozs each. She is offered 10-15 spoons of food such as baby rice, pear and yoghurt. She weighed 7.1lb at birth and now weighs 11.4ozs.
She naps between 9 and 10am and 12-2pm, then settles at 7pm until 6am.

The problems which your daughter have faced in the last few months should really be looked at by a specialist dietician. It is important for her to begin to gain weight, which will help her recover from all the problems she has been facing. Another person who could help you is a speech therapist attached to a hospital who deals with all the problems associated with swallowing. As your daughter has never wanted to drink much, she needs to be fully assessed and appropriate help and advice given to you on how best to feed her so she begins to grow.

Dealing with a very sick baby is very stressful for you but you must insist on receiving help with her feeding problems as soon as possible. Ask for second opinions and referrals if you are not satisfied with the answers being given to you at present.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 6.1-month-old son is refusing his solids and not really enjoying his milk feeds

My son is now 6 months and 1 week and the last few days he’s been refusing his solids. He drinks 180ml (6.2oz) in the morning, which he takes with no problems, but the solids that follow he just doesn’t seem to want. I have to make him smile and sneak the teaspoons in his mouth. He used to really enjoy his solids, so I’m not sure what the problem could be. For his 11.30am feed he started crying when offered his bottle and only takes about 3 tsp of solids, which is forced in him. I thought it could just be that he’s not hungry so I moved the feed to 12, but it’s still the same. After some fighting he eventually drinks his bottle, but in the process it looks like he’s going to fall asleep, but then when I put him down after this he doesn’t fall asleep for a while. He has his normal 1 hour sleep from 9-10, so it’s strange that he would be dead tired by 12. Last week he got his two bottom teeth and he’s cutting two teeth on the sides at the bottom. Could that be why he doesn’t want to eat? What should I do? I’m worried that he is losing weight.
He presently weighs 9kg. He takes 180ml formula at 7.15am and 3pm, 90 ml 12 midday and 240ml at 6.30pm. He is offered three solid meals a day. Breakfast 3tsp maize cereal with 2 cubes of fruit (but taking none at the moment), chicken risotto at lunch and a blended vegetable meal at tea. He drinks about 80ml diluted juice during the day.
He sleeps at 9-9.45am, 12.20-1.30pm and 4-4.30pm, settles at 7pm- 6.30am.

Teething can cause a baby to not want to feed so much. The feel of a hard spoon against the gums can be painful, especially if a tooth is about to break through the skin. Some babies don’t always want to suck much either as this can be uncomfortable. One idea which can help over this time is to offer food and milk at a much cooler temperature than you usually do. Fruit puree can be offered cold which is soothing to sore gums.

As a general idea it usually takes three days for a tooth to begin to erupt, three days to actually break through and three days for the gum to recover. If your baby begins to get teeth one after the other quite quickly you can see that his gums may well be sore and tender in several places.

Try using a gel for soothing gums or granules, both widely available about 20 minutes before a feed is due. If you feel that your son is in real pain from his gums seek advice from your doctor who may suggest giving a small dose of infant pain reliever before feeds.

If you son is able to hold finger foods, cool some peeled batons of cucumber in the fridge and offer him those to suck on before offering him his solid food. Now he is taking protein at the 11.30am feed he needs to cut back on this feed. Giving milk to drink alongside protein can reduce the absorption of the iron contained in it by up to 50%. Begin to offer him a drink of cooled boiled water once he has taken his solids.

As teething comes and goes, there is often quite a gap from the first few teeth appearing to the next. A few days of not taking so much solid food should not affect him too much as he is still sleeping well at naps and in the night and not waking hungry early in the morning.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My almost 9 month son is beginning to clamp his mouth shut when offered his solids

For about the last 3 weeks, my son who is almost 9 months old has been refusing breakfast solids after being giving most of his milk. I have ignored this and offered him toast of which he eats some.
Over the past 10 days, he is now refusing to eat anything that I offer to him on a spoon. He clamps his mouth shut and goes bright red in the face in refusal. This was just happening at lunchtime but is now happening at tea as well. I did think it might be his teething as he has a 5th tooth coming through, but he goes to nursery one day a week and always feeds well there. His twin brother is a good feeder and consistently eats a good amount. Because there are 2 of them, I do not have the time to spend with him, so if he doesn’t want it, I tend to ignore him and carry on feeding his brother. I am worried that he will be losing weight. I am offering finger foods, which he has a go at eating, but most of it ends up elsewhere!
So far it does not seem to have affected his sleep, but I want to sort this out before he does start waking from sleep hungry.
He takes Ready Brek or Weetabix at breakfast with fruit. A piece of toast is offered. Lunch; 4tbsp lamb mince and mashed potato; he eats 3 spoons, organic yogurt. Tea; 3tbsp leek and potato soup: he eats 5 spoonfuls, apple pieces offered.

Now that your twins are almost 9 months old they will probably not be so hungry for their milk first thing in the morning. Begin to offer it in a beaker along with their cereal. If his disinterest continues try a different cereal as some babies do get bored with the same one or two cereals offered daily.
At meal times offer him a spoon to hold and encourage him to have a go at feeding himself. Begin with easy things such as mashed potato which will stay on his spoon quite well. It may take him a while to get the hang of feeding himself but will keep him absorbed and he will not notice that you are also feeding him.
Continue to offer him finger foods. This is another skill which needs to be learnt. Try with steamed vegetable batons and offer them with a dip. Show him how to dip his vegetables in. Use pieces of bread roll to spread with a casserole dish. Offer this to him while you are feeding him from his bowl. Having something to hold in their hands and to keep them occupied will often help with babies of this age who are on a food strike. When you are giving a thick vegetable soup give him a finger of toast or mini sandwich to dip into it.
Begin to push lunch onto 11.45/12 noon. Now they are older they will be able to wait longer unless they had a very short morning nap and maybe too tired to eat lunch properly.