Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My daughter of 7.5mths has begun to refuse all savoury food

Over the last 4 weeks my daughter has been refusing savoury food. She had started on fish and chicken successfully for a week and then stopped eating any savoury foods. She will happily eat yoghurt and custard and can be tempted with fruit purees but is wise to any ‘tricks’ I try to sneak in some vegetables or protein. She has had various colds and coughs during this time and the week before last she had diarrhea, vomiting and an ear infection so did not eat any food at all (on GP advice). I am aware she is not eating enough as she has not put any weight on in the last 3 weeks and I know she also needs protein. She has no problem taking her milk or breakfast cereal (porridge or up to 1 weetabix with full fat milk) She weighs 18lbs 6ozs.

My daughter drinks 7-8ozs formula at 7am followed by breakfast. She is offered water and a small snack such as a rice cake at 10am. Lunch at 11.45am is 1-2cubes of fruit and a yoghurt or custard. She drinks 7-8ozs formula at 2.30pm and has tea at 4.30pm. This is toast and butter and/ or 4 cubes of fruit puree. She drinks 6oz of formula at 6.30pm.

My daughter naps at 9-9.45am, 12.30-1.30pm and 3.30-4pm. She sleeps from 7pm to 6.30am.

It can be difficult to tempt a wary eater, especially after a period of illness when her appetite may not yet be back to normal.

To encourage her to try more savoury things and eat protein again you will have to reintroduce them gradually. Begin with the sweeter root vegetables such as carrot, parsnip and sweet potato. Mix a very small amount of vegetable into her fruit puree. Gradually, over a period of days, increase the amount of vegetable and decrease the fruit puree. Don’t try to hurry the process. You will need to make the change from sweet to savoury slowly. In the same way you can begin to add protein to her diet again. Place a teaspoon of pureed chicken casserole into her fruit/vegetable puree at lunchtime and gradually build up the amounts. This method will take time yet it should ensure she begins to eat a far wider range of food. Always offer the food with a happy, smiling face and make encouraging noises to her as a baby will quickly pick up from you any hesitancy that she will accept the food.

At the same time offer her finger food. Cook a tablespoon of mixed frozen vegetables and offer her one or two pieces at a time. The different colours and textures should encourage her to pick up and taste the vegetables. Finger food can be messy and it can take time. Keep offering it to her even if most of it ends up on the floor. Once she is happy to try savoury things you can always spread casserole puree onto pieces of bread roll for her, so she can feed herself whilst you carry on spoon feeding her.

Unless your daughter shows signs of being really hungry at 10am offer a drink only at this time. Until she has a better appetite, giving her a rice cake mid-morning will take the edge off her hunger for lunch. It would be better if she was taking 4 cubes at lunchtime and beginning to cut back on her afternoon milk. This, in turn, would allow you to offer a more substantial savoury tea as her appetite returns. In the same way as at lunch, offer her a fruit puree mixed with sweet root vegetables. As she accepts a more savoury diet her tea can begin to be based around thick vegetable soups, vegetable bakes or pasta with vegetable or cheese based sauces.

Once your daughter is eating more savoury food offer her fruit puree at breakfast time with her weetabix. If she seems hungry after her savoury lunch and tea then offer yoghurt, milk pudding or fruit puree but try not to make this something she expects. If she knows that sweet things are always on offer she may cut back on her savoury intake again.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 8mth son eats well in the company of other people but is rather fussy when at home with us

My son eats his solids well when he is entertained: e.g. at Nursery – he has other children/people to watch, and he was quite content during our recent family holiday to eat whilst watching everything that everyone else was getting up to (we have a large extended family!). However, at home with just 2 parents, he fusses much more. He is particularly difficult in the evening – logical, because he’s tired (and so are we!) – But it is worrying because he may not take enough food to get through the night comfortably. That said, he hasn’t been waking, except when he had a cold. Do you have any strategies for making this time more enjoyable and less stressful for all of us, please? PS I am gluten intolerant, so my son will not be having gluten until he is 2 years old.

He is breast fed at 7am, 2.30pm and 7pm. He is offered juice and water after his naps and during lunch and dinner.

8.15am, rice porridge and fruit
11.30am, meat and vegetables [including potato], raw fruit given as finger food.
4.30pm snack of rice cake and fruit
6pm rice with vegetables and fruit followed by fruit puree

As your son is tired by his dinner time, this meal needs to be food which is easy for him to eat and will fill him up for the night ahead. Providing he has eaten about 2ozs of animal protein at his lunch there is no need to offer meat again at dinner.

Take a look at Gina’s Weaning Guide which has plenty of suggestions for dishes to make for this time of day. Although your son joins you for his evening meal it may help to give him dishes of food which are more suitable for him to manage at this time when he is tired. Some things to try are jacket potatoes and beans, thick vegetable soups [which you may enjoy as well], lentil and vegetable bakes. As these meals are all high in carbohydrates they will fill him up.

You may have to feed your son if he is getting tired but offering him some nutritious finger food as well should sustain his interest. Offer him sticks of lightly steamed vegetables or some fingers of cheese. You may like to offer a dip with these if your son will eat a little more that way. Encourage him to have a go, using a spoon or fork. Self feeding can be messy but he will soon learn how to lift his spoon if he is given the opportunity to try.

It is good that you are involving your son in family meals as this is the way he learns about the social side of eating. When there are lots of people around the table he is not the centre of attention and so probably eats far better. With just the two of you at the table it is likely that you pay him a lot more attention and are conscious of how much he is eating. He may well sense this and so play up more. Although you will want to involve him at mealtimes don’t always focus on him. If you and your husband want to chat about the events of the day then do so. If your son has enough easy to eat finger foods he will listen to your talk and feed himself at his own pace. Keep the atmosphere light and relaxed with no pressure from you to eat “just one more spoonful”. Try not to discuss within his hearing your concerns over whether he has eaten enough. Babies can very easily pick up on tension and stress. Once your son shows that he has finished his meal then remove his plate. If you are still eating your own meal and your son still seems a little hungry, offer him some fruit or natural yoghurt and fruit puree.

If you offer your son small amounts of a variety of food he is more likely to try them than if he is given one or two foods such as potato and meat mashed up together. Separating out his food into a divided bowl. so he is able to see exactly what foods he is being offered, may encourage him to eat a larger meal.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 6mth daughter is happily established on solids but does not like home cooked vegetables or jars containing protein

My 6mth daughter has accepted her solids well and has been established on 3 feeds a day for the past 2.5 weeks. This has consisted of baby rice or mixed breakfast cereal and pureed fruit for breakfast, a variety of vegetables for lunch and baby rice and pureed fruit for tea (as per the contented baby book of weaning).

I have attempted to introduce fresh home cooked pureed vegetables but I find she will only take a mouthful or two before gagging and spitting them out. So as not to interfere with her feeding routine I opted to stay with the canned vegetables and fruit as she liked them and it was an easy option.

Now that she is 6 months of age and has been on solids for approx 6 weeks I would like to introduce protein. We tried her on the canned option of chicken and vegetables and she took one mouthful of this and then gagged at the next two before spitting out the third mouthful. I stopped offering her this food and went back to her normal vegetable lunch.

I tried her on fresh mashed banana a couple of days earlier and got the same result so again went back to the canned option.

Have you got any advice on how to get my daughter on to home made vegetables and rice and also how to introduce protein without getting the gag spit response.

My daughter feeds at 7am 200mls, 2 tablespoons baby cereal and 3 cubes of fruit puree. 11.30am 150mls formula or expressed breast milk, 5 tablespoons stage 1 vegetables, varied. 2.30pm 150mls formula or expressed breast milk, 6.15pm 200mls formula, 3tsps baby rice mixed with fruit puree. My daughter weighs 8kg [17lbs 10ozs].

She naps at 9-9.30am, 12-2pm and 5-5.15/30pm. She settles at 7pm.

The taste and texture of home cooked food is different from processed food in cans and jars so your daughter may take a time to adjust.

To help your daughter, make up a recipe similar to that in a jar of vegetables which she likes. When first starting to change over to home cooked food blend it to a very smooth consistency. Then mix one teaspoon of the home cooked food with the processed food and feed it to her As she becomes used to the denser texture and stronger flavour of home cooked food you can gradually increase the proportion of home cooked food to the processed food. Once your daughter is enjoying an entire meal of home cooked food you can gradually begin to blend it less so she becomes used to having food that is more textured.

When you introduce a new food, such as protein, you may find that your baby gags as the flavour is new to her. This does not mean she does not like it. Keep offering it to her over a period of several days, especially at the times you know she is hungry. It can take several attempts before a baby accepts a new taste.

A baby can soon learn that if she gags the food will be replaced by a familiar puree and so she may become a fussy eater. Getting used to lumps and textures can take time but it helps other areas of her development later on. Chewing is one of the early stages in learning to talk, so it is important to keep trying your daughter with more textured food now.

Now that your daughter is six months old the iron supplies laid down at birth are running low. Speeding up the weaning process to include iron rich foods needs to take place, especially as she is taking time to accept protein. Look at Gina’s article Weaning Guidelines on the site. You will need to work quickly through the food groups, introducing a new taste every other day to provide all the nutrients your daughter now needs.

Make sure you offer your daughter a cereal which is fortified with iron. Other sources include broccoli, green leafy vegetables, beans and lentils.

When your daughter gags, remain calm and reassure her, then offer her the food again. Gagging is a protective reflex. It helps get food back to the front of the mouth where it can be repositioned or spat out. Some babies will have a stronger gag reflex than others so you may need to proceed slowly but continue to offer new tastes and home cooked food. If your daughter seems to gag, or coughs, a great deal seek advice from your health visitor or doctor. Look in The Contented Child’s Food Bible, page 96 onwards, where gagging and lumpy textures are discussed.

As soon as your daughter is used to home cooked vegetables make up one of the simple protein recipes from Gina’s Weaning Book, such Chicken Casserole on page 75. To get your daughter used to eating home cooked protein, replace one tablespoon or cube of her vegetable meal with a cube or tablespoon of the protein. Increase the amount of protein cubes by one or two every day and decrease the vegetables until she is taking a full protein meal. This will get her used to the stronger flavours as they are mixed in with familiar vegetables.

Continue to blend your daughter’s food but gradually reduce the blending and begin mashing so the textures become less smooth. Getting used to lumps takes time. As long as you stay close, and don’t over react yourself should she gag, she will become more accepting of home prepared food and protein. Always offer new tastes with a smiling face and encouraging words so your daughter enjoys her mealtimes.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 7-month-old has suddenly become a fussy eater and won’t open her mouth

I am an older mother (nearing 40) of a seven-month-old baby girl, and pregnant with our second child (in the first trimester). Our daughter, Cassidy, is generally a very happy baby, and has been a Gina baby all her life. Her sleep patterns, her feeding, weaning etc have all been according to Gina, and this has worked incredibly well for us – if we had a wobble, going back to Gina has always sorted it out.
All Gina’s advice has worked really well for us until the last fortnight, when we were suddenly confronted with an apparently fussy eater. With a freezer full of puréed organic vegetables (as Gina advises) and her diet entirely according to Gina’s weaning book, all had been going swimmingly. However, we now have a prolonged session of pursed lips and spitting at every meal. The most frustrating thing is that if we trick her into taking a mouthful she quite happily eats it. So mealtimes are now a long series of tricks designed to get her to open her mouth.
She seems to particularly dislike mushy foods, and has taken to small sandwiches with gusto. However, we are concerned at how we get vegetables into her, and how we can vary her diet. And how we can make mealtimes a bit easier – like they used to be!
Any advice would be wonderful.

Cassidy is beginning to show her independence. I would encourage her to self-feed in a variety of ways. Try to use her love of mini sandwiches. Make her vegetable purées a little thicker, possibly mashing rather than puréeing. Spread these on small pieces of bread or rolls and serve as an open sandwich. Even something like Chicken Rissotto or casserole can be prepared and spread in this way. This way will encourage Cassidy to try a wider range of food. Begin to mash or pulse her vegetables rather than purée as Cassidy needs to get used to a denser texture. Make sure the food is not lumpy – but it no longer needs to be so smooth.

Cook a spoonful or two of mixed frozen vegetables and offer them to Cassidy on the tray of her highchair to feed herself. The colours and textures should tempt her. Make this a more nutritious meal by grating cheese over them whilst they are still hot so it melts. Offer steamed batons of carrots, broccoli, peas and other vegetables suitable for her age. Until she has teeth all of these need to be fairly soft, but firm enough for her to hold in her hand. If she feeds herself well with these you could try making dips of thick soup or casserole and encourage her to eat this way.

When feeding Cassidy give her a spoon to hold, whilst you feed her. This simple trick often works. Encourage her to push her spoon into the bowl, and try to feed herself. Whilst she is busy doing that you may find she will open her mouth for your spoonful without realising it. This stage of eating can be rather messy so be prepared. Use a bib which covers her well, the kind with arms are best. Roll up sleeves or remove any jumpers which may get messy. Cover the floor with a splash mat or newspapers and have face cloths ready.

Babies can often be tired by teatime, so make this an easy meal for Cassidy to eat. If she has eaten a good lunch, then give Cassidy things you know she can feed herself with. Rather than giving her milk at tea time, I would encourage Cassidy to drink water from her sip cup. She then should have her bath and enjoy a larger bottle before bedtime.

By encouraging Cassidy to feed herself, with some help from you, you should be able to continue offering her a varied diet. This is important at this age, as it is easy to go on serving the same meals you know Cassidy will eat. It might take a little thought as to how to present new tastes in a way that will be appealing to her.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

6.5 month Henry refuses any savoury food unless it’s sweetened with apple puree

Help. My son is 6 ½ months old, he weighs 18lb and is extremely happy and contented. My problem, I think, has been self inflicted, but I am desperate to get him back on track. I recently weaned Henry from breast to bottle. He wakes around 6.30-7am and I give him a bottle of formula; sometimes he will take 8oz and others 4-5 oz. He then has a little play for a couple of hours and I feed him his breakfast around 8.30am which typically would be fruit puree with yoghurt or baby cereal mixed with fruit. Again, I offer him the remaining milk after making up the cereal and he happily takes this. I then put him down for a sleep which usually is for about 45 minutes. I give Henry his lunch around 12-12.30pm which is usually chicken or fish with vegetables, and this is where the problem starts. He has a little drink of water first, then he refuses to take anything savoury. I made the mistake of mixing apple puree in with this meal and he then would finish the bowl. After this meal, he takes 2-3oz of milk. He then plays for a short while and I put him back down for a sleep, which is usually for about one hour. Dinner is around 4.30pm and I usually give him a rusk mixed with fruit puree and 2 teaspoons of natural yoghurt which he finishes, followed by a bottle of formula and he usually takes around 4-5oz. He plays and then dozes for about thirty minutes in his highchair and is in the bath with his sister around 6.30pm, and ready for bed at 7pm. He is given a bottle then and usually takes 7-8oz. Henry usually sleeps right through, but he has been waking in the night and playing – I leave him and he goes back to sleep. I feel that feeding times have become a constant battleground with screaming and crying unless the option is sweet. I have been tough and not given in, but I need some help over which way to go. Do I go back to basics again?

Henry definitely seems to have a tendency towards a sweet tooth and he will need to gradually be weaned off having his savoury food sweetened. Begin to eliminate the apple puree very gradually and use sweetish vegetables such as carrot and sweet potato with his protein as you begin to decrease the apple.

Once Henry is taking more savoury food at lunch, I would begin to offer a savoury tea, such as thick vegetable soups, pasta with vegetable sauces and vegetable bakes. Introduce him to finger food such as mini sandwiches, small pieces of roll with savoury purees spread on them and lightly steamed vegetable batons of carrot, peas and broccoli florets. Being able to feed himself may help him get used to more savoury tastes and feeding times should be more enjoyable for you both.

Now Henry is taking protein at lunchtime, I would replace his milk at that time with water. Offering milk when protein is being eaten reduces the iron absorbtion from the protein up to 50 per cent. If you think that Henry is still hungry after his savoury, then give him a piece of fruit or a natural yoghurt with fruit puree afterwards.
If you move his tea/ dinner to 5/5.30pm you may find that Henry is hungrier for it and more willing to eat a savoury meal.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

My 8-month-old is refusing solids

Please help, I’m desperate! I’ve followed the routines since Ben was around one month old and we’ve not been doing too badly but for the last month, things have been going from bad to worse with feeding solids. He is now eight months old and has started to clamp his mouth shut when I try to feed him solid food. As soon as I put the spoon near his mouth, he starts getting very angry. As a result, he wants more milk feeds and is waking earlier. If I put the TV on, I can sometimes get a few spoonfuls down him but he is getting wise to this now and I don’t really want to depend on the TV distracting him to get food down him anyway. My HV said to offer him finger foods but he has no teeth and just throws everything I offer on the floor. I’ve always given him homemade food. In the last few days, I’ve tried jars in desperation but he refuses them as well. He drinks 18-20oz of milk each day. He will take sweet foods slightly better but in the last week I have cut these out, so he hasn’t had any fruit at all. I thought that might work but it hasn’t!

As I don’t know when your son has his milk feeds during the day, it is hard to say whether his food refusal is due to having too much milk at the wrong times. In order for your son to be more interested in eating his solids, make sure he is really hungry at his mealtimes. Offer him his solids first and a drink only after he has eaten at least half of them. Try to limit how much milk he drinks at 2/3pm so he will be really hungry for his tea. You may have a discontented baby for a day or two but once his food intake increases, this should pass.

Give him a spoon to hold and show him how to dig into his bowl. He won’t really be able to feed himself yet but he may well become so interested in what he is doing that you are able to get a few more spoons down him.

Make his finger food as interesting and eye-catching as possible. Make sure you offer him things he can easily eat even though he has no teeth. Try a spoonful of cooked frozen mixed vegetables to entice him with the different colours and textures. Once he used to vegetables, offer him a finger of toast, lightly buttered, or bread sticks which most babies love to suck. Some babies will accept small pieces of bread roll spread with a puree such as chicken casserole.

Try to keep calm at meal times and if Ben refuses his food after a few mouthfuls, remove the food rather than endless cajoling. Offer him a few finger foods and then finish the meal and only offer him food at his next snack time.

Babies of this age can become difficult about solids if they enjoy their bottles more. You must keep persisting daily to get him more interested in solid food but without making mealtimes battlegrounds. Begin to cut his milk intake slightly at the feeds you feel may be affecting his appetite most. Lots of mothers find their baby’s eating habits improve once they are using up lots of energy with crawling and cruising.

Feeding FAQ: 6-9 months – General Food Refusal

7-month-old Edward has gone from a fantastic eater to a food refuser

Please help! Edward is seven months old and has been fantastic for ages, we went on holiday and roughly four days after we came back he has been waking several times a night.
His schedule is breakfast of one weetabix with fruit puree and buttered toast fingers at 7.30am and 9oz of milk between 8 and 8.30am; lunch at 12pm of chicken, potato and carrot mixed with fruit puree, 3-4 mild cheese slices and a petit filous with a 2oz drink of well-diluted ribena. He’ll have 8oz of formula at about 3.30pm. His supper at around 5.30pm is something like 2tbs tomato pasta mixed with fruit puree, 3 bread & butter fingers, 2-3 mild cheese slices, 3tbs fruit puree and a drink of 2 oz of well-diluted ribena. He’ll have 9oz of formula between 6.30 and 7pm and then go down for the night. He has a morning nap of 45 minutes at 9.30. His lunchtime nap is two hours or so at about 1pm.
He is refusing his food. I know he is not eating enough but he just clamps his mouth shut and starts blowing raspberries! He will take the first couple of spoons with no trouble but then the only way to get it into him is by putting fruit puree on the front of the spoon, this works for a few more spoons but then he gets wise and won’t take anymore. Meal times have become a real strain, as I am well aware of the fact that if he doesn’t eat enough he doesn’t sleep properly, so I spend ages trying to make him eat his full quota. I have now taken to letting him eat as much or little as he wants because it’s just becoming too stressful spending an hour getting him to eat. He has always eaten fantastically well, so I don’t know what has happened. He loves feeding himself with finger food but as soon as the spoon appears it’s another story. I let him have a spoon of his own but if there is ever food on it, it mainly ends up in his ears or hair . The only meal that actually sees him opening his mouth to take his food without protest is breakfast and even then he sometimes will only eat half a weetabix. I know that he is going down for his lunchtime sleep too late but this is just because he is taking so long to eat his lunch.
The wakings in the night are now catching up on me. I am three months pregnant and desperately need to get a good night’s sleep. I spoke with Gina pre going on holiday and she advised me that he should be having 7tbs spoons of protein at lunch, he was eating that and more on holiday and for a few days when we got back but then suddenly everything went topsy-turvey. I know he is teething but am not sure what I should do. I have on a couple of occasions thought that I should just feed him when he first wakes at around 1am but I really don’t want to start feeding him in the night as I know it can become a difficult habit to break. Even when he was a little baby, he wasn’t waking as many times as this! I am just not used to it. HELP!

Edward does have quite a large intake of milk especially at 8am. If you cut this back by a couple of ounces, he should be hungrier at lunchtime. As he is taking longer to feed, begin at 11.45am so he is having his nap earlier. His afternoon feed should be no later than 2.30pm and a lesser amount to ensure he will be hungry by tea. As Edward is accepting cheese slices and fromage frais, he can cut back on his milk. He needs a daily total of 18-20ozs which includes milk used in preparing his food.
While Edward is being less cooperative about taking his solids, be careful not to offer him his drink until he has taken at least half of his solids and encourage him to only have sips. Too much fluid can quickly fill a baby up and take the edge off his appetite if it’s given at the beginning of a meal. Offer him his lunchtime fluids from a beaker. Try to wean Edward from ribena on to water, if you can, as the added sugars in such drinks also suppress his appetite. Do this by diluting his drinks more and more until he is taking water only.

Edward is obviously beginning to show his independence in wanting to feed himself. He also is teething which can cause temporary problems with accepting a spoon. Use his love of finger food to give him more of his solids this way. You can spread his chicken or other puree on pieces of roll so he is able to feed himself. Make him mini sandwiches with fillings suitable for his age. Pasta shapes can be given with a suitable sauce which Edward can dip into. Lightly steamed vegetable batons can be given with a sauce to dip into or with cheese grated over them when hot. It may take a little more thought to provide him with suitable finger food but will result in happier mealtimes for you both.

Introducing apple puree at each meal may begin a fondness for sweeter food which could escalate into another problem. Depending how good Edward is at feeding himself in this way, you should be able to get more solids into him. Keep persevering with a spoon as well but a teething baby can dislike its feel on his sore gums. This should disappear once the tooth is finally through, so keep trying. Give him plenty of cold finger food if you feel that his gums are sore; peeled cucumber sticks straight from the fridge, frozen fruit and bagels may all help the discomfort and soothe his gums.

At his age Edward will not get much food himself into his mouth using a spoon, but it is a good idea to give him one of his own. By holding your hand over his you can help him dig into his bowl and lift it to his mouth. The action of getting it there is fairly complex and many early self feeders turn the spoon over and lose the contents before it reaches their mouth, but it is only by being given the opportunity to try at each mealtime that they refine their skills. Self-feeding can be very messy. Use all-in-one bibs with sleeves and spread a messy mat or sheets of newspaper under his highchair so that cleaning up is easier. Have one or two flannels ready to clean him up. These should be soaked and washed on a daily basis.

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.

Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

At 10mths my son will only eat fish in a cheese or white sauce, despite being weaned onto a wide range of vegetables, fruits, chicken, red meat and fish

My son is now 10 months old and has always been a very happy boy. We have followed the routines laid out by Gina since birth and this has resulted in him sleeping through the night from about 4 months and he has continued to sleep well, not waking until 7. 30 am. The slight concern I now have is that he only seems to want to eat one thing! I have always prepared his meals myself, introducing a wide variety of vegetables and fruit and then chicken, red meat and fish. In the last couple of weeks he only seems to be interested in meals made from fish and vegetables in a white or cheese sauce and has totally lost interest in any other meals I prepare! He wakes at 7.30 having slept all night and has a good breakfast of one Weetabix or Ready Brek with mashed banana and apricot followed by toast fingers and sometimes with a drink of water. He no longer wants any milk to drink in the morning so about 5ozs goes on his cereal. He then has a short nap at 0915 until 1000 and then lunch normally starts at about 1130. He normally has a bit of a rage when I first try and feed him but then eats well as long as it’s fish! He will then be given some rice pudding or fruit fool or yoghurt and some fruit pieces to eat, followed by his longer nap, which is usually about one and a half hours. My son no longer wants any milk at 2.30pm so he may have breadstick or some fruit in the afternoon if he seems to want a snack. Tea is at 5pm which again starts with rage and then he eats well, he has about 6 cubes of fish followed by a milk pudding and then some fruit and cheese pieces. His last bottle at 6.15pm has reduced now; he is only having about 4ozs at this time. He then settles well and sleeps all night, never waking. I continually try and offer my son other meals at mealtimes but it is very clear that he is not interested so there seems little point sitting there for ages when it is apparent that he is not going to eat it. He used to enjoy all the meals I prepared for him, is the fact that he is now becoming more resistant something to worry about and how can I re-introduce him to different foods again?

My son takes 2ozs of water at breakfast, 2-4ozs with his lunch and 2-4ozs at tea.

He naps at 9.15-10am, 12.30-2.00pm and is settled by 7pm.

By this age babies are becoming aware of the different tastes and textures of food. Their dexterity in using their fingers to pick things up is more refined and they are beginning to be a little more independent, wanting to do things for themselves.

Encourage your son to begin enjoying a wide range of food again by introducing plenty of finger food and also begin to offer his food as a “meal” on a plate, so he is aware of the different ingredients.

Whilst you are preparing his food, give him a few pieces of finger food on his high chair tray. A good way to get his interest is to cook a tablespoon of frozen mixed vegetables. These usually have carrots, peas, baby corn and maybe swede or other vegetables. The colours and different textures will appeal to him and he should begin to pick them up to feed himself. It may take him a while to do this but by always offering him some finger food at every meal, before he has eaten his main course, he is more likely to try. Only offer a few pieces at a time as babies are apt to swipe larger amounts onto the floor.

When offering him his main meals use a bowl which has divisions to separate out the different items. Use small amounts of a variety of foods, rather than one or two items. For example, place his fish in one section with or without a sauce, some mashed potatoes in another and, in the third section, place a selection of vegetables such as a broccoli floret, some diced carrot and maybe a baby corn.

Place the bowl in front of your son and give him a spoon. Self feeding takes time to master and can be messy but he will only learn if given the opportunity to try. Also, if given the chance to feed himself he may well be more willing to try out something other than fish. Whilst he is busy trying to feed himself you should be able to spoon feed him as well, as his attention will be focused on what he is trying to pick up.

It is easy to make the same well loved dishes for a baby as there is always the worry that if he does not eat well at the meal he will be hungry later. But this approach can lead to fussiness. Offer him things other than fish and let him have a go at feeding himself, even if he resorts to his fingers. Keep trying with foods he seems to reject, especially as he previously ate a varied diet. If you feel that he has not eaten much don’t be tempted to try and fill him up by offering him things he will accept. If he seems hungry in an hour or so offer him a small snack such as a piece of fruit but only if this does not seem to diminish his appetite for the next meal.

Look at page 30 of Contented Baby to Confident Child which deals with fussy feeders.

To encourage your son to have a good bedtime feed you may need to cut back a little on his food intake at teatime. Try cutting out the milk pudding and see if he is content with his main course, fruit and maybe cheese. As he is eating a lot of cheese and white sauce his daily milk needs of 20ozs minimum are probably being met but a bedtime feed of around 6ozs should be encouraged.

Feeding FAQ: 9-12 months – General Food Refusal

Since having a heavy cold my 9.5mth daughter is refusing all her solids and waking hungry in the night

My daughter was very good sleeper (7pm-8am) and enjoyed the routine until she had a very bad cold last month. She stopped eating solids during the day, waking up at night and taking up to 3 full 8 oz bottles. I don’t know how to turn it around. I tried everything, cuddling, boiled water – nothing helps. She falls asleep only if she has had milk. If she does not have enough she will not settle or wakes up after an hour. My daughter used to love solids, it all has changed now. We are trying to encourage her to feed herself and she enjoys finger food. I am afraid it is not enough to make her sleep during the night. We do prepare fresh food following Gina’s recipes and she used to love all of them.

My daughter feeds at 8.30am 6ozs, porridge, which she sometimes refuses after her 8oz bottle at 5am. 12.30pm Protein based meal which she now refuses to eat. Finger food, cheese and bread. 4-6ozs water. 2.30pm 8ozs formula. 5pm Vegetables and pudding, she refuses to eat both. 5.30pm 6ozs, 10.30pm 8ozs, 1.30am 7ozs, 5.30am 7ozs. She weighs 10kg [22lbs]

My daughter naps at 1-2pm and settles at 7pm.

Getting a baby back on track after illness can take some time. Now that your daughter is fully recovered you will need to cut back on her milk intake in order for her to have more of an appetite for food. As she is genuinely hungry in the night start cutting down on the amount of milk she takes during the day so it will be easier to eliminate the night feeds.

Treat the bottle she has at 5.30am as her breakfast milk. If she shows little interest in porridge for her breakfast offer her something lighter such as natural yoghurt and fruit until her appetite returns. If she likes to feed herself, give her some fingers of toast spread with cream cheese or a handful of dried cereal, such as Cheerio’s, along with her yoghurt and fruit. Offer her a small drink of water after her breakfast rather than the 6ozs of formula.

Cutting back on her milk at breakfast should help her to have more of an appetite for lunch. She may even need this meal slightly earlier so she is not too tired to eat. Now she is interested in feeding herself offer her the meal in a divided dish so she can see what she is being given. If you are giving her Shepherd’s pie place the meat and potato portion in one division, a small amount of chopped carrots in another and one or two florets of broccoli in the third. Seeing her meal laid out like this should tempt your daughter to feed herself. Give her a spoon so she can try to feed herself. At this stage she may resort to using her fingers and it can get messy, so prepare for this by covering the floor and having several clean, damp flannels close by. If your daughter gets interested in feeding herself she may be less resistant to you popping a spoonful of food into her mouth now and then. Once she loses interest in her meal remove the plate and offer her some fresh fruit if she enjoys this.

Before your daughter settles for her lunchtime nap offer her a small drink of milk to see if this will help her sleep longer at this time of day.

To help her regain her appetite for tea cut right back on the amount of milk she is drinking at 2.30pm. You can increase this feed again once she begins to eat better in the day and stops needing milk in the night. It will be easier for you to cope with her being slightly cranky in the day than to cope with her repeated waking in the night.

If your daughter seems hungry by 4.30/4.45pm offer her tea. Try thick vegetable soups with mini sandwiches; bread sticks or rice cakes; pasta with cheese or vegetable sauces; jacket potatoes with grated cheese; baked beans or other vegetarian teas which you make “finger food” friendly. If your daughter enjoys bread and cheese try this toasted with some sticks of lightly cooked vegetables, such as carrot or small cherry tomatoes chopped in half. Getting your daughter to eat a carbohydrate rich tea will help her be less hungry in the night. Once eating again you can give her a bottle of milk at 6.30pm rather than milk at teatime. If she seems thirsty after her tea, offer her a drink of water.

Keep the 10.30pm feed in place until your daughter’s appetite picks up in the day. Once she starts eating properly again she should lose interest in this feed.

When you feel that her eating has improved in the day you can start to eliminate the feed in the night. This may take a little time if she associates waking in the night with being fed. Offering her water when she first wakes at 1.30am should settle her for a while longer. Gradually stretching her night out again in this way, along with an increased food intake by day, should help her drop this feed fairly quickly once she no longer really needs it.

Recovering from illness takes time but getting your daughter interested in her food, and letting her feed herself as much as she is able, should encourage her to once more enjoy her meal times. Keep mealtimes happy and relaxed and finish them once it is clear she has had enough to eat.