Six Tips to Encourage Your Baby to Eat

Posted on Jun 29 2008 - 1:00am by Christine
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Shallena from Loma Linda in the United States wrote to us yesterday to ask if we could come up with any ideas to encourage her little boy to eat a wider range of foods.

She told us…

My baby is 8 months old. He doesn’t want to eat any food except Cheerios. He breast and bottle feeds. I don’t think that I need to push him to eat solids (I used to get frustrated when he wouldn’t eat. He has GERD and his doctor said to give him rice. But I’m over that now.)

Do you have any ideas on how to interest him in something besides Cheerios? I was feeding him fruits, but then he absolutely refused to eat any vegetables, so I also stopped giving him solids. He didn’t want them anyway.

The interesting thing is, when we go to the garden and pick our black raspberries, he is very eager to eat them. He’ll eat some grapes off of our vine after I peel and half them. I thought that maybe he just wants food that he can feed himself. So I tried giving him well-cooked green peas and black-eyed peas, and cut cooked potatoes, but he didn’t want them.

I would appreciate any help or any ideas that you can give me.

Here’s what we suggested – and we hope that you might find these ideas useful if YOUR little one is on a ‘food strike’ at the moment!

“This is certainly a tough one! Normally, when parents write for advice on encouraging their babies to eat, it turns out that giving them the opportunity to feed themselves works magic! But you have clearly considered this already – and your little man still isn’t interested!

Here are a few suggestions…

6 tips to encourage your baby to eat

1. Given that he still eats Cheerios, it is unlikely that teething pain is stopping him from eating other foods. Still, it might be worth trying to offer him some frozen snacks (a chunk of frozen watermelon, for example). Who knows – at this time of year, he may simply enjoy a refreshing treat like this… and may then discover that he actually likes the flavour!

2. Try offering him a ‘dip’ (such as pieces of fruit with yogurt, or cooked veggies with a veggie puree on the side to dip them into). Our babies LOVED to dip and – although it made lots of mess – it encouraged them to engage in their meal and try a wider variety of foods.

3. Try offering him a nice selection of finger foods for breakfast. He will probably be hungrier – and happier – than at any other time of day and more likely to give foods a try.

4. Try and arrange a play date with friends so you can feed your babies together. Babies love to mimic others – and if he sees his little friends eating a variety of foods, then he might be more inclined to try them himself.

5. Try sitting your baby on your lap when you eat your dinner. Cut some pieces of food up to the right size for him and put them near to him on your plate. Don’t try to offer him any – you may find that he’ll be tempted to help himself! Babies often want what YOU’RE eating – and not what they’re given!

6. Try offering him a small bowl of mashed/pureed food with a spoon. He’ll probably enjoy making a mess and trying to feed himself – and you may be able to feed him a little whilst he’s distracted. We don’t recommend using a ‘distraction’ technique on a regular basis, as it can cause babies to eat more than they really need. But it can be a useful way of getting your baby to try a new food in the first place.

However, we absolutely agree with you that it is not necessary to ‘push’ solids. As long as your doctor is satisfied with your baby’s weight gain and iron levels, then it may simply be better to wait until he is ready for solids, regularly offering him tempting foods in the meantime. Trying to
force an unwilling baby to eat foods that he doesn’t want is fruitless – and often creates more problems for the future.”

Shallena wrote to us again shortly afterwards and told us that she had tried crushing the Cheerios and rolling pieces of avocado in them… and this was successful for one meal, at least. She is now going to give our other suggestions a try… but some more ideas would be wonderful!

Has anyone else experienced this problem and come up with a solution?

Please leave any suggestions that Shallena might find helpful below and let’s help her little man extend his culinary repertoire!

Useful links on our site if YOUR baby is refusing to eat…

How much should my baby be eating?
Gagging problems and introducing lumpy foods
My baby won’t eat from a spoon
My baby won’t eat vegetables
Baby feeding tips
How to cope with messy mealtimes

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