Friday, December 28, 2007

Picky Eaters

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It starts off as quite amusing and funny. You baby doesn't like this or that (Kaitlyn hated ALL fruit). Those faces are the best! The shudders. The scrunched faces. The fake gagging.

Then you start to worry. Your baby isn't eating like you think she should and you don't know what to do. when Kaitlyn was hating fruits I worried about it and did some checking around with people I know and also stuff online to talk to people who had experienced the same thing.

With Brayden, he really hated squash, so I stopped buying it and stopped feeding it to him. My friend still fed stuff to her son even if he didn't like it. I can see how that would be beneficial so you can be sure to get the most variety in the diet. Maybe I didn't worry about it with Brayden because it was the only food he didn't like. I think the older they get, the harder they get to push into something new.

Kaitlyn didn't like fruits for a couple of weeks. She clamped her mouth shut and refused to eat, but I just continued to give it to her every day at every meal, and she now eats it. It isn't her favorite part of the meal, but she eats a good amount and enough that I am not worried about it at all. You have to just keep trying.

Pretty much the consensus for fixing the picky eater is that you keep trying and at some point they will do eat. You just have to consistently offer the solids, the baby will eat what they will, and eventually they will eat food. I guess it is like everything else (CIO, sleeping through night, etc.). Some are naturals, some need work, some adapt quickly, some need lots of practice...and it is so hard to look into the future and think "it will happen someday" without knowing when that day is. Kaitlyn adapted rather quickly, much faster than I anticipated. One person said her baby seemed to not like the pureed food, but once he could eat solids (real solids) he ate much better.
  • Offer the food often. Decide what is best for you and LO. Every meal? Once a day? Every so often? Only you can decide what is best, but keep trying. The more you work with her while young the fewer problems you will have as she gets older. Over time I am sure she will get even better. She will eventually grow to like it, or at least eat it. It took Kaitlyn about 2 months of slowly working up to eat it. Expect it to take time.
  • Show some excitement! It really does help. It still helps with Brayden. I always cheer when he finishes all of his veggies at dinner, and he really likes it. Who doesn't enjoy applause ;)
  • If your baby will copy your faces, open your mouth wide. She will follow suite.
  • An idea to try would be to try to feed solids before you nurse her. If she is too hungry and impatient, you could nurse one side and then solids then nurse the other. That is what I did with Kaitlyn until she ate solids well (I did it with Brayden too). Now I nurse both sides before her solids. If she were hungry, she might try it enough to just get her used to the flavors and start to like it.
  • Some babies like the stage one, while others very much dislike it and prefer stage two or three. If you make your own food, experiment with the thickness and runniness of your food to see what your baby prefers. This same principle is true for cereal. Some like it runny, some like it thick. Some don't care so long as they get food.
  • If you buy food, experiment with the brands. I found Brayden liked one brand over another. And even then, there were a couple of foods he preferred in other brands.
Kaitlyn didn't love green beans at first (and neither did Brayden). She didn't refuse them, but wouldn't eat as much as she would peas and eventually the garden veggies. I kept giving them to her every so often, expecting her to only have a few bites and then would follow up with peas so she would get full. She will now eat them. Sometimes it is only 3/4 of the stage 2 container, but she still eats them.

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

How did you handle pickiness when your kids were around 1 year old? My son used to eat anything, really anything, put in front of him, but recently he's become more picky about what he eats. I'm not serving him weird food, but am just giving him whatever my husband and I are having for our meals. I've heard of putting the child's plate in the fridge and bringing it out at the next meal if he/she won't eat it, but I'm not sure if my son's too young for that approach. Did you ever try that?

CO Mom said...

My 6 month old absolutely loved her green veggies (already introduced yellows) until one day last week when peas and bean were out. I have basically forced her to eat them because I don't want her to not get the nutrition and I don't want her to learn that if she gags and makes hysterical faces she can pass on certain foods. At dinner last night and lunch today, I was forcing greens into her mouth when she would start talking and blowing raspberries (MESS!). I put my finger over her mouth and gave her a firm no, but cognitively I don't know that she's quite to the point of being able to understand. Finally I mixed some rice cereal w/ the beans and she ate like a champ. I was thinking I'd reduce the amt of rice cereal over the next week and see if I can get her to "love" greens the way she did for the first 2 weeks she was on them. What are your thoughts on this? I don't want to be overfeeding her by giving her rice cereal in addition to greens at lunch and dinner, but she ate hungrily and we usually let her decide when she's finished (within reason). I'm going to be patient and continue to offer greens, but the rice cereal mix seems like a good compromise until she'll take plain greens. Thanks for your advice!

Plowmanators said...

Elizabeth, I apologize; I am just now seeing your question. I never have tried the food in the fridge approach. With new foods, it can take some time for them to try it over and over before they form a real opinion. My requirement will be one bite to at least try, but that is it at the younger ages. As they get older, I increase number of bites. They do seem to get pickier as they get older.

Plowmanators said...

CO Mom,

I think it is good to let her know that certain behaviors are unacceptable. I think she is able to understand that to a point, but don't expect her to be obedient 100%--toddlers are at 60%, so expect less than that from a 6 month old (don't let it slide half the time, still tell her no, but don't get frustrated when she isn't obedient all the time).

She might now find the greens alone to be too much flavor. That might be the reason she is liking it better with rice. I like the idea of trying the veggies without the rice every so often to see if she will eat it, but I don't see a problem of adding rice if it helps her. She will get used to the flavor over time.

Ashley said...

PLEASE HELP! we are right in the middle of refusing to eat pretty much any "food" and i am beside myself as to what to do. my son just turned a year old and was eating finger foods, cheese, grilled cheese, bananas, strawberries, veggies, toast, etc. now - he will hardly touch anything with texture. even if he liked it before. mealtime has now become a fight and i don't want it to be that. he turns his head, closes his mouth, pushes everything away. we can get some "baby food" in him if we distract him enough to try it. but, i really don't want to get in the habit of having to distract him for EVERY meal - it is ALOT of work just for 1 bite. and i'm reading that he should be eating what we eat by now, but he is refusing. so, what i'm wondering is: should i not worry about it and if he doesn't eat, maybe he will at the next meal? should i try to make him eat something? what about regular food - i'm worried that he won't ever eat it? i'm just at a loss!! please help :)
thanks
ashley

Plowmanators said...

Ashley,

You can require him to take a bite, but don't try to force food in him. At 12 months, they eat significantly less than they did prior to that. Offer him the foods at mealtimes and let him eat what he will. If he doesn't eat, he can eat again at the next meal. He won't starve himself. Just be sure you don't give him food between meals when he doesn't eat well; you want him to eat well at mealtime. See

Food Amounts for Toddlers: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2009/01/food-amounts-for-toddlers.html

Cate said...

Thank you for your invaluable blog! Once again, I turn to it in times of crisis. My 11 month old has become a picky eater and stopped gaining weight. She has started throwing food off her tray and every time she does it I give her the mommy face and say no, but she takes her next piece of food and does it anyway. She knows it is wrong because she watches me very closely when she does it. Sometimes, my face is enough to get her to stop but sometimes it's not. My problem is that I don't want to discipline her by taking food away because she needs to eat! She used to eat much more - she is mostly all real food since she started refusing purees around 9 - 10 months.

Now she nurses at wake up (6AM), then has breakfast (usually at 7 pureed fruit with cereal or banana wheat pancake and/or toast); at 10 - 10.30 she has a small bottleor nurses (3 oz or so) and a small snack of cheerios; at 12.30 or 1.00 she has lunch (yogurt with fruit or veggies; and/or a few pieces of chicken and/or a few pieces of cheese); snack around 3 or 3.30 and dinner at 6 (a little meat, a veggie, avocado and some fruit).

I know when I list that it sounds like a lot of food, but she doesn't eat that much at all anymore - only a few bites at each meal, and since she has stopped gaining weight I don't know what to do. Any ideas? I am totally confused about how people are "making" the babies eat. She turns her head and closes her lips and puts her hands in front of her face - unless I physically pulled her hands back and pried open her mouth there is no getting in ... it's like fort knox!

Any help would be great.

thesprian said...

My 9 month old is doing a similar thing as Cate's baby. He used to eat his pureed food very well, and now suddenly this week, he doesn't want any bites from a spoon. If I give him some strips of toast he'll work on that but he's so curious about new foods and what they will do if he pokes, pushes them around and throws them, that a very small amount actually gets into his mouth. I'm doing my best not to make it a struggle. He eats what he eats. If he gets hungry he'll eat at the next meal (hopefully!). He still gets about 30 oz of milk a day so I'm not too worried about his nutrition. Any suggestions?

Plowmanators said...

Cate, unless she is losing weight, I wouldn't worry about it. Babies stop gaining rapidly around a year old. They dramatically decrease the amount of food they are eating. It is best to just offer her food and try to not stress over amounts. She won't starve herself. So long as food is offered to her, she will be fine.

There are some things to help. One is I would feed her solids right after nursing. She might feel full enough an hour later that she doesn't need to eat a breakfast.

Don't turn mealtime into a battle. If she throws food off the tray, take it away (without emotion) or take her out for a break and then try again. She might be throwing it because she isn't hungry and knows it will get your attention. See the blog label "toddlers" for more on food amounts for toddlers.

Plowmanators said...

Thesprain,

He might be done with pureed food. Kaitlyn was that way; she got to a point where she was not interested in the least in pureed food.

At his age, I think milk is most important still, so I would just give the milk, offer the food, and know he won't let himself starve :)

Cate said...

Thanks so much. I think that is the right approach. I also read another post where you suggested relying on sign language so we have been really working on the enough sign. Now if she throws her food, I ask her if she is finished and make the sign for enough and she enthusiastically does it back to me. I'm noticing she is starting to do it more proactively and I think it helps her to have a way to say finished. I still worry that she is saying finished before eating enough (and our doctor is suggesting I give her hot dogs and cold cuts???) but I'm going to put my faith in believing that she won't starve herself. Thanks for the response and hope all is going well with your newest addition!

Plowmanators said...

Cate, I am glad to hear of your improvement!

You know...I have to respectfully disagree with your doctor on the hot dogs and cold cuts. First of all, hot dogs can be a choking hazard for a baby that young. Second of all, cold cuts can have a lot of bacteria in them. I don't even eat cold cuts at all while I am pregnant just so I can avoid the bacteria.

I think a book you might enjoy is Super Baby Food. There is a blog label to the right. I just finished reading it last week and it is fantastic!

Organic Fanatic said...

I love your blog and enjoy reading everyone else's responses too. My baby is 7.5 months. He's been eating solids for 1.5 months, and 2 weeks ago we extended his schedule to 4, 4, 3.5, 2. Prior to this he had stopped being hungry at the 3 to 3.5 hr mark early in the day so i knew it was time to extend his schedule. Our problem, however, is that he often won't hardly eat anything or even want to eat much at the first feeding of the day - formula that is. He usually gets up at 6:30 or 6:45, we offer him formula within 15 minutes of getting up. Then we give him solids. However, lately he has hardly been eating any formula when we get him up - maybe 2-4 oz, then eating his 2.5-3 oz of solids. Then he gets hungry before his nap of course. I've been feeding him because he won't nap if I don't, but this habit is starting to drive me crazy because it throws off his eating for the whole rest of the day. There are also feedings where he doesn't want forumla; he only wants solids. What do I do? Offer solids first? Should I start with first meal offering milk first, then solids, then milk again but keep it within a certain time frame and then after that time limit, don't feed him until the next feeding -- even if he cries through the whole morning nap? I'm at a loss.

Plowmanators said...

Organic Fanatic,

You can wait up to 30 minutes after he gets up to feed him if you need to. If it were me, I wouldn't feed him again before the nap.

Feed the formula first. That is the most important at this age.

He shouldn't cry at the beginning of a nap out of hunger. Even if he didn't eat really well, he shouldn't be so hungry that crying would be from hunger. If he wakes early, I would try to hold him off but feed him once you see he just won't wait any more.

Does he eat in the night? Or have a dreamfeed? If so, that is likely the reason for him not being hungry in the morning.

erin m judd said...

My 7.5 month old has recently started making gagging faces on her food. At first I thought it just meant she didn't like a food or didn't want any more of it, and would offer her something else and she'd be fine. Lately she's been doing it up to once or twice a meal and it worries me. She'll usually keep eating afterward, though, so I'm at a total loss as to what she's telling me.
I don't want to assume she's full because if she eats only a small amount of solids she wakes up early wanting to nurse. I also don't want to force feed her, though. Is she protesting because I don't let her play around at mealtime? She gets mad when I take the highchair straps or her feet from her hands and say "no," or make her sit back in her chair, etc.
Is it a health issue? Like a really sensitive gag reflex?
Any advice would be appreciated!

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