Starting solids is a big milestone for babies, and a very different experience from drinking milk, so it’s common for tots to take a while to get used to ‘proper’ food. But if your baby consistently refuses solids, it can be stressful and upsetting. Here’s our 10-step guide to turning him into a happy eater.
1. Make sure he’s ready
It’s easy to confuse the signs of weaning with other developmental milestones – for example, waking more often at night could indicate a growth spurt – so if you’re trying to wean pre-six months, you may want to stop and wait.
2. Take it slowly
Weaning is a gradual process, and your baby has enough nutrient stores in his body to tide him over while he gets used to solids. Don’t expect him to go straight from milk to three meals a day.
3. Milk matters…
Your baby will still get a lot of his nutrition from milk until he’s 12 months old, so while he’s getting used to the taste and texture of solids, he’s still getting plenty of nutrients from his milk feeds.
4. …But not too much!
Your baby needs 500-600ml of breastmilk or formula each day, but if he has too much milk this could spoil his appetite for solids. Try to avoid giving a milk feed under an hour before a solid meal.
Try different flavours and consistencies to see what appeals to your baby; some like their purees thin, while others prefer more bulk. And why not try letting him feed himself. OK yes, your kitchen/clothes/baby/hair may be covered in food splats for a while, but it could herald a new enthusiasm for food.
6. Mix it up
If you’re getting stressed about your baby’s solid intake, he might be feeling tense too. See whether he’s happier taking food from his dad, or a grandparent or auntie. If no one else is around to help, take two deep breaths, think of something funny and give him a big smile while you try another spoonful.
7. Don’t distract
It’s tempting to sneak spoonfuls into your baby while he’s distracted by the TV or a toy, but it’s important that he’s engaging in mealtimes, so give him one-to-one attention with lots of praise for every tiny mouthful.
8. Never force it
Force-feeding your baby could lead to a lasting mistrust of solid foods, so don’t insist that he eats if he really doesn’t want to.
9. Try baby-led weaning
If your baby is six months or older, consider giving finger foods like avocado or cooked vegetables, and reducing the puree stage. Some babies are happier feeding themselves than taking puree from a spoon.
10. Get some support
If you’re worried about your baby’s reluctance to eat, speak to your health visitor. She will be able to help you identify if there’s a particular problem, and support you as you try to resolve it.