Refusing Solids at 10-12 Months

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  • 9mo is self-weaning but won't eat solids

    (10 replies)

    My partner and I are looking for some advice and recommendations to help us address some issues our 9-month-old daughter has been experiencing. At her most recent well check, she had fallen significantly in her growth curves, and the pediatrician recommended that we increase her solid food intake. But we're not entirely sure how to do that. We had been doing baby-led weaning, which she enjoyed but didn't really result in much food being eaten. After we saw the pediatrician we tried to start spoon feeding, but our daughter will basically refuse eating after a couple bites - she'll close her mouth, turn away, and eventually get upset. We've tried various strategies and different foods over the last few days but have seen no change. She clearly would prefer to self-feed - and we would prefer that too - but we're worried if we leave it at that she won't eat enough. I should add that she's always been a somewhat fussy eater - she breastfeeds okay but is averse to taking a bottle (and even when she does, takes a really long time to drink it).

    We're wondering if anyone has any recommendations for occupational therapists or other practitioners in the East Bay who specialize in feeding issues? The pediatrician also observed that our daughter seems to have low muscle tone - we're not sure if that could play a part in the feeding issues? The doctor referred us to physical therapy at Kaiser, but if anyone has recommendations for other good pediatric physical therapists in the area (regardless of health plan), we'd appreciate it. Thank you!

    While it is absolutely worthwhile to follow up on your pediatrician's concerns around low muscle tone, I would say on the food front that your daughter's experience is consistent with my kids'. The mantra at the time was "solids before one are just for fun!" and our older child didn't really eat much actual food until he was 13 or 14 months. (He did continue to nurse twice a day, and we introduced cow's milk in a cup at one, since he wouldn't take a bottle at daycare; as a tween he is still a picky eater who sometimes opts out of meals.) Both of my kids settled onto their long-term growth curves around 9-12 months, and these were not the same as their early curves--both are now right around 30th percentile for height and lower for weight, while one was down in the single digits as a baby and the other was up at the 60th percentile till close to a year. (Their percentiles have remained pretty consistent for the years since, though--they are now 7 and 10, and 30th percentile is in keeping with parental genes). So I would not necessarily worry about the food intake unless your daughter is underweight or there are other specific medical concerns. In your shoes, I'd focus on continuing to offer new foods without stressing too much about how much is being eaten and meet with the physical therapist to get muscle tone assessed, but otherwise wait to see how things look at the 12-month checkup. Also be mindful of her physical development--for instance, it's not uncommon for 9-month-olds to drop down the growth curve if they've recently started crawling (or are about to crawl). Other developmental milestones can affect that too since they burn calories that might otherwise fuel growth.

    My son had low muscle tone around his lips and was a very picky eater. He also drooled a lot. At that age, he only ate mush. We did not do baby led weaning. For a long time he preferred very soft and slippery food like yogurt, udon noodles, tofu, and fruit purees. We thought he was just picky but on hindsight it was probably because he had a hard time chewing the other foods. So maybe you can offer food that just goes down easier? Also we spaced out the solids away from his bottle, so we would give him his bottle in the morning, wait a few hours before serving him solids, or else we would serve him solids and then offer him a bottle later. Nobody likes to eat when they are already full, and I'd bet your baby would be more willing to try more solids if she sat down hungry.

    We went through a similar weight drop when mine was around 9 months. We were doing baby led weaning and I thought it was going great! He clearly enjoyed it and I loved that he was getting exposed to so many fruits and veggies -- though like you said, he was mostly gnawing, so it didn't really result in much food being consumed. I was shocked to learn that he had stopped putting on weight, because he was still breastfeeding and as another commenter noted, my understanding was that "solids before one are just for fun." I was really viewing it as an activity more than nourishment. 

    Once we learned he was dropping weight, I took a step back and realized that pretty much everything I put in front of him was low in fat and calories -- I remember lots of cucumber and bell peppers, because he liked them and they were so easy to chop up. What helped us was simple recipes you cook in mini muffin tins, which are easy for them to hold but you can pack in heftier ingredients, like greek yogurt for instance.   
    Our go-tos were egg cups and oatmeal cups. There are endless ways to change up the ingredients, and they freeze really well so you can make a big batch and thaw as you go. 
    Here are two examples:

    Btw, he's almost 4 now, and it still takes a ton of food to keep up with him! He's still a bit of a stringbean, but it seems like his body just burns through food really quickly and needs to eat often, and amply :) Good luck to you guys!

    When my son fell off the weight chart, his Kaiser pediatrician referred us to a nutritionist. He's currently a teen, so baby led weaning wasn't really a thing then. We added fats into his food - lots of avocado, olive oil, and butter. We also had to make a fortified milk with condensed milk (we didn't have a lot of success with that). But she gave us a lot of good ideas to try. Maybe along with OT, consulting a nutritionist about how to feed her good fats might help as well. It helped us. But in the end, I just have a very very slender child. 

    I didn't have this exact issue with my son, but he ONLY wanted to be nursed at your child's age and also refused to be fed. He was a big guy and I was suffering. What worked was 1) allowing him to feed himself, 2) trying many many different foods. Eventually lamb babyfood turned him into a kid who'd sometimes allow himself to be fed by spoon. Also, feeding while sitting in my lap. While his dad joked around, etc. Give her those baby biscuits, peas, cut up pasta, whatever. Just try everything. Put a sheet under her chair and let her make a mess. If it's FUN she may be more inclined. Make sure she's actually eating. Try small pieces banana. There's a lot of info about this online - check youtube etc. Clever ideas. As my pediatrician said at the time, "babies are not suicidal - they will eventually eat."  You might also have someone other than mom feed her - while you're away. 

    It’s great that your pediatrician is being cautious and keeping an eye on things but I’ll echo that I wouldn’t get too worried as different babies have very different curves with solid food intake. We also love BLW as a fun, exploratory process but my 11 month old was very slow to actually ingest much and while we began at 6 months, eating significant amounts has really only just taken off and is incredibly variable. If you want to try to encourage more you could offer the spoon or pre-chewed bites on your finger without forcing— our daughter finds that fun too! Remember how small their stomachs actually are, however, and respect that she’s done when she turns her face away— you want to try to avoid any coercion around feeding if you can  

    Breastfed babies also have slightly different growth curves and will often seem to plateau at the 9 month mark. You might also increase the number of times you offer the breast right now as well to help with calories. Sometimes babies at this age are distracted by all their new skills and aren’t asking to nurse or nursing as long as they need. We’re in it too— good luck and LMK if you would like to chat more about any of this! 

    Give your LO time to explore and enjoy and trust that it will pick up as she’s ready! 

    I would recommend getting a referral to Kaiser pediatric occupational therapy. Our son had difficulty transferring milk through breast feeding and we were referred to Kaiser pediatric physical therapy to evaluate him when he was a newborn for low muscle tone. They were great and gave us helpful exercises. We had to advocate many times with our pediatrician that we would like to be referred to occupational therapy in addition to physical therapy. We did get a referral to a Kaiser occupational feeding and speech therapist and she has been very helpful in guiding us to make sure our son is gaining strength he needs to feed more efficiently. Pumping, bottle feeding, and doing the OT exercises has resulted in him growing much more rapidly than before. I feel much more empowered with the resources we get through the occupational therapy appointments. I know that Kaiser's occupational therapists work with babies and kids of all ages and specialize in feeding issues.

    Take the PT referral and you could call  the regional center. Likely no big deal but low tone can impact other development as well

    So, first, I would ask your doctor for a referral to early intervention based on the low muscle tone thing.  This is a free state program for kids 0-3.  I haven't done it in California, but when we arranged it in CO they were incredibly helpful and offered to do stuff like pay for swim lessons.  (Then we moved and it seemed like a lot of hassle when our kid is just meeting milestones like 3-4 weeks late. But it really is an excellent program!)

    Second, think about whether you're offering foods that are calorie-rich.  A lot of times people start with like, carrot puree, or cooked sweet potato, or other vegetables, and the foods just don't have much in the way of calories. Calorie dense foods: risotto with meat broth/parm/butter; avocado; oatmeal but with a lot of heavy cream or coconut milk; meat (my kid absolutely LOVES feeding herself little shreds of meat).  My kid also won't really take a spoon, but there are a lot of delicious high calorie foods that work for self-feeding.  

    Third, think about whether you think your pediatrician is right.  I found this article about growth curves super helpful. Some kids just bounce around growth  charts and that's normal. Obviously your ped has more information than I do, but outdated ideas about growth do persist in all kinds of places.

    Just wanted to share a super helpful resource:

    This has been my go to for all things baby feeding. They have lots of helpful webinar and blogs on picky eating, food refusal, you name it. I also follow them on instagram. 

    Hope it helps! 

  • Hi everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone else was struggling with switching from purees to table food? My son will only eat about a tablespoon at most of any food and then will either gag or refuses any more. I have to supplement the rest of his meal with a puree. He eats a little better if he picks it up himself, but never enough to be full. 

    My son is also a preemie (30 weeks) so I don’t know if its related to that. He is 12 months adjusted age right now. 

    If you haven’t already, I would checkout the website “Solid Starts”. Really informative for baby led feeding. 

    +1 to Solid Starts. Their instagram channel is also very helpful. 

    There's also Feeding Littles, which I've heard great things about. I purchased their infant course but the toddler course might be more appropriate for you.

    My son was also a very preemie at 29wks, so I delayed a lot of transitions as well, including purée to solids. I don’t think the extremely early birth had that much of an impact, but depending on what developments may have been delayed, such as muscular (tongue being a muscle), it could delay it. Around 12months, he had his first taste of very soft bread, then plain pasta (over cooked), rice in broth, and oatmeal-type—basically food that are very soft, but not quite purée. We continued to supplement his solid “meals” for another 4 months with purée and gradually made the puree a little bit more chunky (i.e broccoli, apples, squash, spinach, carrots, meats, etc...), but still overcooked and soft. Before 18 months (maybe around 16ish), he was able to eat enough solids and only had purées as snacks or just because he wanted them. Your son probably just needs some time to get used to the texture of solids. AS long as he’s getting his nutrients, don’t worry too much as when he will completely transition. It’ll happen. Hang in there!

    You don't just switch from puree to regular food.

    Start with stuff like cheerios which are bite-sized and soften when they get wet.

    Start adding little "lumps" to the puree like couscous, rice or cooked ground meat. Over time introduce things that are "lumpier". But make sure that anything that's not really soft (like meat) is cut into really small pieces. And even soft veggies should be cut really small.

    Your son needs to get used to the different textures and that doesn't happen overnight.

    Is his pediatrician concerned?  How is his growth? In my experience (as an occupational therapist), it is common for children born early to have some challenges with feeding.  How did he do with breast/bottle feeding?  Did he struggle at all adapting to purees?  Managing solids requires more tongue mobility than purees, so I wonder if anyone checked to see if he might have a tongue tie that limits his tongue mobility.

    But I encourage you keep the pressure off - let him eat what he can manage, while trying slightly more challenging things, and honor his current skills.

    If strategies suggested by some websites don't help (one good one: after an honest try, you might consider getting an evaluation.  

    Do not sweat it.

    If he eats ground food, feed it to him.

    I have similar issues with my older son. It caused me much grief at the time. He is 9 years old, still alive, still preferring ground soup (I just stopped telling this to my pediatrician)- and I do not sweat it! For me, the key is that he eats and does not gag or vomit his food. The eating has improved in the course of months and years...not weeks. Nowadays we can even eat out, before COVID. So there is hope at the end of the tunnel. Small advices: 1) ground less so the food pieces are bulkier, 2) add butter/oil to make it smoother, 3) excertise your child's upper body strength (monkey bars or the like), it helps to keep the food down (I am not sure if you have that problem). Give your child time. Every child is unique and does not have to fit readily to the pediatrics standards. We were even referred to dietician (child was under 1%) and food therapist: drove me mad, improved the situation marginally...

    We never did purees and instead did Baby Led Weaning from the start since our friends gave us this book: It's never too late to start and our kid will eat anything now. No need to supplement as Baby Led Weaning is about him learning to eat until he is full (instead of what us parents think is enough). We also taught our kid the signs for "more" and "all done" so he could communicate to us if he needed more food.

    However, he still didn't really start eating a lot until he was 12-13 months (normal since mama milk/formula is their primary food source until 12 months) and the thing that made the biggest difference was adjusting our own schedules so that we ate meals with him when he was at home. That was huge so he was watching us eat the same thing that he was eating. 

  • 10 month old refusing all solids

    (14 replies)

    Hi I'm a new mom with a 10 month old baby  who is refusing to eat solids. I started giving him solids at 6 months old and its always been a struggle but now its just became impossible, he wont open his mouth, and I am afraid he is going to start loosing weight and not growth properly. Up until not long a go, I was able to sneak in a few bites which I know its not good but it felt better than he not eating anything; I know the professional advise its to not force him and ignore his behavior but I just feel likes its beyond me and it crushes my soul every time he goes to bed without eating. I started some feeding therapy which I find it not healthful but going to continued since not sure what else to do.  I love to meet or hear from other parents with babies that have gone through something like this and are now well or if there is a support group for parents going through feeding issues. 

    Thank You.


    I went through exactly what you are describing with my first child (now 3 years old...and healthy!) It was a major stressor for me, and my anxiety didn’t help the issue. I’d be happy to share details about my experience if you want to message me. 


    I am hoping plenty of parents with similar experiences will respond, and be reassuring.  I am an occupational therapist, and have seen many families in your situation.  If you aren't finding the feeding therapy helpful, consider if you feel the person is just not a good match for your family (find someone new), or if you were secretly hoping for the "magic wand." tIt's taken some time to get to this point, and will take some time to change. Is baby still taking breastmilk and/or formula? Until 12 months, that remains the main source of nutrition for babies, so baby shouldn't lose weight if they have enough milk/formula. Like other professionals, I encourage you to go at his pace; forcing will NOT ultimately result in better eating/weight gain, but may well have an impact on his relationship with you and with food.

    One website you might take a look at (if you haven't seen it already):

    Firstly, give yourself a bit of a break, mama, I'm sure you're doing great! :) I've always heard that "food before one is just for fun" so don't stress too much if your little guy isn't eating much solid food at 10 months. As long as he's getting plenty of breastmilk or formula he's going to be perfectly fine. If you've only tried spoon-feeding purees, maybe give baby-led weaning a shot and offer him small pieces of food he can grab and feed himself. Sliced avocado, sticks of roasted sweet potatoes, slices of banana, well-steamed carrots or broccoli, etc. There are tons of resources on the internet about how to do this and ideas for foods to offer. I did this with my first and planning to do it for #2. It's messy but allows your kiddo to explore tastes and textures on their own and enjoy mealtimes! Good luck!!

    In my experience, before 12 months babies are mostly learning how to eat, not getting too much actual nutrition from food. The nutrition is still coming mainly from breast milk/formula. That said, perhaps he is not hungry due to too much liquid. He needs enough liquid to not dehydrate, but leave some room so he is still hungry to try food. Don't feed him, just put some finger food on the high chair tray in front of him during family meal time and hopefully if you leave him alone he will catch on and feed himself. Don't feed him packaged baby food either, mash up whatever everyone else is eating. If you are worried about his growth, please visit the pediatrician rather than letting it "crush your soul."

    I’m a early educator for 10 plus years, and a mom of a 18 month old, who also has a love-hate relationship with eating. I don’t know the exact details of your situation, but here’s what helped with my child, and with children I’ve worked with in the past: let them lead. It’s a great idea to let them feed themselves, if you haven’t already. At first, your child might reject this, and not eat and throw their food and etc. But feeding oneself takes practice, so it may take a dozen or so times until they actually start eating. Plus it gives them an opportunity to practice their fine motor skills. Also, consider adding seasoning to the food you’re giving them (dill in yogurt, butter and cinnamon in oatmeal, pumpkin purée served with penne pasta etc.) Again, their initial reaction to the new flavor could be rejection so give it a few tries. Lastly, your child is observing you during this mealtime together. They’re gleaning tons of information from watching you and how you’re reacting. Though mealtime can be incredibly tedious, try to remain calm and make it a pleasurable experience. Perhaps let them watch you eat, while they sit in their high chair. Demonstrate how to carry the utensil from food to mouth. Talk about the ingredients and the colors and the flavors.

    If your pediatrician is not concerned or worried, I would just give it time and patience. One of the best sayings I’ve read (from a nutritionist) is this, “picky eaters are the rule, not the exception.” 

    Best of luck!

    Hey there! Have you been trying to spoon feed and the baby closes his mouth? If so, around 10 months most babies don’t like to be spoon fed and are interested in finger foods which they can pick, eat, play with (as part of their learning). I also offer pre loaded spoons of yogurt eg which is thick in consistency and let babe pick it up, my daughter eats so much better if I let her be in charge. Also they learn from modeling, so include babe in family meal time. If you are already offering finger foods and baby is not interested in that either, then I am afraid I haven’t experienced this situation. Hope other parents can provide some insight. Also solids don’t help as much with weight gain as does the milk intake which is calorie rich, hope babe is consuming around 24oz a day which is recommended to be continued until 1 year of age.

    I'm so sorry you are going through this! The woman who runs Solid Starts often mentions that one of her motivations for starting her business was the fact that her son started refusing all food at 12 months.  It sounds like you are being really thoughtful and have consulted resources, but just in case you haven't come across these specific tips, here are hers and she has a webinar linked on that page.  Good luck!


    My child is now long past this stage, but was just like yours when he was an infant.  I fretted and worried. But my doctors told me that as long as he stayed on his own growth curve--(he was in the 5th percentile for weight so he was very small) that he would be okay. I was breast feeding, and I was also told that up to about 1 year of age, that breast milk is really all a child needs to stay healthy.  Solid food can be for practice.  I'm sure the same is probably also true of formula. So, I would check with your doctor first, and if they tell you it's okay, I would trust that.  You can always try offering a little food first when you know he's hungry, but if he really doesn't want to eat, I would try not to let it bother you.  My child eventually started eating small amounts around a year, and was always a light eater (and small child) but was healthy and keep growing at his own rate.  The more I fussed about him eating, the more he didn't want to eat!!!


    I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this. I have a 1 year old and he was kind of refusing at first when we started (6months). A couple of weeks into starting solids, I noticed that he wanted to do things on his own. So, I started preloading a spoon for him and giving it to him on his hand and he started bringing it to his mouth on his own. He started eating more and began enjoying solids just with this small change. We also did finger food early on because he was determined to take control of his feeding so we just went along. Maybe try letting him go at the food and getting in there. Some days he might get very messy and it may seem like he is just playing but all babies are prone to bring to their mouth whatever they have in their hands. So, hopefully he will eat some and discover that food can be tasty. Also, perhaps try to establish a flexible feeding schedule. So, he has milk first and 1-1.5 hrs later solids. Hopefully he will be a bit hungry but not starving, which can frustrate them more and contribute to the not eating issue. Overall, I've learned that exposure, allowing them to touch, smell, smash, etc the food, and working on removing some pressure from eating time, can help in this situations. I have been enjoying this website &
    I hope they help you and know that you are doing awesome!

    Hi there! I hear you - it's so hard to think about your baby being hungry!

    I would highly suggest checking out Feeding Littles Infant Feeding Course. So much *helpful* information about feeding your baby (and toddler - they have a separate course for them). One thing I learned is that baby's primary nutrition until 12 months is breast milk or formula and that solids are for oral motor practice, and (ideally!) a fun learning experience for baby about new textures and tastes. Even after they turn one they can still take a bottle or nurse and get good nutrients that way to supplement what solids they may or may not be eating.

    Not sure if you have talked with your pediatrician (if you are concerned and haven't done that yet I would suggest reaching out), but so long as they are continuing to grow they are getting enough food (either solids or milk/formula).

    Our son was not jazzed about eating solids most of the time - he preferred to play. I usually had to leave the table and let my partner finish mealtime because it stressed me out so much that he wouldn't actually eat anything. But as he grew he tried more and more things and now I don't even think about it. He eats when he's hungry and stops when he's full and I can tell he's getting enough because he is growing and in a good mood (or at least not in a hangry mood!).

    Best of luck on the feeding journey. You're not alone!

    Highly recommend Kids Eat in Color/ Better Bites with Jennifer Anderson 

    My daughter's first born started to refuse solids at 10 mos. or so.  She only wanted to breast feed.  It was happenstance that an opthamologist saw her at a public event and noticed a lowered eye lid.  This led to reveal a nerve that was near her esophagus was being pressed by a tumor in her brain.  It's all very sad and hard to  talk about someone so young and sweet. But there maybe other issues that make her not want to swallow.  Your post brought it all back.  All children are so different, but that's hard to realize when they are your first.

    Have you thought about teething? He might be on strike because his mouth hurts. It’s just a thought. Try giving him a nice full dose of Motrin and then 45 min later offer some food. Even if he doesn’t seem overtly fussy like “teething” he may be uncomfortable. My boys went off food during bouts of teething and just wanted milk. Good luck! 

    Have you tried BLW?? Until the first year the main food ys the milk. Let him try the different textures and play with it , he will maybe try to try something...
    Wishing you good luck

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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10 month-old ate solids last week, not this week

Sept 2006

OK. Same set of circumstances from week A to week B, but different result in week B. Week A... started cutting up sweet potatoes and cheese for my 10 month old to feed himself. Gobbled it up. Week B... won't eat anything cut up for him except for sweet fruit. If he actually puts the cut up food in his mouth (usually just plays with hit) he chews it for a bit and then spits it out. I can't even sneak a chunk in... but he will eat it pureed. Any thoughts? I just really don't want a picky eater. Jenny

Your baby probably has a whole set of different food preferences by the time this reply is posted. Every week may be different -- your kid has a lot of experimenting to do. Stay flexible and roll with it. And you say you don't want a picky eater? Sadly, you don't get to choose

As the parent of one child that will eat anything and one child that is advice is to continue to put a wide variety of foods in front of your child and then TOTALLY IGNORE what he does with the food. No comments, no begging, no cajoling. Nothing will create a picky eater faster. At 10 months my daughter was the same way--wouldn't eat much except fruit and spit out anything else (if she put it in her mouth at all). After almost a year of presenting a wide variety of healthy foods and NO COMMENTS, she eats probably 70% of what I put in front of her. Its often totally random--only cheese one day, only broccoli the next, bread for 3 days. Whatever. The important thing is not to react or turn it into an emotional issue or a power struggle. Then you will get a picky eater for sure! Chef Mama

10 month-old refuses to be fed

May 2004

when my son was 6 months old, I started giving him solids - organic baby food, strained yams, bananas etc. he didn't particularly like any of it. pushed it out or just made faces. so I dropped it for awhile and tried again later. he still didn't like being fed though he was showing more indications that he was ready for solids. interest in food etc. if I tried to feed him anything with a spoon he would knock the spoon away,clamp his mouth shut, turn his head away. I tried playing fun games to get him to smile and slip it in but he didn't like that much and quickly caught on to my tricks.I realized food could quickly become a control issue so again I didn't push it. more recently I've started giving him things he can handle himself - cheerios, carrots, apple wedges, teething toast and he loves it all - as long as he can feed himself. but still would not accept food from me directly, and he can't yet handle a spoon so this severely limits the number of things I can give him - any baby food is out unless I spread it on the toast and then he doesn't get much at all. my question is, has anyone out there had a similar experience? and does anyone have some creative ideas about how to get food into this child? I'm not sure he's going to grow out of it anytime soon - he's showing signs of being stubborn like me (even my grandmother says I was ''a pill'') he's got two teeth so far, when will he be able to handle more and different food? what should I try next? choking-phobic mom

I would just let him eat with his hands and clean him up when he's finished. My daughter likes to feed herself and she eats with her hands. We give her a spoon to hold so that she gets the idea that eating a sppon go together. I'd give up the spoon and concentrate on what foods he can eat with his fingers. Good luck! hope that helps

I had the exact same problem with my daughter (now 22 months old), and it took me some months to realize that the problem was mine, not hers. In short, I was refusing to acknowlege her great interest in independence and in feeding herself. I didn't want her to make a mess, so I wouldn't give her any food that she could smear on herself or drop on the floor, etc. I was being really uptight, basically, focusing exclusively on my own needs and ignoring her own very important desire to learn how to eat. It reached a point where she refused to let me feed her at all (grabbing the spoon and throwing it, turning her head away, etc.), and would only take a bottle. I also made the huge mistake of wiping her face and hands throughout the meal, which of course she hated. I dimly realized that I could not blame this behavior on her, so did a little reading and realized I had to backtrack: I started giving her all kinds of messy foods such as yogurt, cereal, etc. in little plastic bowls & plates, with her own plastic utensils, and let her go at it. She was quite surprised by this, of course, given my previous behavior. But I encouraged her to try, and soon she was making fabulous messes. She would smear the food all over her face and hair (and all over MY face and hair) and highchair, and end up eating some of it. During this period, I NEVER wiped off her face and hands until she told me she was finished eating. Yes, every meal was a huge mess, and I washed the highchair & tray more than three times a day. But in the process, my daughter learned how to feed herself and to enjoy eating (and incidentally, became incredibly adept at using a spoon) and I became completely relaxed. She will now eat, or at least try, just about any food I offer her, and she doesn't (intentionally) rub food on herself anymore. Rather, she has become relatively fastidious, and often asks me, mid-meal, to wipe her face and hands (though I give her her own napkin). In retrospect, I guess I couldn't accept that at such a young age she was aiming for independence. Another related issue that came up later: She began standing in her highchair. She absolutely would not sit down. Again, I was slow to understand what she was trying to tell me: She was through with the high chair. I got a booster seat, attached it to a grown-up chair in the dining room, and that was that. Never had another problem. Now she eats dinner in the booster chair with her father and I, and has her breakfast/lunch/ snack at a toddler-sized table/chair in the kitchen. It was a difficult one for me to learn, but, at least with my daughter, it really is all about independence. As far as the choking issue (totally valid, of course) w/your son, just don't give him foods he could choke on. Try everything else, and wait until he's older to try the more difficult choking foods. brie

My son also began refusing baby food early on...before he had teeth. So I was at a lost for a long time. In addtion he does not like his hands to be gooey. And he wants to feed himself. So in the beginning we would share Yobaby organic yogurt and instant oatmeal. For some reason because I was eating it, it was ok to alternate bites with him...we still do this at 12 mos old. Now that it is fruit season things have gotten easier. Every week I make a big fruit salad so that it is ready and easy to serve (watermelon, canalope, strawberries, blueberries). ALthought I keep the watermelon in a separate bowl because it causes the berries to get soggy. If your child hasn't had these friuts give them one at a time first to make sure he/she doesn't have an allergic reaction. The great thing about watermelon is that they get lots of fluids from it and it doesn't require teeth to eat it! Now that my little on has 2 top and 2 bottom teeth I make grilled cheese sandwiches cut in to small slices, cheese caseadea cut in to small slices, jelly sandwiches(crust removed and sliced small). Frozen peas also works great because they are small enough so if he doesn't chew then he can swollow without chocking and great for numbing the gumbs. You can also give your child pasta...I wish mine liked it, but I think it's to slimmy for him. During the summer you can take his high chair outside and let him get real messy feeding himself and then just hose everything off afterwards. Oh and another thing you can try that my sister did for her daughters is to make cherrio goup by mixing babyfood and cherrios together. My son would not touch it (texture thing) but her girls loved it. always experimenting with food

None of my kids has liked to ''be feed'' but all have been big eaters. (youngest now are 9 month old twins). We just feed them whatever we're eating: for example, pieces of soft vegetables, ground beef and macaroni from last nights casserole. We just spread it out in front of them and they pick it up, an increasing percentage of it actually winds up in their mouths! They love anything stirfried in garlic (we cook stuff like brocolli a little longer so it's softer), especially tofu. Rice and beans is a big favorite: they pick up the beans one by one, and the rice in little clumps. They even like spicy Korean tofu! Also plain, whole wheat toast is fun to gnaw on. All this is possible with just 2 teeth. My kids never liked jarred baby food, and they only thing they'll take from me on a spoon are treats like (YoBaby) yogurt. But they sure can eat. They also proudly drink water themselves from sippy cups. I figure, if baby humans were meant to eat strained 'baby food', I'd have been born with a food processor instead of one of my breasts! karen

My almost 11-month old daughter also only has two teeth, but rarely eats babyfood anymore because there are so many more interesting options. I've found that as long as foods are cut small and cooked until soft, she can handle almost any table food easily. Some of her favorites include: all kinds of beans, tofu, cooked veggies, pasta, waffles, pancakes, sliced turkey, all kinds of cheese, yogurt, potatoes, yams, tamales, rice, bananas & most other fruits, especially melons. At this point, we're really just avoiding nuts, strawberries, citrus, honey & eggs, at our pediatrician's advice. Good luck! Carolyn

My first born refused solids until she was 13 mo old. Then she slowly became interested over the next 6 mo and was eating solids at most meals by 18 mo. There is some history of severe alergies in my family, so I was quite happy to just nurse until she was totally ready for solids. I've heard (but can't cite scientific studies) that some kids will naturally avoid early sensitization to allergens by refusing solids until they can handle them. Take care, Christina

Here's what worked with our son: nearly any fruit, cut up (peaches, plums, half an apple (once he got some teeth), 1/4 grapes), scrambled eggs (or yolks until he was 1), small bits of pizza (bigger pieces also were good for teething), avocado cut up, clumps of rice mixed with beans and avocado, garden burgers cut up (these saved our lives!), broccoli, chicken with yummy sauce in bits, mazoh balls from soup. Our son occaisionally let us feed him if it was yummy enough (our pediatrician suggested that part of the problem was that the baby food was too bland for him and she was right). Our babysitter still can spoon-feed him anything, and this helped a lot, too, as he ate prodigiously with her. Good luck! mother of an independent baby

My son did the exact same thing at 10 months. I was at my wits' end, and he ate nothing but Cheerios (on top of breastfeeding) for two weeks because I couldn't figure out how to get food into him. Here is what worked for me:

- small pieces of steamed (to the point of soft/mushy) veggies.
- grated cheese
- large bagels for him to gnaw on
- my favorite invention was grated cheese, rice cereal, and a veggie or fruit mixed together and then rolled into small balls that he could pick up and put in his mouth. It was soft enough that he could break it down with his teeth/gums and not gag or choke.
- pieces of soft fruit like bananas, avocados, peaches, mango, etc.
- yogurt that he could eat with his hands (very messy!)

Most important is for you to remember to never make mealtime a battle of wills between the two of you. Put the food in front of him and let him eat, but don't focus on it. Sing songs, dance around and make mealtimes fun, but distract yourself from the actual feeding. Turn your back on him if you have to -- wash dishes, fold laundry, whatever -- but let him feed himself, since that is what he really wants to do. He won't starve, especially since I assume he is still nursing or drinking formula.

One thing that really helped us was that we taught our son a few signs in sign language, in particular, ''all done,'' which is flipping your hands over twice. At about a year, he was able to tell us when he was truly finished eating.

Good luck! Been There

Your baby is not all that unusual, and there is nothing magic about baby food. So skip the purees and give your son diced soft fruits and vegetables (whole peas are good), small pieces of ground and/or stewed meat, lumpy mashed potatoes, cooked pasta, small cubes of cheese, etc. Supervise him while he eats, but don't worry too much that he's going to choke. He will probably demonstrate very quickly that he won't -- most things will be gummed into mush in his mouth, and others will simply be swallowed whole. Once he's got incisors on both the top and bottom, he'll be able to take bites off of larger pieces, too. And yes, you have to let him make a mess! Holly

10-month-old not eating solids while teething

Jan 2004

Our 10 month old started on cereal and stage 1 foods at about 6 months. She did well for a couple weeks, then took a ''break'' and refused everything but her bottle. We tried to take it in stride, offering food to her at mealtime. At about 8 months she started eating solids again, and enjoyed a variety of baby food and things that we offered to her from our own meals. We started her on stage 3 food about 2 weeks ago and she was doing well with the more textured food. At that time, she had her 2 bottom teeth.

About 1 week ago, her first top tooth came in and she seemed to really be suffering with it. She has no sign of any other teeth breaking thru, but all of her gums feel hard, as though there are several teeth ready to come in at once. The problem is that she is back to refusing almost everything but the bottle. She will feed herself Cheerios and may take 1 or 2 spoonfuls of something, but then her mouth clamps shut and it's impossible to get her to eat anymore. I'm assuming that this is due to her teething. We have increased her bottle feeding of course, but here is my worry: Most of what I've read recommends stopping the bottle at a year. She is very attached to her bottle at this point, even before this latest refusal of solids. Since we have gone back almost exclusively to her bottle for the time being, I'm afraid it's going be even more difficult to break her of it once she reaches her first birthday.

I realize I may be borrowing trouble since that date it 2 months away, but I'm pretty discouraged at her sudden refusal to eat from the spoon. Just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience? Could the teething really be that uncomfortable for her? This is my first baby, so every stage is all new to me. Any advice and words of encouragement would be appreciated! Thanks so much, Danielle

Your child should ideally not be using bottles by age 2. After that, there's a greatly increased risk of dental problems, among other things. Recommendations to ditch the bottles by age 1 are usually based on the idea that it's just easier to make the change with a younger baby than with an older, more obstinate toddler, but in your situation, especially since it sounds like your daughter is not breastfeeding, I'd say don't sweat it for at least a few more months.

If your child is not eating a wide variety and decent quantity of solid foods at 12 months, continue to give her formula to provide sufficient nutrition. (It's not all that unusual for young toddlers to continue to need breastmilk or formula for several months past their first birthday.) But you might start working on giving the formula in a cup rather than a bottle at least sometimes. anon

10-month-old has begun refusing food

Jan 2004

My healthy and happy baby girl has suddenly decided not to accept solids that I try to feed her. She was eating up to 4 cans of Stage 2 foods, in addition to oatmeal twice a day, but suddenly started clinching her lips and turning away when I tried to feed her. Her nanny has been able to continue feeding her solids, but she is only with her 2 days a week. The rest of the week, my husband and I struggle to get her to eat. She will take oatmeal, but refuses all other solids. I have tried distracting her with finger foods such as cheerios, with toys, playing with food, etc., but I usually can only shovel a few bites in before she begins crying and refuses to eat. I am still breastfeeding, which she has never refused, but worry that she should be eating solids. I am a new mommy and trying the best I can to nourish my child. Any advice you have would be very much appreciated!!!!! anon

Eating can be such a hard issue. I read some great advice about feeding kids that has really helped me. One expert said, ''You are only responsible for what food you offer your child, you are not responsible for what they eat.'' Or something like that. I think the more you worry about it and the more you pressure her, the worse the problem will get. I say, offer her food, put finger foods on her tray, and then act very unconcerned about what she eats, even to the point of doing the dishes or something else while she is eating. Don't spend a lot of time looking at her or pushing food on her. My son eats a lot less when I am obviously paying attention and worrying. Children will not starve themselves. She will eat when she is hungry; that is, unless there is a dynamic forming between the two of you. So act like you don't care and don't pressure her. Also make sure she is not being breastfed or given other snacks right before mealtimes. good luck

10-month-old still won't take food

Oct 2001

My ten month old daughter still won't eat any food at all! We have tried about 25 different foods but she just closes her mouth and turns her head away. She weighs 22lbs so she is plenty heavy but the doctor said if she doesn't start eating foods soon we will have to give her a multi-vitamin because she won't be getting enough vitamins from breast milk. She nurses every two to three hours and still wakes up several times a night which is very annoying. I am curious to hear from other parents who have had a baby like this. Any advice would be much appreciated. Madeleine

Regarding the food/feeding issues...My daughter refused most food until she was nearing 11 months. (She's now one of the least picky preschoolers I know.) She also nursed every two or three hours for the first year. Our pediatrician did not recommend vitamins, in fact, did not even seem concerned. Both of my children refused baby food and really began eating when they could feed themselves soft foods that they could pick up. My understanding is that delaying solids is actually better if there are any concerns about allergies. Good Luck. Susan

Neither of my children ate any significant amounts of food until 14 months or so. And neither of them would touch pureed foods and only showed interest in eating when presented with finger foods. Both were breastfed, and it is my understanding that breastmilk does indeed provide all necessary nutrients. Kids will eat eventually- I'd say just keep offering choices and not worry too much. Gayle

My daughter didn't eat any food until she was 14 months. Until then, she would only take breast milk, and she steadfastly refused the varied menu I faithfully offered her at each meal. My pediatrician was pretty concerned about both her weight and the long food strike; my primary worries were connected to my pediatrician being so concerned. Sure enough, she finally started eating (Greek olives were among her first food choices) and now, at 2-1/2, she enjoys a wide range of foods (though she'll never be mistaken for a big eater!) In my experience, the biggest problem with a kid who won't eat is all of the unsolicited advice and judgments from other people who are convinced that they could get the kid to eat given half a chance (I've got to confess; it was my secret pleasure to let some of these smug folks have a crack at it, and watch my tiny daughter send them packing!) Feel free to email me if you want to discuss this further. And good luck. Janet

If I may put it bluntly, your doctor is full of it. Breastmilk is a complete food. What little nibbles of applesauce your baby will eat is just not comparable to the nourishment breastmilk can offer. Your doctor may be concerned about iron deficiency; it's an easy enough test (pinprick) that can be done in the office. Otherwise you shouldn't need to supplement with vitamins. Your daughter will probably start munching on foods pretty soon. Just make it real interesting, fun, and messy as possible (give her yogurt to squish through her fingers, for example) and she'll learn to love it. You can probably bypass the pureed baby food altogether. Just think of all the money you're saving!! Laurel

I have a 3yr old who was a very picky eater. He wouldn't eat for anything. And I would talk to his doctor about it and he says he'll eat when he gets ready. Don't force him. Kids go through growth sprouts. Sometimes they don't want to eat and sometimes they want to eat the whole refrigator. So I just fed him when he got hungry. And if he rejected he just did. I know I did my part as a parent. Even now he sometimes eats only 1 meal a day and snacks in between. He's just not hungry. But when he actually tells me he's hungry I run and get him something to eat! Nia

If you're baby is healthy and at an appropriate weight (for your baby's growth pattern, not only based on those weight-gaining charts), just relax! We didn't even really try to push the solids until about 10 months, and even then it often seemed futile. We had begun offering rice cereal and other foods at around 7 months, but our son just didn't seem interested at all. By about 10 months, I began to feel pressure to at least offer foods a couple of times every day. I will admit it was -- and still sometimes is -- frustrating to thoughtfully prepare food that only ended up all over the kitchen floor. He is nearly 15 months now and I would say has really shown an appetite for solids only within the last month. Until then, he was nursing every 2-4 hours, and yes, many times during the night. I have noticed a decrease in the daytime nursing, but, to the mom who complained about her babe's frequent night nursing, I'm sorry to say that hasn't eased up (if you're feeling overwhelmed, please get connected with La Leche League or check out the Sears duo's Nightime Parenting or Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, which is published by LLL). He also seems to have days where he shows more appetite than others. He was a quick gainer; if I recall correctly, he hit 16 pounds by four months. He's hovered under 25 pounds for probably six months; even though he's beginning to eat more, he's so much more active. He's lengthened out, seeming longer and skinnier. But he still has fat in the appropriate places: around his wrists and on his knuckles, etc. He's very healthy and happy. I really try to monitor my attitude, so that I'm not so goal-oriented at meal time. I'm sure that if I'm stressed about his eating, or not eating, he picks up on that. So many experts focus on what your child should be eating by a certain age. I think we need to keep in mind that in addition to nutrition, we are laying down our children's attitudes about food and eating. I can't say that this has been my favorite part of mothering so far, though. Like all parenting challenges, the best I can offer is that you're not the only one, and this, too, shall pass. Erin

my son was nearly a 10-pounder at birth and nursed EXCLUSIVELY for MORE THAN 1 YEAR. he had only 1, 1-day illness in his first year and generally thrived, including normal weight gain and growth (not to mention the positive effect of helping me lose MY baby fat!). we had not planned to wait this long to supplement his diet, but when he refused being fed by spoon and showed no real interest in other food even when it was presented to him (around 8 mos), i asked around. what i found out, from my LLL group, another friend with the same experience, and my pediatrician was that there was NO CAUSE FOR ALARM! if your child is thriving, growing, nursing regularly, and if YOU are eating well (including getting the right vitamins), drinking lots of water and getting enough rest, YOU WILL BOTH BE FINE! watch your baby, not the calendar, for signs that he or she is ready (by the way, grabbing for food is not necessairily a sign of readiness! as my friend ann says, you could place a plate full of cigarette butts in front of my baby and she would grab at it). if your child is not being breastfed exclusively, is exclusively formula fed, lives in a place where they are not able to get a few minutes of sunshine every day (or if you are living off a diet of fast food and diet coke!) it may make sense to give them vitamin supplements. from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 6th Revised Edition: If the nursing mother gets an adequate supply of vitamins from her diet, her milk will have an adequate supply of vitamins, in just the right proportions for her baby. Research continues to bear this out...Vitamin supplements for babies got their impetus as a supplement to formula, which is still not the perfect food for your baby. As long as you baby is thriving on your milk alone, he has no need for additional vitamins, iron, fuloride, or other supplements in the early months. if your baby refuses to be fed by spoon, try giving them some control! give them things they can mainiplate themselves: soft fruits (peaches, banans), tofu (if your baby is prone to allergies, wait unttil 1 yr), peas, meat, brown rice, whole grain bread--anything you can offer that is soft enough to chew and not a choking hazard. we went pretty much straight for the table food, which helped us eat better! it will be messier, but really no less convenient if you if you keep simple, whole foods on hand. not to mention you won't need to buy any special cereals or foods for baby, which will save you a lot of $$$. Don't worry, eat well, and enjoy! -Rachel

Try distracting her like putting a mirror in front of her, or playing her favorite musical toy or having her sit in your lap instead of a high-chair, or even try feeding her at a park where there is always enough to distract babies, maybe then she will not be concentrating so much on refusing food, and you may manage to get her to start getting using to it. Have you tried home made food? I know the problem here is that she simply does not allow anything except breastmilk into her mouth but if you could, say, puree a peeled apple, and sit in front of her and eat some and she sees that you're enjoying it, she may want to taste some. Good luck! Richa

We have been trying to get our daughter to eat solid food since she was six months old; she is now 11 months old. We've pretty much given up trying to get her to eat from a spoon. From almost the very start, she would seal her lips and turn her head away and quickly start crying. She's never taken a bottle, either. We have had better luck, especially recently, with foods she can pick up and feed herself. We offer her what we're eating, if it's in (or can be made into) a safe form -- bits of chicken, salmon, rice, pasta, melon, cooked peas, chicken tamales, pinto beans, etc. We also have been offering her slices of fresh fruits and vegetables -- (peeled) carrot sticks, (peeled and sliced) cucumber sticks, apple wedges, steamed sweet potato chunks, etc. She'll gnaw on most of these things, or at least play with them. (She has had two bottom teeth since she was eight months old, and her top front teeth are just now coming in.) The only food she REALLY seems to like is zwieback biscuits.

Our doctor suggested: (1) having her watch other kids eat and (2) having her source of breastmilk leave for a day. Neither of these has worked (she doesn't seem to eat much more solid food during the 2 1/2 days I work than when I'm home with her). At her recent checkup, the doctor tested her blood for anemia, which she did not have. I'm still taking prenatal vitamins, in part to keep my iron level up.

It is very frustrating, especially when we see other babies who are super eaters. We've resigned ourselves to being patient. We keep offering her the same foods and new ones, with no pressure to eat, and gradually she seems to be getting more interested in feeding herself. We try to offer her food regularly twice a day (lunch and dinner). I still breastfeed frequently on the days when I'm home with her and every morning and evening. She still wakes up and I nurse her (at least) 1-2 times during the 11-12 hours of her night; whether she's hungry or just wants comforting, I don't know. All this to say, essentially, that you are not alone.... robin

10-month-old is gagging on solids

Nov 1999

I need advice regarding nutrition for my 10 month daughter. Her pediatrician says that she should eat nearly everything now, like pasta, meat etc.... But it seems that my daughter still cannot swallow anything bigger than a mustard seed and watery than liquid cereal. And i'm concerned that she's not getting any proteins and carbohydrates. She chokes on anything other than her cereal. What should I do?

Our 10 month old also had a strong gag reflex until very recently. At his 9-month visit, our pediatrician said that he just may be one of those babies who needs pureed foods longer, and not to push textures. As for variety, he'd given us several suggestions earlier, all of which have worked well, but not right away. They include: yogurt, tofu (mashed), and cottage cheese (which you could puree) for protein ... and then we mixed them with cereal a little at a time, gradually increasing the amount. Our son started taking to textures in surprising ways after gagging at everything ... sucking on crustless toast, for example. My theory is that by holding the toast, he could control when it went in his mouth and could pull it out himself if he started gagging. Anyway, it worked. Now he loves whole wheat bread cubes, bread heels, frozen peas, banana chunks, blueberries, and tofu chunks. It took awhile, though. Does this help? Also, our pediatrician advised us to continue introducing food one at a time, so it's not a free-for-all yet at our house. Additionally, friend of mine who is a speech therapist said that one way they treat children with an overly strong gag reflex is to gently massage their gums with a wet washcloth. Maybe this is something you could check out with your doctor. Good luck.

Get a baby grinder! I used a Happy Baby handheld grinder to mash up everything from beef stew, to steamed vegetables to steamed apples (this spoiled my kids so, that to this day they won't eat store-bought applesauce!) - either make it fresh for the baby, or grind up your own meal, if it is not too spicy. The texture is great. The food is fresh and healthy. My grinder even came in a carrying case so I could take it on the road with me.

It sounds to me as though, regardless of what the MD thinks *should* be the case, your daughter is demonstrating to you that she is not ready to eat solid foods yet. There's probably no reason to hurry this process--she'll eat when she's ready. My daughter didn't eat much solid food until she was over 12 months old, and she's always grown well. My reading tells me that delaying adventures in solid foods may also prevent food allergies that might arise if foods are introduced too early.

Keep nursing, as much as your child wants. If not breasfeeding, keep the formula going. This is where her principal nutrition comes from, which would probably be the case even if she were also experimenting with solid foods. Carbohydrates she's getting from the cereal, but the cereal doesn't provide fats or much protein, and she needs lots of both. I almost consider foods other than breast-milk or formula to be empty calories at this point--filling your child up with carbohydrates that she doesn't really need, while dampening her appetite for the nutrition she really does need. I would say to just forget about solid foods for now, and try again in a few weeks or months, especially if she shows active interest in food that you're eating. If you're determined to get her eating more solid food, You could try mixing the cereal up with breast-milk or formula--maybe even formula with less than the regular amount of water, for extra nutrution.

I am concerned about the advice of your pediatrician. Babies cannot and ought not eat almost everything grown-ups do. Some proteins are too large for the small, underdeveloped gut- like cow and soy products. There has been a recent scientific study correlating cow milk products to onset of childhood diabetes, for example. Introduction of soy can set up an allergy to those products. Also, legumes in general should not be introduced until the child is over 2 years.

I would suggest you buy some whey powder (Solgar is not processed with high heat) and add this to the diluted cereal you offer your baby. One scoop has 16 whopping grams of protein; of course, you would reduce this. Infants need about 2 grams of protein per KG of body weight. Also, add some flax seed oil (1/4 tsp a day is plenty) for the essential fatty acids she needs for brain and neural development. You could puree a very small amount of well cooked sweet potato/carrot and add it with the cooking water (one every two-three days to observe her reaction) into the cereal. Finally, keep the gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats) out of her diet until she is older than 2. These are irritating to the small intestine and will compromise absorption of nutrients. Doris Rapp's book, *Is This Your Child?* might be helpful. It's in paper now. Good luck!

I can't advise you on why she can't swallow many foods, but here are some soft foods that she might like: canned pumpkin, tofu (the silken variety is especially easy to handle), sweet potatoes or potatoes mashed, fruits such as peach, melon, banana, pear, french toast, pancakes, soft polenta, shredded cheese, refried beans, steamed vegetables (to as soft as she needs), applesauce, matzo balls, scrambled eggs. Good luck! -- CK

12-month-old not eating at daycare

April 2006

My son has recently started at a home-based daycare which seems to be fine except for the fact that he doesn't really eat while he's there. He'll drink his bottles of milk, and occasionaly eat some crackers or snacky foods or bananas, but not really anything substantial. He was in a nanny-share before and really had a GREAT appetite. He eats breakfast before he goes in the morning & dinner once we get home. And on weekends he'll eat pretty well. The daycare provider seems like she offers healthy, wholesome foods, similar to what we have at home. Is this a common thing? Should I not worry about it since he eats at home? Is this a reason to look for a new daycare? anon

It sounds as though one of two things might be happening. Most likely, your son doesn't have much appetite at the daycare because it is something new -- there's a lot more going on at mealtime, and it is different than it was at the nanny share, and he's getting used to it all. It could be that he is just so busy watching everying that he's not interested in eating. Give it a couple of months (it can take that long for a child to get used to new things), and his appetite will likely pick up again.

The other possibility is that his appetite is declining somewhat because he is a year old. You've probably heard that kids' growth rate tapers off a bit in their second year, and their appetites can decline because of this. However, this seems the less likely explanation to me given that your son eats as he used to at other times.

As long as all else seems good with the daycare (the providers seem warm and loving, your son doesn't seem upset or frightened, his weight does not decline or his overall health change) I would NOT take this as a reason to change -- in fact, changing to yet another daycare situation might simply prolong the issue, because that would result in yet more things to get used to. Karen

12-month-old stopped eating 3 weeks ago

March 2004

My one year old has been a great eater since starting solids at five months. However, three weeks ago he started refusing all food from a spoon (he cannot eat from a spoon himself yet). At first I thought it might be just teething but it has gone on so long now. He will eat cheerios and pieces of pancake and sometimes pieces of cheese but thats it. He refuses fruit, vegetables and meat. If I go anywhere near his mouth with a spoon he waves both hands and clamps his mouth shut. I have never forced food on him so just stop trying when he does this but am worried he is not getting what he needs. He is still on formula (about 24oz a day) but I was hoping to change to regular milk soon. Any suggestions much appreciated, thank you. He is a twin and his twin is eating fine. melissa

My daughter started that same behavior a couple weeks after we introduced solids, so we just gave her finger foods from age 7 mos. Never ''fed'' her with a spoon after that age, although we sometimes gave her a spoon to play with. She definitely wanted to be in charge of feeding herself and now at age 2.5 eats with utensils like a champ. You can try giving him an ice cube tray with one or two pieces of food in each hole. Something about it appealed to my daughter. Good luck! Heather

12-month-old will only eat soft food

Nov 2005

My 1 yr old daughter has no interest in ''finger foods'' and isn't handling chunky food well. She started eating solids at 6mo, and pretty much eats everything we give her, as long as it is on a spoon and doesn't have big chunks. I cook her food, and have been gradually introducing coarser textures, and now she is fine with small soft lumps like cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, soft fruit or finely minced cooked vegetables, but if I try to give her larger pieces of food she gags and will often throw up as a result. She spit up a lot when she was younger - she didn't have reflux but certainly seemed to have a sensitive gag reflex, so maybe that has something to do with it? She also was late getting teeth (but she has four now, with two more on the way) - will she want to chew more when she gets more teeth? I've tried eating pieces of food in front of her hoping she would imitate me, and she did pick them up, but only to try to feed them to me! If I try to feed them to her in turn, she clamps her mouth shut and turns her head, and pushes my hand away. I've tried cheerios, those gerber fruit puffs, teething biscuits, banana chunks, crumbled cereal bars, grated cheese, etc. - she's happy playing with it (and dropping it on the floor, of course), but has no interest in eating it. It's weird, since it seems everything else she picks up eventually ends up in her mouth.

I don't know if she is just lazy, or simply not interested. She plays with a spoon while I feed her, and has just lately started getting the idea of using it to get food to her mouth, and she happily drinks her milk and water all by herself from sippy cups, so it's not that she's refusing to feed herself - she just doesn't want to eat anything that has to be picked up and chewed. I was just wondering if this is uncommon for a baby her age? I've checked a few resources but this wasn't addressed - it just seems to be assumed that babies will be eating finger foods by a year old. I don't want to make a huge issue out of this, since she is so good about eating in every other way, but at the same time I don't want her to be the only kid in pre- school eating baby food! Linda I was in your shoes about a year and a half ago, with my first son. He refused to eat finger foods at one year of age, and would even gag at the sight of them placed on his high chair tray. I too was confused and dismayed at the assumption everywhere that a 12 month old would and should eat finger foods. The only advice people and my pediatrician would offer was to give me a list of different foods to try, and none of them worked. It was frustrating and a bit scary; I understand how you feel.

My son began to finally accept and eat finger foods around 16 months. It was a slow process. I found a biscuit that dissolved quickly and he liked it and started to give finger foods a try. Likely it will be the same for you; your child will try finger foods when she is ready, and not sooner. I know it will seem like an eternity until then!

I now have a second child that was entirely different about this issue. He is 14 months and started eating finger foods around 11 months. He probably could have started sooner, as he took to them easily like he has been eating for years. He has not eaten baby food, and has refused to eat it, for a few months now. It continues to amaze me how different my two children are - at 18 months my first born was still eating baby foods at every meal. So this is what it's like to have a baby who eats finger foods so easily!

I just offer my encouragement and give you hope that your child will eat finger foods when she is ready, and that's perfectly fine. I know at times I felt embarassed among friends who had babies that were chomping away at a variety of table foods, while mine still turned his nose up at them. I wondered if I was doing something wrong or if he was behind developmentally. I know now that neither was true. Best of luck to you and just play the waiting game. She will be eating table foods soon enough. fellow mom

12 mo old will not eat finger foods

April 2004

My 12 month old refuses finger foods. Will only eat premade baby food in jars for veggie and protein sources. Refuses eggs, beans, steamed veggies (tried many varieties), pasta, cheese, meat, bananas, apples etc. ANy ideas on broadening her reperatoire. For the last few months, I have continued to introduce finger foods and she spits them out immediately. Adrian

So wait! Why try to force the issue? If the 12-month old doesn't want finger foods, don't give him finger foods. You can introduce them and have them available, but there is no law in the universe that says he must eat them. Babies and toddlers will eat at their own pace. anon

12-month-old gags on solids

March 2003

My 1 yr. old son simply refuses to eat any real solid food. I'm wondering if he'll simply out grow this or if it's something to worry about. He eats baby cereal and any pureed (Gerber-type 1 or 2) foods and likes almost every one he has tried, but if I give him even ONE rice krispie, look out. He gags and often times will throw up. I put food out on his high-chair tray, but he won't put it in his! mouth, just picks it up and plays with it. He also doesn't seem to show much if any interest in the food on my plate. I have tried giving him scrambled and hard- boiled eggs, soft cheese, teething biscuits, Nilla wafers, frozen bagels, bananas, cherrios, etc., etc. Has anyone else out there dealt with the hyper-sensitive gag reflex? Any advice?

When my son was 12 months, he could gag and throw up on just about anything solid including cheerios and stage 3 baby foods with ''added texture''. I kept trying to give him finger foods because I didn't want him to get stuck on pureed food, but I believe his tongue control wasn't developed enough and would let food get down his throat before he was finished mashing it up. By 14-15 months, he stopped gagging on solids and could handle different textures of breads, fruits, etc. I would suggest giving him a break on the finger foods for a few weeks and then try again. Elizabeth

We have had the same problem with our 13-month-old. After beginning pureed foods at 6 months, he would gag on anything that had any texture to it at all. Now, he still gags occasionally and he still isn't very interested in what the big people are eating, but he will eat Os, tiny pieces of toast, and pieces of cheese as well as finely-mashed foods. For a while he would eat diced steamed veggies, although he won't anymore. But I think that's a whole different issue!

The food that really helped us teach him to gag less was cottage cheese. I first dug through the container to find the smallest pieces possible, then I mixed some of them into his pureed food. He did gag a bit, but much less than with other things I had tried. I kept giving him cottage cheese mixed into pureed food at every meal, eventually moving up to larger pieces as he started being able to handle the smaller ones. After that, I started giving him those awful diced Gerber vegetables which are very, very soft because they're stored in water. Then we moved on to Os cereal and little pieces of cheese. He's still not where I would like him to be in terms of eating (or where many of the other kids his age are), but I'm hopeful that it's just a matter of time.

I will mention one more thing, though, because it sounds like your baby's gagging is more serious and prolonged than ours was. At our 9-month appointment, our pediatrician suggested the possibility of sending our son to an occupational therapist if he hadn't stopped gagging by his 12-month appointment. As it turned out, I started the cottage cheese routine after his 9-month appointment and the gagging lessened considerably so we didn't go to an occupational therapist. But it might be worth asking your pediatrician about occupational therapy, or at least about having your baby evaluated by an occupational therapist; from the research I did at the time, the problem won't necessarily work itself and can continue through toddlerhood and into childhood. Tori

12 mo old refuses to eat solids

April 2004

My daughter just turned one and has started refusing to eat solid foods (finger foods). She has always been a light eater, but lately she won't take more than a couple of bites of food. (Although she will take as much yogurt as we can give her.) Initially, I thought that she was just trying to assert her independence and feed herself, and would therefore refuse our efforts to put the food in her mouth. So we would be patient as she would attempt to put finger foods in her own mouth (often missing her mouth completely). But for the past week or so she just closes her mouth tight and waves her hands in front of her face whenever we attempt to feed her solids. However, tonight we tried a jar of pureed baby food that we still had on hand, and she ate it quickly and happily. Has anyone experienced anything similar? Should I just revert to baby food and give up on the incredibly frustrating chore of trying to find solids that she will accept? Meals often take up to an hour. By the way, she is 10th percentile for weight and height so I have always been concerned about her size, and am therefore especially concerned that she might lose weight. Incidentally, she started drinking cows milk and walking around the time when this change in her diet appeared. I would appreciate any advice. anon

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12 mo. old refuses to be fed

Feb 2004

Our 12 month old son does not care to eat much, easpecially not when it comes to being fed. He munches here and there on finger food (biscuits, breads, tomatos, some fruits..etc), but refuses to be fed anything more substantial and in a regular time schedule. We don't wish to be rigid or force food on him, and understand his need to explore and feed on his own. On the other hand, we are concerned about his nutritional intake and vitamin consumption. Any suggestion on how to establish a feeding schedule and how to get him to eat?

I'm wondering if the key phrase here is ''to be fed.'' You say your child eats finger food -- maybe the key is just to provide a wider variety of this, rather than getting him to eat what you spoon-feed him. Most children at a year are capable of feeding themselves all kinds of finger food: not just cereal, crackers, and soft fruit chunks, but chunks of steamed vegetables (e.g. steamed baby carrots, chunks of cauliflower, peas), cooked beans, chunks of meat or tofu cubes, avocados, pasta, all kinds of stuff.

My approach would be to keep a bunch of this kind of stuff around (I used to do things like steam a whole pack of baby carrots, or tortellini, or whatever and then freeze it -- I had lots of bags of things in the freezer), and then, whenever I sat down for a meal, put him in his high chair with a variety (maybe something like one protein, one carb, one vegetable, one fruit --a total of 1-2 Tablespoons of each) on the tray in front of him, and let him eat. Remember that kids often don't like new foods at first, and it may take him 10-15 times of encountering something new before he tries it. Karen Some of the best advice I've seen about this sort of eating behavior is from Dr. Sear's website. I'm not a big fan of some of his advice, but I thought this was good. You can access it at:

If that doesn't work, go to, click on ''Feeding Infants and Toddlers,'' then on ''17 Tips for the picky eater.''

Basically, toddlers are grazers and more than that, they need to graze because of all the calories they burn. There are some good tips on giving them not just one food at a time but several foods for them to sample, how to make it appealing, and what is normal behaviour. Also, try to keep a consistent schedule.

Other good advice I've read is to not worry about them getting complete nutrition every day, but rather think of it as a week at a time. In other words, one day they might have veggies but not want fruit, and the next day they want fruit but no veggies, etc. So they might lack one food group one day but make up for it the next.

And finally, make sure your kid is getting calorie rich food, such as whole milk products, cheese, avocado, etc. Around 40% of a 12 - month old's diet should be fat, as it provides them with the calories they need for the energy they are burning in being active and growing. anon

Once our 10-month old figured out finger foods, she's been on periodic ''spoon strikes,'' refusing to be fed by spoon. At first, this frustrated me; her self-feeding skills were such that she didn't eat as much as she did when she was spoonfed. But we've gotten the hang of it now, and I appreciate that she wants to do it herself. Here are some things that have helped for us: We eat together whenever possible. It amazes me how much my daughter can pack away while my husband and I have a nice meal and talk! She especially loves when we give her food from our plates, and I really like that she's learning the routine of family meal time. It also helps at breakfast, when it's just me, if I sit and have a bowl of cereal as I'm spoonfeeding her.

Because her finger food quantities often end up lower than her spoonfood quantities (although she's getting the hang of it, and I'm sure yours will too), I try to include some real bang-for- the buck finger foods with every meal: hard-boiled egg yolk, lentils, tofu, cubed and steamed fresh veggies, cubed avocado, etc. At 1 year, you can do things like french toast. I usually give her a couple of items at a time on her tray. For example, some peas, some cubed tofu, and some rice puffs.

We have tried sneaking spoonfuls in when she opens her mouth to put a finger food in, but often this annoys her -- it would annoy me! -- so we don't do it much anymore. A more effective ''trick'' for us is that she'll *always* eat yogurt from a spoon. She just loves the stuff. We get plain whole-milk yogurt and mix other things in to it -- fruit, cereal, even pureed broccoli. If there is there a food like that yours will always eat, that may be a good option. Anne

Our son refused most solids until he was about 14 to 15 months old. He just wasn't ready. We kept trying, because he seemed interested in our food. At an early age (6 months) when fed a finger full of baby food he woke up at night every half hour. He is now 18 months and eating much more, but not nearly as much as children his age. We were concerned about his weight, vitamins, etc,. His weight gain did begin to slow down, but pediatricians (and we went to many!) weren't too concerned, although we were. In the end, he just kept nursing and is fine. He still has days when he eats little compared to other days. We did have his iron levels checked and they turned out to be very good because he is breastfed. Doctors don't usually tell you that breastfed babies actually have better iron absorption than formula fed babies. Maybe get his iron levels checked if you are very concerned...but if your child isn't lethargic, I wouldn't worry! Some children just take longer to take to solids. It turns out our son could possibly not have enough digestive enzymes. He has much more trouble digesting fatty foods (meats, cheeses, etc,.) So..we started with fruits, than veggies...and he never liked baby food! He also refused rice cereal! If you need more advice feel free to contact me.

Good luck! Abbie