MUNDE: What to do when your toddler refuses to eat

MUNDE: What to do when your toddler refuses to eat

A toddler eating. /ISTOCKPHOTO

  • What do you do when your baby refuses to eat, or is initially agreeable to solids, and then all of a sudden zips his/her mouth tightly shut when you try to give them food?

When mums think of weaning, they are usually excited – finally, a time to give your breasts a break from exclusive breastfeeding.

Many think of the many puree recipes they are going to whip up for their young ones with colours of the rainbow – red strawberry puree, creamy orange puree, yellow mango mix, green peas mash and on and on.

But when it actually comes time to give those recipes a try, some get disappointed that their baby just won’t have any of it.

Food rejection. What do you do when your baby refuses to eat, or is initially agreeable to solids, and then all of a sudden zips his/her mouth tightly shut when you try to give them food?

To make matters more challenging, it is advised that you refrain from adding sugar and salt to babies’ meals, at least until he/she is one year old.

Here are some tips for getting your weaning baby to eat:

1.     Don’t force feed. I have mentioned this in a previous article. As much as you want to give your baby all the nutrition he/she needs, avoid force feeding your baby because they can develop a negative attitude towards food

2.     Don’t trick feed your baby: next to force feeding, another thing to avoid its trick feeding your baby, whereby you get them to laugh and then sneak in a spoon of food, or you trick them you are giving them something eye catching and then as they open their mouth to take it in, you sneak in that spinach. It can be frustrating when your baby only seems to want to mouth that deep fried chicken, which they shouldn’t be eating, but try not to trick feed your baby, or worse still, resort to giving your baby unhealthy foods because they have rejected healthy ones

3.     Give yourself 30-45 minutes to feed your baby. It sounds a lot, and is a lot, but if your baby is not willingly gobbling down the food you have made, you need to have patience. Don’t give up on feeding just because your baby has closed his/her mouth initially. Try once, try again, give it a break, then try again. Remember your baby is trying to get used to the new tastes and textures of food after being used to breastmilk or formula and it will take time

4.     Let your baby play with food. If you haven’t already learnt this, do recognise that you cannot be uptight when raising a baby. There’s a reason behind the phrase – inner child – children like to play, and this includes with food. Your baby might want to grab that puree and fold it into their hands before agreeing to eat it, and that’s okay. All you need to do is arm yourself with an adequate coverage apron, which your baby can wear so that as they explore and smear their food on themselves, it lands on an apron, which can then be washed, rather than staining all your child’s clothes.

5.     For babies who don’t like taking water – which your baby is usually encouraged to start taking after six months, my paediatrician advised adding a little watermelon to add taste and colour (which babies like) and they just might warm up to that water. It’s a good idea to incorporate water (start from as little as 20ml, then work up as baby grows and starts getting used to it) because as you wean, the change in diet can sometimes come with constipation, which water can help alleviate

6.     Don’t tire: it’s tiring, I know, but just keep at it. Nutritionists say that it can take anywhere between 10-20 exposures to a certain food for a baby to warm up to it, so don’t determine that your baby will never love that pumpkin just because he/she rejected it the first five times you tried it.

As you can see, weaning can sometimes be even more challenging than breastfeeding if your baby is a fussy eater, but keep at it and it will get better.

Happy weaning.

Do you have tips on successful weaning? Share them on firsttimemumke@gmail.com

Listen to the First Time Mum Confessions Podcast here.

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Weaning Toddler

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