Fussy baby food

Fussy eaters - NHS

It's natural to worry whether your child is getting enough food if they refuse to eat sometimes.

But it's perfectly normal for toddlers to refuse to eat or even taste new foods.

Do not worry about what your child eats in a day or if they do not eat everything at mealtimes. It's more helpful to think about what they eat over a week.

If your child is active and gaining weight, and they seem well, then they're getting enough to eat.

As long as your child eats some food from the 4 main food groups (fruit and vegetables; potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; dairy or dairy alternatives; and beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins) you do not need to worry. Find out more about what to feed young children.

Gradually introduce other foods and keep going back to the foods your child did not like before. Children's tastes change. One day they'll hate something, but a month later they may love it.

Keep offering a variety of foods – it may take lots of attempts before your child accepts some foods.

Tips for parents of fussy eaters
  • Give your child the same food as the rest of the family, but remember not to add salt to your child's food. Check the label of any food product you use to make family meals.
  • The best way for your child to learn to eat and enjoy new foods is to copy you. Try to eat with them as often as you can.
  • Give small portions and praise your child for eating, even if they only eat a little.
  • If your child rejects the food, do not force them to eat it. Just take the food away without saying anything. Try to stay calm, even if it's very frustrating. Try the food again another time.
  • Do not leave meals until your child is too hungry or tired to eat.
  • Your child may be a slow eater, so be patient.
  • Do not give your child too many snacks between meals – 2 healthy snacks a day is plenty.
  • Do not to use food as a reward. Your child may start to think of sweets as nice and vegetables as nasty. Instead, reward them with a trip to the park or promise to play a game with them.
  • Make mealtimes enjoyable and not just about eating. Sit down and chat about other things.
  • If you know any other children of the same age who are good eaters, ask them round for tea. But do not talk too much about how good the other children are.
  • Ask an adult that your child likes and looks up to to eat with you. Sometimes a child will eat for someone else, such as a grandparent, without any fuss.
  • Changing how you serve a food may make it more appealing. For example, your child might refuse cooked carrots but enjoy raw grated carrot.

Further information
  • Baby and toddler meal ideas
  • Dealing with child behaviour problems

Video: How do I manage a fussy eater? (18 to 30 months)

This video explains how to manage a fussy eater.

Media last reviewed: 2 December 2020
Media review due: 2 December 2023

Page last reviewed: 2 February 2021
Next review due: 2 February 2024

7 Clever Ways to Get Your Fussy Baby to Eat

Whether they’re distracted, food seems unappetizing, or they’re just not hungry, fussy babies can make for frustrated parents. Since babies can’t verbalize what they want (or cook for themselves), all you can do is present healthy options creatively and at regular intervals. It’s up to baby to eat. Try these seven clever strategies—

1. Channel Your Inner Artist

Babies are naturally “neophobic,” meaning they’re fearful of anything new. When your baby rejects a new food, keep in mind it might not be the flavor. Your little one could just need more time and some inspiration. When introducing a new taste or texture, consider baby’s tray your palette. Use boiled macaroni and some olives to make a smiley face, or organize soft berries and boiled vegetables into a rainbow. Despite what our moms always told us, sometimes playing with your food is OK—especially when it helps them feel comfortable with new colors and food combinations.

2. It’s Not You, It’s Eww

You might gasp a little when yogurt ends up on the floor, but encouraging baby to play will strengthen his relationship with food, making him less hesitant to try new tastes and textures. Give him a few colors and textures to play with—a dollop of vegetable purée (like Beech-Nut sweet corn & green beans), a few blueberries, and maybe something with a kick like tiny bits of nectarine or orange. Then, let him have some fun. Don’t worry… it’s nothing you can’t wipe up quickly.

3. Jam out to “The Wheels on the Bus”

Babies are often more open to trying new genres of music than flavors of food. To help make mealtime a bit more memorable, consider jamming out with your babe to his favorite song. No radio necessary. This is where the spoon becomes the mic, you become the lead singer and baby acts as backup vocalist — taste testing the mic every once in a while, of course.

4. Mix (and Spice) It Up

You don’t eat just one thing for lunch, so don’t make baby do it either. Small, baby-safe ice cube trays make for the perfect “separator plate” solution. Provide a variety of foods—some new and some tried-and-true—then, let her pick around and taste the new foods among the ones she trusts.

Not quite ready for brand new foods? Introduce new spices to already-trusted foods. Add a pinch of cinnamon to applesauce, or nutmeg to the butternut squash purée from Beech-Nut.

5. Play in the Haystacks

A fun way to introduce new textures is to grate baby’s favorite flavors of firm fruits and veggies onto her tray. After spoon-fed purées, long, thin strips of carrots, apples and sweet potatoes may not seem like food. Show your baby how to pile the pieces into an edible mountain and eat each sliver one by one. It’s like Jenga for baby.

6. A Casual Lunch Date

Even babies can be social eaters, so whenever you can, invite a friend over for a dining-focused playdate. Prepare a variety of finger foods and purées, including frozen purée pops, which are great for teething tots. You can make your own blend of fruitsicle or just pour a jar of Beech-Nut Naturals into a freezer-proof mold a few hours before. Not only is it fun to have company, but babies whose lips were sealed a minute ago may open up when they see a friend chowing down on lunch.

7. Special Delivery

We all know the airplane trick — our grandparents used it on our parents, our parents used it on us. But baby can see through this and keeps his mouth sealed tight. Try the same method, but refocused.

This cute construction cutlery set will have any dump-truck loving baby combing through his mashed potatoes. Who wouldn’t want to eat dinner off a literal mini ‘fork’lift?

Another presentation method: reusable food bags, like these lunchskins. The same way your baby is entertained by endless games of peek-a-boo, he’ll be excited to see what’s inside the bag. Reserve these bags for new flavors and textures so it’s like opening up something new every time you use them.

However, you use your creativity, make sure it comes in tandem with patience. The most crucial part of getting your baby to eat is to try and try again.

If all else fails, you can also consider adding a multivitamin, which could be great for those picky eaters who may not be getting enough nutrients from their diet. We like the Mommy’s Bliss Organic Multivitamin Drops, which are made without any artificial colors or ingredients (for babies 2 months+).

Have any creative ideas that we didn’t mention? Share them in the comments below!

Baby food through the eyes of a nutritionist

Why you shouldn't believe the advertising of nutritional supplements for children, what are the worst eating habits, how to keep your child from unhealthy snacks? Nutritionist Katarzyna Blazheevskaya, author of the book Nutrition for Children. Wise and healthy. "

According to a study, Polish children gain weight the fastest in Europe. children's nutritional problems and the mistakes we adults make. nine0003

What are some of the worst eating habits you have encountered while working as a nutritionist?

Perhaps the worst thing is that patients treat food as a necessary evil, an unpleasant duty to kill hunger. They don't think about nourishing the body. They have a problem because they want to lose weight, lower their cholesterol, or cure their heartburn. They come to me as a wizard who will say a magic spell and help. To say that we are what we eat should make us think. For example, if we are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids in our diet, it is not possible to create the correct myelin sheaths in the cells of the nervous system, which in turn leads to impaired concentration. And so with all the ingredients. nine0004 Food is, first of all, health and proper functioning of the body.

What do you think of tablet dietary supplements? The advertisements that we hear on radio and television show that almost all vitamins and minerals can be obtained by taking supplements.

Unfortunately, I totally disagree with this. What's more - manufacturers themselves often talk about issues with supplement quality, dose cries, bioavailability, biological retention, etc. Supplements will never affect our body in the same way as natural ingredients taken with food. In addition, you must be careful not to overdose on vitamins and minerals. For example, in the United States, treating oversupplementation, that is, excess nutrients in the body, is more expensive than treating a deficiency. So I will really be very careful and take care of a varied, seasonal, healthy diet, which can be supplemented if necessary with one ingredient. nine0003

Staying on the topic of supplements, or a good solution for the so-called Are drugs "poor eaters" that stimulate appetite?

Very often parents and grandparents think that a child is fussy and after writing down everything he eats during the day, it turns out that these amounts are exactly what he needs , or that his diet includes so many snacks that nothing is surprising when a toddler refuses to sit at the table at lunchtime. I don't underestimate the problem, because of course there are children who really "live in the air" - but here you can also wait for this period. nine0004 Of course, however, it is better to give the child herbs that increase appetite or improve digestion, instead of stuffing him with sweets "as long as he eats something."

A common problem for moms trying to introduce a new diet is grandparents or other family members who feed their kids unhealthy snacks. Could you advise our readers how to react in such situations?

This is a very complex topic. First, a serious conversation is important. Not only do they say: mother, grandmother, do not give the child sweets. nine0004 The consequences of such actions should be explained. Often such a grandmother suddenly thinks of her friend with diabetes and begins to understand what is at stake. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is necessary to take more serious action and firmly say that we are raising our child in a certain way and please do not question it.

Strangers are also difficult, so I urge you never to feed your children without asking a guardian if you can - this refers to sweets, but remember that children also have food allergies, so these snacks can do more harm than good .

For a long time I was convinced that my son didn't eat sweets - until one day instead of babysitting I went for a midday walk with him, and Stane suddenly knocked on my neighbor's door. The door opens, I apologize clumsily and explain that it wasn't until my son knocked as he walked by that the neighbor said, "But Ste and I have that habit - and she gives him cookies." For which my son, as it turned out, knocked on it every day ...

The vegan diet has become popular in recent years. We read in your book that it can be used in children. Could you give our readers 5 tips to keep in mind when using this diet for a child?

It is difficult to include in a few rules all the recommendations for proper feeding of children. As for vegans, I think they are more aware than some vegetarians who, while cutting meat from their diet, replace it with more cheese or dairy products - which is a very bad move. nine0004 Every child's diet should be very varied. When eliminating animal products from the diet, we should automatically take care of a large amount of plant protein - from nuts, seeds and legumes. Whole grains should be the basis of such a diet, in addition, all vegetables and fruits should be included in the diet in large quantities. I also recognize the need to supplement this diet with vitamin B12, which we will not provide to our children and ourselves. nine0005

In the 21st century, the world is struggling with the problem of eating disorders. Not only obesity suffers from this, but also anorexia and bulimia, affecting young and young children. What signals, as parents, should disturb the child's behavior?

This is a very complex topic related to the psychology and observation of our child. Of course, weight loss is a red flag, but we can often see early warning signs, such as excessive interest in food. On the one hand, eating disorders are often the result of other problems: lack of acceptance, willingness to control one's life, etc. Today, however, we are increasingly talking about diets and weight loss, which can cause a disorder called orthorexia in adolescents. . nine0005 It consists of an obsession with an object of food. I often see girls trying to lose weight due to hunger - due to a lack of awareness and knowledge that this is the worst way. Therefore, sound education in schools is very important. When we notice that our child is obsessed with who he is, let's talk with him about the principles of proper nutrition - thanks to this we can "feel" how serious the problem is.

Check out fabulous sandwiches - a way to deal with a fussy eater and learn how to deal with a child's lack of appetite. See also what the expert advises. nine0003

Child asks for food every hour: feed on schedule or on demand?

Kizino Polina Aleksandrovna

pediatrician, perinatal psychologist

What should and should not be done if a newborn baby asks for food every hour? Polina Kizino, a pediatrician and leading expert of the Smart Mama online school, gives advice on breast milk and formula feeding, as well as on cluster feeding of an infant, which will help even experienced mothers. nine0003

— Polina Alexandrovna, why does the child ask for food every hour?

— A child needs frequent feedings at certain periods of his life and development. Here, the main problem is that often mothers do not distinguish between the child's need for food and his anxiety for other reasons. For them, a fussy baby is always hungry and needs to be fed. But acting by mistake, you can go beyond the norm.

— Is it worth keeping a baby's diet at all and how to avoid overeating? nine0099

— When breastfeeding, a baby can suck out different amounts of milk in different feedings and get hungry a little earlier or a little later, so a nursing mother needs to trust the baby more and follow his needs. The mixture stays in the baby's stomach a little longer than breast milk, and to avoid overfeeding, clear intervals between bottles are introduced. Mixed feeding will be a cross between breastfeeding and artificial feeding.

Overeating in a small child is rare. In extreme cases, if so much is eaten that the stomach does not hold food, the baby will spit up an extra amount of milk or formula. nine0003

Read also
  • How much and how often to feed the baby day and night, and whether to set feeding hours.

How often to feed a newborn

- Why is the baby constantly hungry? And what if he often asks for food at night?

— You need to be careful and careful with night feedings. When a baby asks for food and is fed every hour, this is called cluster feeding. It is acceptable for one or two days, but if this happens for a long time, it is not normal. nine0003

The problem is that frequent "snacking" may be a constant violation of the regime, due to the fact that the baby does not receive enough attention from his mother. He may be full, but he needs to make contact with his mother, kiss her breast and thus relieve his anxiety. Therefore, you need to analyze the situation and try to understand why night feedings occur.

- Is it rational to reduce the amount of milk depending on the intervals between feedings?

— In the first month, you should not increase the intervals: on the contrary, you should try to stimulate lactation so that by the month it becomes mature. When a baby eats every three hours, and the mother suddenly takes a break, for example, at nine o'clock, this can affect the amount of milk later. nine0003

The baby is definitely growing. And if he received breasts at intervals of three hours quite regularly, then with the introduction of complementary foods, one feeding goes away, and the break becomes longer. With a systematic and gradual reduction in feeding, milk production adjusts to the rhythm of the baby's nutrition. The alternation of large intervals and frequent applications can negatively affect lactation. The body gets used to the lack of stimulation, and then it will be more difficult to increase the amount of milk in multiple feedings. Therefore, it is better to go to reduce breastfeeding gradually. nine0003

— Is feeding according to the schedule always a good thing?

- Feeding at the same time can be both a plus and a minus. Mom is calm, trying to adapt to the children's routine and understands what awaits her in the near future. The baby also adjusts to a certain routine, which gradually prepares him for complementary foods on schedule.

The disadvantages begin when the mother artificially tries to adhere to the regime, not relying on the needs of her baby and not “feeling” him. Even under a regime, allowance must be made for new circumstances. And if a child has a need for food, he does not need to refuse, especially a very small one who still does not know how to wait for physiological reasons. nine0003

— How to determine how much to give during one feeding?

- When breastfeeding, it makes no sense to calculate the volume, and it is difficult to measure it. On artificial feeding, the calculation is based on the age and weight of the baby. Usually, the amount of food per day is calculated: it is divided by the number of feedings at the moment. For example, if a child eats every three hours, then the volume is divided by eight or seven, and for older babies - by fewer feedings. Each age has its own formulas and calculations. nine0003

Approximate amount of infant formula by age and frequency of feedings

— How can you tell if a baby is gaining weight?

- We discussed earlier that at each age there are average norms (range) of weight gain. But gains above the norm does not mean the threat of obesity. Physiological features, height-weight proportions of the baby are taken into account. Even if the weight gain prevails over the increase in height, it is still not necessary to restrict the child in nutrition. It is important to meet his nutritional needs and not replace the milk/formula with water or dilute the formula with more water to reduce its calorie content. When nutrition is adequate, and the correct feeding regimen and eating behavior has developed in the family, as the child grows and masters new skills, the child will begin to expend more energy, and the reserves accumulated in previous months will quickly be used up. nine0003

— When is it time for an overweight baby to see a doctor?

— Babies under one year old are seen by a pediatrician every month. At the appointment, the doctor can look at more pronounced weight gain and discuss whether the child is active enough for his age or needs stimulation. After all, it happens that babies are ready to crawl and roll over, and parents leave them to sit in a deck chair without the possibility of moving, or children spend a lot of time in a stroller, where they are also unable to realize their motor needs. nine0003

Don't forget about endocrine diseases that lead to obesity, although they occur very rarely. If necessary, the pediatrician will prescribe a consultation with an endocrinologist.

— What recommendations does the World Health Organization give for child feeding?

- WHO says baby should be breastfed on demand. Wants to eat every 40-60 minutes - you need to feed and not wait until he stops asking for a breast or the time between feedings is maintained. nine0003

However, a child's anxiety does not always indicate that he is hungry. Breastfeeding is not only about nutrition, but also about interaction. Sometimes breastfeeding becomes a satisfaction of the need not so much for food as for communication. If the child lacks attention, affection, care, then he can ask for a breast much more often, because at the time of feeding he has the opportunity to closely contact his mother.

— What are cluster feedings and why do they occur? nine0099

— Cluster feedings have been talked about relatively recently. These are situations when the baby is applied to the breast very often for some time, literally "hanging on the chest" to be with his mother.

Peculiarities of cluster feeding:

  • are often observed in babies of the first month of life;
  • may appear in two to three months or recur sooner;
  • often coincide with growth spurts, when the baby's excitability increases, he learns new skills, receives a lot of information from the outside; nine0116
  • usually last one or two days, and if it drags on, then it is necessary to analyze the sleep and wakefulness regimen, the presence of overvoltage, the adequacy of the child's nutrition and, if necessary, take measures;
  • are not related to the mother's diet - however, in such a rather difficult period, it is desirable that the mother does not have aggravating factors in the form of a strict diet, which will negatively affect her well-being and mood.

A small child depends on his mother. When his level of anxiety rises due to certain changes in the body, he wants his mother to be around as often and as long as possible. Being on his chest for a long time, he calms down. This condition is normal for a child, and there is no need to wait for him to stop asking for breasts or asking for pens. You need to come to terms with the fact that there are such periods in the life of a baby, and organize your life in such a way that frequent cluster feedings do not interfere (slings and other carriers help). nine0003

Cluster feedings occur less often on artificial feeding, because the baby does not associate food with mother as closely as with natural feeding. Mom has other ways of interacting with her baby that compensate for communication during feeding. Feeding on such days usually takes place, but the baby spends more time in her arms, and the mother is more actively involved in his life and pays more attention to him.

It is impossible and unnecessary to feed the child chaotically all the time. When breastfeeding, it is important to take into account the needs of the baby and try to choose something between a regimen and its complete absence. Artificial feeding is easier - the ideal regimen depends on the frequency of feeding in accordance with the age and weight of the baby. When a child begins to ask for food every hour, the first thing to decide is whether he is hungry or has some other need. There are times when a baby needs a mother and he needs more communication, a change in position, a feeding place. This is the norm, not a disease that needs to be treated. Mom needs to carefully observe her baby, learn to feel his needs, and everything will be in order. nine0003

*The ideal food for a baby is mother's milk. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. MAMAKO ® supports this recommendation. Before introducing new foods into your baby's diet, consult with a specialist.

* Breast milk is the best food for babies. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life and continued breastfeeding after complementary foods are introduced until the age of 2 years.

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