Baby Not Eating Solids? Don't Panic
6 min read
Weaning can be a fun experience, but it can also be nerve-wracking at times.
Here at Babease, we understand that all budding foodies develop at different speeds. Don’t panic if your baby appears to be behind on the weaning journey compared to others – they’ll get there!
Every baby is different. As with everything in life, some are naturals that will take to solid foods like a duck to water. Other may take a bit more time and need a little more support.
If your little one isn’t as receptive to solids, there are so many potential factors, some of which we cover here, that could be playing a part. The most important thing is to remain patient and supportive, both of yourself and your little one.
Understanding the Weaning Process
First of all, it can help to understand what the weaning journey is all about. Yes, the end goal of weaning is for your little one to rely less on milk and more on solids, but that’s a long way off at the beginning.
The first stages of weaning are all about introducing your baby to new tastes and textures. Their nutritional needs will still be met mainly by milk (breast or formula) initially.
If you’re ever worried about your little one’s eating habits, have a chat with your Health Visitor who should be able to advise you on whether your baby is on track.
The best way to tell how well your baby is growing is by getting their weight checked regularly. Remember that at the start of weaning, milk will still be providing plenty of the energy and nutrients that your baby needs to grow and develop.
At What Age Should My Baby Start Weaning?
The NHS and Public Health England recommend starting the weaning process with your little one at around six months.
The reason why in the UK it’s recommended to start at ‘around’ six months is to allow for some flexibility. Not all babies are ready at exactly the same time and it’s best to look out for those signs of readiness listed below.
Even if you start at the right time for your baby, it doesn’t mean that they will always take to foods right away. Some take a little longer to get used to the concept of food, and that’s OK. Just keep offering food to baby and do lots of rolemodelling of how to eat too!
Is My Baby Ready for Weaning?
The age recommendations for weaning are one guide, but a more important one is how they are developing.
There are three signs in your little one to look out for before starting the weaning journey:
- Can they sit up on their own and hold their head steady?
- Can they coordinate their hands and eyes to pick up and bring food to their mouth?
- Do they have less of a tongue thrust reflex so they should, when you start, be able to swallow more food than they push out?
Ideally, you want to look for multiple signs happening on multiple occasions for your baby, not just a one-off.
It can help to make a note of each time you see the three signs above and then start weaning when you see them regularly and your baby is close to six months of age.
What To Do If Your Baby Suddenly Refuses Solids
An issue that crops up a lot for parents is when budding foodies suddenly become grumpy at the mere sight of a spoon.
This experience can be incredibly nerve-wracking for parents if they think their little one got the hang of weaning but can’t work out what’s changed.
Again, there can be many reasons why your baby suddenly doesn’t want to eat solids, despite being enthusiastic before. Here are some things that you can try.
Stick to What Works
Sometimes, it can be the slightest change that turns a budding foodie into a mealtime grump. For example, they might be feeling slightly unwell one day, which can put them off.
As much as you can, try to stick to what has worked for your little one earlier in the weaning journey, especially when it comes to routines.
While they may have favourite foods you can return to, trying to introduce a variety of tastes is still essential, even if they reject them occasionally.
Try a Different Approach
You can always try changing the mealtime environment to make sure it’s calm and more of a fun place for your baby. Try using a table cloth, moving their highchair to another part of the table or playing some calming music.
Your little one will develop during the weaning journey, not just in their appreciation of food but also as an individual. Parents have sometimes discovered that introducing more baby-led weaning techniques, such as allowing your little one to try feeding themselves, helps to keep them engaged as they seek their foodie independence.
Change Your Mealtime Environment
Making mealtimes fun and engaging for your little one is one of the best ways to get them excited about trying new foods. If your baby appears disinterested when it comes to mealtime, try to make it a more exciting experience.
During weaning, babies often look to their parents for inspiration. Showing your enthusiasm for their food and eating alongside them can make little ones more enthusiastic about their own food. Try to eat with them whenever possible!
Don’t be afraid about having fun and creating a mess – your baby will be more inclined to eat if you’re both having fun!
What to Do if Baby Starts Refusing Solids After 12 Months
Some babies eat really well at the start of weaning and then all of a sudden decide they want to be fussy about some foods, certain meals or… everything!
This is really normal and the tips above should still help. If you’re concerned about how your baby is eating, check with a health professional to ensure your little one is developing as expected.
As mentioned earlier, weaning is a journey that happens at different speeds for different people.
On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for babies when they reach 12 months to develop a dislike of new or different foods. The term for this is ‘neophobia’, and can lead to more food refusal at this time. Know that this is normal and babies appetites really do go up and down a lot over their weaning journey!
As with every stage of the weaning process, remain patient and supportive while also enthusiastically promoting a variety of nutritious foods for your baby to try. Try not to draw too much attention to the food refusal and offer plenty of praise and smiles when they are playing with or trying the foods.
Babease Top Tips for Anxious Parents
- Don’t compare – Seeing where your little one is with weaning compared to others often makes any feelings of anxiety worse. Everyone develops differently, so focus on doing what’s right for your budding foodie.
- Remain enthusiastic – Showing support for your baby’s efforts will not only make them more accepting of solids, but you will feel better, too!
The weaning journey is one that can be full of uncertainty, but there are also countless exciting experiences to share with your little one! We hope this blog will give you the confidence to enjoy weaning in a way that works best for you and your little foodie!
If you want to discover more, our blog is full of weaning advice and support for parents.