It is not unusual for babies or toddlers to refuse food at one point or the other. The reasons for this vary greatly and recognizing the reason behind it will help you know whether you need to worry; and what strategy to employ in order to ensure that your baby gets the nutrients he needs.
Common feeding problems
- Refusing food
This may happen for a variety of reasons such a s being distracted, full, tired or sick. Unless the child is sick, refusal to eat is likely no reason to worry unless this goes on for a long time and the child is getting weak and malnourished.
A child will normally eat when he is hungry so if your child turns his head or pushes the food away, it might simply be that she’s had enough. Instead of forcing her to eat, try to give her some time before you try again. If however you are too worried, consult a doctor.
- Refusing new foods
This is a rather common phase that can take a child anywhere weeks to months to outgrow. To encourage her to eat new foods, try to make it look familiar and start with small portions. If she refuses, switch back to the familiar food and try again during the next meal.
Though babies are often ready to start taking solid food from the time they are about 4 months, others may have trouble handling solid food at first. You may see your baby gagging during feeds.
If giving your baby less food on the spoon doesn’t help to stop the gagging, then she is probably not ready for solid food. You can also have a doctor examine her to rule out any other problems that may be causing her to gag.
- The messy eater
Around the 9th month, babies go through a phase where they seem to play with their food more than they eat it. This phase, often called feeding the floor, is one of the signs of feeding independence and doesn’t warrant a lot of worry. It is an important step in the child’s development as she learns how to be more self-reliant.
- Spitting up and vomiting
Spitting up is a seemingly universal occurrence in babies. This often stops when the baby gets to her first birthday. There is however strategies you can employ to try and reduce spitting up. These include regularly burping the baby, ensuring that she is upright whenever you feed her, avoiding overfeeding and playing immediately after you’ve fed him.
Vomiting often goes away on its own but if the baby cannot keep anything down and is getting dehydrated, try to keep her hydrated and seek medical assistance as soon as you can.
Though these feeding problems can be frustrating, they are often just part of the child’s development that should not worry you. Since they can have many different causes, you should talk to your doctor if you are worried and especially if you are having trouble dealing with it or the child isn’t getting adequate nutrition. You also seek medical assistance if you notice drastic weight loss, lethargy, persistent diarrhoea and vomiting, abdominal pain or signs of intolerance or allergies to certain foods.