Weaning Challenge 2: “When Your Baby Refuses to Eat” Day 1: Weaning Challenge 2: “When Your Baby Refuses to Eat”

Weaning Challenge 2: “When Your Baby Refuses to Eat”

Overcoming weaning challenges requires patience and understanding. Remember, you're doing an amazing job as a parent, and with time, your baby will adapt and develop their eating skills. Keep up the great work!

Now let’s get on with the second challenge many parents face: when babies refuse to open their mouths during mealtimes. We understand that this can be frustrating, but rest assured, we're here to help you manage it patiently and find solutions that work for you and your little one.

Sometimes babies may seal their lips tightly, turn their heads away, or show other signs of resistance when you try to feed them. While occasional refusal to eat is normal, frequent or consistent refusal may indicate a problem, and it's advisable to consult your doctor if you have concerns.

Why Do Babies Refuse to Open Their Mouth & How to Manage It?

  • They’re not hungry: Babies communicate their needs in various ways, and refusing to open their mouths could be a way of indicating that they are not hungry at that particular moment. It's essential to consider other factors that might affect their appetite, such as tiredness or sleepiness. If your baby shows disinterest in eating, try taking them out of the high chair and offering food at a later time when they have an appetite.
  • They want independence: Some babies have a strong desire for independence, even during mealtimes. If you notice that your baby consistently resists opening their mouth when you try to feed them, consider switching to a more baby-led weaning approach. Offer them finger foods that they can feed themselves. Many babies enjoy the freedom and interaction with food that comes with self-feeding. You may find that when you place food on a spoon and let them hold it, they will willingly put it in their mouths themselves.
  • They sense your stress: Creating a positive and relaxed mealtime environment can be challenging for parents, especially when juggling other tasks throughout the day. It's common for parents to feel stressed or anxious if their baby doesn't eat what they consider to be a normal amount of food. Thoughts like "Is she getting enough nutrition?" or "What am I doing wrong?" may arise.
  • Babies are perceptive and can pick up on the stress or frustration exuded by their parents during mealtimes. This can make them uncomfortable and less inclined to eat. It's important to try and create a calm and positive atmosphere during meals to encourage your baby's willingness to eat.

    Our Top 5 Tricks to Tackle This Behavior

      1. Try feeding them later: If your baby occasionally refuses to open their mouth, it can be helpful to take them out of the high chair and offer food at a later time. This approach works well if refusal happens infrequently. However, if you notice frequent refusal, it's best to consult your doctor.
      2. Ensure they’re hungry: When you do offer food at a later time, make sure your baby is genuinely hungry but not overly tired or sleepy, as this can lead to crankiness and disinterest in eating.
      3. Show them the food: If you find that your baby is not opening their mouth even when food is offered, try "showing them the food." Place the food on the plate and hold it at their eye level. Give them an opportunity to reach for it and put it in their mouth on their own.
      4. Offer bigger sizes of food: Giving babies slightly larger pieces of food can make mealtimes more enticing. Avoid offering very tiny pieces that might be unappealing. Larger pieces can catch their attention and encourage them to reach out and explore the food. Finger foods are particularly beneficial as they allow babies to practice self-feeding and feel a sense of independence.
      5. Be patient and present: As parents, we want mealtimes to be enjoyable for our babies. It's important to remember that learning new skills and developing good eating habits takes time. Be patient and present with your baby, providing plenty of opportunities for them to learn and improve their eating abilities.

    Avoid letting feeding challenges become sources of stress or frustration. You are doing your best as a parent, and your baby is also doing their best in their own development.

    Tomorrow, we will look at what to do when your baby refuses to sit still in one place.

    Learn the right ways to nourish from experts