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Is your baby not eating solid foods? Here’s what could be going on

What to do if your baby isn't interested in eating solids

Baby in a highchair at the table eating
Catherine Delahaye / Getty Images

When babies are first introduced to solid foods, they tend to already have a preference for what they like. Some babies like vegetables, while others prefer the sweet taste of fruits. Babies usually take to eating solid foods quite quickly and enjoy them very much. Let’s face it, once a baby starts on solid food, all they want to do is eat! But what happens when your baby’s not eating solids?

It can be confusing for a parent when their munchkin, who seems to enjoy food so much, suddenly refuses to eat solids. Or, when their little one begins eating solids, but then stops eating them entirely. This is something that happens commonly with little ones and isn’t something to be too concerned about or cause panic. Let’s go over why your hungry hippo is rejecting solid foods and what you should do about it.

Baby eating food
Natee K Jindakum/Shutterstock

Do babies need solids every day?

Starting babies on solid foods can be confusing, especially for first-time parents. While it can be exciting to introduce your little one to new foods and flavors, it can be a challenge to get them to accept the idea of something different. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests starting solids around 6 months of age. You also want to take your time introducing new foods to your baby, not only so you can monitor them for any food reactions, but so you can also get them used to the idea of eating.

When first introducing your baby to solid foods it’s OK to offer it just a few times a week, before slowly graduating to a more consistent schedule. Try to make sure you’re offering solids when your child is in a good mood, and not tired so they can enjoy the experience and get used to the idea of eating solids.

A parent feeding a baby some baby food

If your baby is just starting out on solid foods

Typically, parents start introducing solids to their babies between 4 to 6 months old. When babies are first introduced to solid foods, it’s not surprising if they automatically try to spit it back out. They may also gag a little bit, which is not to be confused with choking.

For babies, it is all about texture. All adults have those “texture issue” foods that they just won’t eat, no matter what. Babies are the same, and it’s more normal because it’s their first time trying it. When they feel the new texture on their tongue and in the back of their throat, they’re not used to it — which means you could wind up dealing with a spit-out mess.

If your child is at this stage and spitting out their food, they might just have to get used to the new texture. If your baby is not eating solids at all, they might not be ready for this step yet, and that is okay!

Baby in highchair with milk and cereal.
Andersen Ross Photography Inc/Getty Images

If your baby is a little older and has been on solid foods for a bit

By 8 months of age, your baby should most definitely be interested in eating solid foods. If they are still refusing, it might come down to a sensory issue.

There could also be the problem of coordination. It actually takes a lot of work for babies to eat solids – from opening their mouth to getting the food off the spoon to swallowing the food without any issues – it’s a whole process.

There is also the possibility that your baby could be bored with their food. This means it may be time to introduce finger foods and allow your child to experiment with something new that will make them more interested in eating.

If you notice your baby excessively spitting out the food when you try to feed them, or they are continuing to gag, you should reach out to their pediatrician to see what they recommend.

A mother feeding her baby

If they stop eating solid foods altogether

Some babies have no problem with solid foods in the beginning, but then you notice they are refusing them all of a sudden. There are a few reasons why this could be happening;

Baby is sick

If your baby has a cold or a virus that makes it hard for them to breathe through their nose, they may literally turn their nose up at solid foods. If you remove the mucus from their nose, they might try to eat again.

Baby is teething

Another common reason they refuse solids is teething. Teething makes babies feel terrible all around — some even run a fever. They’re certainly not going to want to put solid foods into their mouth because their mouth and gums may be swollen, red, and sore. Babies know that chewing can be painful so they will often refuse to eat. Offering liquids like smoothies or frozen items like homemade popsicles will help soothe those gums and get food in that tiny tummy.

A baby eating baby food
Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock

When it’s time to get outside help

If your baby is still refusing solid foods at the age of 7 to 8 months, it’s worth giving their pediatrician a call. You might even need to bring your little one in for a quick checkup so the doctor can tell you exactly why your child is not eating or tolerating solid foods. They might end up referring you to a pediatric dietitian with specialized expertise in that field.

Oftentimes, the reasons babies refuse solid foods are simple and nothing to worry about. Either they’re not ready, they’re not used to the texture, or they’re not feeling great. (Don’t we all prefer soup when we’re under the weather?)

Know that your baby not eating solids is a natural part of their development and typically not cause for alarm. After you’ve checked all the boxes, you will have your baby well on their way to eating — and enjoying — solid foods again!

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Jennifer Passmore
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