It’s a whole new world of tastes and textures for your baby. Refusing certain foods is very normal. With a little patience and persistence, your baby will learn to enjoy his new diet.
Your baby will tell you, without words, that he doesn’t like his spinach puree: grimace, mouth closed, plate thrown on the ground. Don’t worry too much about your infant’s lack of desire to try solid food.
So far, he has enjoyed drinking your milk and has not questioned that this is where he gets his food. Now he understands that he can make decisions (“I like” or “I don’t like”). This is the beginning of your baby learning to say "no”, and by not wanting to eat food, he is expressing a desired autonomy more than a refusal to eat.
Be persistent, offer food at least 8 times before deciding baby really doesn’t like it. Offer previously rejected food every few days, in non-emotional way and/or bridge with food baby does like.
Food Rejection After Age Two
By age two, many children have similar preferences for food: they love pasta, rice and potatoes but won’t eat a plate of vegetables. And, if you try something new, you’ll often get an instant refusal. This is called "food neophobia". It’s more or less pronounced depending on the child and disappears after age six or seven.
Forming Good Food Habits
If your child doesn't want to eat, don’t force him, but also don’t offer anything else if he refuses what you have chosen. This may be a difficult to do the first time, but your child will quickly understand that he has to eat what he’s given or he will get hungry later. Here are some ideas for helping make meal times go more smoothly:
- Be creative. If your toddler doesn’t eat his carrots, offer him carrots again tomorrow, in a different way. Who could resist a "face" made out of pureed vegetables, with sliced carrot eyes and a green bean mouth?
- Teach your toddler to verbalize “my tummy is not hungry” – the learn to respect his words. After all, your child should eat when he is hungry, not to please someone else. Take your time, relax and encourage your toddler to do the same by serving meals in a relatively quiet place and with distractions, like TV, turned off.
Healthy Eating After Age Two
At two years of age, a child will often eat four regular meals, and 2 snacks, or mini-meals. Seat your child at the family dining table, in his highchair, next to you. He will love to see you trying lots of new foods and will want to imitate you. Be sure to set an example for him – fill your own plate with an appropriate portion of healthy foods like vegetables, to help him form great eating habits early in life.