After months of being only breastfed or bottle fed, most babies are quite excited to take their first taste of rice baby cereal. While they may be confused by the texture at first, after a few tries most babies gulp it down eagerly. But what do you do if your baby-- or toddler-- won't eat?
Is he or she sick? A baby with a normally good appetite may not feel like eating if he or she is sick. Check baby's temperature and see if he or she is feeling well. Also, if a baby is teething his or her appetite may dwindle. Don't be alarmed if your normally hungry baby isn't interested in food for a few days-- it will probably pass.
Try mixing it up. Perhaps baby is just tired of the same old foods. You should introduce new foods slowly, with a few days in between to see if the baby has any type of reaction or an allergy to it. But once your baby is in the clear with a particular food, you can offer it as often as you want. So don't insist that baby finish an entire jar of strained peas if he or she is getting bored with them. Offer him or her a half a jar or peas and maybe a half a jar of bananas or some other food. Just like adults, babies like to eat variety of foods at one sitting. If baby is only interested in the sweet stuff, however, keep encouraging him or her to eat vegetables. Otherwise, you may be setting your baby up for lifelong eating problems.
Nutrition drinks. There are several brands of nutrition drinks on the market for babies and older toddlers who just don't get enough nutrition from their regular diet. These nutrition drinks can be quite pricey, but they can also offer you piece of mind if your child is living on a diet of macaroni and chicken nuggets. Still, you don't want to rely on nutrition drinks as your child's sole means of nutrition. They are a good supplement, but always make sure that you offer your child three square meals a day in addition to several healthy snacks.
Vitamins. Even young babies scan benefit from a daily vitamin supplement. For little babies, try liquid multivitamin drops that contain vitamins A, D, C and iron like Tri-Vi-Sol drops. For babies and toddlers who are old enough to chew, you can try chewable multivitamins. Read the label carefully, though-- many over the counter multivitamins need to be cut in half for children under age 3 years of age. Always talk to your pediatrician about what brands of vitamins to use before you start giving them to your baby.
Sneak in some tricks to help get baby to eat. Making eating fun. Babies love it when you play games while feeding them. Pretend the spoon is a choo choo train and baby's mouth is a tunnel-- tell baby to open wide because "Here comes the choo choo train!"
Also, don't push self-feeding before baby is ready. At least if you are spoon feeding your baby, you can see how much food he or she is actually consuming. Once the self feeding starts, you can be rest assured that much of the food will end up on the high chair or the floor. Make sure that your baby is already a god eater before you let him or her take control of the spoon.
Use an older sibling to help show baby how fun it is to eat fruits and vegetables. Most babies try to emulate what their older siblings do, so if you're lucky enough to have an older child who is a good eater, have him or her tell baby how yummy everything tastes.
Try this trick to introduce an older baby to different foods: Fill the sections of an ice cube tray with different snacks, like raisins, cut up pieces of fruit, cheese nibbles, whole grain crackers, toasted oat cereal, small veggies like peas, and anything else you can think of. Your baby will have fun picking and choosing from his or her own little buffet tray.
Is baby drinking too much? If you are loading your baby up with a constant stream milk bottles, then no wonder he and she won't eat. A baby that ahs a tummy full of milk and formula will be too full to eat their regular food, so don't overload baby with too many bottles or sippy cups throughout the day.
Don't stress out if your baby doesn't eat a lot at every meal. The goal for most children is to assure that they get at least one good meal in throughout the course of the day. Babies need surprisingly few calories per day and your child is probably eating more than you think.