Most pediatricians recommend that you begin feeding a baby a wide variety of solid foods by the time the child is 1 year old. However, for children who are used to an easily digested liquid diet of breast milk or formula, this may be a difficult transition. If your 1-year-old refuses to eat solid food, you may need to consider and address some possible reasons for his aversions. While some children are simply pickier eaters, others may have medical or sensory issues that contribute to their refusal of solid foods. Take your child to a pediatrician for feeding advice and to rule out any medical problems.
Consider Your Tactic
If your 1-year-old refuses to eat most or all solid foods, consider your tactic. Try to choose a time of day for feeding when you are not in a hurry so you are more inclined to be patient. Offer a wide variety of solids, including single-grain cereal, yogurt, mashed avocado, applesauce, sweet potatoes and bananas. Delay feeding time if your child doesn't appear hungry. Most importantly, avoid fights over food. If your child has never shown interest in solid food, coercing or forcing the child to take the food in his mouth is only going to intensify his aversion. Your 1-year-old will not go hungry if he sticks with formula or breast milk for a day or two. If your child fights solids, that may mean you simply need to take a break for a few days before trying again.
Nursing and Bottles
If your 1-year-old is still getting up in the middle of the night to nurse or have a bottle, she's likely not eating solids because she's filling up on formula or breast milk. Both formula and breast milk contain fats and nutrients that provide nutrition and prevent hunger. According to the book "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems," stopping nighttime feedings may help your child move toward solids more effectively because she will actually have an appetite.
Some babies and toddlers refuse solid foods because they have sensory issues that make it unpleasant or impossible to ingest solids. If you have offered a variety of foods, including very bland, runny dishes such as rice cereal, and the child refuses to eat, chokes on the food when trying to swallow or appears unable or unwilling to chew and swallow, visit your pediatrician. The doctor may refer you to a specialist who can diagnose specific sensory issues and offer therapeutic treatments to address these issues.
Children may also have medical issues, such as food allergies and acid reflux, that make them reluctant to eat solids. If your child has ever exhibited symptoms of allergies or digestion problems after eating, take him to the doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of allergies include a rash, bloating, gas, runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhea, vomiting and general crankiness. Symptoms of digestive issues such as reflux include extreme distress after eating, vomiting and diarrhea.
- AskDrSears.com: Starting Solid Foods
- "The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems"; Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau; 2005
- "The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook"; Pamela Compart and Dana Laake; 2009
- "The BabyCenter Essential Guide to Your Baby's First Year"; Linda Murray, Anna McGrail and Daphne Metland; 2007