How to help a picky eater baby to enjoy baby food
Once you start introducing real baby food to your little one, you’ll notice if your baby tends to be a picky eater.
Some babies just love eating. They want to try everything from early age and love everything they are allowed to try (at least until they become toddlers…) Other babies, like our youngest son, seem to think that anything that isn’t liquid and tastes exactly like breast milk simply is not eatable… He didn’t approve of anything but breast milk for a long time.
There are however a few things you can try to help your picky eater. Check the list below and feel most welcome to add any other tips you’ve tried by leaving a comment below!
8 Things To Try To Help Your Picky Eater Baby
Absolute beginners – how to start
Does your baby seem to think that the breast or bottle is really the only food he’ll ever need? Many babies are quite reluctant to trying anything else for a long time.
But there are ways to have a clue whether it is even worth it to start trying baby food for your baby. For a start, don’t try giving your baby solid foods until he or she seems to be ready, which is often when the baby is showing some interest in what you’re eating and in putting things in his mouth.
At some point between 4 and 6 months old, babies tend to start showing interest. While the general recommendation now is to only breastfeed for 6 months, if your baby is approaching this age and seems interested, you can always give it a try. At some point after 6 months old, babies tend to become more picky eaters again.
Start with very liquid foods, e.g. mild vegetables or fruits mixed with lots of breast milk or formula. Actually, most recommendations are now to start with vegetables to avoid making your baby used to eating only sweet things, but I’m sure if that’s really true. Breast milk is very sweet, so your baby actually already has a sweet tooth.
So, my tip is to try vegetables first, but if that absolutely does not work, try mixing the veggies with some fruit, like banana, which is both very nutritious and sweet.
After a while, you can try vegetables again or slowly reduce the share of fruits you added.
This was, by the way, the only way I could get our youngest started on solid foods; he absolutely refused to eat pure vegetables, even mixed with a lot of breast milk. 🙂
Warm or cold
Some babies like their food hot, others like it cold. And most don’t care much. What no one likes is, of course, to get burnt – that can put off even the most enthusiastic eater. So always stir the food and taste it before feeding your baby. And experiment a bit with warmer and colder food, if your baby is a picky eater.
However, if your baby seems to be indifferent to the food’s temperature, don’t heat it too much. It is very convenient to have a baby that is used to eating room temperature food now and then, for example when traveling with your baby.
Baby food bash
Some babies simply won’t eat anything but canned baby food. Others will have nothing to do with it. All our three kids started rejecting canned baby food when they were approaching their first birthday. (Before that, two of them liked the canned food better than my homemade…)
So, if your baby is picky with canned baby food, try offering some homemade foods. And the other way around.
And if you are all in on making your own baby food, you’ll find my tips on a number of great baby food cookbooks here.
More spices, less spices
Babies are also very different regarding how much spices they prefer. While I don’t think any baby likes hot chili; herbs can be much appreciated. Dill, for example, is a herb that many babies seem to like.
If your baby spits out your mashed potatoes, try seasoning it a little bit.
Being allowed to use their own hands instead of being spoon fed, can really help some picky eaters to become interested in eating. Just make sure you don’t give your baby anything that can be a choking hazard or some foods that should be avoided under the age of 1 year.
The closer your baby gets to his or her 1st birthday, the more likely it is that he/she will start refusing to be fed. If you can cope with the mess, give your baby his or her own spoon or at least let your child use his hands to try and feed himself. You can always feed him/her at the same time.
Our daughter started grabbing the spoon furiously already at 7 months old and refused to eat when I tried to feed her. When she got her own spoon to hold and try to feed herself with at the same time, she’d let me feed her without fussing.
Color and shapes
Colorful food and funny shapes can make some babies interested in putting it into the mouth – hopefully, to discover that it tastes good. This is probably why so many babies enjoy eating green peas – surely it can’t be the fantastic taste… ;-D
So be creative! Cut tiny pieces of red bell pepper, serve corn and peas and small pieces of soft boiled meat, for example. Hiding the food under a cup and making a game out of finding it, is also a fun way to make eating enjoyable.
Don’t force anything
How would you like being force-fed? Having someone shove a spoon into your mouth? Even the most delicious ice cream wouldn’t taste that great, right? Babies are just the same.
While it can be very frustrating when your baby refuses to even taste something, pressing the spoon into his mouth is never a good idea.
What you can do, is to put a little chunk of the food on his or her lips (with the speed of light). If you’re lucky, your baby almost didn’t notice what you did, licks his/her lips and discovers that it tastes good.
These were a few ideas to try to help your picky eater enjoy baby food. Here are three more posts for additional help!
If you have any questions or comments, do share them below! 🙂