Ask an Expert: When Baby is Not Interested in Solids

by Wendy Wisner, IBCLC

Fan Question:

“My 7 month old is not interested in starting baby foods at all, she just wants the breast. I am okay with that but her doctor tells me that she wouldn’t be getting enough nutrition. The internet searches I do are divided on the issue. What are your opinions or experiences with this? I don’t want to force her to eat but I also want her to be healthy.”

This is the kind of question I have gotten very frequently over the years, and I will tell you that I have never met a baby who didn’t eventually take to eating food!

Yes, there is a lot of division about this on the internet, and among health professionals.  While some doctors say babies can start solids as early as 4 months, both the Academy of American Pediatrics and The World Health Organization recommend babies exclusively breastfeed for at least six months.  Still, it is common for some babies to start solids as late as 9-12 months, and continue to thrive.  The main nutritional reason that babies need solid food after the first six months is because the iron stores they are born with start to deplete sometime between 6-12 months (click here for more details on iron in breastmilk).  Still, the iron available is breastmilk is absorbed easily, and most babies have enough iron to last them several months past the six month mark.

But let’s push all those numbers aside.  Babies don’t have a calendar in their bodies!  They are ready for solid foods when they are developmentally ready, and this is something all babies do on their own timetables—just like sitting up, walking, and talking.  There are signs you can look for to see if your baby is ready, including the baby’s ability to sit up on her own, the development of a pincer grasp (picking up food between thumb and forefinger), and the loss of a tongue thrust (i.e., the baby doesn’t instinctively push food out of her mouth, and sweeps it in and swallows easily).  Here is a good list of readiness signs.

Basically, when your baby can sit, grab the food, and swallow it easily, she is ready!  And some babies really wish to do it themselves!  Once your baby is developmentally ready, you can skip purees if you wish.  You can offer her soft finger foods (avocado, bananas, softened sweet potatoes, etc.), and let her feed herself.  Some babies just prefer the independence and the varied textures of such foods.

So, if you baby isn’t interested yet, don’t worry.  It’s very common, and your breastmilk will keep her healthy until she’s ready.  Keep offering in a relaxed, fun way.  Let her explore the food with all her senses.  Keep in mind that breastmilk will continue to be her primary food for the first 12 months, so there is really no pressure to prepare full meals for her yet.  Follow her lead, and enjoy!

unnamedWendy Wisner is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), writer, and mother of two amazing boys.  In addition to her work with breastfeeding moms, she has published two books of poems, and a handful of articles about mothering and breastfeeding.  She blogs at www.nursememama.com.

Comments

  1. Hi – I have a similar problem. My daughter is 10 months old and I started her on solids at 6 months as per the recommendations here in Canada. She was showing all the signs. But… even now 4 months later she eats BARELY any solids. Usually 2 – 3 bites each meal. I try to give her more, but she just turns her head and pinches her lips shut. Unless it is bran flakes – for some reason she loves bran flakes and will eat them non-stop. Should I just continue to offer foods to her and hope that at some point she will start to eat more quantity of solids but not stress about the quantity. I definitely stress about the quantity now and meal time is not longer enjoyable because I try to pressure her to eat more and she ends up crying. A nurse at the Well Baby Clinic said I should follow her cues – which I was doing, except to ensure she is getting enough iron (i.e. iron fortified cereal)… but she is definitely not getting enough iron! I don’t know what to do!

    • River's mommy says:

      My son’s 10 months old and most of the time he’s not to interested in solids. He eats a few bites, then starts feeding the dogs his food. But, my doctor said that as long as I’m still breastfeeding on demand and he’s still thriving, then it’s not an issue and don’t worry about it. So, if I were you, I’d just give it to her, and let her eat as much as she wants and no more. Don’t try to make her eat, even if it’s iron fortified. If you think she’s not getting enough iron, talk to your doctor about maybe getting an iron supplement.

  2. Arlene Negrete says:

    I myself am dealing with the same issue with my 7 month old. She just isnt interested. At her 6 month check up Dr said i needed to give her solids and skip BM and give Rice cereal in the morning . If i didnt , Shed become anemic. So as a parent do you listen to your Dr or follow your instincts? As a ftm ive stopped focusing on what everyone around me is doing and so long as my daugther is gaining weight and healthy on strictly BM i will follow what i feel is right for my daughter. She will do it when she is ready . Thank you for this article it has put my mind at ease to know i am not alone.

  3. Jenn Smith says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me! My 9 month old doesn’t want to have anything to do with solids and his Dr. told me he has to eat or he will become anemic – she said he could be already. I tried to brush it off because he bf on demand and is a very healthy weight (21#), but her words still have me a bit worried. I started taking an iron supplement after that appointment, I’m still working on quieting my concern.

  4. Alissa Worley says:

    What about for my 15 month old who is picky? My doctor is demanding I stop breastfeeding. She says of course she will be picky if she is offered ice cream all the time, which she says is all I am basically doing now. She says I am doing it for myself and she is getting no nutrition from my milk now.

    • I’m going through the same thing with my 15 month. Except my doctor did not say to stop breast-feeding. It’s the only thing that is keeping him going. He’s gaining weight. And still on the charts. He’s come a long way. He went from not putting anything in his mouth to licking things and now biting the food but spitting it right back out. We just started therapy with early intervention. He has to learn to chew and then swallow. If he does try to swallow anything it’s without chewing so it comes right back out with spit up. I wouldn’t stop breast-feeding! Look for other doctors or therapists that will help.

      • Melissa says:

        That’s really untrue and outdated info from ur Doctor. Breast milk is always good for them and nutritiousto say different is beyond wrong. And to say it’s for you not the baby is just plan outrageous and not medical advice but personal opinion oboviously from someone with little to no education on the subject. Be proud of the great job you are doing breastfeeding you are giving your baby the best start in life and continue to give the best nutritiousment possible. That Doctor really needs to get there facts start all doctors should Encourage a healthy breastfeeding relation. It’s actually reccommended until the age of two now and that’s a commendation not a final notice.

  5. Hi am really stressed with my boy who is eleven months now. He used to drink a little poredge when he was four months but now he refuses every thing apart from breast milk. What should I do because when I try to force him he fights so hard and cries a lot

  6. Then he loves cold yogurt, juice and milk from refrigerator should I continue to feed him that?? They say refrigerated drinks are bad for babies. Please need your advice. Thanks

  7. Nirupama Nayak says:

    New born baby not doing breast feeding alwasys adk for boyttle

  8. I’m in the same boat my little guy is almost 7 months and some days he will have a little bit and on others nothing. Im starting back to work in four months and not sure what to do 🙁

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  1. […] if your baby does not show interest in solid foods though? Well, babies have and had thrived on breast milk or the bottle for nine to twelve months […]

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