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Why Won’t Baby Eat?

Baby feeding problems can range from a sudden spray of spit-up to a smear of carrots in the hair. Yet whether feeding issues are the result of an infant with an independent streak, food allergies, or a fussy baby, there's a way to handle them.

The first thing to do when faced with a baby feeding problem is to relax. Although feeding hurdles are frustrating, if your baby is growing and developing normally despite the fuss, there's usually no reason to worry.

7 Common Baby Feeding Problems

Refusing Food

Babies refuse food for many reasons: They may be full, tired, distracted, sick, or sometimes baby's feeding schedule just isn't your feeding schedule. Don't worry, a baby will always eat if he’s hungry, so if your little one is swatting at the spoon, turning away, or clamping his mouth shut, he’s telling you that he’s had enough for now.

Try to trust that your baby knows how much food he needs, and never force feed your child, which can turn feeding time into fighting time. That said, if a refusal to eat has you worried, always talk to your pediatrician.

Avoiding New Foods

Just about every child goes through a period of rejecting new foods. Fortunately, most children grow out of this phase, though it can sometimes take weeks, even months.

Help your baby accept new foods more easily by making sure the new food looks similar to a familiar favorite, for example pureed carrots and pureed sweet potato, or mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes. Then, starting with very small portions, gently offer the new food to your child three times during a meal. If she refuses, don't over-react; just move on to something you know she likes. Try offering the new food at another meal.

Fussy Baby, Picky Eater

It's the lament of many parents: My baby is a picky eater.

There are many reasons infants may be finicky about food. They may be teething, tired, not yet ready for solids, or just don't need as much food as you're feeding them. Familiar foods provide your baby comfort in stressful, busy times. Although picky eating may linger awhile, it rarely lasts.

Gagging

Most babies are ready for solid foods between four and six months, but a few may find solids hard to handle in the beginning. The result? Baby may seem to gag during feedings.

If your baby is having a hard time swallowing solid foods, try putting less food on the spoon. If your baby is still gagging, he may not be ready for solids yet. Your child's health care provider can also check for other reasons for persistent gagging.

Making a Mess

Sometimes called "feeding the floor," there’s often a messy phase when baby seems to spend more time playing with or dropping food than eating it.

WebMD Medical Reference

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