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Why Won’t Baby Eat?

7 Common Baby Feeding Problems continued...

These classic signs of feeding independence often show up around baby's ninth month, when your little one is anxious to control feedings and interact with his food. Although there's frequently a mess involved in letting your baby wield the spoon, this step is important in helping your baby learn, grow, and become more self-reliant.

Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

Food allergies, which activate the immune system, occur in up to 8% of children and can appear suddenly, with symptoms ranging from diarrhea, vomiting, rash, or stomach pain to breathing problems and body swelling. The most common food allergies among children are to milk, soy, eggs, wheat, nuts, and shellfish, though kids (and adults) can be allergic to other foods.

Food intolerances are more common than food allergies. Although symptoms may be similar, food intolerances involve a baby’s digestive system, not immune system. Common food intolerances include problems with lactose, corn, or gluten. Symptoms of a food intolerance include gas, bloating, diarrhea, and belly pain.

Spitting Up, Reflux, or Vomiting

Spitting up seems to be a nearly universal occupation of babies. The good news is that spitting up tends to fade as babies reach their first birthday. You can reduce the chances of your baby spitting up by burping him regularly, avoiding overfeeding, keeping baby upright as you feed him, and avoiding playing with baby immediately after eating.

Reflux is when stomach contents back up into a baby's esophagus. To help manage reflux, feed baby a little less or more slowly at each meal; change or loosen baby's diaper; keep her upright after feeding (for example, sit her in a swing or car seat); limit active play after eating; raise the head of baby's bed.

Vomiting, when food comes up more forcefully, can be caused by dozens of things. It can be caused by an immature digestive system, infection, medication, and motion sickness. Although vomiting usually gets better on its own, call the pediatrician if your baby appears dehydrated, has forceful vomiting or vomits for more than 24 hours, seems to be in pain, or can't retain fluids. Forceful vomiting in infants may be caused by a physical condition called pyloric stenosis, which blocks food from moving to the intestines.

Baby feeding problems can be caused by many things, so it's always a good idea to talk to your child’s health care provider if you’re concerned.

Call your child's pediatrician if your baby appears to be losing weight, is lethargic, has vomiting, gagging, or diarrhea that is persistent or related to certain foods, has abdominal pain, or simply if you have questions or concerns.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on August 06, 2012

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