Q: My 10-month-old is not interested in eating table food. He only wants baby food and formula. Is this normal? I have tried puffs, Cheerios, mashed potatoes, applesauce, Jello, Gerber yogurt drops, graham crackers, pears, bananas. He won't eat any of it. Most of it he just throws on the floor. If he does put it in his mouth, he spits it right back out.
A: Most parents will describe a similarly frustrating transition from baby foods to table food. You are not alone! And I am impressed at the wide variety of healthy table foods you have chosen for your son.
Here are a few things to think about. First, is he rejecting the food because he simply is not hungry? If he is getting his tummy full with baby food and formula, he may have little interest in eating table foods. Feeding him table food before any baby food or formula may help. And, make sure plenty of time has passed since his last meal. You want him in the high chair hungry. Second, are you enjoying those great table foods with him? Don’t underestimate the power of example. Pull his chair up to the table. Show him how much you love table foods by using your hands, making yummy sounds, and happy faces. If you are showing stress or getting upset during the table food experience, both of you will just be miserable. So, have some fun. Finally, don’t misinterpret feeling, mashing, spitting, or playing with food as failure. Babies learn about new foods and textures over time. In fact, some studies suggest that a new food needs to be offered to a child as many as 20 different times before he or she will eat it. What does that mean? Patience for the other 19 times the food is spit out!
Rarely, some children have true texture aversions, or severe dislikes. These children need the help of therapists to learn how to accept new foods. I would talk to your son’s pediatrician if you are not seeing positive changes in his eating habits in the next few weeks. I’m sure they would be happy to help.