All parents out there know or should know that two of the most important things they can do for their babies is to give them food and to give them an opportunity to sleep. Of course, so many other things are very important and contribute to a baby's comfort but without these two, a baby would never grow. Therefore, every parent has the responsibility to stop everything and pay close attention to his or her child, if he or she is not sleeping or eating well.
The major difference between these two very important needs is that a baby will eventually sleep because sleeping is often an involuntary action, which will eventually happen regardless of how much a baby fights it. Although in some medical cases, babies might require professional medical attention to help them sleep well.
On the other hand, eating is a very big deal because a baby has to take the effort to chew and swallow the food that his or her caregiver is putting into his or her mouth. Therefore, if a baby has chosen not to eat, or if he or she is eating, but the amounts are too little to be of any benefit to his or her body, the baby has to be experiencing some issue.
Here are 20 common reasons why many babies out there go through episodes in their lives that they don't want to eat the amounts of food their parents and caregivers are giving them.
20 The Baby Could Be A Fussy Eater
Moms always worry when their babies refuse to eat. Although everyone goes through moments when he or she does not feel like eating, some babies refuse to eat because they are fussy eaters. Although fussy eating is normal in growing children, it is without a doubt very difficult for any parent to handle, because these children are not in a position to give a good explanation for their actions.
Moms should introduce the baby to as many foods as possible because giving them limited options usually elevates the fussiness and it can even result in them refusing food for long periods. Moms should not show their frustrations when their children refuse to eat, instead, they should try to feed their babies with the healthy foods the babies like.
19 Food Allergies Could Be The Problem
Babies with allergies really struggle when it comes to feeding, especially if they have multiple food allergies. Babies can get allergic reactions to foods such as milk, eggs, wheat, and many more. Moms should always pay close attention to babies who vomit, diarrhea, swell, or have stomach pain after feeding because they might be developing food allergies or food intolerance.
Babies restricted from eating certain foods may get bored of their daily diets and end up eating less food. Moms should try to make the baby’s food not only taste good but look good. Food creativity can help the baby feed more. Toddlers enjoy colorful foods shaped differently.
18 The Baby Could Be Unwell
A sick baby is sure to eat very little food because illnesses deal a severe blow to anyone's appetite. However, this situation is usually temporary as the appetite comes back once the baby feels better. Babies can develop colds, flu, diarrhea, tummy discomforts, and other ailments, and since they may have weak immune systems, moms need to ensure that the babies stay away from cold or any germs.
A baby that is not eating well is not getting the vitamins and minerals he or she needs for growth. With a baby who is unwell, mothers should always give them fluids to avoid dehydration and if possible give them foods that their systems can digest with ease. However, it's always important to visit a medical professional in case the symptoms persist or if a parent is concerned about the lack of feeding.
17 The Baby Might Be Bored With The Food
Since even adults get bored with a particular meal if they have it too many times, babies also get bored in the same way. If mom is always mashing pumpkin for the little one, he or she might stop eating enough because they don’t like the food anymore. Serving the same thing repeatedly will sure lead to boredom.
Moms tend to do this especially when they are stressed with the baby and doing other chores in the house. They should try to rotate through three or four meals for the little ones because it is also unhealthy to feed the baby the same food every day because of the various nutrients they require for growth.
16 There Could Be Too Many Distractions During Feeding Time
The baby may not be feeding enough if he or she is distracted during feeding time. Allowing them to watch TV or play with toys during meals is sure to lead the babies to become poor eaters. Babies are not good at multitasking and a colorful moving screen will always grab their attention more than the food in front of them.
Moms should not allow screens or toys during meals and should ensure nothing interesting is going on around the baby’s environment when they are feeding so that they focus on just eating. This is one of the easiest reasons to deal with.
15 Baby Could Have Drank Too Much Water Or Milk Before Meals
Babies tend to feed less after taking too much milk or water before meals since these fluids make them full and can also interfere with the digestion of their meals. Babies should have milk or water several hours before their mealtime. Moms should avoid giving them things like milk, yogurt, porridge or even water before meals as this gives them the notion that they are full hence they end up eating less.
Moms may also be tempted to give them water during meals, which is okay because the meal may be too dry or they may need to hydrate. Water during meals should be limited to a sip at a time or until they are halfway through the meal.
14 The Baby Could Be Tired
A tired baby will most likely not eat enough during meals because they would rather sleep than eat. It is important for mothers or caregivers to ensure the baby is resting well throughout the day. Playing a lot and staying awake for longer periods can lead to fatigue.
A mom will clearly know that her baby is tired if the baby is fussy and is rubbing his or her eyes during mealtime. To deal with this situation whenever it happens, moms can put them down to sleep, but then wake them up to eat after a few hours. However, parents can deal with this by making sure the babies get enough rest through the day and night.
13 The Baby Could Be A Picky Eater
Children, in general, tend to prefer some foods to others because of sensitivity, because as they grow, their parents introduce them to many new foods with different textures. New foods should be introduced one at a time and in small amounts to avoid picky eating.
Babies may also be picky because they are eating small amounts of food throughout the day and when it is finally time to eat, they are not very hungry. Moms should ensure that the little ones have structured meal times to increase the chances of eating when hungry. In addition, they should try to schedule new foods when the baby is hungry to encourage them to eat.
12 His Or Her Oral-Motor Skills Could Be Developing
Though rare, the eating process does not come naturally to all babies. A lot of muscle coordination is required to feed and parents need to consider how well the child is chewing, moving the tongue and swallowing their food. Babies dealing with developing oral motor skills may gag after food is already in their mouth and end up throwing up or spitting it out.
They can even suck on food instead of chewing, barely getting enough in their stomachs. Such babies will refuse to eat because they do not know how to chew or swallow. They prefer foods that they can eat and swallow easily. In cases where a baby is not making any improvement, he or she may require feeding therapy.
11 The Baby Might Not Like The Taste Of Formula
Babies may feed less if they do not like the taste of formula. Moms usually begin supplementing their breastmilk with formula for various reasons or just give the baby formula exclusively. Formulas have different ingredients and flavors and the baby may prefer one over another.
A baby who has never had breastmilk will more likely never refuse formula because they have nothing to compare it to, so they might just be picky on formula brands. However, a breastfed baby may not like the taste of formula. Moms can try the different brands available in the market to see which ones their babies prefer, while those who don't want to give formula can pump out milk and store it for their babies.
10 The Smells Of The Food Could Be The Problem
Babies that are sensitive to smells will certainly not eat foods they feel are smelling bad and if they do, they may end up throwing up. Moms should ensure they introduce a variety of appropriate food options when the babies are starting to eat solids, especially those that smell great. Opening the windows during feeding times can also help dilute the smells.
Breastfeeding babies can also be sensitive to milk that smells weird. Mothers with high lipase in their milk may find that their babies feed well when breastfed but refuse to feed after it had been stored for a while. The milk could have developed a funky smell or taste because of the high lipase content.
9 The Pressure To Eat Could Be Too Much
Babies can sometimes feel pressured to eat and end up resenting mealtimes. Some caregivers may want them to eat quickly so that they can get it over and done with, which will often result in the babies refusing the food. Sometimes the caregivers can pressure them out of good intentions especially for the ones who refuse to eat completely, but the pressure will always be consequential.
Toddlers can easily sense pressure and it is always good to let them eat at their own pace. A child is more likely to eat when they see the food given is not too much or stressful. However, moms should always make sure to offer their little ones a balanced diet, even when serving them small portions.
8 Baby’s Feeding Position Could Be Wrong
A baby’s feeding position can greatly affect the amount of food he or she eats. For newborns, moms should try out different positions in order to find out which angles the baby feeds best. A 45-degree angle with their head on the mother’s elbow usually works. If the baby is uncomfortable during feeding times, chances of not feeding well are very high.
In addition, if not positioned well, the baby might have trouble swallowing food. Encouraging toddlers to sit in one position or in a lockable chair throughout the feeding time can improve their feeding. Allowing them to move around might work against your desire to have them eat. Let them finish eating and then release them to go play.
7 The Baby Might Not Be Hungry
Sometimes babies refuse to eat because they are not hungry, simply because they ate too much food during their previous feeding session. Parents should be able to know when the baby is full and stop feeding them. Babies also refuse to eat when their bellies feel full even without eating.
This can be because of gases accumulated in the stomach or constipation. A mother should burp her baby after meals to help them release the gases. If parents notice fewer bowel movements and the baby is refusing to eat, he or she may be constipated. Massage the newborn’s belly and for toddlers add foods rich in fiber and keep them hydrated throughout the day.
6 The Transition From Milk To Solids Could Be The Problem
After four to six months of exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding, babies should start to eat solid food because their systems are now ready to digest appropriate foods. Some babies might reduce their food intake because they are not used to solid foods.
It is usually challenging for parents to adjust to this change. Since the baby is already used to milk, moms should try and balance the milk and solid foods, because it is important to let them continue with milk while adjusting to the new foods. The solids should be smooth purees with no lumps for easy swallowing. A baby should eat solid foods once a day and slowly build up to 2 or 3 times.
5 The Baby Probably Doesn't Like Eating Alone
Sometimes feeding the baby alone before everyone or after everyone eats can lead to poor eating. Mothers should encourage family meal times especially if she has an infant or toddler. When they see others eating they are more likely to follow suit. Toddlers usually imitate what they see their parents doing and positive experiences about food may help them develop good eating habits.
If they see the parents eating vegetables, they will slowly start indulging with vegetables when they get used to the taste and textures. Parents should also avoid giving rewards to encourage them to eat. Instead, if they are big enough, teach them the importance of food.
4 The Baby Could Be Teething
Teething usually starts as early as 4 months and can be uncomfortable for babies and in most cases; they may not feel like eating during this period. Some babies teeth for a short period while others take a longer time. Some even get fevers when they teeth, therefore, disrupting their feeding patterns. This is because the process of sucking or eating may increase the pain on their gums.
Moms should ask their health care providers what they could offer their young ones to reduce the pain. Parents should exercise a lot of caution when using teething gels on their babies, since overusing them can lead to appetite loss. Good news is that this is temporary, once the tooth cuts through the gum, the baby's appetite will get back to normal.
3 The Caregivers Could Be Impatient
Caregivers usually have a lot of impact on a baby’s feeding patterns. Some do not have the patience to feed the baby until they are full or skip meals all together until the baby is hungry. Babies who do not feed properly can deal with respiratory illnesses and colds. Underfed babies are prone to infections because they are malnourished.
For newborns, mothers may not know when the baby is full and because babies have no way of letting moms know, they should feed them whenever they want until the baby refuses. However, one indicator that the baby is feeding well is the number of diaper changes they have throughout the day.
2 The Temperature Of The Food Or Breastmilk Might Be A Problem
Babies might refuse food or milk simply because they are used to having food at certain temperatures. Even breastmilk is naturally warm because a mother’s internal organs keep it that way. If giving the baby milk in a bottle, ensure the temperature is right.
The baby might refuse to eat or drink if the food is too cold or too hot. They usually digest warm food or milk faster than cold ones. Children often start to refuse food when it starts getting cold, so caregivers should warm it to avoid digestion issues. In addition, it is important not to heat a baby’s food in a microwave, since some sources claim that it eliminates some of the essential nutrients.
1 Baby Is Too Young To Feed Herself
Moms may be tempted to cut the baby’s food into small pieces when they are trying to transition from only milk to finer foods. Unfortunately, babies take time to learn how to pick up tiny foods and put them in their mouths and usually end up eating very little and most of it ends up on the floor.
This could be why the baby is not feeding enough during meals even if they want to. Babies can easily pick a slice of bread and eat because it is big enough. Otherwise, Moms should continue feeding the little one until they are sure they can handle it themselves.