Helpline 0808 801 0322


Food refusal

Note: The information featured on this page is currently under review, and will be updated in due course. Please ensure that you speak with your health care professional about any queries you may have about the issues covered here.

Remember that meal times should be a time to talk to your baby and have fun, so you should never force an extra mouthful once it is obvious your baby has had enough to eat. 

All babies and children will refuse food at some time. This can be for many reasons, for example:

  • the food is too hot or too cold
  • your baby is feeling unwell
  • your baby is tired
  • your baby isn’t hungry
  • it’s a new, sharp or bitter tasting food
  • food may be pushed out due to sucking movements and more mature ways of eating will develop over time
  • older babies are more likely to resist new foods.

To help your baby enjoy a new food, he or she doesn’t have to eat large amounts – don’t give up until you have tried offering the food at least 10 times over five weeks (about twice a week). Even then a food may still be taken at a later time, or when offered in a different situation.

It helps encourage babies to eat when they see other people enjoying the food, especially other children. Sometimes a baby will be more willing try a new food from someone else’s plate. A family meal is the perfect time for this to happen.

Look out for your baby’s signs for wanting more food or having had enough. With time, they will become easier for you to recognise. Forcing your baby will never help them to like a food. It's more likely to make feeding more difficult, and may put him or her off some foods completely.

Don’t forget that children are quick to pick up on their parents’ mood and they will take their signals from you.

Keep meal times to a maximum of 30 minutes as much as possible. Most food will be eaten by then and prolonging meal times may make your baby bored and restless.


Help us by sharing this post
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • Tweet this
  • Facebook
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Google
  • LinkedIn