What if my baby refuses food while weaning?

Cartoon of mum spoon feeding baby

​​Your baby will show you when they have had enough or want some more food. These signs will become easier to read with time.

Instead of trying another mouthful if your baby refuses food, try to increase amounts gradually as you learn how your baby shows when they are hungry and full.

All babies will refuse food at some stage. This can be because:

  • Food is too hot or cold
  • Your baby is feeling unwell
  • Your baby is tired
  • Your baby is full
  • The food is sharp or bitter tasting
  • They haven’t yet developed chewing, meaning they spit food out as they still use their sucking instinct

Some research also shows that older babies are more likely to refuse new food.

Have fun and get messy! Don't worry about how much food they take to start with, let them explore with their hands and mouth and have a lovely time. They'll know meal times as a happy time.

Eva, mum to Rudi

You can start with small amounts of food to begin with, especially if you are trying a new food.

If they don’t like the food at first, it can be useful to try the food again regularly across a number of meal times.

Don’t force the food on any one occasion, but keep offering it to them over a period of time to see if they will take it.

Even though you might be worried about waiting too long to wean your baby, it is important not to force your baby to eat.

Some research suggests that babies who show signs that they are ready to wean are more comfortable, less stressed and show more appetite when eating than those who are given food before they are ready.

Many health professionals recommend encouraging babies when they are trying new foods.

Sometimes, babies might be more willing to try food from someone else’s plate, making family meal times the perfect time for this to happen.

Babies can pick up on others' moods, so if you are finding it difficult to encourage your baby to eat, try keeping meal times short to begin with. This will help your baby if they are becoming bored or restless.