What to Do When Baby Spits Out Food (Part 2)

Besides the taste, texture or temperature of the food, I want to mention a few other possible reasons why your baby may be repeatedly spitting out the food you are offering:

Ready for a Change
At some point during the meal your baby may be wanting a bit of a change…either in the food offered (time to bring the second course or to start switching between the two), or a new and more challenging texture (e.g., from soft smooth oatmeal to couscous). Sometimes baby could be ready for slightly stronger tasting foods to challenge her taste buds. This was what I experienced when baby turned 8 months—she was ready for more adult like tasting foods with new flavors (including hummus) and textures! It could also be that baby needs to have a sip or two of some liquid (e.g., expressed breast milk, water, formula) to help ‘wash’ the food down, before being willing to take more solids.

If you have an older baby, he or she may have gotten quite bored with being spoonfed the same food teaspoon after teaspoon. So it may be time to bring out a few finger foods so baby can feel more engaged in the eating process and get a variety of tastes in the mouth. Continue to offer spoons of food in between baby’s eating—she’s often happier eating this way!
Also, you can be creative and find other ways to make your spoonfed meal more appealing and attractive. For example, if your baby can take finger foods, spoon the food onto little bits of bread to make mini tiny sandwiches and arrange these pieces attractively on a plate.

Occasionally my little one would start out eating something really well, and then about halfway through suddenly start to let what was fed…just dribble out of her mouth. It is almost as if baby suddenly decided to refuse what was eaten.  It’s frustrating I know. What could be happening at this point is that baby is getting somewhat full, and since hunger is not so much of an issue anymore, baby can afford to be more ‘choosey’ over what she will or will not swallow!

 Not Hungry
It is worth mentioning that there will also be times when baby is just not hungry (or hungry enough to take the food you’re spoonfeeding her). On some days, the food could also taste delicious (to you) but baby just doesn’t want to eat. This applies to even some of her favorite foods (e.g., yogurt) and baby is well and not teething. Baby may really just not want to eat that day! On some level you need to trust baby…she does know what she wants or needs! The one time my baby absolutely refused to eat what I was giving her was when I had a savory meal made with couscous cooked in orange juice. The packaging had said it was alright to cook the couscous in water, broth or juice…but didn’t specify what kind of juice. Since I had some left over orange juice in the fridge I thought I would try this. I thought it was just her being fussy, but as it turned out the couscous cooked in orange juice really tasted quite sour and unpalatable!

So just offer the foods you have prepared during a 20-30 minute mealtime and if baby doesn’t take much, that’s alright. Quietly remove the foods without fuss. You can offer a similar meal/snack later when baby is hungry or just offer more as a breastfeed later on (for babies under a year old that are still breastfeeding). Don’t worry, baby may make up the eating later that day or the next!

If you have ruled out all the above possible reasons, then it could really be that baby doesn’t like the taste of the food you are offering. But even so, don’t give up offering those new foods or different textures, even if baby’s appetite and mood for eating seems to vary daily. Some days my daughter absolutely loves cooked egg white pieces and eats them like no tomorrow. On other days, she absolutely refuses to touch them! Know that often it takes 10-15 times of offering a food before a baby will accept it. Modeling how much you enjoy a food can also encourage your baby to try it. Another idea is to put a small amount on your finger and let baby taste it from there. My daughter would often try something from my finger that she wouldn’t touch on the highchair table (that is, until after she has tasted it from my finger)! So bring back out a recipe every once in a while and retry it with baby. Unless it’s orange juice couscous of course!


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