What to do When Your Baby Says “No” to Food

A toddler puts his head down on a table at a meal

Has your baby or toddler started to say “no” to food yet?  No? Just wait.

Around 15 months old, my daughter, Adie, developed a strong “no” reflex. She’d actually say no to food she even wanted—shaking her head no AS SHE WAS REACHING FOR MORE.

I highlight this fun little development milestone—part speech, part independence—because how you handle your baby rejecting food in these early days can set the course for years to come.

I’ve been talking a lot about picky eating because we have a webinar coming up on it soon (see website), but in the meantime, I want to leave you with this little nugget:

FEIGN INDIFFERENCE. 

When your babe refuses their food or tries to get a rise out of you by pushing it away or saying no, don’t give in. Doesn’t matter if they are 9 months old or 5 years old. Similarly, don’t reward your child for eating either.  Aim to remove all pressure and emotion from the table. In other words, ACT LIKE YOU DON’T CARE. 

Our children want to please us, even in these very early days. Your job at the table is to offer healthy options for your babe to choose from. Their job is to decide what to eat (and whether to eat).  And it’s up to you to make sure mealtime doesn’t become a battleground. Because let me tell you from experience: if you try to control how much your child eats you might win a battle here and there but you’re going to lose the war. 

Once picky eating takes root, it can be hard to reverse quickly and painful for the whole family.  Put a sticky note on your fridge to help you remember. And the next time your babe pushes the plate away and says “no!” shrug your shoulders, put your best Stepford smile on, and say, “Okay, honey. I’ll leave it here in case you change your mind.” 

xo Jenny

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