Q&A: My baby started refusing baby food at 7 months old. Is this normal?
My son, now 8 months old, abruptly started refusing baby food at 7 months and will only eat table food. However, he has not gained any weight in a month. I still breastfeed him four to five times a day, but not for very long each time. Is it normal to stop baby food this early? Should I be worried about his slow down in growth? He is very active! He has been crawling since 6 months.
Any time I am asked about a question about the amount of food babies are (or aren’t) eating, as a pediatrician my first thought is always to consider whether or not they are getting enough to gain weight as expected. That’s because while some babies and toddlers definitely eat more than others, and some are bigger than others, what is fairly constant is the fact that all kids tend to follow very predictable patterns of growth. This healthy rate of growth takes a very predictable form familiar form—the childhood growth curves your doctor uses each time you take your child in for a well checkup. Given that babies can be expected to grow a whole lot during the first year, it’s well worth checking back in with your doctor any time you think your baby isn’t gaining weight. This will allow you and your doctor to see if he’s really truly not gaining any weight, determine whether or not he’s generally growing at a predictable rate, and also discuss any feeding questions or other concerns that could be contributing to his weight gain.
With regard to refusing baby food at 7 months old, the answer to your question about whether this is early is yes! While I’ve definitely seen some 8- or 9-month-olds who’ve mastered the skill of eating table foods well enough that they eat little baby food, it’s a rare 6-month-old who isn’t still figuring out how to handle baby foods that have thicker textures without sputtering or gagging. The other thing to be sure and consider for all babies as they start on table foods (and for many years thereafter, for that matter) is the risk of choking. Even once babies become skilled at and love eating table foods, it’s still very important to avoid foods that are choking hazards, including anything that is small, round, hard, and/or a size that could easily block the airway if swallowed the wrong way.
The other thing that comes to mind when I’m asked about babies who start refusing baby food as young as your son has is nutrition. It’s great to hear that you’re still breastfeeding your son, as breast milk certainly provides great nutrition for babies and is recommended for the first full year life. That said, it’s also important to make sure that babies get additional iron and protein from their foods as soon as they start eating solid foods and going forward. For any babies who are no longer eating baby cereals (which are an excellent source of iron) or pureed baby food meats, it’s definitely worth your while to discuss your son’s diet with his doctor to make sure that these important nutrients aren’t lacking.