"In front of children who do not want to give up milk, do not want to eat or seem to eat little, there are two basic tips: trust them and have patience". Word of Ilaria Giulini Neri e Giacomo Cagnoli, both pediatricians and nutritionists at the Melegnano Hospital and collaborators of the ICANS (International Center for the Assessment of Nutritional Status) of the University of our city.
“Weaning - continue the pediatricians - is a fundamental and difficult step in the life of all children, which requires patience and dedication and which must be started at the right time. Some children experience this moment with particular hostility, probably because they associate it with a detachment from their mother or because they are not yet ready for this step ”.
Read also: Weaning: 40 expert answers to your questions
The first thing to do if the baby does not want to start weaning, abandoning the milk - mother or formula - that has fed him up to that moment is therefore to be patient. "Wait and try again later, especially if the child still shows little interest in food" write the pediatricians Luigi Nastri, Jacopo Pagani and Andrea Vania, in the book Learn to eat, the right weaning with the Margherita method (Giunti 2022).
"It is not a tragedy either for him or for you if the start of complementary nutrition is delayed a little".Read also: Weaning, when the baby is ready
So no to forcing. The pediatrician is of the same opinion Alberto Ferrando, who in her book How to feed my child responds thus to the mother of a nine-month-old girl who takes formulated milk and does not want to be weaned: "Some babies are 'lacto-addicted' and the best thing to do is to indulge them and, only if deso of other foods, let him taste them ".
Beyond six to seven months, it is still advisable to talk about the situation with the pediatrician, to evaluate a possible supplementation with micronutrient supplements (in particular vitamins and iron) that may be deficient in milk, in particular mother's milk.Read also: Supplements and vitamins for children
Finally, a last useful indication for children who do not want to eat is to try to change the proposal: maybe you are insisting on a traditional baby food, and the baby would prefer to taste what is on your plate (as long as it is healthy!), With a tendency to be weaned. . Or viceversa. Why not also make some attempts in this direction?
Patience and acceptance are also needed when the child has already started to feed in a complementary way, taking other foods in addition to milk, but after a few days he begins to refuse new foods. “This often happens” write Nastri, Pagani and Vania. “At first, many children are attracted to novelty, but then they lose interest. Again this is enough do not stress them and try again after a few days ". Certainly we must not lose heart: sometimes it may not be enough to propose a food two or three times a few days apart to get the result of making him taste it. “Maybe he will do it on the fifteenth or twentieth time” explains Giulini Neri.50 PHOTOS
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If the child does not seem to show a great appetite, what the parents need is a little confidence in his ability to self-regulate. “The fact is that what may seem little to us could actually be what the child needs to grow up” says Giulini Neri."If a child is well, he is active, he has a good growth it means that he regulates himself on the quantities and he must not be forced".
To summarize, here is a handbook of advice to parents who are a little worried about children who do not eat or eat "little", taken from the book How to feed my son by Alberto Ferrando
- If the child is healthy and hungry, eat. If he doesn't eat, he isn't hungry.
- The presumed loss of appetite derives from a lack of balance between how much a child eats and how much in the family they think they should eat. It solves reducing family expectations and not forcing the child to eat more.
- Parents serve as an example of how to eat (sitting at the table, without TV and games). And the example is also provided by eating all kinds of food.
- Proceed slowly and gradually, introducing new, healthy and controlled foods, accustoming the child to distinguish the various flavors.
- Recognize and respect the signs that the child gives of hunger or satiety. Children eat adequately for their needs, have no preconceived ideas about food and, above all, they know how to regulate themselves.
- Encourage the child's autonomy allowing him to touch the food with his hands and taste for himself.
- Avoid forcing to make him eat.
- Do not promise rewards or threaten punishment.
- If the child refuses "important" foods (vegetables, fruit, fish ...) do not force it, but after a few days try to propose them again with calm, tranquility and serenity, without getting irritated, without forcing. Repeat them over and over over a period of weeks or for even longer periods (even 10-20 times) to facilitate familiarization with food.
- Don't be in a hurry and follow the baby's rhythms.
- start of weaning
- weaning times