FAQ: Spoon refusal

By : | 1 Comment | On : July 20, 2014 | Category : Blog, Fussy Eaters, Solids, Tips & Tricks

Have you just started solids? Is your baby refusing to be spoon fed?
Sometimes, the answer to your problem is over a coffee with a friend, posting the question in an online mother’s group, or secret forum. A fellow mummy with experience can often provide that little bit of wisdom, the glimmer of hope that you have been looking for or at the very least, a new idea to try. Or you can try our Foodie eBooks Baby Foodie, Finger Foodie, Family Foodie. Or our Best-selling hard copy books.

We certainly don’t have all the answers. So these FAQ blog posts are to be seen like this…  if our closest friends were to ask our advice, these would be our answers. But don’t let it stop with us, If you have an idea that might help others, we would love to hear it. Leave a comment after this post, or join our Facebook page to talk to other parents.

Q: My 8 month old girl refuses to be fed with a spoon.  I am struggling to come up with finger food ideas to satisfy her.  Please help! Amy, QLD.

A: Hi Amy,

It can be very stressful and frustrating if young babies who have only recently started solids refuse to be spoonfed. It is quite common and could be due to a few reasons.  First, they are starting to become independent and want to try to do things for themselves but they unfortunately don’t yet have the hand eye co-ordination to be successful. Second, they may have developed a negative association with being fed with a spoon.  For example, if the spoon has been loaded up with too much food or put too far into their mouths it may be uncomfortable for them.  And if parents like to scape the food that ends up around their child’s mouth at meal times the child will quickly learn to dislike the spoon and refuse it.

Introducing finger foods around 7-9 months is an important milestone and providing a couple of finger food options alongside a meal you can spoon feed will often give you some time where they are happy to accept few mouthfuls while they interact with their finger food.  You can also provide your baby with a spoon for her to hold, play with and attempt to feed her self with while you also have a spoon to feed with.

Adopting an appropriate spoon feeding technique will help to remove some of the negative associations.  These include sitting directly opposite your little girl while feeding, not overloading the spoon with food, presenting the spoon to just in front of their lips giving them the opportunity to lean forward slightly, open their mouth and accept the food from the spoon. Avoid distractions and bribes to encourage this process, instead use praise and imitate positive behaviours to encourage ongoing acceptance of the spoon.  Oh, and let her make a mess! Let her touch, squish, squeeze, smell and lick new foods and resist the temptation to clean her face while she is eating, instead waiting for the end of the meal to use a damp cloth to wipe her face or even remove her from her high chair taking her to the sink to clean her up.  Hopefully a few of these ideas may work for you, it can be a slow process so don’t expect success straight away.  Don’t make too many changes at once, be consistent with any changes you do make and try to be relaxed.   We wish you all the best. – OHCs x

STARTING SOLIDS: Do you know anyone who is about to start their baby on solids? Or perhaps you’re after some new puree and finger food ideas for your own baby? Our e-Book is full of recipe’s, nutrition advice and forming positive food associations right from the first mouthful to help you and your baby through any fussy eating phases in the future. Check it out here.

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  1. posted by Nicole on March 21, 2015

    I’m currently having the same issues with my 8mth old not wanting to be Feds with a spoon. My current method of dealing with this is lots of finger foods. Min frittata with every grate veg i can stick in it, meat balls of all different varieties, match stick vegetables and lots of fruit. I find that I can still spoon feed a small amount of food by giving him a small spoon to play with and offering yogurt or custard on a bother spoon or mixing his favourite bananas with anything else I’m trying to give him.

    It is frustrating and a challenge with all the mess but at the same time his coordination is improving so much.


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