Parenting Matters

Addressing Infant Feeding Issues

Parenting Matters

Addressing Infant Feeding Issues

Clinical Nurse Consultant

Michele Meehan
Maternal & Child Health

Hours of Operation

Tuesday 10-2pm,
Wednesday 10-2pm
*(extended hours available by appointment)

Trick or Treat?

Trick or Treat?

I saw Mason last week an 8 month old very reluctant to move on with solids.

He looks very well (all that milk!) but mum described how he would only eat if distracted with the iPad or her phone. This is not an uncommon presentation but starting to use distraction often, only leads to more difficult feeding.

The baby can only eat / feed if he doesn’t have to think about it.

As well as this I need to say a word about TRICKING.


Babies are smart enough to see past any tricks we may try.

As the fussy-feeding baby is usually healthy and well looking (because of all the effort that has been put in), mothers are frequently reassured to just continue with what they were doing.

The use of a strategy of ‘tricking’ the baby has often been tried. By definition, tricking means ‘stratagems to deceive’ and babies quickly see through this and decide we can’t be trusted.

Maybe they even think, we think they are stupid!


Tricks parents have tried that may work initially but then collapse are.

  • Giving the baby the dummy then taking it out and putting the  bottle in before he has time to notice. He might suck for a few suck then realises what is happening and stops -and maybe not start again.
  • Feeding the baby a bottle as he sucks in light sleep. This works for the common ‘dream feed’, but can escalate to the baby only feeding when asleep.

Reflexive sucking may give the baby the ‘best’ feed of the day, but this way of feeding may then continue and the baby may come to feed no other way. Eventually the baby will not sleep or nap as often and thus fewer feeds ‘work’. This disregards the need of the baby to learn he has to feed when he is hungry.


And as he gets older he doesn’t sleep as much!

  • Tricking may involve offering an empty spoon and next time putting food on it without the baby noticing. He should see what you are doing. Maybe put the spoon on the tray and let him take it himself
  • Swapping the foods from a favourite e.g. custard to pumpkin with no signal to the baby that it is different. He will know the difference!
  • Putting a spoonful of food in his mouth when he was opening his mouth to suck on his own spoon or toy, or worse- Smile at you!

Certainly persuasion and persistence are fine, but try to avoid distraction or tricks.


Michele Meehan

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