My friend Charlotte sent me an email today asking for tips on how to get her 11 month old to eat more breakfast. As I, along with lots of other Mums I know, have been through this exact same experience I thought it could make a good post.
At the moment her son, Arty, isn’t really a breakfast eater. He has between 150-200ml of milk and then eats breakfast 30 minutes later, typically half a weetbix or half a piece of toast. He is then really hungry for lunch by 11.30. She wants him to eat more breakfast and make lunch later.
The first thing I always remember when Freddie refuses his food and chucks it on the floor is that he is growing, putting on weight and meeting his milestones. If this is not the case with your baby or toddler then you need to seek support from a professional. Your Plunket nurse, health visitor or GP should be able to give you support and make any necessary referrals. Parents Centre also run a couple of really helpful courses on feeding your baby and toddler.
Here are three possible solutions to get Arty to eat more… no promises but worth giving them a try!
Switch his milk and solid feeds around
From 8 months milk feeds are still important but only offer after solids. Babies should have breast milk or about 600ml formula a day. This might encourage him to have more of an appetite for solid food. To make this work you have to be really organised and have breakfast ready, as he is going to be very hungry. Something easy like weetbix microwaved with formula milk or cow’s milk and some banana mashed in to sweeten it and a bit of yoghurt or porridge with grated apple and raisins or dried apricots, blended to make smooth and a bit of yoghurt.
Offer his milk feed 30 to 45mins later, so around 8.30/9am, long enough so he is hungry. To tide him through to lunch offer morning tea (it is a good idea to include protein e.g. cream cheese or peanut butter on crackers) before or after his morning sleep. This should mean you can push lunch to midday.
Space his milk feed and solid feed out a bit more
If like me you love that morning snuggle in bed while Arty has his morning feed then keep on going! I was advised by my Plunket nurse that this is not a problem. To make sure breakfast is a success make it slightly later in the morning so he is really hungry – at least 45 minutes later (about 8.30/9am). I would still offer him morning tea so he can have his lunch a bit later.
Variety is the spice of life
It might be that Arty is just bored with weetbix and toast! Maybe try out some different foods and eat them together. Make them look exciting and colourful. You could let him feed himself some easy finger food. Here are some ideas:
- Sliced or grated fruits
- Yoghurt with fruit sticks to dip in
- Boiled eggs with soldiers to dip
- French toast or Cheesy Eggy bread
- Banana or blueberry Muffins
As parents we never think our child has eaten enough! When I prepare a meal for Freddie I use his hand as a portion guideline for how much I expect him to eat:
- Carbohydrate – a clenched fist
- Fruit and Vegetables – a handful
- Protein – his palm
- Cheese – his thumb
He often eats more than this and sometimes far less but it is a helpful starting point. Just like us I think babies and toddlers appetites vary and looking at their diet over the week as a whole is definitely more helpful than looking at each meal or each day.
Well Charlotte (and all my other readers) I hope this is a handy guide to getting Arty to eat his breakfast. Let me know how you get on!