My Breastfed One-Year-Old is Not into Solids

As my child’s first birthday approached, our family and friends excitedly asked if we were going to do a smash cake. I smiled and said we were going to give her a chocolate cupcake, but I expected she would barely touch it and certainly wouldn’t eat it. The thing a lot of people didn’t know was that our baby was still rejecting solid food. She had only swallowed a handful of bites since introducing solids months ago, despite my persistent offering, and I was at my wit’s end.

To give you some background, I had chosen to exclusively breastfeed my baby. I didn’t use bottles and she fed on demand. The first time we offered my daughter solids was when she was six months old. She had been reaching for food, showed interest in our meals, and hit all the milestones for being ready for solids. I gave her a banana and as she tasted it, she burst into tears and screamed at the top of her lungs. This was not quite what I had expected, but I figured it was a new experience and would simply take some getting used to. What I wasn’t prepared for, was that this rejection of food would continue until after she turned one year old.  

As my daughter hit nine months, she was still crying whenever I offered her food. She honestly screeched like I was trying to poison her. We tried every approach we could think of. Purees made in 20 different ways. Lumps. No lumps. Finger foods. Different textures. Different flavors. We tried spoon feeding and letting her feed herself. We were careful not to “force feed” her but let her lead the way and respected her choice to eat or not eat. We had her eat in a highchair, on my lap, and on her dad’s lap. I tried feeding her right after she had milk and right before. We offered food multiple times a day. NOTHING WORKED.

At that point, we talked to our pediatrician and ruled out any medical problems. My baby was thriving and in the 80th percentile for weight. She was drowning in adorable fat rolls. Our pediatrician reassured us that some babies just take a while. But as I watched many of my friend’s babies eat full meals, I wondered if I was doing something wrong.

My anxiety around my baby’s mealtimes was growing (which I am sure she could sense, only making things worse). I was also feeling increasingly frustrated at my lack of freedom – I had to be present for every meal and every snack to feed our baby because in addition to rejecting solids she also refused to take a bottle. The demands on my body as I provided 100% of my baby’s calories day after day resulted in major exhaustion. I was completely depleted.  

At about ten months, my baby stopped crying when food was put on her plate and started to take small bites. However, after swirling the food around her mouth a bit, she spit it out. Every. Single. Time. 

I scoured the internet and had a hard time finding any data or stories about people having this similar struggle. So, I started to ask around quite a bit with other moms I met at the park to see if anyone else was struggling with this. While I was met with a lot of blank stares, I finally found a few moms who nodded along knowingly and said their babies just weren’t that interested in solids either until about the one year mark.

This is completely anecdotal, but what I found was that those having similar issues also had chosen to exclusively breastfeed with very limited use of bottles. Who knows if there is any correlation, but for me, it made all the difference to just know other people had also struggled with this.

Some of the best advice I got from another mom was to remember that I am only responsible for offering food. It is up to my baby to choose what and how much to eat. That really helped take some of the pressure off. 

A few days after my daughter turned one, I looked over one day and her plate was empty. I assumed she had hidden all the food under her butt (which she loved to do) or thrown it on the floor, but shockingly it was gone.  Almost overnight, and rather unceremoniously, she had decided she liked to eat food. I could not believe how quickly she went from eating nothing to eating an entire banana in one meal.

Now that our daughter is almost 15 months old, she eats all varieties and textures of food excitedly. In fact, she almost out-eats her 3-year-old sister.

I wanted to share my story in hopes that I can help another parent going through this. I wasted a lot of time worrying about something I had no control over.  What I experienced was certainly not common, but it turned out to be a normal, healthy progression for my baby. If you are going through this same experience you should check with your pediatrician to rule out any medical issues, but once that is all clear, then simply trust that they will progress, grow, change, and learn. Like walking, talking, getting teeth, and motor skills, they will do it all in their own time and the range of normal can be quite wide.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The other day I actually left her with her dad for 12 hours and she didn’t starve! She ate solid food happily all day long – but she was still relieved when I got home and she could have her milk, which is still her favorite food.

16 comments

  • Thank you for posting this! My daughter is ten months and she’s definitely not as interested in eating solids as I thought and hoped she’d be. I’ve been so worried too and feeling like I’m failing her. It’s helpful to read your story, like you said, just to know others are going through something similar! Glad your daughter is eating well now!

  • I absolutely needed to read this tonight. Our second daughter is so very different from her big sister, and her journey to solids has been a large stressor for me lately. Thank you for sharing this and reminding me that she will eventually get there, right when she is supposed to.

  • My daughter wasn’t interested at all until and turned out she has rare food allergies called FPIES. She was just not feeling great and as we removed her trigger foods she gained an appetite immediately!

  • Perfectly timed that this came up for me tonight. I spent dinner anxiously trying to convince my 7 month old to eat anything! He has refused to eat for me for weeks and just wants to nurse. This is so different from how his older brothers were, and I make tiny babies who don’t chunk up till solids so I feel the pressure. Hopefully he does the same and just takes to it one day!

  • My son was exclusively breastfed, would literally become dehydrated and still not accept any type of bottle. He just turned one and does ok with solids but the only liquid he wants is breast milk from the breast. He generally refuses water, cow milk or breastmilk in any kind of bottle or cup. It’s been stressful feeling like if I’m not around, my son is having nothing to drink. Found this article relatable and encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m so glad I read this! My 8 month old refuses to eat any solids. I offer all types of small finger foods and different textures and all he does is gag and throw up as soon as anything touches his tongue. He will only drink milk from his bottle and he’s very chunky and wakes up 2 times a night for a bottle. It would be nice for him to start solids so that he isn’t so hungry in the middle of the night but I know now it will happen when he’s ready.

    • Excessive gagging and throwing up past the beginning stages can sometimes be a sign of tongue ties or oral motor issues:( A speech therapist that does feeding therapy could help if he continues gagging so much!

  • Currently 10.5 month girl, exclusively breastfed on demand… will only naw on food that she can’t just squish from her hands. I know my peds says food is fun until age one. But the internet is FULL of babies eating and not as full as babies this “old” not interested.

    I’ve started to unfollow the feeding accounts and only try to feed her once or twice without any effort.

  • Thank you for posting this 💙💙💙💙 my son has been exclusively breast fed from birth. He’s almost 11 months now.

  • This was very similar to our situation. My daughter was exclusively breastfed and really didn’t eat anything until about 11 months when all the sudden she ate a bunch. I was so stressed about it!

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’m in the exact same situation and just stumped at why she won’t eat any actual foods. I also am exclusively breastfeeding and not using bottler. The only food she will eat are arrowroot cookies. She’s only nine months, so I’ll just be patient and see what happens.

  • Thank you! My very healthy baby is 11 months old and only enjoys solid food as an artistic medium. She will drink a bit from a bottle but much prefers her milk from the source (my breasts). She stirs food in the high chair tray with a spoon but if she tastes it she makes a “yuck!” face and drools and sputters. People keep asking “have you tried… ?.” And we smile and say yup, she just doesn’t like it. This story is reassuring.

  • This is so comforting, thank you for sharing! My 11 month old still refuses to eat and only wants breast milk. Once in a while she’ll eat 2-3 spoon full of puree but that’s a rare occasion. Most days the food just gets tossed on the floor.

    • Oh that game of throwing things on the floor never gets old for those kiddos! Your daughter is smart- with all those awesome nutrients in breastmilk and being able to be so close to mama, why go with anything else?

  • Thank you for sharing your story. it’s very reassuring. My 16 months old doesn’t want solids at all. She never did. She just wants breast milk. I keep introducing solids to her since she was 6 months. We starter feeding therapy 3 months ago and still nothing. Just recently she started to take a lollipop..I found a sugar free one. She plays with food, She puts toys and other things in her mouth except food. She has 8 front teeth and her molars are just coming in. We did the blood check and everything is normal. I don’t even give her iron supplements. I take vitamin d, omega 3, iron from liver and postnatal vitamins. I make sure I have a balanced diet and lots of protein and healthy fats. I was reading in the book my child won’t eat by Carlos Gonzalez that breast milk is the only food in the world that has everything that the baby need except iron. And here is my daughter with normal iron levels without supplementing her. In some countries children are exclusively breasfed until the age of 2 and even longer and they are healthy and thriving just like my daughter. She has started teething, crawling and walking later than most kids and I’m hoping it will be same with her feeding as well.

    • You’re doing great Mama! Now that it’s getting warmer out, and since she’s teething,she may love frozen fruit popsicles! There are lots of recipes for homemade options too!

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