Do I Need To Make My Baby Eat?

As parents, we're always trying to get our kids to finish their food. But what about babies? What should you do if you’re trying to feed your baby, but he’s just not having it? When it’s time to eat, should you make your baby eat… even if he isn’t interested?

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  • Feeding Your Baby with Mallory Millet

    Moms have a million questions about how to properly feed their babies, so we're tackling the most popular ones with infant feeding expert, Mallory Millet of The Feeding Mom!

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Episode Transcript

Sunny Gault 0:00
You're trying to feed your baby, but he is just not having it. When it's time to eat, should we force our babies to eat, even if they're not interested? Hey everyone, I'm Sunny with New Mommy Media, and I'm joined today by Mallory Millet. She is an infant feeding specialist and her website is The Feeding Mom. Hi, Mallory. Thanks so much for being with us today.

Mallory Millet 0:23
Hello, I'm excited to be here.

Sunny Gault 0:25
Mallory, I feel like the topic of making your kids eat. I mean, this is something that all parents struggle with. It doesn't matter if you've got a baby, a toddler, your kids are in school doesn't matter their age, right? we all struggle with this. But since we're talking about babies, should we force our babies to eat if they don't want to?

Mallory Millet 0:43
In the simplest way, no, we should never force you shouldn't force your toddler and you shouldn't force your kids. You shouldn't force your baby to eat. It's really easy for them to associate pain, frustration with a specific routine. And if you start that, an aversion can easily happen. And so forcing it, there's something else going on. And that's what we need to figure out. So if you go to your pediatrician, and he just says, Well, I mean, forsure swaddler, put the bottle in the mouth and just make her drink it. That's a big problem. Babies responsively want to eat, right? That's how they survive. They eat, they sleep. And so they're struggling with those things. There's they're trying to tell us something. And that's the part we need to figure out.

Sunny Gault 1:35
You know, based on your personal experience and working with babies, what are some other things that could be causing the problem? If indeed, this is happening? What are some things that you've seen?

Mallory Millet 1:46
Right away, I want to look at their oral motor structures. Are they carrying tension? Is there a restriction. And then second, I want to look out for our bottle feeding babies, I want to look at the formula, are they having trouble digesting it, and they get so uncomfortable when they eat, that they've related this whole feeding to discomfort and they don't want to do it anymore. But if you have a newborn, and they're struggling right away, then typically it's an oral motor issue.

Sunny Gault 2:16
Okay. I also want to talk about baby weight. Because for me, as a parent, this is one of those areas that I had a lot of parents guilt about. So you know, you have your baby, you take them in to see the pediatrician, and they're going to tell you where they are, you know, as far as percentile where their weight is at. How concerned are you about those numbers? Or when should it become a concern?

Mallory Millet 2:42
The number one thing for parents to go into those visits, knowing is that it's about baby and their curve. I don't care where they sit on it. If they're following their own curve, that is what matters, okay? My first was 75th percentile. And then when he hit four months, he was 50th. And nobody said a word that's 25% drop, right? My second was third percentile. And when he turned four months, he went to negative one, and immediately was diagnosed failure to thrive. But he didn't have it anywhere near the drop in percentage that my first did. Okay. He was. The other piece is how is your baby in life? Are they lethargic? Or are they alert and moving around and learning? Are they having enough pee and poop diapers? Are they looking at you and interacting with you? Are they just wanting to sleep all day, those are the types of things that we need to look at. The other thing I want to say is a small baby is not a sick baby, right? A small baby is a small baby. Now, if we go months or weeks where we're maintaining or we're losing weight, then maybe we need to look at something else, maybe something else is going on. But dropping off your curve doesn't necessarily mean you lost weight. It just means you didn't gain as much as they wanted you to. But there's so many other factors that go into that. So look at baby as a whole and, and go through the process we went through the process of so when your baby's diagnosed failure to thrive, they do a bunch of tests. It's a whole panel. nothing came of it. But we did happen to find an optic cyst nerv syst because of all that test, so now we monitor that that had nothing to do with his weight, nothing, nothing to do with anything, but it was an incidental finding. Right. So, I mean, now we're checking it and that's great. But go through the steps. Don't take it personally and don't change anything you're doing. We still don't want to force our baby to eat.

Sunny Gault 5:07
Yeah. So we don't want to force our babies to eat. But if we do find that they really do need to gain some weight, that it's kind of in a dangerous zone. We don't want to force them. But what are some other things we can do? Are there other tips and tricks that you've learned and you know, that you help guide other people with as far as how we can get them to increase their weight without forcing them?

Mallory Millet 5:30
So if they're taking this the amount of ounces, like some babies take the recommended amount of ounces, and they still have trouble gaining that weight, then that's where fortification comes in, and you can fortify breast or formula, you're just increasing the calorie count of that particular meal. You're making it more calorie dense. And so you can do that's an option. If baby's not taking in enough ounces. Like let's say, we should be at 15 ounces throughout the day, we're taking eight, then we need to figure out why. So forcing the bottle does it solve the problem, right? So is it an oral motor issue? We go back to the beginning, what's the reason why they're not taking the recommended ounces? Maybe we need to offer more frequently to make up for those ounces while we're figuring out the problem. Because then that goes back to Okay, well now they're eating every hour, but we reached our 15 ounces in a day, right? But how much energy did that take? How much time did that take? And why are we having to do that?

Sunny Gault 6:41
Okay, very good. Thank you Mallory, great information. If you would like to learn more about Mallory, be sure to visit her website. It's She does one-on-one video consultations. So if you guys need a bit more help outside of what we've talked about in today's video, then Mallory can meet with you one-on-one and she also has some courses that you can do online as well. We also want to thank our special sponsor for today's video. It's Regalo Baby, and you can check out their website at There is more information in the video description. Be sure to check this out because we can save you 25% on everything on their site, plus free shipping. So be sure to check out more information about that in the video description and visit our website. It's We have more great videos like this. We've got podcasts you can subscribe to. It's where real moms talk about real life.

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