Nourishment/nutrition does not only refer to the intake of necessary nutrients for the child, but is at the same time a process of interaction with active exchange with the mother. The response of the mother to the baby at the right time and in the right way affects the its psychosocial development in a positive way and ensures the healthy completion of the baby’s developmental stages. Problems arising during this period may affect the child’s disposition and personality in the future due to setbacks within the developmental stages, as well as leaving scars that may pave the way for certain types of psychological disorders.

About 25-50% of infants and small children exhibit eating disorders. On the other hand, only 1-2% exhibit severe eating disorders such as refusal to eat or vomiting to the point of hampering weight gain.

Eating disorders during this period are:

  • Refusal to eat
  • Eating very little
  • Food neophobia (being picky)
  • Food avoidance
  • Delay in transitioning to self-feeding
  • Failure in transitioning to solid food


The first 6 months during the regular nutritional phase in children, the basic nutrition is breast milk and no supplementary food is recommended, including water. Between the 6th and 8th months it is possible to transition to fruit juice and semi-solids such as puree. Between the 8th and 12th months, soft and rough food may be included in meals. Children that have been fed breast milk exhibit less problems transitioning between these periods as compared to children fed formula milk. This is because breast milk prepares the baby for different tastes and odors in later years.


After 12 months, the child may eat anything that is found in a family meal. Additionally, it would be appropriate to start spoon-feeding at this stage. As much as spoon-feeding is an activity that can get messy, the child should not be restricted, and must definitely be encouraged/supported. This is very important for the infant to gain autonomy and the development of its decision-making skills in later stages.


Since eating/feeding is a mutual interaction, the mother’s behavior is also important. A mother with a healthy nutritional habit should be able to decide WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW MUCH her baby eats for meals. This way the mother will ensure that the baby intakes the necessary nutrients while preventing problematic behavior such as refusal to eat and forming a mealtime routine for the baby. The ability to decide how much to feed the baby is also important in setting up the cycle of hungry-full. In order to be a healthy individual from a psychosocial point of view, it is important to support the independence of the child not only with regards to feeding, while also placing appropriate boundaries.