Your baby isn’t spitting out food to make you crazy, it’s happening for a reason. Learn why and how to help them learn to keep it in their mouth!
At first it seemed normal, they’re learning to eat after all.
The little puff, green bean, or cheese just slipped out of their mouth over and over again. At first, you were patient because they never ate anything before and obviously they were trying. But, as days and weeks went on, and your baby got older and bigger, the spitting out of food continued.
Maybe it seemed like it was even on purpose. Like they were actively trying to push it out.
Or, maybe it seemed like they didn’t care or didn’t even seemed to notice.
Either way, you’re getting worried because at some point, your baby needs to eat, they can’t live on your milk or formula forever.
This may sound like an unusual problem, but as a feeding therapist, it’s something I see all the time. When your baby spits out food all the time, they certainly aren’t being bad or trying to make you crazy. There is a reason and a way to move past it too!
When Should My Baby Be Able to Eat Real Table Foods Well?
It’s normal for babies to inadvertently lose a piece of food here and there and have it pop back out of their mouth. They are figuring out how to move their tongue, mouth, and jaw around together and sometimes food ends up falling out.
Most babies learn to eat table foods around 8-10 months old and we look for them to be eating table foods well from 10-14 months old.
As a feeding therapist, I look for babies to be keeping most of the food in their mouth by 10 months old. As with all milestones, there are a lot of factors, such as adjusted age of premature babies, and any other developmental delays that can affect that number though.
Oh No, Are They Behind?!
I share those ages here because I think all too often, parents are told to “just wait and see”. And, there is a time for that, but it’s also important to know when you need to start addressing a potential issue that could make it difficult for your child to learn to eat.
So your child isn’t necessarily behind, but if they are consistently having food fall out of their mouth at 9-10 months old and you’ve been trying for a few weeks or months, it is a sign that they need a little help.
Because, unfortunately for some babies, when they don’t get the hang of chewing and swallowing their food, it can lead to all sorts of feeding trouble, namely picky eating.
Ugh, Why Does My Baby Keep Spitting Out Food?
But, why does your baby or toddler keep spitting food out in the first place? Well, there are a few different reasons:
1. Oral motor skills – In my work, this is the most frequent reason babies spit out food. Oral motor is a fancy therapy way of saying coordinating the muscles in the mouth. Just like a 5 year old needs his fingers to tie his shoes well, a baby needs his tongue, cheeks, lips, and jaw to eat well. Sometimes it can be difficult to coordinate, and sometimes, it’s a lack of strength because the tongue is a giant muscle.
There are a ton of reasons why kids could have difficulty with oral motor skills, but what’s important to know is that if you see your child accidentally having food fall out of their mouth, this is likely the culprit.
Also, when your child seems not to chew, or mashes food with their tongue, oral motor skills can be the cause. It’s also possible that younger babies still on baby food can have a hard time pushing the pureed food back in their mouth, so instead, it just comes back out. It’s not really active spitting, but it sure can seem that way. Read more about oral motor skills.
2. Sensory processing – While there are a lot of babies and toddlers that have a sensitivity to different textures, most of them never get the food anywhere near their mouth, and if they do, they spit it out the second it touches their lips or tongue. That sensitivity they experience is a result of their sensory processing. Learn more about sensory and eating.
But, it’s still possible that your child could take a little longer to figure out if they like the taste or texture of the food. If you see your baby deliberately spitting food out of their mouth, maybe even with some gagging, then their sensory processing is likely the reason behind the frequent spitting food out.
3. Normal spitting – And, of course, some babies have learned that they get a whole lot of attention when they spit their food out. They also could simply decide they can’t chew through a piece of chicken or feel that the watermelon was too big of a piece. In any of these cases, you’ll see your baby spit food out at you.
However, in this last instance, it’s not a pattern that’s repeated 100% of the time.
Most of the time, when a baby has food they’re spitting out or that’s falling out of their mouth all the time, it’s because of their oral motor skills.
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What to Do When Your Baby Spits Out Food
When your baby is consistently spitting out food, it can be super overwhelming! If your baby is over 10 months old, it’s a good thing to ask your doctor about feeding therapy or look into it yourself, but there are some powerful strategies you can use at home too!
The first is to start using a toothbrush on your babies gums a couple of times a day. It sounds strange, but that toothbrush actually causes your baby’s tongue to move around. And, that actually helps to strengthen it!
Another idea is to give them teethers and other safe toys that they can practice chewing on. This helps to strengthen the tongue, but also the jaws, cheeks, and lips because they mouth on those toys and move them in all sorts of ways. This is one of my favorite teethers to use!
Lastly, you also want to push the food back in their mouth, just as it’s about to fall out. As you do that, push it firmly back on to their gums, and after they chew for a few seconds, you can experiment with giving them a sip of water or milk to see if that helps them swallow it down. Of course, you WON”T want to do that if you notice the food they spit out is never chewed because then it could be a choking hazard.
More Help for Babies and Toddlers That Spits Out Food
Those tips are a great start, but there’s a lot more where they came from! If your baby needs help with learning to eat table foods, then you’ll want to scoop up this free printable cheat sheet:
Click here to get the Free Learn How to Eat Table Foods Printable
I’ll send it right to your inbox! You’ll find my step by step tips to help your baby get on the road to eating well.
More on Table Foods for Babies and Toddlers
How to Transition Your Baby (or Toddler) to Table Foods Easily and Safely
Mega List of Table Foods for Your Baby or Toddler
When Can Babies Eat Cheerios, Puffs, & Other Foods Safely – Answered!
6 Tips to Get Babies and Toddlers to Stop Throwing Food!
Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 14 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.
My name is Krunal and my daughter just turned to one on 03rd September 2022.
so far everything seems so good but only concerns i have are:
1.) She takes her meals and snacks on time but she doesn’t eat or feed herself like fingering foods or puffs or yogurt melts etc etc. we tried lot but no luck. She picks food in her hand and then just smashed it with her hands and then throw it. Do i need to worry about her development or this is normal? we are trying our best.
2.) She doesnt hold milk bottle or water bottle and sip. We have to use spoon to give her water.
What should i do for improvements?
Looking forward hearing from you
Hello! Thanks for reaching out! Try having her play with a spoon/fork outside of mealtimes to get her used to the feel of these utensils. Also allow her to touch/feel/play with her food, so that she becomes more comfortable with different food textures. Demonstrate feeding with each other and show her how you feed yourself. Just take the pressure away and keep trying! We have a blog post with more tips for self-feeding, here. In addition, consulting with your pediatrician for a potential referral for occupational therapy, would also be very beneficial.
Hi I have a 11 month old son and he usually is good with solids but when it comes to apples or pears that are finely chopped he would play around in his mouth then spit it out. This is not the case with bananas because I think they are easier for him to chew and swallow. So, should I grind it in the mixer for him instead?
Hi Esther! Thanks for reaching out! Yes, it sounds like he could have difficulty chewing/swallowing those specific foods because of their texture! Try cooking the apples/pears to make it softer in texture- or, try offering thin slices. Continuing to practice with these textures will better help him learn to chew/swallow. Hope that helps!
Hi, my 11month old son was doing really well with his solids, however he had a recent cold with lasted 2 weeks and completely went off his meals. The cold has resolved but he’s now refusing most meals (that he was comfortable eating before) – he only seems to want to eat foods that are hard or crunchy (puffs,biscuits,cheerios). He spits out anything that’s soft or mushy. Really not sure what to do, as he was doing so well beforehand with solids! Thanks for your help
Hi Sonal! Thanks for reaching out! It’s common for babies to go through some food aversions after being sick. Be patient- it may take a bit longer for him to bounce back, especially since he was doing well with them beforehand. Just keep offering those textures, not putting any pressure on him to eat, and allow him to touch/feel/play with his food. Hope that helps!
Thanks so much for your advice! It did help and he’s back to eating everything again! Thanks for your reassurance :))
Hello, my son just turned a year old and he hates solids. I’m just worried because he will chew it but then just spilt it out. He refuses to swallow his food. I’m not really sure what to do and am starting to get concerned. I let him feed himself and play around with the food he is pretty adamant on wanting to do it himself lol but he doesn’t eat it. Literally still on formula.
Hi Shikha! So sorry to hear that your son is struggling with solids. We know how stressful it can be! Since he’s spitting out all solids, he may need help with his sensory/oral motor skills. Try using a toothbrush to brush the insides of his mouth- this will help desensitize his gag reflux and strengthen his motor skills. Keep letting him touch/feel/play with his food- this will help him become familiar and more comfortable with different textures, especially since he prefers to do it himself. Try letting him practice with meltable baby puffs- this will teach him to chew/swallow a crunchy texture, but since it’s meltable, it’ll be a safe way to introduce something other than purées. You can also try demonstrating to him how you’re eating, making sure to over-exaggerate the chewing motions with your mouth. We also have a free workshop available that helps to transition your baby to table foods. Save your seat here!
Hi. My daughter is 10 months tomorrow and has only recently started spitting up most of her food. We started solids with about 6 months but as she didn’t like to be spoon-fed we started with steamed vegetable sticks, soft boiled apple etc. She really enjoyed it and was happy to eat biscuits, avocado on toast, etc. But for the last 3 weeks she’s been spitting up basically all of her food. She then looks at it and tries to put it back in her mouth, but in the end mist of us lands on the table or floor. We were suspecting teething pains as a reason, but after reading your article I’m no longer sure it can be. Any tips on what to do?
Hi Angelika! Thanks for reaching out! I’m sorry to hear that she’s been spitting up a lot lately. If you’re thinking it’s teething related, try putting something cold on her gums 15-20 minutes before feeding. If that doesn’t solve the problem, it might help to speak with your pediatrician. In the meantime, trying some feeding therapy techniques, like the ones mentioned in this article, might help! Teethers and toothbrushes are great for strengthening baby’s sensory and oral motor skills. You might also benefit from our free workshop centered around table foods! Click here to save your seat!
My son is 11months old, and still constantly wants breast milk, around 9 to 10 months, he always eat solid food very well, like bread, biscuits, et c, but these days he doesn’t want to eat, and he spits it out, what should I do?
Thanks for reaching out. That sounds like it’s been a challenge for you guys! It can be helpful to try to start to space feedings out closer to 2.5-3 hours, that way he’s a bit hungrier when it comes time to eat meals. Demonstrating eating in an overexaggerated way can also be helpful. This is a common challenges, so we have a free table foods workshop available. It sounds like it would be a great fit for you guys. You can save your seat HERE. I hope that helps!
Hi. My son just turned 2. And only the last month or so he started spitting out his food. And his quantity of food has decreased by a lot. Before that he was fine. Always eating. He chews it for a few seconds and spits it out. Constantly with all meals. So frustrating.
That sounds really frustrating! Trying to stay as neutral as possible when he does this can be helpful in not accidently negatively reinforcing the behavior. Mixing up types of foods by adding in some purees like apple sauce or yogurt can be a good idea. He may be less likely to spit those out. If he continues to get pickier with his foods, be sure to check out our free picky eating workshop. You can save your seat HERE.
My bub is 1 year old. For the last 3 weeks, she has been pushing out her food when spoon fed her. Just with 1 spoon fed, she will keep spitting it up about 6 times. So it takes longer to feed her. What could this be? She is still on purée food
Hi Judith! So sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling with solids. We know how stressful it can be! Since she’s spitting out purées, she may need help with her sensory/oral motor skills. Try using a toothbrush to brush the insides of her mouth- this will help desensitize her gag reflux and strengthen her motor skills. Try letting her touch/feel/play with her food- this will help her become familiar and more comfortable with different textures and sensory sensitivities. Try letting her practice with meltable baby puffs- this will teach her to chew/swallow a crunchy texture, but since it’s meltable, it’ll be a safe way to introduce something other than purées. We also have a free workshop available that helps to transition your baby to table foods. Save your seat here!
my daughter have adopted the same behavior and she have not taken any solid or semi-solid for last 10 days and she just drinks milk for now, may I know how your kid is now and how to change this behavior.
Hi Lakshmi! Thanks for reaching out! Make sure to promote a no-pressure environment, being patient and allowing your child to choose how much or how little she wants to eat. Try using sensory bins or food play in order to get her comfortable with foods and textures again. Our free picky eating workshop explains all of this and more! Save your seat here!
Hi…i have 14 month old boy..only like baby food. Does not chew at all. Hates table food. Does not nibble on anything . No finger food no biscuits no treats. Only milk n baby food.. what should i do. If i give him a bit of chunky or thick food he spits out or gag..even vomit everything out some times. M worried if he doesnt chew he will start speaking late n not clear.
Hi Pooja! Thanks for reaching out! Because of his age, we would recommend discussing this with your Pediatrician- who could potentially refer you to feeding therapy for your son. In the meantime, you can try some feeding therapy techniques, which can help expand your son’s sensory and oral motor skills. Using a toothbrush to brush around his mouth can help desensitize his gag reflex and strengthen his oral muscles, which are what he needs to chew. We have a free workshop that covers all of this and more! Save your seat here!
My 2 year old had a tummy bug last week. Since then he seems to want his food, puts it in his mouth and then after chewing, spits it out – he hasn’t eaten for 3 days apart from bits of a yoghurt
Tummy bugs are really tough! A kiddo who is typically a picky eater will often become a bit more picky after an illness. It takes a bit of time to get them back to their norm! You might try offering other foods of similar texture at first (think apple sauce, pudding, different yogurt flavors, etc) and work your way up to crunchier foods. I hope he feels better soon.
Hi my son is 2 yrs 4 months and he is constantly chewing food and spitting it out. He doesn’t want to eat as well and just drinks milk. What can I do to help him chew his food and eat it?
Thanks for reaching out! Modeling can be really helpful with chewing and sometimes scooping it back into their mouth on their gums can sometimes be helpful. This problem is really common, you’re not alone! We have an article about spitting out food that would be helpful.
Hi! To preface, I recently made an appointment for a feeding evaluation but am doing my own research while we wait for that appointment to occur.
So my almost 14 month old (was a month premature so 13 months adjusted) spits out about 95% of his food.. maybe more.. we started solid table food when he met criteria at 7 months old. I offer him everything I eat and always have. He puts everything in his mouth and sometimes will suck/chew on it but almost always pushes it back out with his tongue. This leads to him hardly ever swallowing any food and obviously he can’t live off my milk forever so I’m getting worried. What’s your advice? What can I do? I don’t want to keep forcing it back in his mouth because typically when I do that he just immediately spits it back out using his tongue to push it out. I’m so frustrated.
I get how hard this can be and worrisome! Sounds like you are doing some great things through in looking for how to help 🙂 I’d recommend the tips in the article first with utilizing the toothbrush and looking at some oral motor skills to see if those can help. Also, I’d try to offer some meltable foods like “puffs” these are what we recommend for the first foods in sequence as they are the easiest to eat. This can help build up some confidence and have him learn how to keep the food in as well, plus they do melt quicker so it decreases any chocking risk. We do have a free workshop that will help with some more tips from us and you can save your seat HERE
My son is about to turn 1.5 years. He has never been much of an eater. Starter him on baby led weaning at 6 months. He didn’t start actually taking an interest in food until 10 months old. He still only eats very little. Mostly yogurt, bread, pasta. It seems like everything he eats, he chews then spits right out. It worries me that he isn’t getting much protein. I don’t know what to do. It stresses me out so much. I worry he’s not getting proper nutrition for growth. He still breastfeeds. Please help!
Hi Jasmine! Thanks for reaching out! Because he often spits out his food, some oral motor exercises might be helpful! These exercises can help strengthen his oral muscles and desensitize his gag reflux and any sensory sensitivities he may have with certain food textures. You can find a list of exercises here! Also, because he is still breastfeeding, it may contribute to his appetite and eating smaller amounts of food. Depending on how often he breastfeeds, you may find that gradually replacing feedings with a meal or snack may increase his overall food intake!
My 2yr old doesn’t eat at all he on feeds milk.His blood levels are down at 8.What should I do?
Thanks for reaching out! We do have lots of resources for Picky Eating and children refusing to eat. I’d suggest you start with our free workshop! This is full of great information to get you started on your child’s feeding journey. You can save your seat HERE
Thank you so much for this article! I have been searching everywhere for this information, what you’ve described here outlines what I’ve been experiencing with my son perfectly. He’s 12 months old, loves to nurse, will eat smoothies/pouches (often), and will actually swallow a few bits of solid food (mostly just smoked salmon, scrambled egg, and bits of fruit), but almost anything else he refuses to swallow. He will sometimes chew on foods we offer to him but almost always pushes them out of his mouth with his tongue to avoid actually swallowing it. At a year old, I am starting to worry. I am definitely going to start brushing his gums, although we do already let him play with a toothbrush often. From what I’ve described here, does this sound as though this is something we should seek the support of a speech and language specialist for? Thank you so much!
Hi Alisha! My short of 2 days from 9 month old baby has been spitting out food, even food that she likes. I thought that she might be teething and it would hurt her gums when she chews on her food, so I started doing some mashed up porridge instead and even that she sometimes would still spit. Once she starts spitting her food and I try to offer her again, she’ll gag and vomit. But she doesn’t have a problem with puree food however. I’m conflicted if I should just give in and make puree or continue making her usual textured porridge. Even her favourite fruits nowadays she’ll spit out and just wont eat. She is still toothless btw.
We understand how hard this transition can be. I wouldn’t worry about her having teeth, as babies gums are strong. I’d recommend trying to provide her with teethers or toothbrush during the day to allow her to strengthen her tongue (as suggested in article). Take a look at the other suggestions in there as well. You can also check out our free workshop that provides some great tips for transitioning through food at this age! Save Your Seat Here
Thank you so much for replying! I have been using those silicone toothbrush (the type that you put your finger in) for quite some time, do I have to use the ones with bristles? And I also forgot to mention that she used to be okay with textured food and didn’t have any problems with spitting back her food out. It’s like she woke up one day and decided to do this. She doesn’t do it with her puffs or teething waffers just on food. 🙁
My boy is 21months I’m still struggling with getting him to eat fresh fruit or vegetables. I have to blend most meals so I know he’s getting something. I’ve tried toast, beans, eggs, fish fingers, waffles, strawberries, grapes all sorts he just spits it out it’s like he doesn’t like the texture. By now I thought he would want to try more..Help
Hi I’m from India and my son who is 2 has always been a poor eater. He tends to gag a lot and has a super sensitive gag reflex. It’s an ordeal getting him to eat, and we need to distract him with the mobile for all his meals. Is it possible to consult you in any way from here?
Thanks for reaching out to us! We are so happy that you found our resources! While we currently do not do 1 on 1 sessions at this time. We do offer our online courses where you are able to get more in depth coaching as well as ask questions moving throughout the course. I’d suggest first signing up for our free workshop! This will help with some strategies to get you moving in the right positive direction for mealtimes. You can save your seat here
My 1.5 year old has a slightly different problem , whenever she starts eating she will spit the food out an we have to go thru mini tantrums before she takes the food. This occurs even with food she likes why do you think she does this and how can we resolve it ?
That sounds like it is super frustrating for you guys! Kids around that age often are just starting to explore and test boundaries. It sounds like that might be the reason she is doing this (especially with foods that she likes). I’d try to keep keep your response and expressions as neutral as possible. It can be helpful to put fewer pieces of food on the tray as well.
Hi! My daughter is 10.5 months. She only eats table foods and insists on feeding herself. She eats soft foods with ease such as avocado, banana, sweet potato, toast fingers, etc. She still has difficulty at times with soft foods with a skin (e.g blueberries, peas) and pasta. She often will push out out with her tongue. Any advice on how to help her get more comfortable with chewing foods such as these?
That tooth brush tip really helped. Thanks
AWESOME!! Glad you found some help!!
Hi Alisha, my 8 month old daughter is not yet eating any solids. We had started her on baby cereals and pureed fruit when she was almost 5 months old because she seemed not to like formula any more. It turned out she had developed a bottle feeding aversion. We went to a 2-week therapy and eventually she started to accept the bottle again with no fuss and she now drinks around 750 ml per day. We were advised to do baby-led weaning as this would prevent her from feeling forced to eat. We have been giving table food for two months (I have read Gill Rapley’s book about baby-led weaning and I believe we are doing it right). She takes all foods into her mouth, she is willing to try all smells, tastes, and textures, but she doesn’t swallow. Occasionally, a little piece will go down, and then she always gags. I wonder whether she might have trouble swallowing. She chews on toys and everything non-edible she can find, but not so much on food. A week ago we reintroduced spoon-feedings of baby cereal for breakfast (always after her milk feed). She takes up to 5 tiny spoons. Do you think we should abandon baby-led weaning and go back to spoon feeding only? Or maybe spoon feed her something at every meal?
Quite a journey you and your little one have been on with feeding. You are doing a great job at identifying what is working for her! If you are having any concerns you can always reach out for a feeding evaluation, even just to provide some specific suggestions for your little one! I’d also recommend checking out this free workshop on learning to eat table foods, it has some really great tips!
Save Hour Seat Here
Your Kids Table Team Member
Thank you for your answer, Desiree! Yes, it’s been quite a journey! Yesterday we tried giving our daughter some pureed fruit for dinner, before the usual finger food. And… she ate a lot of it! We couldn’t believe it. She hardly touched the finger food afterwards, but we were so excited about the amount of pureed fruit she had that we didn’t care. Today we are going to try and spoon feed her some home made baby food for lunch, after her milk feed. Fingers crossed! I know she should be eating table food by now, but we are just happy she is swallowing anything! I’ve signed up for the workshop. I’m looking forward to it!
Happy for your Laura!! Enjoy the workshop 🙂
Your Kids Table Team Member
Hi Alisha! At home we are having such a hard time having our son (one years old as of July 7th) to take table foods. He used to eat them without a problem and then got sick and just stopped. He will take a few spoons of it, but just starts spitting them out and then puts up a major fuss! After about half an hour at this, we give up and give him the baby purees. He gives no problem with the baby purees, he can actually take down three 4oz baby foods in one sitting. The weird part is, he goes to daycare during the day and they tell me he gives them absolutely no issue eating his table foods with them for lunch!! Any idea what can be causing this behavior at home?
Thanks for reaching out! I totally get where you are coming from. He was eating and then got sick, now its like starting all over! Since he is eating all table food still at daycare this is a good start. I’d recommend looking at your environment at home and trying to re-set some rules to transitioning back to table foods. I think this article may be a good reference (even though he was eating them before). You will find some good tips on how to re-set at home: https://yourkidstable.com/5-reasons-kids-refuse-to-eat/
Keep us posted!
Your Kids Table Team Member
I’m not sure what else to try! This is my third baby, but he’s really hating all baby foods and solids. He’s 9 months old now. He loves teethers and chew toys. He occasionally gags on them, but not too frequently to alarm me. We give him lots of purees on his tray along with more mashed textures (smooshed avocado, banana, ripe pears, etc.) and baby puffed rice cereals. He loves to play with it, but gets very upset at having it in his mouth. He pushes it out, makes a face like it’s poison. We’ve tried mixing with breast milk (he loves to nurse) but it makes no difference. I don’t have one item he’s willing to keep in his mouth. He gags fairly frequently from the puff cereal, often vomitting. He makes awful faces at the purees and spits out immediately. I’ve tried presoaking the cereal in breast milk , so he doesn’t gag, but then he spits it out. Trying to put spit out food back in makes him cry and get more upset. He closes his mouth, turns his head, and uses his hands to push spoons or my fingers with food away. I model eating the same foods. We’ve been trying all the “tricks” since 5 months with no progress, but he’s huge and healthy (30 cm and over 25lbs at his 9 month check up). What else should I do?!
I’d definitely start using a toothbrush 3x a day! I know that sounds strange, but read more in this post on transitioning your child to table foods. I think it will be really helpful. I’d also follow up with your doctor about getting some feeding therapy for him.