20 answers

1 Year Old Refusing to Eat

Hi, my friend's 1 year old son has been refusing that eat very much for the past month. It seems that every meal is a delicate balance between a war versus blissful cooperation. This has been unusual since he is well over the 95% in weight and height and has been enjoying solids for many months. Has anyone had a similar experience? We are both first-time moms, and the other moms we've talked to haven't had this problem. She's beginning to get worried especially since he has been waking up in the middle of the night screaming in hunger. She doesn't want to affect his concept of meals but at the same time she doesn't want him to starve. She also doesn't want him to get in the habit of only eating crackers. Thanks for your help!

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My youngest of 3 boys did the same thing for 2 months last year. All of a sudden he wouldn't eat anything. We finally got him to eat his favorite salt and vinegar chips and some goldfish. He did drink milk a least 3 times a day though and that made us feel a little bit better. He started losing weight and I couldn't take it anymore and took him in to the doctor who had us do blood work. We did 2 different blood tests (5 vials later) and we even had to do an upper GI on him. We thought that maybe something was wrong with his esophagus. I went on to take him to a specialist after the upper GI came back normal, the specialist thought that maybe he had developed some kind of eating disorder. We went on the do some more testing. A week later he got sick with a really bad cold that made him vomit and after a day he must have gotten his appetite back because he started eating normally again. Hang in there, my oldest son gave me so much trouble that when I was pregnant with my second I went into pre-term labor because I was so stressed out with his lack of eating. I would act as if you don’t care (I know that sounds heartless but it might work) let him eat anything he wants; as long as he’s getting something in him he should be fine. He will go back to eating normally; it’s just a matter of time. Try not to stress too much, that reaction might be what he is looking for. Good luck!

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Hi C.,

My son went through a period of time where he absolutely refused to eat any foods- he only would drink milk. He still goes back to that sometimes- but the way that I got him to eat was to:

Portion out foods in small containers so that wherever we were at, I could offer him food. I did this every 1 1/2 hours during the day until he finally started to take the food again. Start with foods you know he likes and then as he takes them regularly, start introducing new ones or foods that he isn't as used too. When they are hungry enough, they will eat!~

Good luck to your friend!

Molly

My youngest of 3 boys did the same thing for 2 months last year. All of a sudden he wouldn't eat anything. We finally got him to eat his favorite salt and vinegar chips and some goldfish. He did drink milk a least 3 times a day though and that made us feel a little bit better. He started losing weight and I couldn't take it anymore and took him in to the doctor who had us do blood work. We did 2 different blood tests (5 vials later) and we even had to do an upper GI on him. We thought that maybe something was wrong with his esophagus. I went on to take him to a specialist after the upper GI came back normal, the specialist thought that maybe he had developed some kind of eating disorder. We went on the do some more testing. A week later he got sick with a really bad cold that made him vomit and after a day he must have gotten his appetite back because he started eating normally again. Hang in there, my oldest son gave me so much trouble that when I was pregnant with my second I went into pre-term labor because I was so stressed out with his lack of eating. I would act as if you don’t care (I know that sounds heartless but it might work) let him eat anything he wants; as long as he’s getting something in him he should be fine. He will go back to eating normally; it’s just a matter of time. Try not to stress too much, that reaction might be what he is looking for. Good luck!

My daughter is 13 months and also is in the 95% for weight and started solids at 4 months. Until about 11 months old she would eat anything and everything. In the last 2 months she is definitely pickier and doesn't eat as much. She will now refuse foods she doesn't like and that seems to change on a weekly basis. Somedays she will adamently refuse peas, but 3 days later eat them all. My daughter also wants to feed herself everything, so I usually help her get the food on the fork and then she puts it in her own mouth and that is really motivating to her.
I noticed that when my daughter turned one she suddenly got an opinion on everything and her habits started to change and she became more independent also. Is the 1 year old drinking whole milk yet? That can upset there tummy until they get use to it and too much milk can fill them up.

My second child did this. From 15-18 months, he started to refuse to eat a lot of foods, including bread and pasta. It turned out that he had severe food allergies that were causing reflux and stomach aches. He had started associating eating solids with discomfort/pain.

My son was generally fussy and had rashes, was frequently congested and had frequent diarrhea. The main sign of reflux was trouble sleeping, particularly on the back. (Slept much better in the car seat or swing or being held upright.) It doesn't sound like that is what is going on with your friend, but I thought I'd mention it so she knows what to watch out for.

C.,

In my experience, it's best not to make mealtimes a battle. At all. My pediatrician says that it's my job to put good food in front of my kids, but it's their job to eat it. I usually put 2-3 foods on the plate, making one of them something I know they'll likely eat. If they choose not to eat dinner, that's fine, but they know there won't be anything to eat after dinner (they go to bed shortly after dinner - if it were a longer stretch between dinner and bedtime I'd make a before bed snack part of the routine.) I also took a friend's sage advice to not be a "short order cook" at mealtimes. Our children eat the same dinner that we do. Getting into the habit of making something different for everyone creates chaos at dinnertime. There are some days that my kids eat very little for 3-5 days at at time, and then one day they'll eat more than I do. My pediatrician says that they are smart, and know what their bodies need. When a child hits around 1, their rate of growth also slows down. It may be that until he hits a growth spurt he won't be that hungry.

I know it's kind of scary when your kids won't eat. Keep offering meals and snacks, and he'll eat when he's hungry.

J.

Don't worry, kids go through stages where they won't eat and then they eat a whole bunch. My son does this all the time. I know it can be rough during the not eating phase, but be patient, he will eat when he is ready.

When my son was that age, he also started having similar problems - he was tall and chubby, but his weight gradually fell behind the curve. Everyone knew I was totally stressed out about his not "eating" problem.

It took a long time for us to find out that wheat product including pasta, bread, crackers contributed to his poor appetite. We did a lot of research and finally we understood wheat (gluten) stuff is very hard to digest for some people including kids whose digestive system is still developing. We started giving him rice based pasta and bread, his appetite increased and we no longer need to fight and bribe and do all kinds of tricks to get him to eat.

The other thing is cow's milk. It is proven that many babies (especially of those Asian) gradually produce less (or no) enzyme to digest lactose in milk - so called lactose intolerance. We experimented with our son with goat milk, he did much better. Over the next few years, we had started and stopped milk (cow's milk, goat milk), and it more and more consistently showed that he was getting issues with them. First it was the digestion, then it was the allergy symptoms (running nose). So now we only give him goat / sheep cheese, occationally raw (cow's) milk cheese.

Try to avoid wheat and see if goat milk (it naturally has less lactose, and is closer to mother's milk so easier to digest) does the trick. And of course, drop the crackers - how about giving him some mashed fruits (i.e., scratch off an apple from inside using a metal spoon) as snack instead?

Good luck.

W.

Kids go through spirts when they eat alot and then times when it seems that they eat almost nothing. It's normal. I wouldn't worry too much about it but I certainly would not get him in the habit of eating in the middle of the night. he will gain too much weight and it will start a habit that no one will be happy with.

I think it is pretty normal for kids to go through different eating habits. Sometimes they are growing a lot and some times they are not. And my son went through this stage. They also go through the stage where they only want to eat one thing. My son is 17 months and he is just finishing that stage. I would say don't feed him in the middle of the night. that is going to be a real hard habbit to get out of, plus he will bemore likely to eat during the day if you don't. I really would not worry about it especially if he is in the 95%. Just make sure to give him a multi vitamin.

Hi C. -

I have a 16 month old daughter. I went through this also. She is a fussy eater. My daughter is in the 50% for weight. The doctor tells me no to worry about it. She looks healthy to me. For my daughter, it has to be her idea to eat. Some days she's gone all day with only a couple of bites. I also give her a multi-vitamin. Maybe consider different food options. Try to sneak in food. Maybe feed her on the go. (Not in a high chair.) My daughter likes to carry around food. Something for each hand. This has worked for me. Also in regards to the crying. I know it can be distressing. Maybe consider it could also be teething. I remember when my daughter turned 1 for the next few of months we had a very rough road of teething. Good Luck!

Hi C.,

Always remember that your 1 yr olds tummy is the size of his closed hand. Very small. so if your trying to feed him more the that, its impossible. He can eat one tablespoon of mashed broccoli,one tablespoon mashed potato, and one tablespoon of applesauce.that is usually enough. Do not fill him up on milk. Some moms think that 1yr olds need bottles of milk all day long. that is not true. if your 1 yr old is drinking more then 2-3 8oz bottles of milk a day than he is hungry. Food first than 4oz of milk, 3-4 times a day. 4 oz of juice is enough in a day, any more than that he is at risk of tooth dacay. Have you ever seen 2-3 year olds with silver caps on their teeth? That is caused by to much juice or sugar. Sugar has no nutri-value only that it taste good and its addictive.
its known to cause tooth decay, diabetes and i can go on and on. You are the example that your child will follow, good eating habits are important. Drinking water is a good habit,
and cleaning his gums after he eats, brushing his teeth after each meal is another good habit.he will be so used to it that he will do this all on his own as he grows. Never force your child to eat no matter what the age is. Encourage him with love. Make meals a quite and happy time. so that he has good memories as he grows

Try not to get too anxious about it. Their little bodies are going through so many dramatic growth changes the first 5 years, but one thing, they usual do eat even if it seems so little. Their appatites will flucuate just like their growth spirits. Some things to consider 1. make food fun...pretty..attractive what have ya and 2. tiny tiny portions. My brother used to put this big full plate in front of my nephew when he was going through those spells demanding he eat everything on his plate. Used to break my heart cause buddy just wasn't that hungry. It got to where he dreaded and hated meal time which would upset his stomach and just made eating a bigger problem. Try one tiny teaspoon of this and that. The old addage 'the eyes are bigger than the stomach', well, when they are that little everything is way bigger to them tho it seems like alittle to us.
It could also very well be that given the age the teeth are bothering the child. Try alittle chammomile tea with peppermint tea before and during meals to help settle the stomach. At the health food store you can find safe herbal remedies for colic and teething that were my best helpers when my kids were little.
Most important, try not to stress because they so 'feel' your anxiousness at that age and that might contribute to an anxious stomach. But if the lack of appatite isn't compounded with other symptoms like diarrea and throwing up or fever ect. I wouldn't worry too much and if there is no significant weight loss...good luck luv.....M.

Has your friend tried a variety of finger foods. My daughter loved cut up chunks of avocado,tofu,chicken,cheese. Anything she could feed herself. Yogurt if also a kid favorite. It's messy, but what's a little mess when your child is learning to be independent. Feeding herself was huge to my child. She was about 9 months when she began to refuse to eat when I fed her. By giving her finger foods or small amounts of foods she could feed herself with a spoon, the fighting ended and she pretty much ate whatever was put in front of her. If a child seems to have choking issues (mine did not, but a good friend had to puree her child's food until she was almost eighteen months because of choking tendencies) this may not work . Hope your friend finds a solution to her issue.

When my son wouldn't eat, I FINALLY figured out he was teething. He is 6 years old now, and STILL reduces his food intake with teething (he's getting molars right now).

SOLUTION = Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets.

Everytime he refused to eat, I investigated his mouth to find budding teeth or nubs at the gumline. So, I gave him the tablets, and VOILA he ate, and ate, and ate, and slept!

Check out the gums, and go for the Hyland's!

~ Mother of 4: 18yr girl, 11yr boy, 6yr boy, baby on the way (Due 10/1) ~

All kids go through this really, and believe me, at that age, they will eat when they are truly hungry. As a mom, you want your kid to eat because it makes you feel better, but really, they will not let themselves starve. At a year old, you can't fight about it. But I would certainly introduce all the foods that you eat. (I mean your friend or any parent). At least for a taste. The last thing you want is to fight over food or encourage a legitimate picky eater. Either one will cause hell. FORCING a child to eat something will only backfire. But, so will catering to the other extreme. I say introduce everything. Every taste, every texture. Literally, the only thing my two kids won't fathom is drinking a glass of buttermilk. That is where they draw the line. They both have gone through periods of not eating, but they usually follow it up with a growing spurt and end up eating everything in the house they can get their hands on. Eat everything like it's the best thing you have ever tasted and be coy about it at first. If they think it is so good you want it all to yourself, they will definitely at least want a taste. The baby will eat when it's hungry. And don't be surprised when these stages occur throughout development. It really is normal.

Hi
I have a 21 month old girl who did the same thing around that age. She would refuse to eat anything during the day no matter what I tried giving her. Some nights she would also wake up hungry so I would feed her what she wanted, I was just happy she was actually eating something. But her doctor said that kids go through faises and as the as the childs weight etc. is ok then things should be fine. But if it's something that is really bothering her, have her take him to his doctor and maybe they will have some suggestions.

My oldest daughter would do this, especially during the time right before she would have a growth spurt. I remember one time the most (probably because it was my Ah Ha! moment) She barely ate anything... I mean maybe a cracker and a piece of cheese, if that. Then the next day, she slept and slept, I was kind of freaking, the following day she ate like 3 sandwiches and all this other food. She went through her spurt. I am not kidding you, her clothes seemed to get too small over night. It was amazing! From then on, if she would get to the point where she didnt eat I didnt worry, I know kids will not starve themselves. I would just have healthy snacks available. While mealtimes are important, we need to remember that it is actually healthier to eat smaller meals more often than the 3 main meals. Today my daughter is now 8 and she still eats like a bird at those times, and in a week, her pants are too short! LOL Oh the fun of being a mom!

I agree w/the other mom, don't feed him in the middle of the night. Kids go thru all kindsa phases & not eating is just one of the many. This is a time when food problems could get worse. Food is really the only thing kids have control over, so that may be what he's doing...just exerting his control. Tell her not to start offering all kindsa a alternative foods or meals. Just be sure he's eating healthy snacks. Tell her to offer him his meals at the table/hi-chair & that once he gets down then the meal is done & she should put the plate out of his sight. He will not starve if misses a meal, especially since it sounds like he's a big boy! Kids are quick & smart so he'll figure out soon that it's meal time & he should sit down & eat it. The key is for her to remain consistent so he knows what's expected of him. It's just a phase & it will pass. Also, keep in mind, he's probably new to or close to walking & would rather do that & explore than eat. Good luck!

Hi C.,
We have a picky eater. When she was little we catered to her every wish for anything she would eat, we were so worried that she would starve (first time parents). Now she is 8 and all those years of just trying to get her to eat anything has made it very difficult for our family to eat the same meal together now.

Kids go through strange phases. They seem to be like camels when they get older, filling up every third day then grazing at food the rest of the time. Make sure he has plenty to drink and he will be fine. He may be experimenting with tastes and flavors as his palate becomes more sophisticated. Offer a small veriety and leave it at that. It is hard enough with a toddler without making three or different meals. Ask your pediatrician, or the nurse hotline. They will tell you he will not starve himself. Bending over backward to find the right food will make your friend crazy, in the short and long term. Good luck!

One of the most useful things I've ever learned about kids and food is that they balance their diet over a week, not a day. So if he only wants to eat crackers every day for a week, that's no big deal. If he's too busy to eat, then your friend should let him eat on the go. Have A VARIETY OF healthy snacks available at all times. He's too young to enforce the "three square meals a day" rule. If he's on the 95th %ile for weight, then getting him to eat is the last concern your friend should have.

However, he is at the age where preferences will become clear. She should really make sure that their is a lot of variety in what he's eating, or he'll get bored of the same old same old. My daughter loved peas as a baby, but never for more than three meals in a row.

The other thing to remember is that babies' weight gain really slows down after their first birthday. The curve almost starts to level out. From here on, your friend will find that her son is ravenous one week and eats like a bird the next. And it's fine!

K. in EC

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