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.

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