11 answers

1 Year Old Will Not Swallow Food!!!

My 1 year old son is ready for toddler and adult food. He does not want to eat baby food and he is on soy milk because he is lactose intolerant. He put food in his mouth but he will nto swallow! We have tried chicken nuggets, toast, mac and cheese, pea, carrot...he puts them in him mouth but stores everything in his cheeks! I ahve tried refusing to give him another bite of food till he swallows but he gets mad and chokes! Also I ahve tried giving him water to wash it down but it does not help! Has anyone had this problem?? I have nieces, nephews and lots of friends with kids and no one has heard of this. I'm so worried!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Show him how to chew. He will imitate you. Continue to give him small portions. He will get the hang of it.

More Answers

Hi C.,

You are not alone my friend. I am going through the same issue with my son. He just turned one last week. We're still on stage 3 foods and some table food. He eats stage 3 food, frozen and fresh fruits, cheerios, cinnamon gold fish, oatmeal, and yogurt with no problem. But once I put some veggies on his tray, small dices of bread, or even cubes of cheese or deli meat, he will put everything in his mouth, but he won't swallow. He even moves his mouth like he's chewing, but just keeps it on the side of his cheeks. I've tried giving him milk and water to wash it down and sometimes it works. I've even tried applesauce. Sometimes, once he's done keeping it in his mouth he spits it out. Usually when that happens, I stop feeding him and wait a few minutes to see if he will try again. If he does it a 2nd and 3rd time, then I'll either take him out of his high chair or try something else. It's very frustrating and I completely feel your pain. I mentioned it to my pedi and he said my son is just going through a phase, but if he continues then I'm going to insist we have him evaluated to see if there's anything going on. I know children will go through a lot of different faces when it comes to food and eating, so I'm hoping that's what we're dealing with. And I wish the same for you.

Good luck! And thank you for posting your note. I'm relieved to know that I'm not the only Mommy out there who is going through the same thing.


I had a chipmunk too! Now that he is 2 he has gotten over it for the most part. We just keep an eye on him so that he doesn't choke or gag. He hardly ever does it now. It seemed like he mostly did it with meat, maybe it was a texture thing!

Hi C.,
I want you to know that you are not alone! My son who is now almost 3, has done that for almost 2 years. It started when he was 1 and began eating adult food. He would pack his cheeks, and chew on stuff forever. I would continuously give him milk to wash it down and have to remind him to swallow. My son is not a big eater and it has gotten better over time. He finally stopped about 2 months ago. Our meals with him would easily last 45-60 minutes. When he began playschool he learned that he only had 20 minutes to eat and so he would eat fast at school and swallow. So at home we started limiting his meals to 20-30 minutes. He learned to eat correctly. Our biggist problem was grape skin; we would see him chewing like an hour after a meal and guess what it was from our last meal. Anyway, be patient with your son, and remember he is just learning. Does he swallow the baby food correctly? You can also try easier food, applesause, soups things that are a little easier to swallow. Also, you could try showing him chewing and swallowing movements, remember at this age they learn alot from imitation. Good luck to you!

I have a Home Day Care and one of my children also does this. He was a preemie and for a long time had to make his baby food because he refused to eat anything not strained. But he is not eating all sorts of things but now is slowing down to be fussy eater. He always was keeping the food at his teeth and for a long time would have it in there even when he sleeps then I decided he is going to rot his teeth so after some time if he has not swallowed it I make him spit it out in a paper towel and we all brush teeth before we nap. The parents think it has something to do with the tubes he had down his throat but not sure. Weird but it took until he was at least 20-23 mos before he would touch real food. I just kept making it pureed then slowly making it more coarse. Now he is not eating the fruits and veggies so I will sneak it in hamburger meat in different dishes. Good luck but at a year they should be eating table food and are capable to eat by themselves. G. W

I am a speech-language pathologist, and "pocketing food," is not uncommon. I have found it helpful to use songs (about chewing and swallowing) and silly games to encourage swallowing - yet I would strongly suggest that before you try anything have our pediatrician, or a speech-language pathologist (whom specializes in feeding) assess your child. That way you could be certain there is not a physilogical reason for the pocketing.

Good luck!

My almost 3 yr old went through same issues-- he was doing great w/the babyfood until he had back to back ear infections and we had to "force" the antibiotic medicine down him-- which caused him to shut his mouth and tighten his lips afterwards, every time we attempted to feed babyfood. (At least I thought this to be the problem-- until we continued asking the pediatrician about it, he kept saying not to worry [from about 12 mos to about 26 mos] and he was only drinking soy formula, then finally he referred us to Our Children's House at Baylor to seek help for his issue, he would put the food in his mouth, chew until the flavor was gone then spit out, would NEVER swallow-- and when he tried would gag! We discovered after testing at Our Children's House at Baylor in Allen that he wasn't using his tongue like we do-- wasn't using it to move the food side to side and chew, rather was only chewing with front area of teeth, so didn't ever get fully chewed, and wasn't using tongue to "flip" the food to back of throat to swallow. After about 4 months or so of going to "feeding therapy" there he is now eating like crazy w/no problems what so ever!! You have to be referred there, so ask your pediatrician about it-- even if he/she doesn't seem so concerned, I assure you, its best to deal w/the issue NOW as opposed to later!! AND be sure to check w/your insurance co to see if they cover it-- many won't cover "speech therapy" but WILL cover "feeding therapy" b/c it is a "life necessity"!! Just make sure that the place who does the therapy bills it as such-- we've been going "round & round" with the mistaken "code" used to our ins co-- they imput as "speech" rather than "feeding" therapy-- uncovered vs. covered-- BIG difference.

Hope this helps! If you would like to discuss further, feel free to email me! ____@____.com

I wouldn't get to worried till you have tried other foods. He may not like whole food yet.

My grandson was like that, he's 20 months now and is eating those foods he didn't like at 1 years old. Try mash potatoes, egg beaters and oatmeal with applesauce or whatever you like to sweeten it up with. Breakfast for dinner is Ok, My grandson loved those.

You just have to find what he likes to eat and if at that point he still won't eat, then maybe just get your doctors opinion. But don't get to worked up till you know what's really going on. Some babies just don't eat a lot.

Love and Light,
Rev. G. Hudson, Reiki Master.

Show him how to chew. He will imitate you. Continue to give him small portions. He will get the hang of it.

I would ask your pedi, and maybe give a call to ECI. Children can have oral motor issues that affect how they chew and swallow (or don't). My son stuffed his mouth to where he had to hold the food in with his finger and he ended up getting speech therapy to help with some oral motor issues. And he didn't have any issues with choking. It can't hurt just to look into it and see if there's anything they can do to help, and the evaluation is always free. (And services are free or low cost.) If he doesn't need their help, then at least you can rest easy.

Good luck!

My son has a speech disability and I completely agree with the previous posters. Food problems were the first sign that there was something wrong with Toby and I wish I would've known it was a early warning sign. Getting him checked out by ECI is free and will eliminate the possibility of an underlying problem. If at the very least, they might be able to give you some helpful pointers.

You need to contact your peditrician. My son had something like this and had a developmental delay and needed speech therapy to strengthen his mouth muscles so that he could chew and swallow appropriately. The sooner they can figure it out the better the outcome. At 1 he should be eating baby food and solids.

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