23 answers

14 Month Old Baby Won't Eat Textured Foods or Feed Himself

I am very concerned that my little guy who is 14 months old will not eat any food with texture. He is a bright talkative little guy, but in this area of eating, we are way behind. He tends to gag when we put any kind of food such as small cut up pieces of chicken or vegetables. Even if we puree the food and it has lumps, he will gag. A second problem is that he seems to have no interest in feeding himself. If we put food on the tray, he just shoves it off. He does eat pureed foods well, but he still wants to be fed. He won't even chew on a teething biscuit, or a banana in a teething net. Will he outgrow this? Does anybody have any suggestions? When do we know if we need to get some help with this problem?

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It sounds like it could possibly be a sensory issue. I think what I'm thinking of is called a "sensory integration disfunction". My son has it due to his torticollis at birth and we are in physical therapy for that. You might put a call into a therapist and ask about it. If you do research online, be aware that sensory issues are very common for autistic children, but just because there is a sensory issue doesn't mean autism is involved.

I don't know if this helps, but it's one idea! Hospitals often have physical therapy units. You'd want to talk to one specifically for pediatrics. I go to one in Vancouver, Early Choice Pediatric Therapy at ###-###-####. They are great!!

Good luck!

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Wow, a kid who won't feed himself? Is he hungery enough? Does he drink from a tippy cup? The first thing that comes to my mind is when my nephew was younger, he would gag on everything. They finally found out that he had very enlarged tonsils and adnoids and that wouldn't let the food go down. Thus choking him made him not want to eat. Keep up with the pureed stuff to make sure he is getting enough nutrients, but check to see if he has any thoat problems with you pediatrician.

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The fact that he is talkative is a good sign, but I learned in working with my son that it is VERY important that they learn to eat solids. There are muscles that we use when we chew/eat solids that are important to develop as they affect your son's speech. There have been studies done on children w/ speech disabilities that point back to the lack of solids when the children were old enough to have them. So - very important to stick w/ it, although it can be very frustrating. My son did the same thing w/ the gagging, etc. I think the lack of interest comes as a result of the lack of success in eating the textured foods.

My pediatrician actually referred my son to a speech specialist when he was 9 months old. She gave me a lot of wonderful tips to help him learn to eat solids. (He wouldn't even drink from a bottle or eat Cheerios, gagged at the sight of a spoon, etc.....) Many don't realize how much the tongue muscles & learning to use them while young affects their speech when older. I would recommend trying to get your pediatrician to refer you to a speech therapist. They may - as they did with me - have some insights as to what is going on & what you should do about it.

Once my son began making progress steps as the therapist recommended, he really "took off" in eating a variety of foods. Now, he's my best eater :)

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I may be a little ahead of myself, but when you say texture problems, I automatically think of mild autism, i.e. aspergers. My son has this, he's very intelligent, grade levels ahead of peers in most areas, but he has sensory issues and dislikes changes, etc.... Food texture was always a battle, at 9 he's gotten better the last year. But he was the perfect baby, very intelligent, hardly ever cried, etc.... Food texture issues are something that you look for in infant autism screening, as well as a "really good, quiet baby," they also enjoy lining up and sorting things, dislike change and out of place things. It may not be this, but I wanted to put this out there so you were aware. Docs have screenings that make it easier to determine if autism is a possibility; if it is and he's very bright and talkative, it would most likely be what they term "high functioning autism." Noise and light sensitivity were an issue for us, too; he'd cry if a night light was on when he was very young, and covers his ears and cringe if he heard a loud or high pitched unexpected noise. Don't let this scare you, my son is very intelligent, and tends to stay out of trouble because he doesn't go with the flow of what the other kids do wrong, rules are very important to him, as are lists and schedules. He does very well, and does have empathy, he just lacks tact, i.e. his internal dialogue is not internal, and he cries when he realizes he's hurt someone, because he didn't mean to do it. I don't know if you've ever seen Criminal Minds, but the young genius on there has Aspergers'. They also believe Mozart, Einstein and a few others had it. So it is an issue,and it takes some learing to find what works, but relatively speaking, not the worst thing; don't let me saying this scare you away. Also, if this is the case, it may take a while to observe and diagnose, it won't be a quick process. I just wanted you to consider all possible reasons of having a texture problem, and be aware of a few things to look for and have this in the back of your mind for the future, to see if other things start tying in with it. I hope this helps. ~A.

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You need to take him to be seen. The place you would take him would be the Early Intervention Program in your area. There would be a "feeding therapist" that would be able to tell you if the problem is related to low muscle tone, etc. If they feel that the problem is more "medical", then they will referr you to a medical specialist. My god son had similar problems. This is the route his parents were told to take. It ended up being a feeding issue. He saw the feeding therapist for 3 visits,and with the help she gave his parents, they were all able to overcome his problems. Years later, he has no eating problems.
There could be several reasons for this, all in which he needs to be seen. The sooner, the better. You do not want his speech to start getting delayed, or a medical problem to get worse. I you need help finding the program in your area, let me know. I can get the information and email it to you.
Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi There!

From the information you've given, I would strongly suspect your son is having sensitivities to textures...or oral motor sensory issues. My son is 9 and has had many, many sensory issues regarding food.

The good news: it can be worked through and eventually fixed!! However, if left on its ow, this problem will NOT go away and I'm sure your son would probably benefit from professional intervention by an occupational therapist who has a strong sensory integration background. Do NOT let your ped say, "he'll outgrow it...it's just a phase".

Stand your ground, listen to your "mommy-gut" and get him help!! If you'd like any information on how to access services, I'm happy to help, as both my kids have disabilities and I'm very familiar with "the system".

All The Best!!

G.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Martha and Robert,

Sounds like you have a very bright little guy with perhaps a sensory issue with food - texture, taste, smell, etc.

I have a 3 and 4 year old, both autistic, and my youngest (nonverbal) had almost exactly the issues that you are describing with food. It is very possible, that, if your son appears to you to be perfectly typical in every other way, that he could have some delay just in the area of food sensitivities. At 12 months, we had all the same issues, not wanting anything but stage 2 pureed foods without a trace of a lump that he would spit, but he was and is a big drinker. This for me was new as my older boy had always eaten everything in sight. In addition to which, if there was something to which he might condescend to eat, it was usually done by the crumbful, if at all. And yes, he expected to just sit there and open his mouth and food would magically fly in that was acceptable to him - purees only, please. The good news is that he has outgrown all of those issues to a large degree although I think he will probably always be a fussy/picky eater. The rest of the story is that it was part of his overall therapy to desensitive him to regular foods. And it took awhile. Even though I would say by about 18 months he would eat more textured food, it was really more like 2 years before he would eat solid, normal foods. And it wasn't until about a month ago - he is now 3-1/2, that he would actually eat more than a bite or two of anything. Except mac and cheese - always has eaten that by the bucket. Which goes to show that if you like something enough . . . Just to be on the safe side, I would really suggest that you get it checked out by your dr and if they say there is nothing out of the norm, be sure to get that opinion seconded or maybe even thirded. Good luck with all of that, it can be overcome!

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It looks like you've had a lot of good responses, so I assume you'll take him to the doctor to check for a mouth or throat or swallowing problem or any other possible problems. (If he does have enlarged tonsils, I'd recommend totally cutting out milk products, which I think is a good idea for everyone anyway). And he may just not like certain textures, for example meat (maybe he wants to be a vegetarian! as I've been for 37 years and highly recommend also for many reasons). As far as the feeding himself issue, I think many parents worry too much about their children's feeding habits and get into power struggles with their kids around food. I'd suggest that you trust him to know what he needs and continue to offer him a variety of nutritious foods, without any pressure to eat any of them. If you're still breastfeeding, you needn't worry about him getting enough nutrition (if you're not breastfeeding, I still wouldn't worry as long as you're offering him a variety of nutritious foods). If as you say he just prefers to be fed by you, I'd say just feed him and don't make a big deal about it, he'll want to feed himself soon enough. It may be that he needs and enjoys the special nurturing time with you, or, if you're trying to get him to feed himself before he's ready, he may be responding to that pressure and therefore engaging in a power struggle with you to get you to feed him, so if you just feed him when he wants, he won't need to refuse to feed himself and will start feeding himself when he's ready. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

No worry, that is normal for a 14-month old. You may be more anxious for him to eat than he is...we had a hard time getting our kids to eat hamburger especially and even at 2 1/2 they don't like it much.

You can try giving him "dipping sauces" (Fat-free Ranch or Honey Mustard dressing, ketchup, etc.) and cutting meet into small slices and letting him play in it - that helped us but it will happen =)

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Martha,

My sister has just gone through nearly the exact thing with her little guy! He had been doing that for so long (pickiness, swallowing with difficulty) that they just chalked it up to a picky, sensitive eater. He happened to get a very thorough check up from the peds recently and they found that he had HUGE tonsils. I am not an advocate for surgery or anything of that sort, but you may want to have the peds check the size of your little man's tonsils and adenoids. My nephews were just removed about a month ago and already he is eating more, trying tons of new things, and has no difficulty swallowing. This may not at all be what troubles your guy, but the two sounded very similar. Hope that helps!

Warmly,
L.

1 mom found this helpful

My 17 year old son had this same issue. He would only eat certain things. What we found out is that he had a muscle developmental thin with his jaw. He also has speech therapy issues.
I would have you Ped's dr look at him and ask for a referral for speech.
And then there are young ones who are just picky.......
I remember when David was around 5 he choked on a hot dog. When we dislodged it, and told him "you chew before yous swallow." as a joke, he looked as us so serious and said "ohhh..." He could not have hard candy because of chocking hazard. It was also hard for him to nurse, it was a chore to get him to latch.
Good luck
Bev

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My 11 month old also has this problem. He was diagnosed with acid reflux (aka GERD)at around 5 months old. He would vomit and gag sometimes as a young baby. He is on medication now and that has reduced his fussiness and spitting up. He still gags and vomits easily.

Until recently he would never put anything in his mouth: toys, teethers, strange things he picked up off the floor, or food. He also has big problem with texture and finger foods. Our doctor said this was typical of babies with GERD.

He is now learning to put some larger things in his mouth like crackers that he can bite a piece of off. If he gets a small piece that he can gum for a bit he might be able to get it down(usually while gagging) but if any piece lands in the middle of his tongue he starts to gag and doesn't stop until he's vomited. He just doesn't know to swallow pieces of food! I don't know if this is the exact problem you are having but wanted to present another medical issue/situation in which gagging was a problem. I haven't asked my doctor what to do about this yet since he just recently started doing this.

Because he gags alot he hasn't shown interest in feeding himself and eating in general and has had low weight since 2 months old. I think this seems like a normal reaction if you associate eating with pain or discomfort.

I am also going to ask my doctor about the other medical scenarios the other people have responded with. Thanks for sharing everyone!

1 mom found this helpful

While my son did feed himself at a really early age, he was and still is a gager. He used to gag himself and puke at nearly every meal. Now he'll gag and puke several times a week while he's eating (he's 4). I just figure that he needs to learn how to deal with his weak gag reflex by chewing and taking small bites. It's been a slow journey, but I'm just used to it now. He also pukes super easily when he coughs or gets sick. Overall he's fine now and learning how to deal with eating slow.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like it could possibly be a sensory issue. I think what I'm thinking of is called a "sensory integration disfunction". My son has it due to his torticollis at birth and we are in physical therapy for that. You might put a call into a therapist and ask about it. If you do research online, be aware that sensory issues are very common for autistic children, but just because there is a sensory issue doesn't mean autism is involved.

I don't know if this helps, but it's one idea! Hospitals often have physical therapy units. You'd want to talk to one specifically for pediatrics. I go to one in Vancouver, Early Choice Pediatric Therapy at ###-###-####. They are great!!

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. That's all I have to say.

1 mom found this helpful

The first thing I would do is discuss this with your little guy's pediatrician. I think this is probably pretty common. My daughter has experienced the same symptoms, she however has some other diagnosis and it's good to rule out any medical diagnosis that may be a cause. I'm not sure if you make your own baby food, if so, maybe thicken the puree over time, if thats taken without trouble try adding the itsy bitsy star noodles for some very soft chunks. You can also try stage 2 and stage 3 baby foods. For the not feeding himself, with my little girl we do "food play" without any expectation of her eating the food, usually not at a time she would normally eat. It kind of takes the pressure off. We do this with applesauce, pudding, really anything that makes a terrible mess for me - ha ha - more often than not the messy little hands get to her mouth and the look of suprise that her fingers taste pretty good. We also just let her explore foods when we're all eating together. We'll put noodles, veges pretty much everything that were eating at the time on her tray, while were feeding her baby food, so she can explore different textures with her hands, occasionaly these itmes make it to her mouth, sometimes she may gag and other times she will actually swallow. Her norm would be to take it right back out of her mouth but atleast she's starting to get the idea... Good luck to you and your husband. What ever you do don't fret! He'll get the idea!
K.

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My almost 2 1/2 year old still doesn't feed himself very well. I have to constantly remind him to lean over his plate or alot of the food ends up on the floor. ;p I think this is a natural process of teaching. keep at it! About gagging, Justin sometimes gags if he gets too much food. We say, "Don't you gag. Swallow it." and he does every time. He didn't start feeding himself til about 2 years old. He wasn't interested and I didn't want the mess. But if you aren't happy, make it work. Devote your time to it. I can understand being pregnant and wanting him to be more independent.

I am of the mindset that you know what's best for your child.

You could try a naturpathic. The medicine is very safe and gentle.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 19 month old who was doing the same thing. I had to puree everything or she would throw it all up. She did finally outgrow this, but the pediatrician said that it was just that she was sensitive to food texture. (And trust me, I bugged the ped. about it constantly!!) It was quite frustrating and worrisome, but it did pass. I tease my husband that our whole carpet got cleaned spot by spot, since she would put something in her mouth only to puke it up.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Martha and Robert, There are a million reasons why this could be happening. I think you should seek the advice of a nutritionalist, and have him checked for any issues with swallowing that may be present. I would strongly suggest that you try to get a handle on this before August, a new baby just upsets the older ones progress, mine(now 22 & 21) are 17 months apart, and I wish someone would have told me what to expect out of my oldest when my youngest was born! It was a nightmare, so the more you can settle these things before delivery you should do. Also, if you haven't needed to leave him in others care so far you have been blessed, but you may want to try having someone you trust 'babysit', and change his environment, see if he reacts differently. Best if that person has children around the same age, it is amazing how different our children behave with other people when we aren't around! Good luck, and congratulations on your new baby! R.

1 mom found this helpful

My son was the exact same way. It really showed up when I tried to get him to go from smooth puree to chewable/lumpy foods. For MONTHS I thought it was a rejection of texture (my pediatrician thought so too) and I put up with a lot of gagging, which morphed into a lot of vomiting. Finally, I had enough of the vomit and tried switching him off of dairy products. Within 24 hours our lives changed for the better. I guess some people with dairy issues get a mucous build-up in their throats which makes eating anything trigger a gag reflex.

Also, after going off dairy put him on prescription Zantac for GERD, which changed our nighttime lives for the better. It was downright miraculous. So, perhaps a milk allergy/GERD avenue is worth investigating. Good luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful

This won't be fun. Give him the food and don't feed him. He'll probably skip the first meal or so and cry and scream and you'll think you're doing the wrong thing, but sometimes our baby birds need a push. Be calm and firm and tell him that he has to do it because mommy won't do it for him. He'll come around :) Even if you don't take my advice, I wish you luck!

I think checking with your child's doctor is a good idea, especially if he doesn't seem to be gaining weight, or seems hungry in spite of what you can get him to eat.
But honestly, my daughter was the same way at that age. She would feed herself some crackers, and puffs... but she hated any food with texture, especailly meat!
She still refuses to eat most types of meat, and I really think she is just more sensitive to texture and smell than some other kids!
I don't think you should worry too much about it. Just keep putting the foods in front of him and one day he will suprise you and eat them!

I am a mother of a daughter with autism, and this sounds familiar to me. My daughter is 6 and still refuses to feed herself and eats mostly baby food (stage 2) because of the texture. I hope that I'm not scaring you, but it is definitly something you should consider. Some other questions to ask yourself - does your son look at you when you are talking to him (eye contact), and does he turn to you when you call his name? These are some of the first things you will notice your child won't do if he/she has autism. If indeed your son does have autism, which is not uncommon these days, it is best to find out as quickly as possible so that specialized therapy can begin.

My mother once said that there may have been something wrong with her, but she didn't allow us to feed ourselves until we could do it without making a mess. We turned out alright. Don't worry about his wanting to be fed.

But do discuss the problem of the texture with your doctor. Just in case there may be a medical issue involved.

Other than that, don't worry that he isn't the same as other kids. It won't be the last time. My son was a voracious eater of everything which made him very unlike most children.

R.

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