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!

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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!!


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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!

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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 =)

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