15 answers

19 Month Old Doesn't Want to Eat

My 19 month old has always been a difficult child to feed. He has little to no interest in feeding himself unless it is pretzels, graham crackers or tofu and occasionally Kix or Cheerios. Other than that, he refuses to even try to feed himself meats, fruits, veggies, etc. I have constantly struggled with feedings. He drinks only from a cup, but wont drink and eat at the same setting. Feeding is always a power struggle and I have now become so desperate to keep him eating that I have allowed him to sit in his Little Tikes Car and watch Barney while I spoon feed him yogurts and Baby Food. I don't know what else to do. Whenever I try to put finger foods or even bowls of food in front of him on the table he immediately says "no" and throws it on the floor without even considering it. I have also tried letting him sit in my lap and feed me food, but he still doesn't care about eating it himself. I'm sorry this is so long...If anyone has advice on how to get him to want to eat by himself and try foods I would greatly appreciate it!

1 mom found this helpful

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Everything Gayle said is right, my son was the same way and I got tired of making seperate meals. The only time I would make a seperate meal is if I knew he didn't like what we ate-spicy stuff. So, I sent him to bed with nothing to eat if he refused. Nothing to drink either because he would fill himself up on drinks then. That only lasted a few days and then he started eating with us. you need to show him who's the boss!

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I'm a 61-yr-old mom & grandma. I have a 37-yr-old son who will eat almost anything (except asparagus :). My mother-in-law has stated repeatedly that she was lucky to have 2 boys who will eat anything. I've told her it wasn't luck; she expected them to eat what was put in front of them, and there wasn't a choice. You've let your little one have way too much power, and it'll only get worse. The day will come (& we've seen it in some of the posts on this site) when you'll be cooking separate meals for your son. That's not in the best interest of him or your family. It's not in the nature of a human being (regardless of age) to starve itself to death. That being said, it's up to you to be the parent. #1-Get Barney out of the feeding routine. #2-Put your son in the place (high chair, booster seat at the table, etc.) where you expect him to eat his meals, and be consistent in this. #3-Put small amounts of the food (cut into very small pieces at first) you expect him to eat at each meal in front of him. This needs to be the same meal you and your husband are eating. #4-TELL HIM that, if he throws it on the floor, it will go in the trash, and he won't get anything else to eat for that meal because that WAS his meal. #5-NO SNACKS BETWEEN MEALS! You can give him water or small amounts of milk or juice. #6-Go thru the same procedure at the next meal. Your little guy hasn't starved, but he WILL be hungry and more inclined to do it your way. He'll catch on very quickly. Obviously, you can expect tears and crabbiness when he does get hungry before the next meal. Be prepared for it. Give him a cup of water and explain to him again that he's a big boy now and he'll be able to have food at the next meal; but it will be up to him to eat it himself. He needs to learn NOW that there are consequences for misbehavior (throwing food). Hunger is a consequence and a pretty good motivator.

Best of luck to you, G.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi J.,
Just another thought...perhaps it could be more of a sensory issue. Sometimes kids don't like the texture, look or feel of foods. I had a friend who's little boy was like this. It was such a struggle for her to get nurishment into him. If you have not addressed it with your pediatrician already maybe he/she can offer some more help.
Good Luck
(oops, sorry I just read someone elses post about sensory
issues....didn't mean to repeat)

Why would you son want to eat? He needs a routine and an expectation that when he is at the dinner table, its time for...DINNER. No TV, No snacks, no exceptions. When my kids were going through growth spurts I would have a "snack" basket of healthy snacks, but other than that we had breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snack times. Play times are for playing, sleeping time is for sleeping and meal time is for eating. You child is in control and it will only get worse. Be the parent.


I have 5 boys and the youngest is 18 months old right now. Toddlers know when they are hungry and when they aren't. They have a crazy way of getting what they need to grow and develop. Is he growing at a consistent rate? My kids would seem like they were starving themselves for a week and then all of a sudden would eat everything in sight for a day or two and then a growth spurt would usually follow.

I wouldn't get too upset when he doesn't eat (unless you notice considerable loss of weight) If it really concerns you call your pediatricians office and ask them, I'm sure they will tell you the same.

Your son will know if you are getting stressed or upset about this. DO NOT make it a battle. I'm sorry to tell you that you can't win it. If he doesn't want to eat don't make a big deal about it, just offer some food at the next meal or offer some snacky food throughout the day. Healthy things like cubed cheese or cut up fruit. Pretend like the snacks are for you, and offer to share, make a big deal about how MMMMMMMMMMM good they are, if he wants some fine. Otherwise act like you could care less if he eats or not.

One more suggestion I would make is if you are giving him juice, I would eliminate that from his diet. It is just sugar water, basically empty calories and if he is filling up on juice he may not feel hungry for the substantial food later. We also give our toddler a chewable multiple vitamin every day. They are sweet and he thinks of it as a treat. We break the vitamin into about 3 or 4 pieces and give them out one at a time until he has chewed and swallowed them. It makes me feel better to think at least hes getting some of his bases covered when he doesn't eat much.

I know its hard not to worry about them, but all of mine have gone through this stage and the last one is in it right now. Good luck to you and I hope this helps.

That must be frustrating... I hope it gets better. Maybe you can see if he'll 'dip' his food? Our son is the same age and sometimes he doesn't seem interested in eating, but then he'll dip it... we have him dip it in salsa or honey mustard or organic ketchup.. I figure the sugar isn't good for him to have, but if it gets him to eat chicken and other foods.. so be it!

Everything Gayle said is right, my son was the same way and I got tired of making seperate meals. The only time I would make a seperate meal is if I knew he didn't like what we ate-spicy stuff. So, I sent him to bed with nothing to eat if he refused. Nothing to drink either because he would fill himself up on drinks then. That only lasted a few days and then he started eating with us. you need to show him who's the boss!

I agreee with Gayle.. you have let this feeding thing get out of control. so now you have to get control of the situation.

Stop the craziness of feeding him while he is so engrosed in the TV that he doesnt even know that he is eating.

Put him in a highchair and give him some regular healthy food choices...

My daughter (2 1/2) eats almost everything.. my son (14 months) is still a bit fussy but we are working on it.. we put regular healthy food on his tray.. if he doesnt eat it.. that is his choice but we do not feed him cookies instead.

Your child will eat a balance diet if you only offer a balanced diet..

Hi J.,

You may want to discuss this further with your son's doctor. He may have a sensory/texture problem. Your doctor could you refer yo to someone who will help with that. I think it's a speech therapist that would help. There's so much that can be done to help with that. It doesn't sound like it's flavors to me. I think it might be a texture problem. Good luck, S.

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