33 answers

HELP! My 18 Month Old Will Not Eat Breakfast

I am at my wits end. I have ended up throwing so much food. No matter what it is, my 18-month old won't eat breakfast. She might possibly have a bite or two, but that's it. We have to get out the door and get things done in the morning, including swimming lessons for my 4-year old. Our whole world cannot revolve around attempting to feed the little one. She is absolutely horrible when she is hungry, and is a complete brat until lunch time. For some reason, she'll eat then. Of course, after she eats, she's a nice little girl again. Does anyone have any ideas? I am desperate. I don't know what to do.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of all thank you!!! Every one of you who responded. It helped a ton to just know I wasn't alone. Then I took bits and pieces of all your advice. I also removed the bottle from the equation. The result is she now eats a little bit for breakfast, and now as many of you suggested, I pack a sippy cup and a healthy snack in the car. Usually by the time we get to our destination, she is finished eating. Other times, she finishes a bit later. All in all, I am so grateful for the good advice. Thanks!!!!!!!

Featured Answers

My daughter is the same way she wakes around 6-7 and is not intersted in food...what I found that works great is that I give her milk to drink for breakfast and a little piece of cheese. Then at around 9:00 I feed her breakfast. If we are out and about I just pack her lunchbox with a pbj or something like that. She does great this way and then usually eats lunch as well.

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Some people aren't wired to eat breakfast right when they get up. Pack something to go. Also, don't think you have to give her breakfast foods. It's okay to give her more traditional lunch/dinner foods for breakfast.

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like you got a lot of great advice. I would also say offer her something small and easy in the morning. Something that could be put away if she doesn't want it. And then pack breakfast/snack to go. You can do that the night before so you're not in a rush.

Hope all goes well.

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More Answers

Let's start with what you know - She's just not that hungry in the morning so give her LESS food (so you won't throw it away). Since you know she only eats 2 bites, give her enough for 3 bites.

And since you know she's going to be hungry before lunch, bring a small snack like 1/2 a banana in a baggie - so perfect for hungry toddlers and it shouldn't ruin her lunch appetite. This will hold off the hunger pangs and will keep her more stable emotionally. I always bring a snack for my toddler just in case - noone wants to endure a hungry, tantrum throwing toddler!

This stage won't last forever. Toddlers don't eat much anyways - a few tablespoons (or more if they wish) of food every couple of hours is all they need. And they won't eat if they're not hungry so don't force it! It will only make for a painful and negative experience. There are other things you can spend your precious energy on!
I'm not saying you should just stop your whole world and feed you child on demand, but be wise. As she isn't hungry right away in the morning, give her 1/4c milk (protein!)and a bite or two of food. That's all she really needs. Also you're not changing your schedule (or rearranging your whole world) to provide a snack between breakfast and lunchtime. It's beneficial to her (and you)to keep the blood sugar levels from swinging high to low - just give her a snack and it will keep her stable.

Hope it works for you!

2 moms found this helpful

Judy's right on. A nourishing snack later in the morning will probably do the trick. Experiment with foods she likes; cheese and fruit are good. A small, firm omelet carried in a lidded dish was a favorite of my daughter's one year.

Not only are some kids simply not interested in food early in the day, but pressure to eat can actually work against the ability to eat. Feeling rushed and feeling hungry are mutually exclusive for lots of people, little and big. (I never was able to eat early, still can't.)

I notice that I feel alarm when I hear people characterize their children as brats (or monsters, etc.). I can sure relate to the adult frustration of having our little ones thwart our plans, but I don't think most of us, when deciding to have a child, say "Let's have a baby that we can fit into our schedule!" Of course, it's easy to forget in the busyness of life that they have their perfectly valid set of needs and personal preferences, and that to some extent we do, indeed, need to revolve around them.

And that's one of the gifts young children give us, right? They help us get over ourselves, and rediscover the joy of being right here in this moment.

2 moms found this helpful

My daughter is the same way she wakes around 6-7 and is not intersted in food...what I found that works great is that I give her milk to drink for breakfast and a little piece of cheese. Then at around 9:00 I feed her breakfast. If we are out and about I just pack her lunchbox with a pbj or something like that. She does great this way and then usually eats lunch as well.

1 mom found this helpful

Sounds like you got a lot of great advice. I would also say offer her something small and easy in the morning. Something that could be put away if she doesn't want it. And then pack breakfast/snack to go. You can do that the night before so you're not in a rush.

Hope all goes well.

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe get up a little earlier so it's not such a stressful time? My daughter normally is up for about an hour before she wants to eat. Also, portable breakfast might help. Think: cheerios, frozen waffles (blueberry is a hit at our house), cooled chicken nuggets/sausage patties, sliced grapes, tofu spears, frozen peas/corn. Then she's still getting nutrition, but you're not having to spend so much time trying to get her to eat at home. Your older one can help the younger eat in the car even maybe.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,

Well, I can certainly feel your stress. Take a deep breath and try to relax. It could be any number of things (as previously mentioned, your daughter might not be hungry first thing in the morning, she might be picking up on the frenetic energy of the household as you're getting ready to go and that might be stressing her out to the point she can't eat, etc.). First off, is she still gaining weight and is her doctor concerned? If not, she's probably fine. This, of course, does not help when mid morning hits and she gets a little cranky. Earth's Best makes some good breakfast bars that are easy to pack. Also, fruit in a cup can do wonders. I do remember reading (I have a son with eating issues) that it is hard for infant bodies to process complex sugars so cereal bars, cereal, etc. might not be the way to go. Try scrambling some eggs, a piece of buttered toast cut into small pieces, and if necessary look beyond normal breakfast foods to see if you can find something that appeals to her. We pack-to-go a lot of foods since whether or not our kid eats in the morning is up for grabs. His favorites are the cereal bars, Nairn's crackers (I know New Seasons carries these), cheese (string and medium cheddar), organic fruit straps, yogurt, fresh fruit, breakfast sausages, and pb&j sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Also, is your daughter talking a lot or does she sign? If she's got some good communication skills, you might try offering her a choice between two things. She might be entering that independent phase and electing not to eat because she isn't consulted. (Worth a shot, right?)

Good luck. And remember you're doing a great job!

1 mom found this helpful

I see a morning snack in your childs' future. ( two of my children were not morning eaters - they were simply not hungry until they'd been up about 2 hours.) So, I took peanut butter sandwiches - or string cheese - or crackers and a jar of peanut butter - or bread and butter or an apple and a hard boiled egg--- you get the idea --- find as many ways as you can to get nutricion into her when she's hungry- and the ''brat behaviour'' will possibly just plain disappear -- . No 18 month old can wait until 12 noon to eat - it just doesn't happen- so work on the snack - and good luck.

Old Mom- aka- J.

1 mom found this helpful

Feed her while you are waiting at swimming lessons. Take a peanut butter toast(or french toast)sandwich cut into bit size bites and a cup of milk, or string cheese and raisens, or cheerios and cheese, or cream cheese on a cut up bagel and milk - just get her enough protein to keep her on an even keel until her appetite wakes up.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't have any advice on how to make your baby eat breakfast but I can mention that you 'sound' very frustrated, resentful and even a bit angry with her for her stubborness. I sincerely hope you realize that children, before adults ruin them by convincing them that they can't read other people's feelings/energy, pick up on what we are 'feeling' or in other words 'our energy' more than they respond and react to what we say. You might try a calmer less blameful approach with your baby and you might be very surprised how well she responds.

1 mom found this helpful

I had and still have the same issue with my daughter who is now 5 1/2. I finally gave her non breakfast foods at breakfast time. She eats a bit more now. If we are out, I make sure I have a mid morning snack to offer. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Lots of good advice. I'd just like to add, from my personal experience, as a person who doesn't get hungry until after I've been up for a few hours (and then I eat something really light like an apple) - I think you will be doing the best thing for her by not trying to get her to eat when she's not hungry. But do make sure that there are healthy snacks available to her when she does get hungry (I'd suggest raw fruit, veggies, nuts). So many people have difficulties with eating too much, eating when they aren't hungry etc. I think it will help her for her whole life if you can encourage her to tune in to her own body and eat when she's hungry and not eat when she isn't.

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Milk is a fantasmagorical ;) superfood. It's got fats, proteins, & sugars all wrapped up into one. If she won't eat, toss her a sippy cup/bottle full of milk. You can warm it up, add chocolate syrup for hot chocolate, or just cold. Make sure you're serving whole milk until they're 3 years old at LEAST, and preferably 5. They need the fats for the myelin sheath that they're starting to coat their nerves with, and for brain development. We adults need low fat/non fat stuff...but kids and infants need a high fat diet for neural development.

My son was frequently too ticked off to eat (but starving) when he first woke up. A bottle though, would prime him (and get rid of the screaming meemee's) and THEN he'd consent to eat because he wouldn't be flailing.

Ditto BIG TIME on the midmorning snack, & or eating in the car.

None of this is going to create "bad habits" so don't worry. Children's nutritional needs fluctuate a LOT as they're growing...and eventually settle into something resembling a normal routine as they learn to walk/talk/think and stop growing quite as rapidly. In my experience sometime around age 4-7.

Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

Some people aren't wired to eat breakfast right when they get up. Pack something to go. Also, don't think you have to give her breakfast foods. It's okay to give her more traditional lunch/dinner foods for breakfast.

1 mom found this helpful

My son is the same age and is doing the same thing-- They just aren't hungry at that time? I spend so much time getting breakfast ready only to have it thrown on the floor;-) My son eats when he's hungry--- about lunch time or even dinner. If we are on the go- I take along a sippy cup of milk/juice combo or just milk, crackers, cheese, yogurt what ever travels then offer during the morning? Even on occasion we stop at fast food. Even though we mostly eat organic- when you're in a pinch it comes in handy- just be prepared for this to last a while- so I've heard
Good luck- I tell myself this stage won't last forever and I don't want to miss it either

1 mom found this helpful

just pack some portable food and a sippy cup and go....some kids eat more in the morning, others eat more later...don't worry too much.

1 mom found this helpful

With out daughter we had to just make meal time meal time - she sits there, until it is over, and eats or doesn't eat. I have to admit that for some meals she gets food we have discovered she loves, and is really easy to make (instant oatmeal for breakfast, and for a long time lunch or dinner was a gerber ravioli thing), but as often as possible we just give her a little bit of what we are already making for ourselves. It no longer feels like i'm doing a lot of prep and throwing things out on her account.

When she gets overly hungry and won't eat, i usually resort to drinking. She'll drink milk, or yogurt smoothies, and that gives her enough calories to calm down and actually eat something real. We try not to give snacks outside of meals because it makes her even less likely to eat the healthy meals we have, but this trick is our compromise to get rid of the worst grumpies.

Good luck. My daughter was horrible for the first 18 months or so, but now we've found enough foods she'll eat and enough of a schedule we can accept that its tolerable. Hopefully thats around your corner as well.

(ps. i don't know if this actually had an effect, but my daughter got better about eating when she was 100% weaned. If you still nurse your daughter or give her a bottle in the mornings, perhaps try eliminating it or at least moving it until after the sit-down breakfast. If you try the milk/yogurt drink i mentioned above, i'd also put this after the meal - maybe at the swim lessons?)

1 mom found this helpful

maybe she doesn't like to eat when she first gets up.. i have 2 girls and know how u have to get out the door... might sound weird but i feed my youngest in the car since she won't eat breakfast when she first gets up.. this isn't every day but we are busy some days... bag of cherrios.. danimals yogurt smoothie in a sippy cup.. cut up nutrigrain waffle.. or oj in sippy.. when she gets older my 3.5 year old.. loves lean pocket ham and cheese for on the go..
hang in there :)

That's what my daughter did. It's pretty normal. I picked up food off the floor from two 18 month old children (at the same time). I suggest that you get a dog and let him eat the scraps. :)

In the meantime, try to remain calm. I know (from experience) it's hard to clean food off the wall and floor and it's a waste of money. Kids can develop eating disorders if parents are too controlling about food.

Try this...

Set the food down, walk away and let your child have a choice. If she's hungry she will eat. If you see she's done and about to throw if on the wall, take it away and put it in a plastic bag, throw it in a lunch box and bring it with you to swim lessons. In the meantime, try to feed the kids things that don't take tons of preparation and not things like (jello, sticky stuff or red sauces). Save most of that for when they are older. There's a lot to choose from that doesn't make a mess.

BTW, my daughter does not want to eat until about 30 - 45 min. after she wakes up. Maybe you need to change your routine? It's really not a big deal, just bring it with you.

if you are on the run, have you thought about packing some little nutritional snacks that she can eat as you go? diced up cubes of cheese, granola bars, cereal bars, etc. fine tune it to her likes and dislikes. While you wait at swimming maybe she can chomp down on some of those healthy foods and that can be her breakfast. I think my kids kind of went through that "nibbling" stage and that also takes care of the crabby braty behavior. Good luck. I'm sure you will get plenty of good suggestions.

Hi S.

This is a very tricky situation as your little one is obviously not hungry early in the morning. Since you have scheduling problems fill a bottle or a cup with a drinking lid on it with a 4 ounce smoothy or some other thick drink she will take later. Give it to her around 9:30 or 10:00 to quiet her hunger.
Some people do not wake up hungry. She is one of them.

I would ask your daughter's doctor about the possibilty of GERD (heartburn). Sounds like a good story for it.

Good luck!


Hi S., When my daughter was that age she did the same thing. I agree that it can't be about feeding the little one ALL morning. Whew, I remember. So, I started giving her food she could hold herself. I still made her sit at the table, but I watched her to see when her toddler self was ready to get down. If she hadn't eaten, I would put the food away and say, "I guess you're done?".She threw alot of fits for about a week, but I didn't give in. If she didn't finish, she got it again for lunch. I too was sick of throwing food out!I know every kid is different and I am sure you have already found something that is working for you. Happy summer to you and your family

She may not be ready to eat in the morning, my son had the same issues and yes, it was night and day if he hadn't eaten (sugar level?) I gave him "finger foods" later in the morning - perhaps while your 4 yr old is swimming you can give your daughter a few carrot or celery sticks/ cheese sticks / apple slices or dried fruit - apple juice. Of course not too much to ruin her actual mealtime at lunch, but enough to keep her smiling until then.

I hope this helps keep your family happy before lunch as well as after!

By the way, he is now 18 and still has the same eatng habits - he doesn't want to eat - and still gets grouchy until someone reminds him to eat - good luck!

My daughter, now 4, has always been this way. I usually make her a smoothie for breakfast (which she rarely finishes), so she at least gets some calories in the morning and I always keep granola bars and trail mix in my purse so she can eat in the car or as we are out. She'll eat eventually, but never first thing in the morning.

My daughter at the age was also not much of a breakfast eater. For some reason she preferred to eat a little later, more like brunch. So on mornings when we needed to be out the door early and she didn't want to eat anything I gave her an 8oz serving of whole milk. She will drink it out of the straw sippy cups and can drink it on the way to whatever it is we need to do. It wasn't perfect, but it was protein, fat and calories that filled her up enough to not be cranky.

We have a similar eater here. At about that age, we started giving her a Pediasure "milkshake" if she didn't want to eat (half milk, half pediasure, sometimes some yogurt). We have since graduated to regular instant breakfast. She loves it, it fills her up, is vitamin fortified...and she think she is getting "hot chocolate".

Good luck!


I have to be at work by 7:00 Am and my 21 month old also will not eat breakfast that early. Some mornings she will take a few cheerios or a few bites of something else - but is simply is too early and probably too hectic before we have to get out of the door.
I do offer her a cup of milk (whole) and most days she will dring at least half - some days she won't...

Just keep on offering (offer small portions so you don't end up throwing out too much) and take along a snack to bridge the time till Lunch when you are out and about... she may just not be a morning person:)

Pack a snack bag for her when you have to get out the door, or take something that she can eat on the go. I have a child who did not like to eat breakfast when he was about that age. When we needed to be out the door in the morning I would pack up a Multi-grain eggo with pb&j and his cup of milk. He could snack on our way to wherever. Other thoughts, string cheese, pretzels, fishie crackers, cheerios, cut grapes, strawberries, blueberries, dried cranberries. I also do this for dinner at night when my older son has sports practice or games - pb&j with some fruit/veggies and "treats"/carbs.

I can just say that some people just don't wake up hungry. As for me, I have to force myself to have anything in addition to coffee, usually it's a granola bar around 10. I know it's better to eat in the morning, food just doesn't appeal to me. As long as she's getting enough healthy food the rest of the day, I wouldn't force it, who needs the battle?

Oh I know how frustrating it is...I end up eating some of my son's food when he doesn't finish or eat it at all. Bad move on my part that's for sure! Anyway as a quick idea...what about a smoothie for breakfast? Try some juice (OJ, Carrot juice, Blueberry juice whatever really) then whatever fruits you have or want to use up, add some frozen spinach, full fat yogurt and if you have it..a few leaves of mint and a little protein powder. Anyway it is tasty and nice in this summer weather and has teh benefit of taking it with you in a sealed sippy cup with a straw. You can adjust the thickness by changing the amount of juice.

I still have issues wih my son eating any meal really so I know how you feel.

Let her eat what she wants, leave when she starts throwing food, and go out the door. Don't feed her until lunch. Eventually she will get the idea that if she doesn't eat breakfast she will be hungry and miserable.

Give her cherrios (or maybe a protein bar?), finger food fruits (blue berries do nasty things to the bowel movements) and a sippy cup with extra protein in. Take the sippy cup with you and refill it if neccsary. No snacks.

I had a son who didn't eat and he's now 6'2".

When my son was the age of your daughter, I found the best solution was to allow him to have choices in terms of what he ate and when. You might try giving her a low shelf from which she can choose a breakfast food - fruit on a low shelf in the fridge, or a cheese stick or some cereal she can reach... the point being, you may be able to diffuse the now-habitual power struggle by allowing her more freedom and a bit more independence. Good luck!

Carnation instant breakfast!

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