17 Month Old Stopped Eating

Updated on January 08, 2010
S.A. asks from Layton, UT
9 answers

Hi Mamas.
My 17 month old litle boy used to eat baby food, pureed or semi-chunky fruits/veggies, milk, yogurt, crackers, cereal, and the occasional grown-up food, etc. But, on Tuesday morning, he stopped. He will still drink milk and eat yogurt and the occasional cracker, but other than that, nothing else. I have tried for 3 days to feed him dinner. I've tried giving him big people food, baby food, fruit chunks, pureed fruit/veggies, bread, toast, potatoes, rice, noodles, etc. But NOTHING! He won't eat anything else. I've tried to almost "force" it into his mouth, but he spits it out. I've tried having him feed himself. I even got him a new bowl/fork/spoon set to see if that would help. Everything ends up on the floor or tossed across the room. I'm almost at my wits end. I know that most babies won't starve themselves. And, since he will still eat yogurt and drink milk, I can always fall back on that, but I don't want him to get all stopped up because there is nothing else to flush out his system. Please help.

PS. I've lived with an extremely picky eater in my daughter. She is now 4 1/2 and is just barely eating PB&J sandwiches. She won't eat noodles, potatoes, or rice unless they're uncooked. She is just starting to eat bread. I was ok with all that picky, because she would eat all sorts of fruits and veggies, ham, bacon, string cheese, and yogurt. But for my son...UUGGHH!!!

PPS. I researched back 2 years and didn't see anything that was the same as my situation. I don't think that my son has any texture issues, since before Monday, he would eat almost anything. Also, he hasn't been sick lately either, and he's still the same happy-go-lucky kid that he has always been.

Thanks for any help/insight/advice!


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So What Happened?

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice. We have always ended his meals AS SOON as he throws/pushes things off his high chair, and he ONLY gets food at the table. He can only have milk/juice AFTER he's eaten his food, but his sippy of water is on the table where he can get it any time. I don't think he was testing us out, since we're very consistent with him and his sister. The only thing I can think of was that maybe his tummy didn't feel just right, but not sick enough for diarrhea or constipation, or it could have been something else entirely. Who knows, but thankfully, his little food strike is over. It only lasted 5 days. Now, he's back to his old eat anything self. Thank goodness! Thanks again for your help!

I am also going to keep trying to introduce new foods every day. Maybe someday, he'll branch out!

More Answers



answers from Boise on

Teething is a definite possibility. Another would be hand, foot and mouth. Is he crying or fussy at all? It may hurt to have other things in his mouth, although my son stopped eating completely when that happened.

Most likely it is similar to the advice that I received at his 18 month appointment. About that age they are more interested in cruising rather than eating and will try to get all their calories with on the go food if allowed. They would rather not sit and eat. The doctor suggested limiting the milk and/or having him drink it in his chair.

I would definitely stop the throwing of food as soon as possible, and let him say that he is done, and put the food on the table, then take the food away. I limit the milk if he hasn't had much dinner, although I do allow any fruits and veggies that he wants, even after dinner. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

It could be teething, but with your daughter's history of picky eating, it could be something else. Texture is usually an issue for picky eaters. Sometimes it's habit. Other times junk food is the problem.

Tossing food on the floor needs to be nipped in the bud. Once it's established that the food stays on the plate, even if not eaten, you can begin multi-sensory learning at the table.

My grandson, Joshy, at 2 1/2 only ate 4 or 5 foods. He received most of his nutrition from milk. After applying multi-sensory learning during mealtimes, his preferred food list began to grow. Today, he eats most foods.

I know you will find the information on this website about picky eaters valuable. There are numerous articles, so be sure to look around.




answers from Denver on

I remember as a kid my mom would just put the food she cooked for dinner and if we ate it great but if we decided we didn't like it we didn't but would get nothing else. My brother and I learned very early that being hungry was no fun. We also learned that we could go a LONG time without food.

All that being said, I wonder if maybe you are trying too hard to feed your kids to their pallets. My doctor mentioned to me that the difference between kids and adults is they just eat for fuel as we enjoy and eat, eat, eat! In short, we tend to think they need more and they just don't. So don't sweat it, you are right they won't starve themselves.

I also, think that one of the greatest talents our kids have is to see when they are getting to us. In other words, you react to them not eating and being picky so they keep it up. Somehow it is entertaining to them to see you get worked up and then they follow suit. So here is what I would do if I were you (and have, as all three of my kids try to be picky and irritating this way too):

- cook dinner and put it out for them (17 months can have what you are having, just cut small chunks or shred the meat and cook the veggies a bit longer so they can chew it). Do not offer to help them eat. They will throw it around, they will spit it out, they will make a mess but they have a chance to make some of their own decisions about food. They also like to have the chance to explore the food on their own and try to be like you with the utensils. It is rather exciting for them. Let it be.

- DO NOT make separate food for each kid because they are picky. You can choose meal plans that may suit things they like, but you cannot alter good healthful eating habits because they won't eat it. I can assure you the less of a deal you make all this, the less of a deal they will make of it.

- They may not eat for a couple of meals, or eat very minimally, but stick to your guns. They will finally start eating when they see you are no longer catering to their every food emotion and when they get hungry. I have heard it takes 5 to 7 days to break bad habits like this if you really stick to it.

Also remember this, if there is anything my kids teach me continually is that they will work me whenever the opportunity allows. In other words, if I freak or try to force something they will revolt - 10-fold!

You may see that they don't eat much or are erratic (part of this is just kids) but you need to teach them that meals are a beautiful part of the day. A time to be enjoyed as a family and that starts with you. No need to try to force them to eat, they will figure it out.

Good luck to you.

P.S. Obviously, if they won't eat a bite for days and start to act and look like they are starving, by all means take them to the doc, something else might be going on. = )



answers from Denver on

Hey S., I know its frustrating believe me. My son is very picky as well but what I know is when he refuses food its most likely he's either teething or getting sick. Could he be getting some teeth? Just my 2 cents. Don't worry like you said he won't starve himself and by next week I'm sure he'll be eating again!



answers from Denver on

My daughter pulls this same trick when she's teething. won't eat a thing, won't let me put in oralgel, etc. drinking milk and eating only yogurt seems consistent with this. have you noticed any other symptoms of teething? i can always tell when she gets her tooth because she suddenly eats everything in sight.



answers from Provo on

Has he started doing something new lately? (Walking, playing with a new toy, etc) Has something in his life changed? Did he just finish a growth spurt?
I know that my daughter (19 mos) seems like she'll eat anything and everything. And then sometimes for no reason at all it seems like she doesn't want to eat anything. (usually it's right at the end of a growth spurt) The important thing is to keep offering them healthy food. When he wants to eat then he'll have healthy things to eat.

Good luck!



answers from Denver on

I wonder if he's teething? My little guy, also 17 months, won't eat much at all when the teeth are at their worst. I would suggest feeling his gums and see if he has any teeth about to break through. You might also want to try giving him children's ibuprofen every six hours and seeing if that takes the edge off the pain.



answers from Colorado Springs on

My son was a great eater until about that age. For us it was two issues. He was getting more independent and wanted to choose his own food and pick things out of packages himself and the second issue was that I believe he was testing boundaries with us.

I let him have 2 choices at every meal, so he got to "pick" his food. That helped a lot.

I also learned to walk away and not make a big issue out of eating. He would test our patience by throwing food, throwing fits, refusing to eat, etc. I stopped asking him to eat, stopped trying to feed him, and stopped bargaining. I put food in front of him & often walked out of the room. If he ate it, he ate it. When I stopped reacting, he started eating.

Good luck. You might consider one of those gummy bear kids vitamins in the mean time. He should eat those for sure & it might help if he's not eating fruits and veggies.



answers from Denver on

I call my little guy doodlebug too! How funny :) Anyway, ditto what everyone said on how to approach eating. The only other comment I'd make is to limit milk to three small glasses, one per meal or between meals. If he drinks his glass and it doesn't get refilled then he might be more encouraged to eat. GL!!