My 13 Month Old Is Picky, picky...picky!

Updated on July 22, 2009
M.S. asks from Sherwood, OR
14 answers

My 13 month old little guy is ALL boy, except for his eating habits. Ever since he's realized he can eat what mommy is eating (to a point), that is all he wants. But then when I sit him down in his high chair, he sometimes puts the food in his mouth, then spits it out. He will drink his bottles like they are going out of style as many times as he can during the day and will throw tiny fits unless he doesn't have his bottle (whole milk of course), or get whiney until we give them to him. He will eat some foods (cheerios, pastas of every sort), but won't eat much of anything else. I'm worried of giving him too much pasta and not enough of everything else...which he wont eat. If he puts food in his mouth it's after he's played, squished it in his hand, puts it in his mouth then he spits it right out and then throws the rest of it on the floor. He has consistant 2-4 poopie diapers a day which are yellowish-white (white part concerns me a bit), some hard and some soft. He is teething like crazy (of course like any other 13 month old) and sometimes it seems certain foods hurt his gums when he's trying to chew. He doesn't have another check up until December, but the list of foods I have from the Dr. just aren't making it into his tummy. I want to give him protien and all the things he needs, I just don't know what do do. It doesn't bother me to give him organic things, for some things I agree with organic, and some things are a little over the top and silly to me. But overall I just want what is best for him. I know the phrase "He'll eat when he's hungry" but he's basically only drinking milk, and only wanting the milk. Granted right now it's 90-100 degree weather and I know he needs the fluids, so I want to give them to him. If anyone has any things to try or tips it'd be greatly appreciated. Also if anyone has any tips on how to change him from a bottle to a sippy cup. I've got almost every brand out there and he absolutely refuses to drink out of them. If I set one on his high chair or around him, he just throws it. If I try and switch the nipple for a sippy top that fits on my bottles he gets really mad then doesn't want to drink from it anymore. I've bought the Nuby cups, I have Dr. Browns, and a Born Free... he hates all of them and is smart enough to tell the difference. One of my friends (who doesn't have kids and is a nanny) told me to just take the bottle away and then he'll eventually drink out of it. Sorry... but I am not for that suggestion, I'd prefer a less stressful way to transition him without any tantrums from him and hair pulling (my own hair, not his don't worry) for me.

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and insights, I greatly appreciate it.

Maybe I should rephrase the word "tantrum"...? He more or less wakes up from naps and is hungry/thirsty so he gets upset if you sit down without his bottle. I think this may be more of a routine for him that we both do that he is used to. Maybe not. Spoiled? I don't know if I agree...but I guess nobody wants anyone to call their kid spoiled.

For those who wondered if I was feeding him too early... I was only going by what triggers he showed me that he was interested in. When we were feeding him baby food he would eat like a maniac. But then once he realized the spoon was something he could bang on the high chair, that became a novelty. I'd give him his own spoon and still feed him with another. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. When we slowly started to switch him to solids (after he was pulling on us, trying to climb up our legs to get what we had) that he could feen himself, there again was a trigger that he wanted to eat what we ate and was interested. He no longer wanted to be fed with a spoon and would try to whack it out of my hand or grab it. We always try and speak calmly to him and our frustrations are never expressed to him. More to ourselves. When I try and feed him with a spoon now I say "No, mommy feed you." sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But we never force. Everything we do, we try and watch and take what he's trying (to the best of our ability) and try to accomidate those needs. We make food, we clean up what he doesn't eat then he goes off and plays.

So hopefully that better explains the little guy's personality...he just LOVES to play and everything is a little game.

But honestly, thank you all again and I will let you know of his progress! :)

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

Take him to the doctor. His poo shouldn't have white in it ever. Once that part is resolved, then worry about his nutrition.

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answers from Seattle on

he is only 13 months - it isn't being picky, it is being 13 months. You need to keep giving him healthy options, and he will either eat them or reject in and giving him pasta all the time isn't going to fill his stomach or teach him good eating habits. If he is getting all his nutrition from milk, his body knows that he doesn't need the other foods. As for the bottle, I don't think that he needs to transition to a cup yet, but if you want him to, then you need to stop giving him the won't be nearly as stressful as you seem to think - he may not have any milk for a day or two, it won't hurt are the parent, you are the one who needs to make decisions - not him!

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answers from Portland on

This is my personal feeling on this matter..

I firmly believe that one of the reasons we end up with picky eaters is because we force some kids to eat solids before they're ready. Some babies really aren't ready to eat solids until 12-14 months. When you start to force it too early, not only do you and baby get frustrated, but you can create a picky eater as well..

People believe that babies NEED to start eating solid foods at 6 months.. Your baby isn't ready for food.. So the only thing the baby will eat is really yummy junk food. This creates a pattern that establishes that your child will only eat 2-3 foods that taste really good (like cheetos or waffles)..

One of the reasons that I believe this is.. I went to China in 2003 and asked a local woman if she knew anyone that didn't like vegetables (because it's a staple in their diet). She couldn't think of a single child or adult that didn't like them.. Now think about how many people don't like veggies in the US?

I really don't think that you should worry about your baby not eating. My best friend just went through this situation all worried about her son. He refused to eat solid food (except junk, but she didn't offer him junk more than once/twice) until 14 months, then one day it just clicked on. Also, he didn't actually digest any of the solid food that he was given until recently, proving that he wasn't ready for it. Now he eats everything and he's very healthy. Just because a doctor or baby book says that something as to be done at x age, doesn't make it so. Every baby develops differently. Relax, feed your baby breastmilk/formula (I think that 13 months is too early for cow's milk and that breastmilk or formula should be given until your child is ready to eat a well balanced diet). He'll be fine. :)

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answers from Seattle on

You are so right, M., that hot weather is no time to make a determined little boy thirsty.

BUT -- I'd strongly encourage you to start putting something delicious in a sippy cup - you choose which kind- and that is what is available - say--- in the car --- nothing else ever is drunk in the car --- when he fusses for a bottle - look stunned and say--'' OH IT IS TOO HOT FOR THAT IN THE CAR.'' --- Put your best ''' shocked''' face on as though he'd asked for vinegar to drink. Yes, he will fuss -- but this line has to be drawn somewhere - and that might be a good place to start. Then-- after a week or so --- the cup is the only ''deal''' out of the house-- same big dramatic act (((( kids know when you mean business- )))
Then after a couple more weeks-- the cup is the only thing in the car, out of the house- and at the table. More weeks- The bottle is available in his crib and only in his crib.

What you will have done is gradually put some other liquids in a cup - and made that ''' the only game in town''' in one small place-- and then 2 -- and then 3 --- it will go easier. One more suggestion--- I make herbal tea --fruit flavored- nice colors - no caffeine- and give it to my grandchildren for drinking--sometimes with a little crystal light for extra flavor -- straight juice is WAYYY too sweet - not to mention expensive.

aka- Old Mom

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answers from Seattle on

I have a son that was, at that age, picky, picky, picky. He was on a white diet. If it wasn't white he didn't eat it. Of course he was in the 95% percentile in height and weight and I couldn't complain.

I got him to eat yellow squash by adding it to his applesauce more and more every day. I got him to eat potatoes by giving it to him morning, noon, and night. It took a week. I did the same with eggs. He never really ate vegetable for me, but he does for his wife. (sigh) But he is now 6'2" and handsome, strong, and just fine.

Boys are picky. I had to learn to live with his pickiness. But I never made extra food for him. He always ate what we ate and if he was hungry, too bad. He had to wait for the next meal. He got one snack between lunch and dinner.

I got him to drink out of a sippy cup by adding chocolate mix to the milk. Went down like a dream.

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answers from Portland on

Imagine yourself suddenly in a place where all food was novel, all flavors unfamiliar. Wouldn't you long for the comfort of your favorite foods? Bland, soft foods appeal to babies because they experience flavor and texture acutely, and they are used to the blandness of milk. You might offer foods like rice, potatoes, omelet, smoothies made with lots of milk or yogurt.

Since he doesn't actually eat much before playing with the food, give him only tiny amounts to sample, and more only if he actually eats it. Foods are substances for babies to investigate and play with, so expect and tolerate some of this natural behavior. Once he's tried a food maybe a dozen or more times, he won't find it so novel, and may actually begin to like it. He WILL eventually accept more variety, but it is foods like these that many babies actually eat first.

A general observation that I've found true: the more urgently parents want their children to eat something, the less appealing it becomes for the child. Eating isn't a heroic endeavor, it's simply a natural and necessary activity that sustains life.

And it's a perfect venue for happy social contact. If a food becomes the topic of praise or punishment, it has become much too important for natural, healthy eating habits to develop. And because parents, quite reasonably, want their kids to eat nutritious and varied meals, food is a classic control issue. Once that battle begins, parents may lose all perspective and turn up the pressure. This is often how eating disorders arise, so please be alert for struggles over food.

You are lucky that your son wants to try "your" foods. Is it possible that the frustration you are expressing is that you want him to switch to foods and utensils on your schedule rather than his? This stage will pass, and it will pass faster if food and eating patterns don't become a struggle between you. This little guy is still a baby. He won't think or act like you for a long time yet. This doesn't mean you shouldn't begin to gently coax him to adopt "big people" manners, but you have years in which to work on this, a little at a time. Some of the happiest and best-mannered children I know were given plenty of space and freedom at mealtime for their first couple of years, only gradually being required to sit more minutes and eat more bites at the table.

The list of foods your doctor gave you are acceptable foods, not required foods. Lots of kids, especially younger ones, go through fussy stages and refuse all but a few foods. These stages can seem to take forever to worried or inconvenienced parents. Every child that I've ever known personally has continued to grow, play, learn, and stay healthy. Consider that in some societies, children receive little beside breast milk for as long as two years, and they thrive on that. There is plenty of good protein in milk from humans or other animals.

Since you are giving your son cow's milk, I hope that's one of the foods you are making sure is organic. There are too many unknowns about the science of hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals found in regular milk, and what is known so far is not good. And since toxins and hormones concentrate in fat, whole milk is potentially more dangerous than skim. But your little guy does need good quality fat at his age. You might experiment with offering soy milk occasionally. It has a similar nutritional breakdown to milk, but is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for brain development. He might like the slightly sweetened vanilla flavor. (I would NOT substitute this for milk on a regular basis, though, or serve less-than-whole milk, without your pediatrician's advice.)

I'm curious why you feel it's necessary for him to use a sippy cup now. If the bottle is working well for him, why not let him use it, since he's still a baby? He can probably hoist it himself, right? Just offer the sippy occasionally, without making a big deal out of it. And you might make it more attractive to him by taking your own beverages in a sippy cup. Again, if you do this, don't overact – just act like a sippy is the most natural and convenient way to drink.

Please be sure your bottles and sippies are free of bisphenol A (BPA). A new report in Science News magazine shows that in addition to hormonal and behavioral disruptions, this chemical has been shown to cause hearbeat irregularities.



answers from Seattle on

My ped said at 12 months they should only be drinking no more than 24 oz of milk a day, You need to cut back on milk and offer food. If hes thirsty offer water or watered down juice.
To wean from bottle maybe only offer him milk in sippy and water in bottle? Or Ive heard of people watering down the milk in the bottle and putting regular milk in sippy, so he will prefer the sippy (like its his choice).



answers from Seattle on

i am so glad you wrote in. my son is also 13mths and doing the EXACT same thing. the only difference is the sippy cup. jake does drink a sippy but it took a long time and the only one he would take when we weaned was the munchkin one with a straw!!! seriously! a straw. then my daughter picked up a mickey mouse sippy because although she drinks from a regular cup she wanted something like his. so this one is a hard spout learning curve cup with no valve. he loves it. i had dr. brown, nuby, playtex, the solf the hard, none worked. now he will drink them all. as for food. he has been doing the chew and spit thing since the start at aroung 11-12mths. i hate it. he eats fruit and crackers and some pasta but nothing else. no meat. just in then out. throws and squishes it. he is also cutting 4 molars. i dont worry to much because i have 2friends whose daughters did this until about 18mths or so. one wouldnt even put food in her mouth at all. i have him on vitamins too. it is a tring experience though and i hope it works out for us both. let me know if you get any great working advice. P.s. i sometimes wonder if it had to do with nursing him until one?



answers from Seattle on

Try taking him to the store and having him pick out a cup to try, just get one. My kids only liked the playtex cups at first and then I transitioned them to the first years cups without a valve for all times except bedtime since sucking on bottles and cups with valves constantly is not good for their teeth.

Does he drink water from a bottle? You could try putting water in a bottle and milk in a cup and see what he does.

All kids will whine and throw mini-fits to get what they want if it works. It is your choice to either give him what he wants when he presents with this behavior and then keep doing it for the forseeable future or to not give him what he wants and see the whining/fits got away after a couple of weeks.



answers from Seattle on

I had good luck with yogurt or fruit smoothies at that age with my daughter. She was transitioning from breast milk (never took a bottle), so i didn't have to try and match the taste of milk. However, she really didn't want to eat solid food, so the drinkable foods helped us out. You could slowly increase the ratio of fruit to milk in his bottle if that seems to help.

(She also loved those little Gerber finger foods (yogurt drops, stars)- I felt badly about feeding them to her at first, but the ingredient list is entirely reasonable, and they did broaden her horizon on solid food. But she was older than 13 months - maybe 14/15 - before she would eat them.)

She eats just fine now. As long as the doc thinks your son is healthy, don't stress. It just takes time.



answers from Seattle on

I would try to mix in really soft veggies in his pasta dish. You might try avocado (my kids love avocado with their mac and cheese). But you could cook some broccoli or carrots and then put it in the food processor and then mix in with the pasta (but keep some pasta "clean" in case he refuses)...

I transitioned my oldest from the bottle to the born free (really soft nipple - she doesn't like the stiffer one). But, I didn't do it until about 2 years old. I guess you have to pick your "battles" and we added a second child pretty quickly so I couldn't transition her with so many things changing in her life. (we moved back from another country and then moved again so we had a lot going on).

To this day, both my kids would prefer to drink milk all day so I know your frustration!



answers from Portland on

Oh want to do this without tantrums..well I can tell you that is not going to happen!
The best time to switch from bottle to sippy is around 9 months to avoid tantrums, but you are past that point so it's gonna happen no matter what you do.

Fact is your child will eat what you give them. They will not let themselves go hungry. I know the guilt of a mom when her kid seems to not be eatting much and you're terrified they are going to starve. They won't.

Also, probably the easiest and best thing you can change right away is all the milk! At 13 months, they should be having more water then milk! 1-2 bottles of milk a day is plenty. Again he may not want the water at first, but just keep offereing it. Just put it in there and put it where he can reach it and tell him its there if he wants it but he's not getting more milk. He will eventually drink the water.

At this age, you are just going to have to get rid of the bottles and have the sippy cups only and deal with the fight. It's just a fact and there is no way around it..

Also, the white poop would really concern me! You should probably move your dr appt to sooner. Maybe there is a food allergy that is causing tummy upset. It could be the milk!



answers from Anchorage on

Hi M.,

I know you don't like the idea your nanny-friend gave...but it might be time to try it. Sounds to me like your little boy simply needs you to say "ENOUGH". Your little boy will figure out in a hurry that you are willing to do just about anything to get him to eat SOMETHING and that you give in when he won't eat what you really want him too. Your boy may throw a fit or two but the fact is, do you want this habit to stretch to daycare, school and the rest as he gets older? Putting your foot down is not cruel, in fact its necessary sometimes. My son is diabetic. I have to put my foot down about certain things. His symptoms were similar to yours...he ate little but starches, drank tons of milk, and juice and water. But ate little meat etc. He tried. He didn't make the messes yours does though he would just push it away. He was not diagnosed til four years later after suffering for a long time. So, rule out anything medical before you go cold turkey. This may mean usurping your doctor's schedule..which is your right as a parent. You can insist that they do the test (which is a finger poke test). Look up what a baby your child's age should be at, and take that info with you. If there is ANY diabetics in your family then definitely get him checked.
On the other hand, he could just be incredibly stubborn. My suggestion is that you simply ignore the spitting and stuff. Clean it up but don't say anything. Give him more of the very small amounts. Don't substitute. Unless he's allergic to the foods (and that will cause more than a tantrum I am sure) he should be eating them. Cook foods that you can to make them softer if he's having a hard time chewing. Make a big deal about foods that eats that are good for him. He should be eating foods you eat to a certain extent. Cut up little cooked carrots. Serve him soft cooked peas. My son loved mashed potatoes with almost any type of vegetable soup over them but especially split-pea for some reason. He also loved it with a sausage gravy. This helped a lot through the picky phases. The "doctor's list' is guidelines. It's not exactly what you should feed him all the time if he won't eat it. He wants what you with a little prep, he should be able to have it. If you eat in front of him...try using things he wants and giving him small amounts. If he throws them simply shake your head and say, "Mommy does not throw her food, mommy eats it.". Show by example how he should eat. She yourself chewing etc. You say daddy takes care during the day, so maybe its time to ask him what he's feeding him. If he always gives into demands then I'm afraid he's a little spoiled and you will have to work with that. Cry it out-temper tantrums are the same thing. Its fine if you want to not put up with those...but understand despite your best efforts that will happen occasionally anyway. You need to first of all aren't doing anything wrong. Feeding your kid what he will eat is fine. Just expand. Every time he eats something you want him to..even one bite..praise is in order. But if he doesn't simply ignore it therefore taking away any fodder for a tantrum. Clean it all up when he is done. Make a rule for the food he likes too.."If we play, then we are done". Don't give more just because he whines when he throws it all on the floor..that's how they learn "All gone". All done and all gone are not the same thing..but they should be for teaching purposes. Simply put you won't avoid the temper tantrums just by giving fact you will only make him see that he can get whatever he wants simply by acting like he is going to throw a temper tantrum. Don't let him start using that as a threat too..that's just not acceptable. Good luck..he's not very old so I think he will be fine...but you need to understand that you CAN put your foot down now and again even with one that young.



answers from Portland on

I agree with some of the other posters. He is acting totally normal for a 13 month old. My boys (who are 8 & 4 now and great eaters) were not interested in eating solids until they were 14 or 15 months old. They were breastfed so I knew they were getting all the nutrition they needed. Once they were really running around and burning calories (& were better able to feed themselves), they seemed to "discover" eating.

Talk to your pediatrician about a multi-vitamin or an organic toddler formula if your concerned.

Keep offering healthy choices and he'll eat when he's ready. If he does fill up on milk though, he will be less hungry. So try offering food first then a bottle. And I think a bottle is perfectly appropriate for a 13 month old.

Dr. Sears suggests leaving bite size healthy snacks out throughout the day for kids to "graze" since sitting still and eating is not on a toddler's agenda.

For introducing the sippy cup, maybe try offering water (w/a splash of juice) in a sippy cup or fruit flavored herbal teas w/ ice. Save the bottle for milk only. And you could try leaving a fun sippy cup out so that he can access it when he's thirsty instead of expecting him to drink out of it when you give it to him? That worked for me when I was trying to get my son to drink more fluids in hot weather. Also my kids only liked the soft spouts or straws, not the hard sippy tops.

I have a baby girl who will be 12 months in 1.5 weeks. she drinks mamas milk from a bottle and water from a soft spouted sippy cup. She experiments with table food but mostly lives off of breastmilk. I am not concerned because after having two other kids, I know she'll eat eventually.

Good luck!!

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