Napa Mom Having Trouble Getting 8 Year Old to Eat Solids

Updated on April 04, 2009
M.R. asks from Napa, CA
14 answers

I would love anyone's input on how to work with my son's eating....he is almost 8 and in the 2nd grade and he has what the doctor's call "food aversion" we have been to a million doctors had all the tests, barium swallow, blood tests, nutrition classes...etc.
He still refuses to eat anything that is not husband and I are at our wits end, we know how much it matters what we do and say now, and we don't want him to be scarred or resent food, but we can't handle the fight every time.
If anyone knows of anything that will help..we would be so grateful. We are looking into some parenting programs we found online, but I would love to hear from someone in the same boat! Looking forward to hearing from anyone who can help! It would be nice to know that I am not the only mom going through this!!!

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answers from Modesto on

Hi M.,

I am sensitive to your situation. Hang in there.

I would try to go back "to normal" with your son. Don't talk about it, keep puree-ing, etc....

It's in my experience that when kids have a food "issue" that it can begin to depreciate around 8 yrs old. So, I would try to live your normal lives without ANY food discussions at all! Then, near the end of the summer, he might be ready for something new to try.

I hope it can be that simple for your son.

What I would WORRY about in your situation, is that there is so much pressure for him to stop this "eating thing", that he becomes inverted and ashamed that he is "different", and that his mom is tired of puree-ing his food. With all the hustle and bustle to Dr's and testing, I sure hope that hasn't begun happening to him.

~N. :O)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

First of all, I would stop fighting over food. Let him eat whatever he wants, without making him special food. Have soft, healthy foods around for him.
Secondly, what interventions do you have in place for your child? Is he is therapy? Have you taken him to a homeopathic physician? These are things that would help a lot.



answers from San Francisco on

M.- I don't have experience with this, but want to recommend you check out the baby food aisle. I was worried about my son choking on his first solid food and discovered some Gerber snacks that are the size of Cheerios that melt in your mouth. I know you are probably not ready for solids yet, but this may help the transition be less scary for both of you.



answers from Stockton on

I'm sorry to hear about your son's eating difficulties. My 9-year old son also had (and still has) many food aversions. He had difficulties with the odor, texture, and temperature of foods, and would only eat about 10 or 12 foods period. He still refuses to eat fruits and vegetables, and refuses to drink milk, but we are making progress.

I have found that the book "Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges!" by Lori Ernsperger and Tania Stegen-Hanson is an excellent resource book. One is an autism and behavioral consultant, and the other is a pediatric occupational therapist. The book talks about "resistant" vs. "picky" eaters, oral-motor development, environmental and behavioral factors contributing to problems with eating, sensory and motor-based problems affecting the resistant eater, designing and implementing a comprehensive treatment plan, environmental controls (i.e. mealtime schedule and setting, portion size, food selection, etc.), and the stages of sensory development for eating (acceptance, touch, smell, taste, and eating new foods). This book has a variety of clear and practical lessons and goals for assisting children with mealtime struggles. Some of the lessons include creating games for touching, smelling, and even painting with food to encourage the physical enjoyment of eating. This book would be a great place for you to start. And, consulting with a pediatric occupational therapist in your area might help too.

Hang in there. Modifying your son's eating habits and food aversions can be a long and difficult road. But, you are obviously a mom who doesn't give up! Keep doing your research, and hopefully your son will make some progress!




answers from San Francisco on

Dear M.. It sounds to me as though you have a super sensitive son who thinks about things a lot. maybe even about choking. I am wondering if he has ever had the experience of getting a lump of food stuck and being frightened as he had to cough it up and spit it out.

I hope that he likes a good variety of nutritious foods even though he needs to have them soft and smooth. I have not had experience with this personally, but wonder if you make a game of it and just the two of you (or your son and his dad) play at eating a cracker or some other carbohydrate food that is mostly digested in the mouth and holding it and chewing it and letting the saliva make it into a liquid in the mouth so he gets a concept of digestion and then having him chew other foods until he feels safe swallowing them, Just a thought.

In second grade they are discussing the digestive process in school and he may want to understand it better. Most children can handle food if they take the time to make it small before trying to swallow. He may have other issues and you are wise not to want to make a fight over it. Good luck to you and your sweet caring family.
Grandma N.



answers from San Francisco on

I have not had this experience with my child,but I dealt with it when my mother-in-law choked and refused to eat solids.

We pureed her food for a while. Then I started to puree it less. I gradually had it chunky. It took us 6 wks to get her back on solid food. She's been fine every since. Well, we took her to the dr. who set her up for swallow therapy to teach her how to swallow properly. She knew how, but needed to be reassured.

You need to find out why he won't eat solid food and you may need a professional for that.




answers from Chico on

I wonder if that is something a child psychologist/ therapist could help you with. With my babies and transitioning to solids, we just changed the texture gradually (like pureed peas to smashed peas, to whole peas). Maybe you could start with his favorite foods? Best of luck in finding a solution...



answers from Sacramento on

I am in shock that your pediatrician allowed this to continue for so long. This must be very frustrating for you as well as time consuming to puree everything. I admire your strength in dealing with this - especially with school lunches or playdate/parties with other kids.

I would ask your doctor for additional help such as an occupational therapist or someone who specializes in feeding issues or sensory issues. Push your doctor until you get the support and assistance you need. Good luck.



answers from Sacramento on

Hi M.,

Has anyone sent your son to an occupational therapist certified in sensory integration disorder? It sounds like sensory issues to me. Has he been seen by a speech and language therapist? Both of these types of therapists address these issues. I have a son with oral aversions and 5 kids with sensory issues so this is something we have dealt with for awhile. It takes a lot of work and time to get them over this issue. I'm just surprised your pediatrician has let it go on this long. When he wasn't eating table food by 18 months to 2 y.o. the doc's office should have made a referral to early intervention.

All the medical tests are going to show is that there isn't a physical problem or a medical reason for it happening.

Let me know if you want more information on anything. I could write a novel here and possibly never address the issues correctly.




answers from Sacramento on

Maybe have him play with food? I think it would be hard to resist making a "gingerbread" house out of healthy food. Don't pressure him to eat it. It sounds like you could all use some fun with food, rather than it being the battleground. Playing with food might lead to him cooking it, at first just for you, but maybe when he sees you enjoy what he has made, he will try it. Maybe also start watching a food TV show--Good Eats was a big hit with our friend's ten yr old. He started talking about wanting to be a chef.

It is important that he eat solids, but maybe the best way to get there is to let him know that he can change his mind any time he wants to, and to stop pressuring, and give him room to decide that he wants to do it.



answers from San Francisco on

Your son needs to see an occupational therapist that knows about sensory intregration disorders.

I would also contact the school and have him tested. He very well could have a lot of other stuff going on once you know what to look for. (Please note, I'm not saying "bad stuff" just stuff you need to be aware of to help him). My son has very mild Asperger's. It is a gift in so many ways and there are a few things he has difficulty with, like being in crowds. His sensory issues are around touch and sound, so it was clothes that we fought over until most until we figured this out.

Email me if you need more info. Also check out for information about how to get treatment through the school- or ask questions. I'm always happy to help.



answers from San Francisco on


Have you taken him to a psychologist to see why he doesn't want to eat solid food? I would start there and maybe you can identify whats going on. Also, hypnosis tapes might work too- play them at night when he is sleeping and it will subcontiously suggest healthy eating. You can go and see a hynotherapist and have them make your son a tape.

Good luck!~




answers from San Francisco on

I have seen this before. I have seen a kid who needlessly went through every test, because the doctor didn't bother to look in the kids throat. If his tonsils rate a 3.5 or better, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to get them removed pronto.
The other kid I know is exactly like that, and they discovered he could barely breathe because the tonsils and adenoids were so big. But you can't see the adenoids, so you can't tell til you do surgery. Imagine how you would feel about solid foods if your throat was so full of enlarged tonsils. And pediatricians just don't get it these days. My friend's pediatrician didnt agree with tonsilectomy, and her son was vomiting and having night terrors every single night. It stopped immediately after surgery.
Anther telltale sign - listen to his breathing at night. Any snoring is not normal.
For my friend's child, unfortunately you still need treatment for the eating issues after the tonsils came out. So either way, I read a good article citing a doctor in SF who treats this (I can't find her name right now). Also google selective eating disorder if you haven't already.
Best of luck to you. Most of all, I would say never make a big deal out of eating. It always makes problems worse.



answers from Redding on

My friend has an 8 yr old daughter with the same issue. Her daughter has OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder> She is afraid she'll choke.

Has your son said why he won't eat solid food?

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