Is 16mo too young to go without if she refuses dinner?(46 Posts)
DD is 16mo and has a good appetite normally, I'd say she's generally a good eater. Other times, like tonight, she tries one mouthful and spits it down her front (things that I KNOW she likes). And it's only at dinner time, never at breakfast and very rarely at lunch. As an example, I made a beef stew yesterday, she absolutely refused to have it for dinner, but couldn't get enough when I reheated some for today's lunch.
As a bit of background, this is what she usually eats:
7.30 - a toast soldier or two (out of half a slice cut into four soldiers)
9.00 - weetabix (usually one and a half) around 9am.
12.00 / 1.00 - Cheese / dried fruit / cold meat / sandwich / breadsticks / a banana (usually two or three out of those, not the lot!), or leftovers from the previous day.
5.30 or 6.00 - Dinner is either pasta-based, meat & veg with mash, stir fry with rice or noodles, or if I can't be arsed, burgers, chips & spaghetti hoops. (Thinking about it, the latter has NEVER been spat out.)
7.00 - Milk, about 180ml, 50/50 toddler milk and full fat cows milk.
She drinks a lot of juice through the day, it's sometimes dilute squash, sometimes fresh fruit juice, she won't entertain drinking water. She doesn't normally have snacks.
We always eat as a family at lunch and dinner, and I don't want to get into that thing of cooking different dinners for her and for us. I know that I need to try and just not react, not make a big deal of it. So far I've thought she is too young to go without dinner if she decides not to eat it, so have given her something else, but I suspect that she refusing dinner in the knowledge that she'll get a banana or a yoghurt or something.
At 16mo, is she too young for me to remove it and not offer an alternative?
Well I wouldn't worry about it but then I tend to be on the slightly more shrug end of things. It's only one meal, if she has a good appetite normally and has eaten and drunk well earlier it's not going to do any serious damage. Mine always went off things for a few meals when teething. And I have days when I don't feel that hungry for no apparent reason.
My dc were never very hungry for dinner at that age, although occasionally they would surprise me by wolfing something down. I always offered yoghurt and fruit afterwards regardless of what they ate. I think it's absolutely fine at that age to offer a healthy alternative, though I know many would disagree with me. Sometimes after having the yoghurt they would go back to their dinner and try it again.
It's four or five nights out of seven that she faffs about with it. Tonight she spat out the stir fry & rice, but then picked through and ate individual grains of rice that had none of the sauce on them. Probably a case of not liking the sauce, but if she's eating plain boiled rice, she obviously is hungry.
I think 16 months is too little to make strict rules about food. At that age DD would often reject dinner and I would offer banana and yoghurt instead. Sometimes I would even do her a bowl of porridge with a bit of jam to make sure she was full enough before bed! She eats her dinner nicely now at 2 and a half.
Could you maybe try giving the heavier meal for lunch and the lighter one for dinner?
It might be that she just isn't in the mood to eat a heavy meal if she is getting a bit tired.
Sorry x posts - I would just add as well that she probably finds it harder to deal with new tastes etc when she's tired, so maybe plain boiled rice was just easier for her to deal with!
My gut feeling is that she is too young to go without, but when she's refusing dinner and pointing at the fruitbowl, it's pretty clear she'd just rather have a banana!
A heavier meal at lunch might work but might be difficult to arrange, as I would need to make dinner for DP and I, and that would mean she wouldn't be eating the same as us.
The frustrating thing is, she wouldn't take the rice off her spoon (whoever held it), nor off DP's fork, which occasionally works. She would only pick the grains off the high chair tray! After we'd left the table, she was all for grazing on the bits she'd dropped on the floor, but the dog got there first.
She sounds like she's not hungry...
It doesn't sound like very much milk for a 16 month old - I thought they were supposed to still get around 500-600 ml a day.
That aside, if she doesn't eat her dinner she still gets her milk, right? That may well be enough to fill her up. I would follow her lead. Maybe move on to dessert if she doesn't want the main course. If she doesn't want either, just drop it.
The last thing you want to do is make food a battleground at this stage. If she wants to eat fruit rather than dinner it's not exactly unhealthy so I'd just go with it. Just keep offering her a small portion of dinner. My 16m ds2 will sometimes refuse a meal and other times happily eat the same thing. It's no good trying to reason with a baby about it. IME it's better to keep relaxed about food until they are old enough to have some understanding to reason with them about it.
I would just leave and but offer yogurt/ fruit still
17month here has been eating everything with gusto since weaning. I can't actually remember when we last spoon fed him anything, and uses spoon and fork well with everything now. A couple I weeks ago he started picking at and refusing food, after about 48hours he threw up everywhere and had a virus that lasted a week. He obviously knew he didn't feel well and just didn't eat, we didn't push him and I'm glad we just left him with what he was comfortable with
We always have some desert which is fruit and then usually yoghurt, cereal bar, a biscuit or something. If she doesnt eat her dinner I usually offer a slightly more filling pudding ie banana instead of grapes or satsuma.
The only time I have a real dialemma is when I cook something that doesn't quite work out and tastes horrible.
Try knocking the juice on the head? My DC1 was a real juice-monster and it got so bad it messed up her appetite and she started having the odd bit of diarrhoea from it too.
We went cold turkey one day onto water and her appetite increased hugely afterwards. Might be worth at least cutting down her juice intake or diluting it more?
FWIW she still drinks lots of water.
I would keep diluting the juice until she is only having a splash &, unless you want her to reject most savory foods in future, don't give her yogurt or pudding.
My dd2 started to go this route & we had a few days of no dinner, no pudding until she started eating her dinner again.
IMO kids need to get nutrious food & allowing them to fill up with the empty calories of juice/yogurt is a fast slippery slope to faddy eating.
Thanks everyone. Have to admit, I am a bit confused. Yika , you suggest allowing her to leave her dinner and move straight onto pudding. Won't this just encourage her to leave her dinner, knowing she'll get something "nicer"?
She might be little, but she's not daft. We don't normally have puddings, so saying no dinner, no pudding won't mean much, and giving her yoghurt when she's refused dinner is very obviously "giving in" if we do that, although I agree there are worse things she could be asking for.
My ds goes through phases of this. If he has a good go at his dinner but doesn't manage much, I might still offer some fruit etc, as I would assume maybe teething, or too tired, or not very hungry for a big meal. I don't really believe in different types if food being used as rewards or punishments, it's all food and it's all good. So we have pudding if it's there and we fancy it but by no means every day.
However if I thought he was just messing about and wanting to move on to something sweeter then I would just take it away and let him get down without comment, then maybe offer him something savoury a bit later before bed, bowl of porridge etc, after a long enough gap so he didn't see it as a replacement meal iyswim
We have pudding, so I offer it. If you don't, don't. your DC won't starve. I find that if my DD doesn't have an appetite for the first course, she won't want dessert either (normally fruit or yoghurt). If she has no appetite over several meals, it usually means she's sick and then i let her eat anything that appeals, eg choc biscuits. Also, if I've cooked something that is a bit of a flop and doesn't taste nice, I'll offer an alternative Otherwise, I just finish the meal.
I know you say that she wouldn't be eating the same as you if you give her a heavier meal earlier but would this really be much of a problem? You will have a different appetite as presumably, you have a different time to go to bed?
Even if you are giving a childrens ready meal type thing that is quick and easy for you, I am sure that is better than nothing. Asda do really good ones, including ones with fresh meat and veg ready that you stir fry.
Also, if she keeps pointing at the fruit bowl when you are trying to feed her, keep it out of her view! If she doesn't see it she will be less tempted.
Thought I'd update with tonight's events.
Dinner was served, chicken, veg, mashed potato and gravy. Normally all perfectly acceptable, but she wouldn't have any of it, except a couple of bits of chicken that we picked out and gave to her, and it was literally a couple. We didn't make a fuss, just carried on eating, with her whinging the whole time. The noise goes through me, it's just "uuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..... uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhh" continuously. She was definitely hungry so I gave her a slice of dry bread, which disappeared pretty quickly, and then she had some cheese and sliced cold meat, also rapidly devoured.
Giving her a bigger meal earlier in the day is certainly a possibility, but I can't imagine her eating that much, after eating one and a half weetabix for breakfast.
I would prefer her to eat the same as us at dinner time, I am reluctant to start cooking separate meals for her, it's a road I don't want to go down. It's like saying if she doesn't like vegetables, don't serve them to her. I feel I should stand firm from the outset, rather than pandering to her whims and then trying to back-track and get firm later. Avoid bad habits forming in the first place.
Having read through a few of these threads, there seems to be a split between "this is what's for dinner and that's that" and "If you don't like that, have something else." I lean more towards the former camp, I have to admit.
I'm still no wiser really, but I am grateful for everyone's advice.
My children eat better at lunch time than the evening. I don't cook separate meals, just heat up last nights dinner as her lunch. She can still have something easy like the food she had tonight when you eat dinner.
I do as littone does - no hassle, they still develop tastes that mean they'll eat out with us without requiring a kiddie menu and they get their main meal at lunch time. Does seem to suit them better generally, so maybe worth a try.
DD woke up at 5.30am because she was hungry. (She'd normally sleep til at least 7.00.) DP got her a bottle and she went back to sleep and slept til 9.30. I went to wake her at 9 but she was still deeply asleep so I left her, figured she must need it. So breakfast was late, so I did lunch at 1.30, I reheated last night's dinner and she had about 5 spoonfulls before deciding it was unacceptable. Unusual for her to reject lunch, but right now, unsurprising. I gave her a banana.
I just don't know how best to tackle it. Cheerfully keep providing an endless supply of alternatives until she deigns to eat something? (Thus giving the message that she can have whatever she likes and if she doesn't want to eat it she can just spit it out and mummy will run off and fetch something else.) Or don't even attempt proper meals, just go straight to sliced sausage, bananas, cheese and yoghurts? (Guaranteeing that she will either start to eat ONLY those, or that she'll then reject those as well.)
I am at my wits end, it drives me crazy when I rack my brains thinking of things she'll like and it just ends up spat out. I know she isn't doing it deliberately, and she has no concept of how hard I'm trying to please her, but right now it just feels like nothing is good enough. It's other general toddler stuff too, but the rest of it I can deal with, the food thing bothers me most though as I don't want to set up problems for the future, or create issues surrounding food. It's hard to not make a fuss when you feel like slinging yet another rejected dinner at the wall and screaming "don't bloody well eat it then!"
Are you sure she just doesn't like your cooking? Last night she was hungry, she just didn't want to eat what you had made.
Cheese and meats (try some bread and maybe egg too) would be a good healthy alternative, ditch the yogurts until she starts eating in a proper routine, these might just give her a sweet tooth.
Just curious, do you let her play with her food before you try to feed it to her?
She is quite young and she does need to eat more than breakfast and a light lunch.
Thanks for that Schro. Did it sound like I didn't feel quite shitty enough?
No, I am confident it is not my cooking that's at fault. As I mentioned before, earlier in the week she refused something for dinner yet ate it happily the next day for lunch. She is also rejecting foods I know she likes. She normally loves meaty stews, savoury mince & mash, that kind of thing. Which is why I'm at a loss when she rejects those too.
I realise she is young and needs more to eat, but if I give in and just feed her the things she likes (which clearly doesn't work as she spits out things she likes too) that will just encourage her, won't it?
I used to be a big foodie, I loved cooking, couldn't wait to try new ingredients or techniques. These days when I sit down to plan the week's meals I just end up staring at a piece of paper and feel like crying.
Why do you think she "needs more to eat" If she's refusing food she usually eats, then she's likely "not hungry", now yes that may mean that she's hungry later, but I fail to see how giving her food that she eats despite being not hungry (food she finds highly palatable) is conducive to learning good food habits.
Animals control their eating through various hormones and triggers on those hormones - e.g. fat releases leptin in proportion to the amount in the body, and hunger is triggered depending on if this is more or less than previous levels, the stomach fills up and the brain is signalled that food is there so hunger reduces etc.
But they also eat because of pleasure rewards - chocolate tastes nice so we eat more chocolate - it's why no matter how "stuffed" you feel after a big meal you can still eat a dessert or a wafer thin mint. The hunger (feeling stuffed) is irrelevant as it's the pleasure circuits which are letting the body eat.
So what could be happening is that your DD isn't hungry so doesn't eat (a good thing) but then you give her food she finds highly palatable so she eats it anyway (a bad thing leading to over-eating and excess calories consumed).
Let her eat if she's hungry, don't if she's not - she won't starve herself unless she is 1 in a million baby with various disorders that you would almost certainly have already discovered by now.
Are you feeding her or letting her fee and regulate quantities herself? It's jut that from about 9 months here they wouldn't even eat yogurt with help but give them a spoon and they are happy to get on with it
FredFred you talk a lot of sense, thank you. I meant she needs more than just breakfast and lunch. If we were talking just one day here and there I wouldn't worry about it, it's just the fact that it's getting to be most evenings, and I'd obviously prefer her not to wake in the night due to hunger.
I understand about her eating things because they're nice, rather than because she's hungry. That's why I don't go for the "offer pudding anyway" theory. Hell, I'd manage some pudding, hungry or not! Who wouldn't?
I know I have a tendency to second-guess myself, so I just end up going over all the possible options and their potential outcomes, and coming out even more uncertain than ever. I know I am probably over thinking it.
Forever It's about 50/50. With her breakfast, she can mostly do it herself, and if she's eating finger foods we let her get on with it. She does seem to prefer to do it herself. If she's rejected something once though, no amount of encouraging her to do it herself will change her mind. It depends what it is, how we approach feeding.
In the nicest possible way...relax, she really won't starve!
I agree with the PP who said maybe she just isn't hungry at that time?
I think you should cut out the juice completely though. She will take water once she learns that there will be no more juice! she probably drinks so much of it because it tastes nice, water isn't tasty so she probably wouldnt drink as much of it and her tummy won't be as full from it.
Another thing Im wondering about is teething, does she have her molars yet? I found all three of mine went a bit funny about food when their back teeth were coming through.
Just wanted to add that some babies do just get a bit faddy at around 16-18 months. They are pushing your boundaries and asserting themselves... just wait for the terrible-twos! They do grow out of the temper tantrums and the food fads. I used to give extra milk at bedtime if we had had a particularly bad food day.
Also, it's quite a long time 1.30-5.30/6 without something to eat. Could you maybe try giving her the previous night's dinner heated up at lunch time and the bits you currently give her for lunch at about 4.30/5ish? My dc tend to eat more at 2.30/3 and prefer a snack at 11ish and then tea at 5/5.30ish but the norm among friends seems to be big lunch then tea.
Maybe she's quite tired by then and some of the things you are offering her are a bit fussy/rich/strongly flavoured? Try separating things out and giving her a little pot of the sauce/gravy that she can dip into if she wants.
I think 16m is too little to 'go without' if she doesn't want what you are having. There are lots of easy things you could make or give her without resorting to dry bread - that's a bit mean.
I know it's hard & frustrating - but I'd just put that meal in the fridge for tomorrow and give her something else, this stage doesn't last forever - she'll soon be old enough for you to say 'It's this or nothing' & to be able to tell you why she doesn't like it <today>.
TBH OP I do think you're over-thinking it.
And I really don't think Schro meant any offence at all, I thought her post was helpful.
Anyway what's obvious is that you are finding this very hard and it's making you very stressed.
Unfortunately your DD is at the age where it is very common to start having issues with food.
They're taste buds change dramatically during this year and they are also learning that they have a choice and are not just blindly eating whatever you put in front of them.
My DS is the same age and he certainly has moments similar to the ones you describe. He eats breakfast and lunch perfectly but tea time can be a lot more tricky.
He's gone off some things he used to like but has also started liking new things. It's hard because they're not old enough to tell you until it's put in front of them!
I completely understand how frustrating it is but I do think you need to take a step back. Her not liking what you cooked doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your cooking, it just means she didn't like what you gave her.
I'm no expert but all I would say is try not to get upset. She's still a baby, the last thing you want is for mealtimes to become something you all dread.
Keep offering her different things but if she doesn't eat it give her something plain to fill her up. Then offer whatever fruit/yoghurt she would normally have in the quantity she would normally have it. That way you're not replacing savoury with sweet.
And give yourself a break, there's millions of us in the same boat
Their, not they're
<<crawls back into hole as Chipping said it way better than me anyway>>
I think your offering bread, or something else equally filling but boring is a really good way to go. Crackers or bread sticks are also offered if meals are rejected (tho I'll top it up if its something new they don't like).
We will also offer a bowl of poridge or a banana an hour or so later (shortly before bed) if we think they might still be hungry.
And start enjoying cooking again - better still, can she help you? My 18 month old has pealed an apple (hmm, stabbed it and eaten the rest!), and then made biscuits, which he mixed, rolled and used the cutters for. Also enjoys grating things.
I'm having similar problems except it's lunch that my dd is most likely to refuse. I'm trying my best to just not worry about it, as long as she is eating 2 meals a day she isn't going to starve! I sometimes give her fruit or yogurt when she refuses lunch, but not always. She doesn't get upset if I give her nothing and will happily last until 3ish when I give her a snack. She occasionaly refuses dinner and I just give her more milk than usual before bed.
Yy toddler fads are absolutely no reflection on your cooking. I am a good cook but my dc won't touch most of my food (they won't eat anything with a sauce ffs) but think a plate of beige oven food Kerry Katona would be proud of is culinary heaven
I really didn't mean to offend you and as has already been said, her not liking what you have/are cooking doesn't really reflect how you cook, just what she feels like. Sorry if it came across lke that.
I honestly think your problem would be far lessened if you tried to give her dinner earlier or swap lunch and dinner meals around but you obviously don't want to do that.
For what it's worth, you seem to be stressing yourself out far more by creating problems and obstacles about the damage you think you would be doing if you try other options than you would be if you just tried to maybe meet her half way.
You could always have the same as her, just earlier. Or don't eat at the same time as her. There's always time for proper rules when she is a bit older, she is still really young atm.
Mines is 14 months, I know it can be hard but the more you worry about what the outcome of trying other things will be, the harder you will make it in the long run.
Taking away juice is a brilliant idea btw, if her tummy is completely empty come mealtimes she will eat.
Thank you everyone, and apologies Schro for snapping.
She has eaten dinner fine tonight, couldn't put it away fast enough actually. She has only had juice in the morning though, and then I hid her cup. If she sees her cup, she wants juice, she guzzles half of it and then starts using it like a vinegar bottle, sprinkling everything. I will definitely keep an eye on this, will probably switch over to water.
I will also think about offering fruit later on, separate from the meal, so she doesn't think of it as being instead of dinner.
It's possible she's teething again, she still has a couple to come through.
Oh my DS won't eat anything hot when he's teething.
He'll still eat his breakfast and lunch but refuses all teas until it wears off.
A trick I've used is to make a batch of something I know he likes. So whatever you gave her today, make a big pile of it and put it in the freezer.
Then if she has more than 2 days of not eating her tea give her that the next day. A couple of days won't do any harm but you'll feel a bit more relaxed because you'll know you have something in reserve for he third day iyswim.
I too think she isn't terribly hungry, I would just leaver her to it if you all eat together, encourage her to eat but don't make a big deal, just be accepting if she plays and doesn't eat. Then offer toast or biscuit before bed.
I don't think at 16 months they're old enough to really understand about eating the main course before pudding. They go through such fads at this age, one day they're ravenous and then they might go for a week hardly eating anything. I agree with the posters who suggest offering something plain if she doesn't want the original meal - I tend to offer plain rice cakes, bread sticks, or bread and butter if DD (18mo) doesn't want her dinner, or sometimes she'll just like eating some peas. And then go to the yoghurt/fruit option after that. We've just had about 2 weeks of DD mainly eating only rice cakes and breadsticks as she's been ill but is going back onto other food quite happily now.
I think you're beating yourself up too much, I know how you feel as do most parents here.
just a note are you giving her milk in between meals because she is still young, she can have a tiny bit after her solid meals.my girl is 2 now she has a bit of milk during her morning nap and then some at bedtime.
Kids are fussy especially when they're as young as yours my daughter still is. Things sort themselves out once they reach nursery age and follow a similar routine and eating patterin as the adults. She really is too young to eat at the same time as adults. Also dependent on her character she may not like what the adults are eating, the tastes may be too strong for her? I'm south Asian I know when my daughter was your daughters age I wouldn't give her the food I eat, it's too spicy and hot for her. Some days I'd give her separate food, pasta was a fave, but some days shed eat the same as me, only I'd add a few drops of the sauce to add flavour without killing her. I'd pick out the meat and give her the boiled rice with it which she loved. So do you think any of your food may be too strong for her taste I.e gravy can be strong, certain stir fry sauces are strong too etc. so adjust the adult meals for her. I know it's hard to always make separate meals,and frustrating if the kid turns around and throws the food n the floor.
My daughter still has days where she won't eat, sometimes she's being fussy, sometimes unwell, and sometimes it's because she's had a snack before dinner.
Is your daughter getting too man snacks before dinner? Yo haven't mentioned an snacks before dinner, and that is a huge time gap. Like you said it may also be the drink making her feel like she's full when she's not.
Bottom line don't worry, you're always offering her food if she is hungry she will eat. If it's the last meal of the day, give her a good portion of milk before bed she will be fine, relax she will improve with age
That's a looong time between lunch and dinner without a snack. Both my 9 mo and 3 yr old would get pretty grumpy. Toddlers naturally eat little and often. Maybe if you added a couple of snacking opportunities in then you could be more relaxed about the big meals.
But also, we found that the amount DS wanted to eat at that age varied wildly from day to day and week to week. Some weeks he seemed to live happily off air and milk. Others he was packing away ridiculous amounts. Some weeks he mostly ate veg, others mostly carbs. They do growth spurts big time, and are pretty good at regulating their own diet to what they need if you leave them to it.
But generally, yes, if either of mine don't want tea i just take it they're not hungry at that time. She's getting milk before bed anyway, so she's not going to bed hungry. We used to offer a rice cake or similar with bedtime milk at that sort of age.
Btw nothing wrong with eating rice grain by grain - very good for the fine motor skills!
I'm experiencing the same with my dd who is 17 months. I dread dinner times an have no idea what to do. Last night he refused dinner so it was baby crisps and fruit and tonight she ate three bits of pasta and half a yogurt. It's frustrating and I totally know how u feel. If it wasn't for my dd dunking milk I don't think she would get enough calories.
I'm glad I'm not alone! I suspect she is teething after all, as she had a bad night last night and has got a bit of nappy rash. I have drastically cut down the amount of juice yesterday and today, and she has had more milk today.
I think it's also an independence thing, as she seems happier to eat if she can do it herself. She's pretty good with a spoon, but sometimes prefers to just get stuck in with her fingers.
Tonight was ok, she ate a decent amount - I'm glad tomato-based pasta sauces are still acceptable, if she stars rejecting those I'll really be stuck!
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