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16-month-old suddenly not eating dinner

(18 Posts)
MintyTea Wed 21-Nov-12 10:01:30

Hi all,

Our 16mo DD used to be a great eater - nothing was refused and she ate every drop. Then a few weeks ago, she started getting really upset at mealtimes, and it gets worse throughout the day. Breakfast is ok-ish, lunch can be ok but sometimes gets refused, and at dinner she takes a couple of spoons of food, making her "enjoyment" noises, then all of a sudden, pushes it away, arches her back and cries, refusing to eat any more. It seems to be worse when I'm there - DH will be sitting with her and she's eating, then I come to sit down, or she catches me looking at her, and she suddenly stops.

Recently we have resorted to giving her an alternative, usually covered with cheese (because she turns round, looks at the fridge, cries and says "cheese"), but even that sometimes is picked at and not really eaten. Also, I don't want to go down the road of always offering an alternative when she's refusing to eat something I know she likes (I know because she's eaten it lots of times before).

I think it's a testing time for her, in that she is learning the word "no" but is still confused about when to say it, sometimes saying "no" to things she wants, such as her favourite book.

But it's really upsetting me to have her come away from the table not having eaten enough, especially in the evening. Does anyone have any tips for getting past this stage?


sherbetpips Wed 21-Nov-12 11:24:48

We went through this until he was only eating plain pasta, then I put a stop to it. Reality is that your 16 month old has realised she can now make decisions of her own and can't accept/refuse at will.
You are right when you say she is doing it to you as well, as it was particularly me and my son rather than his dad.
So it is you who has to stay strong. Do not serve replacement food, don't get wound up. Cool, calm head, read a magazine, sing a song, do whatever but don't let on on to her that you are bothered about her eating. Don't hover over her or try to force her. Good luck x

MintyTea Wed 21-Nov-12 13:47:00

Thank you, sherbetpips - that is very reassuring advice that I needed to hear. I was pretty sure the "alternative" food was the wrong road to go down; I shall now stay strong and smiling!

Thanks x

MintyTea Wed 21-Nov-12 14:30:22

PS. sherbetpips, do you remember how long it took for the eating to get back to normal, and at what age? Thanks! x

DialMforMummy Wed 21-Nov-12 14:36:25

Mine went hungry for maybe three days (that's not to say he didn't eat at all) it was a battle of wills! I tried to stay calm, it wasn't easy!
A few months later, he eats what he is given.

MintyTea Wed 21-Nov-12 21:29:00

Wow, DialM, that must have been so hard. Well done for getting there.

An update - DH and I were extremely bright and breezy at tonight's dinner, so much so that we felt like a 1950s commercial. Example - "Well, didn't we all have a wonderful day today? No [laughing breezily], there's no cheese tonight, darling!" but it did seem to work and for the first time she ate all of her dinner.

We are so relieved.

Ok, tomorrow night may be another battle, but the stress of the past fortnight has dissipated at least.

Thanks so much, all x

DialMforMummy Wed 21-Nov-12 21:35:56

To keep a calm collected face was jolly hard indeed... wink

MintyTea Mon 26-Nov-12 17:15:39

Ok, we're back to disastrous eating and I could really do with some reassurance!

DD has not eaten any lunch, and only had a little fromage frais for dinner. Breakfast was ok. Yesterday was as bad.

Each time she cries/refuses something, I am just smiling, taking it away and taking her down from the table - not offering an alternative.

But it's getting so hard, knowing that she has had so little to eat and will be going off to bed soon.

Please help me keep going!

Thanks all.

DialMforMummy Mon 26-Nov-12 21:14:47

Don't give in, she will get the message, I promise you.
The other day, DS poopooed a dish he devoured just the week before. Clearly, it was not about "I don't like it", it was about making a point.
You are doing the right thing, I am right behind you!

FredKiller Mon 26-Nov-12 21:21:16

My 17mo is doing exactly the same thing. I'm assuming its a phase, linked to illness.

He was really poorly with an awful cough and cold a week or so ago, and had no appetite at all, so we kept tempting him to eat with stuff he likes (bread based goods mainly). Now he is better but has decided he likes his new diet better. Tonight he refused everything apart from a fromage frais. He would, of course, have devoured something chocolate or bread based but we said no.

I've no idea what to do about it but am just trying not to get stressed and keep telling myself it's a phase. It's hard though.

redwellybluewelly Mon 26-Nov-12 21:26:04

Children also go through phases of wanting to eat and not wanting to eat. My DD only really started to eat for herself at 14mo and has never looked back except when ill or just after a growth spurt when she has eaten me out of house and home

Not one to start a debate but was she BLW or traditional weaned? Cos a lot of mums I know whose children were puree fed suddenly decided about 18mo or so to just quit eating.

Take the chilled attitude, toddler do eat less than babies, leave a (healthy) graze box about, muffin tins work well, some cheese, some fruit, some breadsticks and maybe some raisins.

Or give a choice, "DD would you like cheese or toast" - give her the one she points at and do not go backwards. Tis a phase.

Want2bSupermum Tue 27-Nov-12 04:32:22

I came on here because we are going through the same thing with our daughter. I didn't know if it is a stage or something more serious. Very happy to hear others are going through the same thing as we are! She has also started to test us in different ways such as having a complete meltdown if we say no. She gets down on the floor, cries and hits her hands against the floor. Rather embarassing when it happens in public.

EugenesAxe Tue 27-Nov-12 05:20:42

OK so I've only been through these months with one child - he is now 2.9.

Virtually every uncharacteristic picky food experience we've had I could put down to teeth - how are your DCs for them? Premolars, molars (they are probably a little early for those, although it can happen) & canines especially seem to extend their influence for many weeks before breaking through.

Also tiredness can influence... as your experiences seem to be getting worse as the day goes on. I have used distraction with books and puppets to get food in - if they are concentrating on something like that they tend to idly munch their food, or if they are so engrossed that you need to offer it to them, open their mouth to receive it.

I struggled A LOT coping with food refusal with DS compared to (1yr old) DD. It's very hard but if you can relax its almost always the best thing for it. Most times the appetite would come right back as soon as the tooth was cut.

EugenesAxe Tue 27-Nov-12 05:21:51

Little early?! Little young (for molars).

LeBFG Tue 27-Nov-12 09:40:52

My 20 mo DS is doing exactly the same. After visiting the doc to rule out ear/throat infections, I really think it's his second molars coming through. He is drooling more, suddendly become difficult about going to bed. I finally saw him chewing his finger right at the back of the mouth so I stuck mine to have a feel. They feel lumpy and hard. I'm sure they'll break through soon. Girls teeth a bit sooner on the whole too. Perhaps she is teething OP?

Jakeyblueblue Thu 29-Nov-12 09:28:19

I would second teething.
Ds is 17 months and has just cut his first molars. These seem to have come before his incisors though and his gums are red and swollen where they are coming through too.
Anyway, I've noticed he ways has a little period of refusing foods just before teeth appear. Usually hot meals and will only have yog or cold stuff. smile

wanderingalbatross Thu 29-Nov-12 12:22:06

My 18mo DD has been doing similar, it peaked a couple of months ago, and has definitely coincided with the canines and first molars. We discovered that sitting her in her highchair with the food and leaving her to it was a good tactic. So for breakfast or lunch we sit with her and eat ours, chatting but ignoring what she eats, and clearing up once she seems finished. Then for dinner she has it earlier than us, so I potter around the room chatting to her, but don't sit with her. This works for us because she is stubborn and likes to do everything herself! Also, I've found that if we're out with other babies for lunch they all eat better. Think they like to copy each other. Needless to say, she eats brilliantly at the childminder!

SolomanDaisy Thu 29-Nov-12 12:30:29

My DS goes through phases of eating less. It sometimes coincides with teething, cold or just wanting breastmilk more than food. I have never thought about it as a battle of wills, if he's not feeling like eating for whatever reason, that's fine. He's currently in a phase of eating like a bloody horse, so I don't think just going along with him has done any harm!

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