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15 month old will not eat - Please, please help, at the end of my tether

(22 Posts)
PennyBenjamin Wed 18-Nov-09 11:50:41

DS is now almost 15 months old, and has gone from being a 9 month old who would eat pretty much anything, to now where he will eat practically nothing. It has got gradually worse over the last 6 months, with him refusing more and more foods.

He has also started refusing to be fed by me as well, which would not be a problem if he would actually put food in his own mouth. Since then I have been just sitting him with finger food, but he just doesn't like anything. I think I have tried just about every food I can think of, but the only things he will eat are banana, yoghurt, shreddies, and occasionally a few bites of toast or bagel. He absolutely refuses meat or vegetables.

If this were just teething or a phase I would understand, but it's been going on for months now. I end practically every meal in tears, and seem to spend most of my time shopping for, and cooking, food that ends up being thrown on the floor and then thrown away.

People trot out platitudes like "He'll eat when he's hungry" or "Toddlers will never let themselves starve" but I think he might be the exception. He has actually gone more than 24 hours without solids passing his lips, and only 8 ounces of milk, and I still couldn't get him to eat anything more than a yoghurt.

Please, please help. I really am losing it, I just don't know what to do. Do I keep him going on yoghurts and banana, or is that letting him know that if he holds out he can get something he likes? Do I not give him anything if he wont eat what's in front of him, or is he too young to understand that?

PiggyPenguin Wed 18-Nov-09 11:58:36

You are not the only one. A few of us with 17 month olds were commenting on our post-natal thread only yesterday that they all seem to have stopped eating. My ds is currently living on a slice of cheese on toast with tomato puree a day. I would give him food you know he likes, sometimes they just want something familiar.

If he eats nothing, I try giving him cheese strips and bits of fresh chicken breast to hold/chew while he roams around the lounge. Sometimes it is all about doing it there own way.

Try not to worry, he is not the only one and they will get through it.

PiggyPenguin Wed 18-Nov-09 11:59:15

their own way. Damn should have previewed!

PiggyPenguin Wed 18-Nov-09 12:03:33

Also, you might get more responses if you post in weaning. I think this is quite a common topic on there.

Seeline Wed 18-Nov-09 12:07:09

My DD was like this. I know just how worrying, frustrating, annoying etc it is. We had problems weaning from day 1 and she would never take a bottle/cup. eventually I realised that me getting in such a state really wasn't helping, and treid taking a step back from things. I gave her different foods, but didn't really expect her to eat them. We let her play with it, use her fingers, cutlery anything. We tried the smelling/licking appraoch to new food. Gradually things did improve. I have to say it wasn't really until she started school (at only just 4) and she started having school dinners that we really saw an improvement. I know it's difficult but try to relax.

PennyBenjamin Wed 18-Nov-09 12:23:48

Thank you both, I know he's not the only one, he's just the only one I know! It's so depressing to watch all the other toddlers I know sit and tuck away everything, while mine is throwing everything on the floor and screaming. I now avoid seeing my mummy friends at meal times, because watching how well their children eat makes me feel like such a failure.

What is your take on whether it's better to get him to eat something/anything, or to not offer any alternative if he doesn't eat, and just leave him hungrier for the next meal? I worry about him not eating anything, but I don't want to store up more problems by letting him get his own way all the time?

Seeline Wed 18-Nov-09 12:28:44

I used to try and give her a mix of both (although it all had to be separate on the plate lol) Having said that she did survive for a very long time on little more than plain boiled spaghetti and fishfingers blush. I also found that she responded better to hving lots of little meals during the day rahter than the 3 main ones. I tried to look at what she had eaten over the course of several days, rather than whether each meal was balanced which helped me alot. Also the formality of a meal seemed to be off-putting, and if I just let her wander round with some finger food she would tend to eat more.

jay11 Wed 18-Nov-09 12:38:26

Hi there, I have 3 dc's and from experience most toddlers do this, usually at about 18 months or earlier. Very frustrating when they start off eating anything and everything. Dd1 would only eat baked beans at one point, no fruit, veg, pasta or potatoes. The only fruit she will eat now is banana and she's 7! I gave her vitamin drops so I wouldn't worry too much about her nutrient intake.

Keep calm at mealtimes - your ds will come out the otherside. Do small dinners, offer what you know he likes and perhaps one extra new thing. He probably will refuse at first, but keep going - dd1 usually took about 50 attempts at a new food before trying it (!) but on the plus side dd2 usually only took a few attempts.

If he doesn't eat it, take it away with no comment - don't force him or nag him or get upset. Make sure he's hungry for his next meal. And I know you've heard it before, but he won't starve himself.

It will take time and patience but you will get there in the end.

lightwind Wed 18-Nov-09 13:12:07

Just wanted to second what the others are saying - I firmly believe that a toddler will eat when he's hungry. Kids do pick up on the way the adults around them act. I'm a lot more prosaic about my toddler (21 months) and his food habits than my husband and my son acts quite differently around the two of us, ie makes quite a fuss when his daddy is around. Kids pick up on stress and anxiety and behave accordingly. Maybe you could steel yourself to wait until your little one actively acts hungry - then just offer the food and look the other way - let him make up his mind about whether he wants it or not.

cranbury Wed 18-Nov-09 17:52:23

I found my DD who really didn't get the hang of food until she was nearly 2 that just putting snacks out for her helped to get her used to food and try it out. She found sitting at meals boring.

If he is aneamic then this actually reduces his appetite it may well be worth going to the gp.

I would stop giving lots of variety. Give him what he likes and write a short list of things you would like him to eat. So veg - carrots, peas & sweetcorn, yoghurt, salmon, bolognese for example and slowly introduce alongside the food he likes. It will take months but it will get better.

Meals without tears is a good book to get

Its nothing you have or have not done some children are like this.

Elizap Wed 18-Nov-09 19:01:45

have you tried using any ready made baby food? my DD, now 2, refused to eat anything but plum baby food for about 4 months. Instead of stressing that she wouldn't eat my lovingly cooked meals I gave her what she wanted. Eventually she outgrew the phase and although now she eats only a limited selection of food it is homemade and varied enough that I dont worry.

WilfSell Wed 18-Nov-09 19:07:05

What everyone else says. But also, put out the things you're offering just out of reach. And I'd suggest finger food, in very small amounts.

And say nothing, make no fuss, don't offer, cajole, comment or demonstrate any interest whatsoever. Don't notice or fuss if or when he starts eating. Just carry on with other things.

Take the pressure off but make the food available. It's all about control. He wants to set the agenda but feels the pressure.

But keep putting out food, first the things you know he is likely to eat, then gradually add in more variety.

acebaby Wed 18-Nov-09 19:13:18

As others have said first get him a check up with your GP to rule out physical problems.

Assuming he's healthy, I'd just put out some food and let him play with it. Don't say anything - no praise for eating, no encouragement, no disappointment if he doesn't eat. Take it away at the end of the meal and offer a healthy snack an hour or so later. He doesn't need to eat if he isn't hungry. Toddlers have such small appetites and seem to eat in bursts of a few days of eating loads followed by weeks of eating virtually nothing. Your only duty as mother is to serve 3 healthy meals and a few snacks. You don't have to make him eat.

However, if you want to encourage his appetite, only offer milk before bed and never before meals.

With DS1, I did the whole begging/encouraging thing for ages. Then I read a book called 'my child won't eat' which advised doing the above. It made such a difference. He still didn't eat, but I stopped worrying and 3 years on he's fine. He has a small appetite but eats a varied and healthy diet. He has no problems with growth or development. We've never had any problems with DS2 (used this approach from day 1 of weaning).

acebaby Wed 18-Nov-09 19:14:19

sorry x-post will wilfsell (great name btw!)

charliebeast Wed 18-Nov-09 19:44:04

Oh thank god it's not just me! I ended tonight's meal shouting at my DS who is also 15mths (I know, I know, I then felt awful) as he refused to eat anything, and then systematically threw every bit of food he could reach at my head. He only eats cheese, yogurt and baked beans, and will only occasionally eat from me, while he'll happily take the spoon from grandparents. Soooooooo frustrating!

GreenPenguin Wed 18-Nov-09 22:10:15

Sorry - I don't mean to sound obvious - but do you let him try with his own spoon and fork? (ie don't spoon feed him). Start with putting food on the spoon and leaving it in the bowl. I think chariebeast hit the nail on the head with "will only occasionally eat from me, while he'll happily take the spoon from grandparents" - he's been feeding from you for months - now bored of it??

PennyBenjamin Fri 20-Nov-09 17:40:05

Thank you all so much for your wonderful support and advice, I really appreciate it.

I am going with the approach of putting food out and letting him eat it if he wants. I think we may have slight improvement (today he ate 4 bites of eggy bread!) although some days are still terrible. He doesn't seem to be suffering though (just me!)

Thank you again for helping me keep my sanity!

teatank Fri 20-Nov-09 17:59:27

i have an 18 mnth old ds and he goes through these phases he went 7 days without food 7 weeks ago and i was so worried i couldnt stop crying. i had to learn to make meal times less stressful and more fun and it really did work. also i made the mistake of letting him have juice for a daytime drink and this was filling him up so i switched it to water which he didnt like much but it left a bit of room for food. good luck

oliversmarmy Fri 20-Nov-09 23:57:06

i have a 14.5 mth old, who also throws everything off his highchair tray @ me whilst trying to feed him, he used to at least et hipp tomato and mozarella and rice puddings stage three, now he wont eat them i even tried maing my own versions, he wont eat yogurts cheese or drink normal milk as i trying to give up bfing this is making life badat the moment, Im reading this thread almost in tears thinking im doing something wrong but from reading above, it sounds like i should take the make no fuss option as it did seem to work last time he did this, ive no advice to give but for anyone out there pulling their hair out PLEASE DONT THINK UR ALONE ON THIS )

RockBird Sat 21-Nov-09 00:03:03

A bit older but my 22 month old has stopped eating this last week. Since about Monday she has just refused everything, including our dinner, yogurts and biscuits, all of which she will usually hoover up given a chance.

She's drinking plenty of milk though which is the only reason I'm not too worried but I am getting a bit concerned now. She's had 2/3 of a croissant today and that's it.

PennyBenjamin Mon 23-Nov-09 22:14:10

Thought I'd let you know that I took DS to be weighed today, and he is on exactly the same percentile as he was 3 months ago, so clearly he must be getting enough to eat.

Still sticking with the "no fuss" approach - have discovered a bit of a pattern - he loves breakfast, is totally disinterested in lunch, and supper is somewhere in between. So, decided to get as much into him as possible at breakfast, leave lunch totally relaxed and let him wander around with something he likes, and then try to get him to sit and eat something proper for supper. Seems to be going OK so far.....

Thank you again everyone, is good to know I'm not alone smile

Linda013 Fri 03-Nov-17 13:56:22

I can highly recommend the book "My child won't eat" by Dr. Carlos Gonzales. It literally changed my life. By reading this book I got answers for all the questions and problem I had. I have a 15 month old daughter, and she has never been a good eater (until now). Weaning was a struggle, she refused all purees. She only started eating around 10-11 months (she was breastfed until 6 months old, when my milk supply finished. It was even a struggle to make her accept the bottle). After 10-11 months she tend to eat very well for about 2 weeks, than hardly ate anything for another 2 weeks. I was so stressed and worried for her development and weight gain. She is a very clever and bright girl, and all her milestones have been met at the right time or even earlier. But feeding had been a major issue for us, I used to cry a lot. This book gave me a new perspective and I realized all my mistakes. The solution is really simple! (I am talking about kids with no health issues) You just have to let the baby decide how much he/she wants to eat. Do not ever force a child to eat (even doing the aeroplane or distraction with TV or toys belongs here). Your job as a mum is to provide the baby with healthy and diverse food options and it is the baby's job to decide how much he/she wants to eat. If the baby is finished even after a few bites just take away the food with showing no negative emotions at all! I know this is the hardest bit...just do not let the food issue to control you..The child is the biggest victim in all this food battle. If the mum is stressed out at meal times so the baby will be. I changed my attitude completely and I could not believe it but on the first day I saw changes already. And since then my daughter is eating really well and enjoying her food. She even tries to feed herself with a spoon which was before unimagineable..she hated the spoon, and did not even let me get close to her mouth with it. I am so happy I can't tell. It is not an issue any more.. I do not have to spend hours in the kitchen..and throw away plenty of food. Give small portions at first and finger foods that your baby can pick up himself/herself. They are also becoming more independent at this age..so let them take a bit of control over their food,too. If you do not force them to eat they will eventually. Not more, but as much as they need. They are really good at controlling their appetite. Sometimes we do not have realistic expectations of the portions they are able to eat. These are just a few guides from the book, but please read it. It put my mind at ease instantly. 😊 Good luck everyone!

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