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A dad loosing the will to live with feeding times

61 replies

Nitramuss2025 · 04/09/2020 19:13

My 18 month old about 3 weeks or so ago decided he didn't want to eat his meals anymore. Before hand he was always a fussy eater, with meal times taking longer than usual to feed him.

Now every single meal is a complete battle , most meals he takes a bottle , just blue milk , he's been off formula for about a week or so.sometimes we don't give him the bottle for a while to see if he eats then end up giving him it after an hour or he just has nothing in his stomach

He won't eat anything he previously liked and when he does it's once in a blue moon.

The books all say to let them pick , or have favourites that they will eat as a backup. None work.

He is quite fond of fruit or was sorry. Now refuses to touch it completly. Wasting a crap tone of food and only nibbling when , for lack of a better word he's forced to eat or he can't leave the table.

He's not at a high chair anymore. He has his own tables and chairs , even when my niece visits she sits there beside him only a few months of a difference wolfing her tea down, as he watches and still don't eat.

He will occasionally eat Coco pops, porridge the odd time, but most of his meals are a variety, so he eats what we eat.

Sandwiches or thins at lunch time , with ham or chicken, with a small side of quavers or fruit all cut up.

Dinners concist of again what we have, chicken , mince, fish , with rice or pasta with veg, carrots and peas and so forth

It's now at the point I'm getting increasingly angry because of this.

Was recommended to try the naughty step and out him back to his dinner after a few mins, didn't work, I don't think he's old enough to recognise what it means.

But now he's developed the no shakey head approach, trying to spoon feed him or hand him something or simply asking him to eat his food is met with a stern face, brows down and a head shake signalling no.

I'm at a complete loss and whilst everyone is telling me it's a stage and it will pass it seems to be getting worse not better.

He's even doing it with chocolate and crisps not that he gets them that often.

He's been teething since he was one and now has about 10 teeth, so I would have assumed it would.make eating easier and he would be game. But no joy

Can anyone help me

OP posts:
GingerAndTheBiscuits · 04/09/2020 19:18

Drop the rope. It’s become a power struggle right at a time when he’s beginning to assert his independence. Serve up, and enjoy your dinner.

But if he’s not even eating treaty things I’d suggest getting him checked over for sore throat or ears as may be putting him off his food.

Lockdownseperation · 04/09/2020 19:20

Is he teething or he may have an ear infection. You need to get this checked out.

At 18 months he shouldn’t have a bottle anymore as it causes damage to his teeth. Just eat meals with him and don’t comment if he eats or not. Don’t make it into a battle.

MrsMcMuffins · 04/09/2020 19:23

Don’t stress about it and just relax. Never make meal times a battle.

LupinsNotLilys · 04/09/2020 19:23

As frustrating as it is he will not starve himself and you will have to follow his lead at this age

If he is fit and well I would say only offer milk once in the morning and once at night.

Offer a small plate of plain food...a cracker with cheese, banana sliced, a couple of apple wedges, a small yogurt, a bit if whatever you're having, a bit of cooked pasta... anything but a really small portion.

Sit with him at the table and don't mention eating the food at all. Don't offer him any. Don't encourage him to eat. Sit and talk to him, go through a book with him maybe. Anything but discuss or mention his plate of food

Let him choose if he eats. If he does even a nibble, whack on the biggest amount of praise, smile. Then ignore the lack of eating

I imagine he's probably discovered he gets an awful lot of attention from not eating. The portions he gets may be too big or overwhelming, it could be a phase, it could be a number of things.

Whatever he doesn't eat if you can save it for next meal time save it. If not, you've only lost a small portion.

PinkDaffodil2 · 04/09/2020 19:25

If he’s off even his favourite foods for 3 weeks I’d get him checked for infections as PP suggested. If there’s nothing medical going on now might be a good time to get rid of the bottle and switch to a free flow cup - which will be better for his teeth and speech and might encourage him to eat more too.

LupinsNotLilys · 04/09/2020 19:25

And no milk in the day...that's sustaining him

Kaktus · 04/09/2020 19:26

I’d ditch the bottle for a start. I have a similar aged toddler and he has a cup of milk in the morning and at bedtime (before bath and teeth brush), and water in between.
Try not to stress. Offer some foods you know he likes alongside new things. If he doesn’t eat it, take it away.

Smallsteps88 · 04/09/2020 19:28

It's now at the point I'm getting increasingly angry because of this.


He’s 18 months old. There’s nothing to be angry about.

Was recommended to try the naughty step and out him back to his dinner after a few mins, didn't work, I don't think he's old enough to recognise what it means.

Of course it didn’t work. He isn’t being naughty. And is also 18 months old!

MoMandaS · 04/09/2020 19:29

There's a possibility that it's down to a sensory aversion - he might have had something that he hated the texture or taste of and it's put him off. I say this because you said he's never seemed very keen on eating, and because my eldest was the same. I know how frustrating it is! You could try letting him play with different foods away from mealtimes, let him put his hands in cold porridge, spaghetti etc. I know it seems wasteful and messy but you wouldn't need a lot and you could put measures in place to contain the mess. The idea is to make food seem fun, reverse the negative connotations associated with it, get him used to the textures and hopefully encourage him to eat it. You can model playing with it with your hands and even put some in your mouth, but don't try to get him to put it in his mouth or you'll be back at square one. Worth a try!

mamma2016 · 04/09/2020 19:30

I recommend reading "My Child Won't Eat".

Mamette · 04/09/2020 19:33

He doesn’t need a bottle at 18mo.

iamtheoneandonlyyy · 04/09/2020 19:38

Naughty step would be ridiculous, he wouldn't have a clue what it was for.
He's just testing out his powers most likely.

tornadoalley · 04/09/2020 19:40

drop the milk. It fills him up and he no longer wants food. Just give a tippee cup with water

NannyR · 04/09/2020 19:44

I agree, it sounds like it's become a battle of wills and turned what should be an enjoyable, social experience into a highly stressful situation. He's going through a totally normal toddler phase of food refusal.
I would stop any effort to make him eat, get him a little booster seat and have him at the main table eating with everyone else, put a bit of what you are eating on his plate and leave him to it, don't comment or coax him to eat, let him see how much everyone is enjoying their food. If he doesn't eat, don't stress about it, he will eventually.
I would cut out the bottles, a cup of milk with breakfast and before bed is fine at that age, bottles throughout the day is going to be taking the edge off his appetite and make him less likely to want to eat at mealtimes.

GameSetMatch · 04/09/2020 19:48

Don’t use the naughty step because a baby isn’t eating 🙄 if he’s not hungry he’s not hungry you can’t force somebody to eat! Give him the food if he eats it great! If he doesn’t no big deal he’s just not hungry! He won’t starve himself. Perhaps give him small portions so it’s not overwhelming for baby and be bright and breeze don’t make meal times tense and horrible.

modgepodge · 04/09/2020 19:49

OP, my daughter Is 17m and we have meals/days like this, where food just doesn’t interest her, though admittedly not for weeks and weeks. I’d definitely suggest getting a GP apt just to check there’s not a medical reason.

Otherwise, I know it’s frustrating but I just offer food, and if she chooses to eat none of it, so be it. I do still give milk (my daughter is under a dietician who advises this, for an unrelated reason) but only twice a day and I don’t give extra if she hasn’t eaten solids.

I also find my daughter eats much better snacking in the living room than she does at the highchair. Is it worth trying a different place to eat? I’d also leave the naughty Step for a bit. I don’t think an 18m old will have any understanding of it.

I know it’s seriously frustrating, and the waste is annoying, but try really hard to stay calm and don’t try to force him. I very strongly feel that mealtimes shouldn’t be a battle (as they often were in my childhood). Don’t get angry. Offer him food. If he chooses not to eat it, don’t stress, don’t give extra milk, try again a few hours later.

Good luck. I understand how annoying and frustrating it is.

MiriamMargo · 04/09/2020 19:56

Your post actually makes me angry with you. He is a baby and you are making him sound like a naughty teenager. Chill out and stop trying to force him to eat, he will not starve, he is going to associate food with negativity, of course he won't enjoy it. Dont stop his milk, offer him food little and often, if he doesn't eat it take it away with no drama, and give him something again later, again no drama. Make is an enjoyable experience, not a battle and certainly no naughty step !

Lalanbaba · 04/09/2020 19:56

Like pp say don't make it a battle.
Milk only in the morning and evening (or afternoon snack) in a cup. Bin the bottles, literally so you will not be tempted to give them back.
A child will not starve himself, he is not eating because he knows he will get a bottle later.
I will say him to have mealtimes with you at the table even if needs high chair.
Serve a small portion of what you have and that is it. Don't talk about the food. If decides to chuck the food (for attention) tell him, you are not hungry you can go play and let him go. If he just sits there not eating, when you are done meal time is finished.
Do not offer him anything apart from water between meals. He will not starve for 2h till next meal.
And please do not use the naughty step that will create a terrible association with food.
Good luck op!

blablablablablablabla · 04/09/2020 19:56

I also recommend the My Child Won't Eat book. It's a life changer.

UnpaintedPaint · 04/09/2020 19:59

Ok, he won’t eat reasonably healthy food.
Stop the milk for a while, give him toast fingers, with butter and a little marmite.
Strips of cheese.
Water or squash to drink.
Sausages, or fish fingers with baked beans
Scrambled egg, toast
Banana pancake ( banana, squished, mixed with egg, and cooked Like a pancake. We have sugar and lemon on ours, but try a little syrup
Rice pudding..

All foods, you might not try, but dont try each one for every meal.
( my sister did this, until her child one only eat hard brown foods, but at least they were eating)

Mine loved chopped cherry tomatoes and cucumber at every single meal for years, my friends child avocado.

At 18 months, maybe don’t make a sandwich, put fingers of bread, or pasta, separate from meat, cheese and sticks of a vegetable they will like.

Don’t make it a battle though, or it will become one, make it a here’s some nice food, eat it if you want .

Lots of milk or fizzy drinks, fills a child up. Not saying that you give them lots of fizz.

A friend of mine, whose child was a fussy eater, let them go to the cupboard and eat chocolate sweets, whenever they wanted, and then complained they didn’t eat well 🙄

thornyhousewife · 04/09/2020 20:02

It's not about the food, it's about the context. Sitting down to eat has become a battleground.

At dinner time, go to the park. Lay his food out like a picnic. He will likely take a bite here and there in between playing. Go home having all had a nice time.

Forget his highchair for a couple of days. Reset a the rules just for a few days and let food become incidental. Just focus on having a nice time, with a few bites here and there.

Then when the heat has died down from the mealtime stress, have another go at sitting down together.

UnpaintedPaint · 04/09/2020 20:03

The trouble is, all children are different, some will eat the same meals as you, others need different food.
18 months is still a baby really, don’t make this a battle and spoil your time together.


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NationalBust · 04/09/2020 20:06

My 18m old is a pretty good eater, but will refuse point blank if she feels pressure on her around food. We've had much better success with serving much smaller portions and reloading if finished. Most of all, making it relaxed is the most important thing. Chat at the table, pour drinks for each other, have the radio on if you like it. Don't describe food as "nice" or "yucky" or make a big deal when they do finally eat. Oh, and check for molars, DD's are just coming through and we had some big meltdowns when something she ate caught them.

DidoAtTheLido · 04/09/2020 20:07



You need to think about the development stage of your child. You are in a hi ding to nothing turning this into a battle and night do long lasting damage. Toddlers are programmed to overcome difficulty and obstacles with an unstoppable determination. How else would they learn to master so many difficult skills in the face of so much falling over, getting it wrong, trying again and again?

Step right back and relax. Don’t ever make good a focus for reward or sanction. Make food available, eat yourselves, and wait for him to ask for some. Smile and hand it over and carry on chatting.

Don’t expect it to work immediately, either. You can make a beaker if milk available (for him to reach for) alongside other foods. Don’t comment on what he chooses.

One caveat: people say children will not starve themselves but they will if they have sensory issues or possibly autistic spectrum disorder. So if you have any reason to suspect this seek advice from your GO.

Getting cross is inappropriate, and he is way too young for naughty step.

Poppinjay · 04/09/2020 20:09

There is one thing you need to understand:

It is your job to make food available to your child and their job to decide what to put in their mouth and when.

If you try to control what they eat, you are fighting a battle that will always escalate beyond anything you can win.

The pressure you are putting on him to eat is what is preventing him from eating. You need to stop, step back and leave him to it.

Put the food in his reach and do nothing else. I mean nothing. No praise, no encouragement, no naughty step, no attention whatsoever that in any way links to what he is eating.

Eat at the same time and talk about anything but food, smile and chat in as relaxed a way as you can and then clear away without comment.

You need to remove your emotional involvement from his eating altogether.

I know as well as anybody how hard that is. I've had to smile sweetly and remove food untouched from in front of my daughter and I've childminded several resistant eaters. The more you are involved, the harder it will be for him to eat. Remember that every time you want to intervene.

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