Won't eat! — The Bump
Attachment Parenting

Won't eat!

DD is 13 months and refuses to eat. I offer her food all the time and she just turns her head away. You would think she isn't hungry but then she will try to nurse. I don't understand why she is refusing to eat. She has done this pretty much since she started solids. I am fine nursing her but would prefer if she ate more table foods. At her 12 month appointment she weighed 15 lbs 7oz and wasn't even on the scale. She is hitting all of her milestones, but the pediatrician always makes me feel like a bad mom because she is so small but I don't know how to force her to eat. Any ideas would be great. Thank you!
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Re: Won't eat!

  • Some babies are naturally small and others are naturally large. An issue arises when they drop off their percentiles, not necessarily which percentile they grow along. For example, DS is small but perfectly healthy. He has maintained his 6th percentile ranking his whole life. But a baby that begins at 50th and drops down to 25th raises concern. Does that make sense? I guess the question is, is she just a smaller girl or has she dropped off her own growth chart, such that she is not gaining steadily?

    On another note, toddlers frequently don't eat many solids (especially such young ones as 13 months!). Your breastmilk will continue to provide the nutrients, calories, fats, and vitamins that she needs and doesn't get from solids. I would recommend nursing on demand and not withholding any breastmilk in an attempt to make her eat solids - the breastmilk is the perfect food, tailored specifically to her, and she needs it so much more if she is slow to love her solids.

    DS was a solids hater until after he turned 2. He still doesn't seem to eat much, but it's a lot more than he used to eat. What worked best for us was to not worry about meals but just keep healthy foods available all the time. He is a much better grazer than meal-eater.

    He also far prefers yogurt, applesauce, hummus, and other foods of that texture, etc., to fresh fruits and veggies. The challenge we most encountered was that he would be willing to chew many things but not swallow - he spit everything out except purees and yogurt, etc. Our solution was smoothies made with activia, a banana, berries and a spinach leaf or 2 thrown in. Great fiber and vitamins, and he ate it all.

    I would ask your doctor directly if there is a concern about weight gain. Otherwise, I would not worry about her solids intake (especially since she's BFing), and just give her ample opportunity to explore and taste food. She'll get there!
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  • @emerald27  She did drop off the percentile. The more she moves around the more she loses. For example, she started crawling and dropped off the scale from like 5%. Then she started holding onto furniture and walking and dropped more. The pediatrician is always telling me to feed her sugars and carbs and things high fat to fatten her up, but I don't feel comfortable giving her sugar all day. Today all I could get her to eat was a banana. She likes those squeezy fruit/vegetable pouches. Like sprout or plum but I don't know if that will get her enough calories to really make a difference. She will sometimes eat yogurt, but not often. 
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  • Hmm...do you know the total percentiles she's dropped? Also, does she seem happy and carefree, or hungry and grouchy? You say she's meeting her milestones, and disposition is another factor in distinguishing your child's "normal".

    I agree that high carb and sugary foods are not the way to go. I would focus on fats (and of course fruits and veggies, but for weight gain and brain development, healthy fats). Make sure you're offering healthy foods that are high in fat and protein.

    There are yogurt pouches too that have good servings of protein and fat in addition to the fruits, etc.

    Also, since dehydration can be a concern in low weight-gain kids, make sure you're keeping a sippy of water available for DD. :)
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  • I think she started at 25% she was always a little baby and now she's off the scale. She is a very happy baby, she is always talking and playing with us and giving us kisses and hugs. She just barely cut her first tooth so I don't know if it has to do with constant teething or what. I keep a sippy full of whole milk that we refill throughout the day she usually drinks one or two of those (that's also something the pediatrician told us to give her). I have water all the time that if she wants water she comes over to me and points to and I give her what she wants. She has plenty of wet and dirty diapers. I guess maybe I should just be more open to nursing her. The last couple days I've been trying to give her solid foods when she asks to nurse and will refuse to nurse her. I just thought maybe if I didn't give her breastmilk as an option as often she would be more open to eat solids.
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  • The only concern with replacing breastmilk with solids is that breastmilk is far more calorie/nutrient/fat dense than solid foods. She wouldn't be able to consume enough solids to make up for the nutrients in your milk.

    If weight gain wasn't a concern, it would be less of a big deal, but it seems like it would be important for your daughter to get as much breastmilk as she can and to eat solids only in addition to that milk, not replacing any of her total daily intake.

    REPLACING breastmilk with solids essentially dilutes her total daily calorie/nutrient/fat intake. The common recommendation is to add solids to breastmilk, not replace. :)

    Good luck! I know how hard it is to have a little baby who doesn't want to eat!
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  • While I can't relate too much as my 11month old eats us out of house and home I do know, from my studies in child psychology, that food/eating is one of the few things that children have complete control over.  As you know, you cannot force a child to swallow food.

    I would avoid refusing to nurse and forcing food as it will likely lead to a battle you will not win.

    Personally I think if I were in your shoes I would lay off solids for a couple weeks and nurse round the clock as much as she wants.  Casually offer solids, her favorites.  Do not coax her, bribe, her, encourage her, make games out of it...simple offer it.  If she takes anything great...don't jump up and down celebrating, remain neutral.

    Let her have complete control, including with the nursing.  This may break any associations she has with foods.

    Then after a couple weeks slowly start to offer more and more solids.  Still nurse on demand.  Every now and then offer in new foods and expand what she will take.  But mainly get her eating larger amounts of her favorites...just to get her eating.

    Pay very close attention, take notes, to what she does eat.  Is there a common theme...texture, taste, temperature, food size etc.  If you notice something then go with that and offer more similar foods to again expand her preferences.

    When she does eat don't make a big deal out of it...then it seems like she did something special...all she did was eat.  Like everybody else.  I knew a little girl that could no longer use the potty because mom got so excited and celebrated the first few times she used it.  For this child it alarmed her that what she did was worthy of applause.

    Some kids just really have trouble with food.  Perhaps it's a gag reflex that is worse in the morning (mine is brutal until around 10am and I'm in my 30's I cannot force myself to eat until late in the day...and I pig out in the evening).  Some kids need their food cut up in teeny tiny bits...any bigger and they get overwhelmed. 

     

    Explore, relax...nurse so there is no stress about nutrient intake in the time being.

     

  • If you are still nursing, there's no need to give whole milk too - that's just going to fill her up so she's not hungry at all for solids.  

    I'd just nurse on demand and have healthy options available to her often.  Eat with her (babies that age love to imitate!).  And try not to stress :)
  • While all the pps are correct, that solids aren't nutritionally necessary when breastfeeding, the complete refusal is atypical.There's picky toddler eating which is normal, and then there's complete food aversion, which isn't.  Your story reminds me a lot of my friend law&order's son, who refused to eat and continued to drop in weight.  You can page her on the 24+ month board and she can be more detailed with the resources they used.  If she's been refusing all solids since their introduction (so for at least 7 months) I would probably have her evaluated, just to make sure it's not a sign of some larger issue.

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  • While all the pps are correct, that solids aren't nutritionally necessary when breastfeeding, the complete refusal is atypical.There's picky toddler eating which is normal, and then there's complete food aversion, which isn't.  Your story reminds me a lot of my friend law&order's son, who refused to eat and continued to drop in weight.  You can page her on the 24+ month board and she can be more detailed with the resources they used.  If she's been refusing all solids since their introduction (so for at least 7 months) I would probably have her evaluated, just to make sure it's not a sign of some larger issue.


    She will eat from time to time but it's a struggle and it's hit or miss. Sometimes it's just a couple bites and sometimes it's the whole bowl. It's just frustrating where some times she will go days without eating solids and just wanting to nurse.
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  • Keep a food journal so you can see what she's eating over a few days' time. If she has true food aversions, you should be able to see it after recording what she's eating. If it's just pickiness/not that excited about eating, try not to stress, and make sure she's nursing as much as she wants. My older son really didn't get into solids until he was closer to 18 mos.
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  • Thanks everyone for the advice. We went out yesterday and let her pick out spoons and forks. That has seemed to help a lot, I think she enjoys being able to use ones that she picked. Makes it a little more special. 
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  • edited February 2014
    .I think you might to track when you are offering her food too.   You can still nurse her to sleep for naps and night time, but maybe during the day try being a little stricter about solids just every three hours and top off with BM if still hungry.
    I am struggling with the same issue and this makes a difference for me.  
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  • I would nurse as much as possible. You can't beat it for calories or nutrients.

    Only offer healthy high fat foots like avocado, ground meat, hummus, creamy peanut butter... And offer it off a plate you are eating from. If she sees you happily eating raw avocado, she might want a bite.
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