he won't eat!

[deleted account] ( 66 moms have responded )

Ok so my son won't eat hardly anything. the daycare says he eats fine, but on weekends and evenings, he barely touches a thing. I can get him to eat breakfast, and then barely anything all day. Some crackers here or there. Im so frustrated. tonight for dinner, he ate about 5 french fries. Any advice?

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Barbara - posted on 02/09/2010

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i have done daycare for 11 yrs and have 4 kids of my own. my oldest, 15, was extremely small from 2 to 5 yrs because he wouldnt slow down to eat. i made such a big deal of making sure that he ate what was on his plate (or more) that the need for that praise rolled into his older years and resulted in eating too much and being over weight in his preteen and early teens. it has been a struggle too get the wight off of him and beak that need for praise for eating alot.
my suggestion:
set a schedule similar to the daycare schedule on the weekends and STICK TO IT! the reason they eat better at school is because they know when they are going to do learning time, play time, eat, nap, get up, snack, etc. their bodies NEED that schedule and rely on it to function. they know when they sit down at the table that they are to eat, then do a story or something and then lay down for nap and their bodies will naturally do it. keeping this schedule at home will give him/her comfort. also, do not do the small snacks throughout the day, it ruins the appetite so they are not hungry at meal time, instead do regularly scheduled nutritious snack at a planned time. ONLY WATER TO DRINK INBETWEEN. milk fills them up. sit them down with them at the table during meal times, even if you dont eat, that way they dont feel like they are misssing something fun. finally, dont worry about it, kids go through fazes, sometimes it seems like one day you cant even get a whole french fry down them, and the next day they eat everything in the kitchen. they will eat when their bodies tell them to because they are much more in tune with their bodies needs than we are, so dont make a mistake of making a big fuss when they do or dont eat like i did. let it all go in stride

Kati - posted on 03/03/2010

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I can count on one hand the number of things my 19mo old daughter will eat! P&J sandwiches, bananas, toast, yogurt and sometimes spaghetti. She has stopped eating things that she has previously loved like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, strawberries, applesauce, list goes on and on. Does anyone have advice on easy, fast meals that you've had success with?

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Christina - posted on 02/25/2013

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My son is going thru the same thing. He usedoto love breakfast , mac and cheese, hot dogs but now wont eat hardly any of it. He only wants oranges or sometimes crackers but not consistently.

Courtney - posted on 04/10/2010

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Must have the same child! My son (21mo) will actually go up to 2 days without eating! Basically, he's developed an opinion. We tried the "if you don't eat this then you don't get anything" and that's when he would go 2 days. Then we tried time out and he still wouldn't eat...because all he wants is crackers or snack foods and he will hold out til he gets it. I have to remember that I am his mother and I know what's best and crackers and snack foods all day are not what is best for my son. So, if it takes 2 days for him to eat some veggies and other foods that I KNOW that he likes but just doesn't "feel" like eating, then I will wait b/c that is what my child should eat. If he's hungry enough he will eat...eventually. It's very difficult but it's a phase just like all the other things and this too shall pass :)

[deleted account]

Dana,

My daughter (Paxton, 21 mos.) is exactly the same way. She has always been in the 5%-10% category for weight...but has remained consistent with that. She is a very healthly toddler and always on the go, never stopping to sit down and actually eat a full meal.

I would not worry, your son will not starve. Their little tummy's are so tiny and they are such busy little things more concerned with exploring their environments than stopping to eat. As I was told by all our pediatricians, they will eat when/if they are hungry and it may come/go in spurts depending on what's going on developmentally.

Don't worry I am sure your son is doing just fine!

[deleted account]

Watch the juice and milk intake. Often times it's easier to give the baby a cup and then when it comes to meal times they've had their fill of calories. Also kids are more grazers than 3 square meals. The other thing is kids know naturaly the right amounts of foods and type. They may crave carbs one week and meat the next. Hope that can help you asses some things. ~Fern < Mom to 7

Tiffany - posted on 03/31/2010

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Wow!! Its soothing to hear my son isnt the only one suffering with a lack of an appetitie. At first, he had a large appetitie, but now he only eats small bites. But the Doctor said its normal for this stage, so I decided to give him Pedisure to make up for his lost meals

Georgie - posted on 03/30/2010

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thats a really great idea Terri but you wouldn't believe it, after posting yesterday he actually ate fish tonight when we offered it too him from our plates. So exciting but yes he does prefer drinks at time and has 2 bottles during the day of milk - one at 10am one at 3pm and then a bottle for bed at 7-8pm so maybe your idea is a good one to try and change things up so he gets some more vitamins.

Terri - posted on 03/29/2010

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my mia is doing the same thing. The hubby and i are really worried she isn't getting enogh vitamins. We give her danimals and she will eat those, and she will eat like 4 or 5 fries or 2 bites of mashed potatoes or some veggies, but she isn't eating any meat. Peds said her appetite would go down but i didn't think it would be like this. she doesn't even want to eat breakfast. We are going to try some things in her sippy cup, like vitamin drinks, because that seems to be the only thing she wants is liquid. I dunno if ur son is drinking more than eating, if he is, maybe try suplementing something like we are. At least he will get his vitamins even if he isn't hungry.

Georgie - posted on 03/29/2010

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OMG thank god for this page I am having the same issues with my 20 month old and thought there was something drastically wrong, some days he won't even eat the puree vegies i make up and he just wants biscuits or yoghurt. He seems to not want to eat anything much some times and then I see other babies who simply eat whatever is put in front of them no matter what the consistency. Glad to hear others have similar issues.

Jo - posted on 03/28/2010

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Yes I go through the same thing with my Carma she eats at day care with no problem but at home it is very seldom that she eats all her food or any for that matter. I was worried at first but as the doctor told you they told me to she will be fine. So just hang in there

Jennifer - posted on 03/28/2010

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My son is 18 months old and he went from eating everything at any time to being a fussy eater. I do not give in to the trying different things at dinner time, or when I home with him on the weekends. People are right, he will eat when he is hungry.

Michelle - posted on 03/28/2010

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my son does the same thing. and the wic office told me because i asked them about it and they told me that as long as he has one good meal and you try to feed him the other times he is going to be okay. as long as we try to feed them. because my son does the same thing that your son does.

Alisha - posted on 03/28/2010

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My son will do the same thing. But he does just fine I wouldn't worry so much about it. If he looses energy and starts to loose weight then I would worry. Every person has a different hunger rate. My son will have five to six days in a row that he will eat non stop it seems like but then has two or three days that he doesn't hardly touch a thing.
My mom said that when I was little I did the same thing. Just keep offering him food regularly and don't give in to Picky eaters it only gets worse as they get older if you do. Some times with my son all I need to do to get him to eat is simply move his high chair around it is like he wont eat because he is board and simply wants to see out the window or even that he wants mommy to sit facing him instead of behind him. Or another trick is to let him get down and run around for a few minutes and then offer it to him again. He has a different schedule at home then at day care possibly?? I hope this helps.

Jenny - posted on 03/26/2010

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when my son was 10 months old I had to take him to a speech therapist because he had a texture problem. He is now 20 months old and has grown out of the texture thing but some days he eats all the time and some days he won't eat at all. My doctor said to kind of go with the flow. Lay finger food out to where he can get a bite while he plays. My sons are VERY active. They hardly watch tv at all. I lay out cereals like cherrios, honey comb, and kits. I also put out grapes (cut in half because of choking) and crackers. At meal times we sit down as a family and I have my kids sit with us but I don't make them eat. My 20 month old will start throwing food on the floor when he is finished eating. I don't force my kids to eat. My 3 year old still doesn't eat very much but he is in the healthy weight range. My husband and myself are very much over weight and my concern is my kids weight when they get old so food is an issue that I don't want to force. I too was forced to finish what was on my plate when I was little and I think it wasteful when I don't finish what is on my plate.

So I guess my biggest suggestion is to have a dish of finger food (that won't spoil by being out all day) at easy access for your child and don't let them drink all day limit their liquid intake because they will get a temporary fullness that won't last.

Shannon - posted on 03/26/2010

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I don't have that problem with my 20 month old, she will eat anything, but when my 4 year old was that age, and still to this day she will go forever without eating. I have been told not to worry by the dr.s, but as a mom it's kinda hard not to worry. So I started using reverse psychology, and brivery. I would tell her that she couldn't have any, so she wanted it, or when she wanted snacks I would tell her to take a bite of something that seemed more nutritious then she could have what she wanted.

Liza - posted on 03/26/2010

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My daughter is one a special diet so I can't speak from experience w/ her; however, I used to work in a daycare and dealt w/ this sort of thing there w/ one of the little boys I took care of. He would eat wonderfully there, but would refuse to eat at home. One day I stopped by to drop something off to his family he left at the daycare and they were trying to get him to eat dinner. He was refusing until I asked him to sit like a big boy and eat his dinner. He went straight over to the chair and started eating. Sometimes kids like to play their parents. It's just how it is. I advised his mom and dad to sit w/ him while he ate and to start having him eat dinner the same time they do and he would more than likely improve. It took about a week, but they got him on a schedule of sorts and he started eating at home w/out any issues. I would think about making sure you stick to a schedule, especially on the weekends. Children are creatures of habit and changing their schedule around on the weekends can send them into a tailspin. I wouldn't worry too much about it. If you go to the dr and he or she thinks there's a problem (i.e. he's not gaining enough weight, etc.), they'll recommend starting him on PediaSure or Boost Kid Essentials. Both of those have extra vitamins, minerals, and calories for kids that aren't getting enough from their diet.

Christina - posted on 03/26/2010

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I have reportede the problem of my child not eating to many professionals. All have told me that my son is filling up on milk and juice. I have had to alter my routine some and make sure he gets food, before his morning drink. In addition to my son not eating, he only eats meat. We just keep offering and don't make a big deal of it when he doesn't want to eat. All of his old favorites are out. I just keep trying new stuff.

Lynette - posted on 03/25/2010

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My son doesn't really eat either, I started wondering even if it's just what I give him, even though his younger sister eats better than him. maybe try giving him the same kinds of foods his daycare gives him. Can't hurt to see if there's a difference.

Suzanne - posted on 03/25/2010

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I have the same problem. They tell me my 20 month old daughter eats fine at nursery but then plays up at home. She is most likely to eat if it's off my plate so we sit down together and (attempt to) eat the same thing. It is worrying as she barely eats at all and is skinny but I keep offering her bits and pieces and leave snacks out here and there. It is tempting to give in and feed her the wrong things; biscuits, crisps etc just so she's eaten something and has had some calories but that may do more harm than good. Just keep trying and don't stop offering certain foods, I'm sure they will eat them eventually!

Heather - posted on 03/24/2010

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I'm glad I read this and the replies to it. My son will be 2 on July 8th and he's doing the exact same thing. He refuses to eat, unless it's french fries. I've totally stopped giving him french fries because I want him to know that you eat what you're given. I don't let him starve, when he shows signs of being hungry, I feed him. But I don't want him growing up being picky like that and only eating certain things.

As for the milk, I stopped giving him milk during the day months ago. But I hadn't thought about the juice filling him and making him not as hungry. From now, it's water during the day. He likes water, so I shouldn't have a problem with him drinking it. And maybe he will be more hungry when it's time to eat. He's on a schedule... breakfast at 8:30am, Lunch and noon, dinner at 6pm. He has apple sauce between lunch and dinner if he gets hungry, but not too much because I don't want his appetite ruined.

These replies have been very helpful!

Lacey - posted on 03/24/2010

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my daughter was and still is like that and shes 20 months. shes just now starting to eat regularly, but she hardly ate anything for days upon days. i asked the doctor about and it he said that as long as she was still gaining weigh and drinking that its fine. my niece was like that too when she was around the same age. its just a phase. but its defiantly stressful when they dont eat. hang in there and it will get better.

[deleted account]

I am so grateful for this page! I have had the same problem with my 20 month old...glad to see its a normal thing!

Archana - posted on 03/23/2010

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You have many good advices here. How is his weight? Is he doing well in percentiles. If you think he is dropping percentiles dramatically, then you might want to consider feeding therapy--they teach kids how to eat, and how to eat healthy foodies. But if you are confident that he eats well at day care and he is getting enough nutrition (doing well on growth chart)..don't worry. Some days are better than others and some kids are fussier than others :))

Maritza - posted on 03/23/2010

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my 20 mo. old does the same thing. I've noticed that if I try to feed her (attempting to make the process "cleaner") she absolutely refuses. but when I offer her small finger foods that she can feed herself, she dives right in until she's ready to burst!! lol hope that helps....

Keri - posted on 03/23/2010

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After reading the replies I have to say my son is actually pretty open to what we put in front of him. However, I have to thank his daycare provider and the 4 four year olds that he models after. I had a talk with the daycare provider to see what she expected of him and what they were eating- and I took what she said and replicated it as much as possible at home. With that said, I made it a point to make a meal plan for the week and prepare meals ahead a time so we could eat with our son at the same time. Therefore this eliminated the idea that there was more than one meal choice. Additionally I always put one thing on his plate that I know he likes- and that one thing becomes a bit of a give and take with the other items on his plate. He will try and usually eat anything we put in front of him. We don't offer chicken nuggets, fries or other bad items- because who wouldn't enjoy those items over carrots, sweet potatoes and chicken. I have tried to involve him in the cooking process- even if he just throws the carrot peel in the trash :0 He loves seeing the food cooking and when we eat the same thing as him. I also experimented with different spices and made a game of him smelling them- which exposed him to smells/flavors. I hope some of this helps and good luck.

Kiri - posted on 03/23/2010

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omg! exactly what my daughter does as well who is now 20months, wont eat anything at home at all but always at nonnas or daycare???? i freak out because i get frustarted and upset and how can i get her to eat...she will only eat nuggetts or chips when she is with me

Shelby - posted on 03/23/2010

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it can be a normal phase that he is going through, but people that are saying that "he won't starve himself" are not telling the truth...some children go on an "hunger strike" if there is a major change in their life that they don't like (divorce, daycare, etc), which results in failure to thrive. they can do it to "punish" their parents, which could be why he does it to you and not the to daycare workers. it is the one area they have control over.

Thato - posted on 03/23/2010

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my daughter is 20 months old, she only started refusing to eat last week, but she does this only when am around because her nanny says she eats fine during the day. Dont force him to eat make sure he eats nutritious foods when he's at daycare. Good luck

Michelle - posted on 03/20/2010

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My 19 month old does a similar thing too. Some days she seems to hardly eat a thing and others she eats lots all day. I have to remind myself that this is what kids do around this age because their growth is slowing down and they pay way more attention to their bodies than we do and they eat only when they need to. As hard as I find it to remember when she has turned down dinner after only a few mouthfuls, they won't starve themselves.
I offer meals and snacks at set times and nothing in between except water. I try to offer raw or lightly steamed and cooled veges (but not carrots), fruit, vege muffins, mini quiches, cheese, yoghurt etc as snacks so if she doesn't eat much dinner at least she has had some of her quota of veges/ calcium for the day. This means I'm less likely to offer her something else thinking she hasn't had enough nutrition.
I have also found that she will eat more of things that she hasn't had for a while so I try give her as much variety as I can.
As worrying as it can be, I guess we all just have to wait this stage of their development out.
Thanks for the post Dana, it is always good to hear from parents going through the same thing.

Amber - posted on 03/19/2010

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Oh my goodness my son is 20 months and is going thru the same thing.
I can get him to eat a real good breakfast sometimes and at lunch he barely eats. Forget about dinner.
I've at a loss for to do, and it's starting to worry me.

Chikodi - posted on 03/19/2010

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Hi Dana, its sad to note that kids of this days dont find eating funny at all. Feeding time for most kids are fighting times and that doesnt go down well with parents atall. I once complained to my kids' doctor and she told me to give them those food they enjoy eating, and thats my advise to you too. Good luck.

Staci - posted on 03/19/2010

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My son at 1 and a half to now (3.5) dropped most foods, the other week he dropped pizza, but he picked up taco meat, and didn't just eat the shell. At 2 I gave him a flinstones vitamen every day and gave him double whatever fruit de decided he liked. There was a book that was super helpful called "teach kids to eat but not too much" which involves a lot of backing off, feeding them what you eat, and if they don't eat it no biggie. I also read that their tastebuds don't develope until 5-7, so it will change and one day you will laugh about this. Todays lunch? PB sandwich where he licked the pb out and left the bread, a couple of veggie straws and milk. Oh well! :)

Jennifer - posted on 03/18/2010

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my son is the same way...and the day care tells me that most of the kids eat great at school but not so much at home. I think a big part for us is the social aspect - he loves to eat with other kids. Our doctor said that most toddlers eat great for 2 meals a day and not three, especially if they are offered snacks in between.

ERIN - posted on 03/18/2010

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My son is the SAME way!! There is no need to worry about it at all. He will not let himself starve and will eventually get hungry and want to eat. I've noticed that in the last two weeks or so that my son seems to be eating more and more so hopefully you'll see a change with your son soon! If your concerned about him not getting enough vitamins and stuff then give him a pediasure before bed everynight. They are flavored and he will love them. They come in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate but I recommend not getting the chocolate because they stain everything for some reason! My son drinks one every night before bed when I don't think he's eaten enough for dinner. It's made meal time a lot less stressful for all of us. I don't fight with him to eat and he doesn't have to fight me not to eat! I hope this helps!

Heather - posted on 03/18/2010

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My son is the same way except he doesn't go to a daycare so we know he never eats that much through the day and then he'll have days when he just can't get enough. The doctor says my boy is underweight , but he is solid and healthy It doesn't take a doctor to look at my husband and see my son takes after his dad who actually has to work out to keep his weight up. The doctor did give us some good advice for the days he didn't eat much and told us to start giving him carnation instant breakfast once a day to make sure he was getting all the vitamins and nutrients he needed. Pediasure does the same thing but it is way more expensive.

Emma - posted on 03/17/2010

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The most important advice I can give is do not offer alternatives or you will create a fussy eater. As with all things kids this age are testing the boundaries and probably the same with food. If he learns he can keep rejecting until he gets what he wants he will end up only taking his favourite food which may or may not be good for him and he MIGHT NOT grow out of this. I have a 12 year old stepson who was a fussy baby and my husband and his ex-wife used to keep offering until they found things he would eat. Now age 12 he only eats sausages and chips or pizza and recently even started hiding his food so he didn't have to eat it.

My approach? I have 2 toddlers (little girl nearly 3 and a boy 19 months) and both eat very well - good balanced diets, plenty of meat, fish, fruit, veg, healthy cereal etc. My 19 month old son sometimes shakes his head at a meal and pushes it away (even if I know he has eaten it before). I will simply tell him that this is lunch/ tea today and there is no alternative. I then tell him that if he is not hungry, he can get down without eating but if he wants desert (fruit, yoghurt, cake) then he must make a clean plate. You would be surprised at the number of times he then reaches for the bowl and wolfs it down in record time! If he still does not want it, I simply lift him out of his high chair and no snacks until next meal (if he seems really hungry in between meals I either offer a small portion of fruit or serve the next meal earlier than usual but make sure there is a significant time lapse so he does not just think the fruit is desert). I have also found that sometimes he is nervous to try a new food but 9 times out of 10 if I can just get one mouthfull past his lips he finds that he does like it after all and then finishes the whole portion!

Kids of this age WILL NOT starve themselves (survival instinct will not allow it) so be strong - you will be doing the best thing for them in the long term. Good luck!!

Emily - posted on 03/17/2010

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My daughter does the same thing! One day I can't get her to stop eating and the next she doesn't want anything. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they're getting older and know what they want. My daughter still isn't talking too much so its mostly a guessing game. I can usually get her to eat a blueberry nutrigrain bar even though she doesn't like fruit. On days she doesn't eat much I give her some pediasure so at least I know she's getting vitamins and minerals. Otherwise I wouldn't worry much, her doctor says it's completely normal for them to go without eating!

Tara - posted on 03/17/2010

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my daught is almost 20 months old and does the same thing!! she has acid reflux thou and the doctors say that could play a role, but if you figure out something that works lol please let me know too!!

Tamara - posted on 03/17/2010

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I have come up with a great recipe for carrot bread! My son, who is VERY picky, loves it! I basically followed a banana bread recipe but substitued for carrots and added applesauce (I still put sugar in put cut the amount a bit). I totally made this up and wasn't sure how it would come out but it worked.

Rhonda - posted on 03/16/2010

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I had the same problem with my two older boys thus I have changed a few things and my 19 month old eats well almost every meal. What does he like to eat at daycare??? Replicate this is your weekend meal plan, it might not be very exciting but you know he eats the same food at daycare. We have also cut chips and things from meals and instead have added things like mash pumpkin and carrot to ours so we are eating the same meal.. remember kids dont get addicted to junk food by themselves we give it to them. Also if daycare is providing a cooked lunch a yoghurt with fruit and sandwiches may well suffice for dinner - he may just not want to eat two big meals..

Angela - posted on 03/16/2010

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I am going through the same things with my son. It's nice to hear that it's just a stage. I see other kids his age eating very well, so I feel better knowing that this is very common and that he will eventually grow out of it. I think the hardest thing is letting it go. If he refuses food, then let it go, as they say, he won't starve himself. I think the tips/tricks I've picked up here are to offer only what is being served or maybe an alternative if you know he doesn't like it. Offer 3 meals and 2 snacks, all of which are nutritious choices and balanced as possible. Only water between meals, and if he says no to eating, then leave it alone and offer nothing until the next scheduled time. Now, we'll see if I can stick to all of this! Let's hope that it's a short 'phase'.

Kate - posted on 03/15/2010

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Lol! Dana, I ran a dayhome for years, and the same thing happenedoften. The children ate me out of house and home but would not eat at home. At this stage it's just more fun to eat with other kids. Don't worry, they will eat. As long as the daycare reports that he is eating well there, and they are serving well rounded, healthy meals..he will begin to eat at home. Probably at the next big growth spurt.

LANAE - posted on 03/15/2010

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My 20 month old is doing the same thing. My older son who is 3and 1/2 went through this at the same age and I hated it then too.Nothing worse than watching him not eat at meal times, but I know it's a phase...and this too shall pass! He's in the 25th% in weight but my doctor says he's healthy and muscular so that's all that matters. Hang in there, Dana! Glad to be reminded it's an age thing and not to get too rattled...thanks for the post!

Aidan - posted on 03/07/2010

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My daughter Brooke is now 20 months. Ive started putting her back in her highchair to eat as she would have a pick and then walk away, come back 15 minutes later saying hungry yumyum. Ive started putting her back in her highchair until she eats a decent amount. This seems to be working for me so far. She also will not eat any veges but loves fruit. I sure hope its a stage!

Stephanie - posted on 03/07/2010

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Naomi (20 months) was the same way. She doesnt like to eat solid food very much, but she loves to drink. One day I gave her a toddler fork w/ her meal and she ate everything off her plate. I dont know what it is about giving her a fork/ spoon w/ her meal, but when she has them, she eats more; even though she still prefers to use her fingers to pick up her food.

Tara - posted on 03/07/2010

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I agree with Jonita and want to add that they don't grow as fast at this age and therefore need less. Some days Jared will eat 3 meals and 2 snacks but most days he eats a good breakfast and then very little.

Sara - posted on 03/06/2010

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I hear ya, we are going through the same thing. It's easier to get him to eat in the evening. He will eat ravioli, vegetables and beef baby food (we just tried it and he loved it), and cheerios. Sometimes, he will mix it all together. He also liked grilled cheese cut in strips. Good Luck!!



Oh and we give him Pediasure every day.

Amy - posted on 03/05/2010

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my kid is the same way. he only eats chicken nuggets and spagetti and meatballs. loves fruit. will not touch a single vegtable. so picky. i dont know what to tell u except people keep telling me keep trying it will work eventually. he will eat more.

De' Aundra - posted on 03/04/2010

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He is perfectly fine. I have this problem with my son sometimes as well. My mom told me that some children are like that but, as long as they are getting plenty of fluids they will be fine. So don't panic, when he's hungry...he'll definatly let you know. Just keep him hydrated.

Tamara - posted on 03/04/2010

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My 19 mo old won't eat anything but peanut butter sandwiches and fruit! Dinner time is horrible! He won't eat and just drops his food on the floor. I have read that yes this is an age thing and to keep offering him food everynight and he will grow out of it. I don't like sending him to bed on an empty stomach so he often eats cracker or fruit for dinner. I love toddler stage but this is frustrating!

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