a child who doesn't eat

Christy - posted on 02/14/2011 ( 41 moms have responded )

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my 2 year old boy simply will not eat & really never has. i've tried many different types of food, many varieties, but he just doesn't want to eat. he's also quite small for his age. at 2 years and 9 months, he still wears 18-24 month clothes. any advice?

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Mallory - posted on 07/13/2012

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My daughter is four and still wears 2-3T. She is a tiny thing, and always has had issues with eating. The kid simply refuses (majority of the time) to eat! She picks at her food like a bird! I took her to the doctor and she was not gaining like the average American child, they put her through a ton of tests all to decide she is just little! Like you, I tried all different types, textures, and flavors of food to no success, to this day she still picks at her food. The doctor says she is healthy and to stop worrying about it so much. So if your doctor says he is healthy I would consistantly present the food, and if they are hungry they will eat. You cannot force them, and they will not starve themselves!
I did give her Pediasure from about a year old until she was about three. This can get expensive so if you go this route keep in mind the generic brand is just a good, and I used the ones with fiber since the shakes can be kinda binding. Good luck!

Tina - posted on 03/02/2011

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I also have a 2 year old that doesn't like to eat. He likes a few different foods but doesn't eat alot of it at one time. Most people wouldn't agree with what my husband and i do be we bribe him with some of the junk food that he likes. He likes candy and cheetos so we tell him if he eats some food we will give him candy or cheetos. we will show him the bag and he will take a couple of bites and then we will give him a cheeto and then if he wants more then he has to eat more of his food. maybe not the best way but he is getting better as he gets older and we don't have to do it as much but we still do it sometimes. He is also very skinny and doesn't eat veggies or fruit(except apples). I would do anything to get him to eat no matter what other people may think.

Kathleen - posted on 02/22/2011

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I have had the same problem and spoke to the pediatrician and a nutritionist. They told me the same thing, don't worry about it he'll get what he needs and will not starve. I then realized he was drinking way too much. Too much milk and juice. I cut back on that, and yes it was tough for a few days. He got half cup of milk morning and night, and about a half cup of juice. He then began to eat. He still has his days that he is extremly picky and he must use his toy story plate...but he now eats 2-3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day. Depends on how much he wants to eat or graze that day. I would have to agree though attempt to put water in his cup. For a little while especially when traveling I did give my DS PediaSure. I would watch how much you give him of this though as it has a ton of sugar and is still milk based so will still fill him up. I would not push if he doesn't eat, but if my DS does not eat his dinner he does not get his chocolate (he loves his chocolate he gets a piece or two of miniatures)

Pauline - posted on 07/09/2012

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my daughter also eats very little. we were very concerned even though our pediatrician kept reassuring us. shes very skinyn and small for a two year old but as our doctor said, "if shes really hungry she will eat" and i guess that helped calm us down. she doesnt complain of being hungry or anything so for now theres not much we can do except hope that soon she will want to eat more. as long as your son is healthy i wouldnt worry too much.

Heather - posted on 04/29/2012

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I HAVE 21 MONTH OLD SON AND HE WON'T EAT THAT MUCH AND SOME DAYS HE WON'T EAT ANYTHING ONLY JUICE OR BREAST MILK ,HE LIKES TO EAT CHICKEN NUGGETS AND FRIES CHEESE STICKS YOGURT AND SOME CEREALS I ALREADY ASKED HIS DOCTOR AND THEY SAY NOT TO WORRY WELL I WORRY ALL THE TIME HELP....

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Rebecca - posted on 07/09/2012

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I have the same problem with my 15 month old, even thought he is measuring correct. When I have asked the doctors about it, they told me to simply back off. Don't try to force him to eat, or eat when everyone else is eating. They said that he is a child and will not allow himself to be starved and he will let me know when he is hungry. We feed him when he is ready, but when my husband and I sit down at the table for a meal, he sits in his highchair (usually with a toy or crayons and paper) with us to get him used to being at the table at the right times..

Koreena - posted on 07/08/2012

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try giving your child some warm water with a little squeeze of lemon juice in it this boost metabolism. - naturopath

GISELLE - posted on 04/28/2012

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I have the same issue with my 2.5 yr old daughter. She's never been big on eating - even as I introduced solids when she was an infant, she was just not that into it. Her pediatrician is well aware of her "lack of interest" in food, and while in the past I have been able to get her to eat fruits and some veggies (in her soups or stews which she LOVED until recently), now, I'm lucky if she'll take a bite or two of a banana. Her doc always told me "she'll eat when she's hungry", but when I took her in a week and a half ago for this same concern, turns out she lost TWO pounds in ONE week. NOT normal AT all for an otherwise healthy toddler. Now pedi is showing concerns, and has her drinking two pediasures a day, replacing two cups of milk (she loves her milk), just to see if she'll put the weight back on. If not, off to the gastro we go. (Exciting...not!)

Follow your instinct, it's your son's best weapon against this whole "not eating" battle. Push your son's doctor to look into what's the real reason behind him not eating. Sometimes it's not just bc they're "picky" and an underlying condition is to blame. At this point, that's what my instinct is telling me, and now I'm heading down a long road of pushing to find an answer to my concerns.

Best of luck!

Sheryl - posted on 03/07/2011

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I went through something very similar. My son really never liked food. Dr's said "just stick with it, he will come around." Unfortunately he didn't. At four years old, there were only 5 things he would eat. No fruits, no veggies, no meat. A friend told me about something called restrictive eating disorder. We started to see a speech pathologist. For him, it was a problem with texture. Then it became food anxiety. He has been working with a therapist weekly for about 6 months. He will now touch many foods to his tounge (still no consumption!). It is a long road for him. I wish I would have explored this problem earlier.

Erin - posted on 03/01/2011

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My almost three year old has been like that... tall and skinny and didn't eat much at all. I have found that "fun" foods entice him, or more accurately, presenting the food so that it looks fun helps... Not that hotdogs are great for him, but an example is I slice up a hotdog and stick pretzels into it, so it looks like an appetizer, and do the same with cubes of cheese, and then have a side of fruit, and ever since I started sticking pretzels into his food he eats like crazy! Also, try fun shapes, like cutting a sandwich with a cookie cutter, or even cutting just cheese or lunch meats with a fun little cookie cutter... Try to find shapes that he likes and can relate to. Try to make sure he has foods that he can confidently eat by himself. I know my perfectionist son hates making a mess when he eats! My mom watched my cousins when we were little and they weren't big eaters, so making it interesting is how she learned to get them to eat. Maybe even try fun "plates" like using an icecube tray, or a muffin tin to put the food in. My kids always go nuts for that one. :) If you have ruled out any medical condition it may just be that he isn't a big eater, but he will come around. Best wishes to you both. I am sure that he will be eating all the food in the house in no time!

Ellen - posted on 03/01/2011

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My 4 year old only likes to eat chicken nuggets & fish sticks. She only recently just started trying little bites of new things. We did not force this. All od a sudden she said 'yeah, I'll try that', just like the doctor said-she will eat when she is ready. So, don't worry too much. Youare a great Mom, just because you are concerned. My friend's son had problems eating too and they saw a speech therapist who said he had a 'taste aversion'. So a speech therapist might help.

Erin - posted on 03/01/2011

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Maybe getting him involved with the cooking side of food and letting him choose what he wants to eats i've had to put food on my kids in many different shapes by using cookie cutter dont worry about what size clothes he is in my friends little boy is soon going to be 3 and is just about to grow out of size 1 but he is a happy and heathly kids i found this website and i think it came in handy for me hope it works for you
http://www.dumblittleman.com/2010/01/how...

Kathleen - posted on 02/28/2011

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Don't let that worry you, my doctor said to me don't force your children if they don't want to eat. Try things like small sausages, cheese, pieces of ham or polony. (considering I live in South Africa so not sure if what I am suggesting is where you are?). Give him a nourished milk formula we have Nido here if you look on the internet it will give you an idea of what I'm talking about. He will tell you when he is hungry. My twin daughter is now turning 4 in May and she still wears 2 - 3 years and her twin sister is wearing 3-4 and their 20 month old sister wears still 6 - 12 and 12 - 18 months so you don't have to stress. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Nete - posted on 02/28/2011

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oh! here is something that works pretty well ...I serves all us the same dish..and then I tell them ..that they are NOT allowed to eat,.. lets say...mummies carrots .. in a funny way ...don't touch them ...they are mine ...then I will make an excuse to get up to from the table to get something from the kitchen ...and surely they are all over my plate and what item,... I told them they can not have, as soon as I return ...all giggling and smiling ... works well on getting them to try new things or easting their veggies ... trick trick trick .. lol

Nete - posted on 02/28/2011

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Same over here ...our son will not eat... he used to polish off his plates when he was younger, but from day to day he stopped eating, not even candy, chocolate or ice cream does he like (there goes the bribe option....)
-- been going on the last year (he will be 3 in April) I was so desperate I tried everything..... ending up with chef Boyardee mini spaghetti and meatball....etc.. ''an item I would have bet large money on - that I would never buy, much less serve my kids) but surprise surprise.... they went down like no tomorrow and slowly I have gotten him eat again incl. other items... not always a lot,.. but it's a start in the right direction and they do have a whole wheat no preservatives choice now ....
maybe try it out ...

Now I was a milk child myself, just like my son ... so... I try to remember that.... personally I would to this day be horrified if someone withheld my milk .. if he absolutely will not eat, maybe giving him more whole milk is the answer ... at the very least he will get some nutrition's from that ...
I remember as a child, I would not eat the berry yogurts because I didn't like the texture of the berries ..it could be something that simple and not the flavor,..
but then again,.. for the most part I just flat out didn't even want to taste anything ''strange'' .. don't think I was ever hungry though ...
-- raw seedless cucumber with the sides cut off ... no dressing ....goes well with watermelon ... that usually works

Holly - posted on 02/28/2011

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My son is 2 1/2 years and also small for his age. He eats when he wants, i try to provide a small plate of nutritious snacks for him so he can come and get things as he wants them! This seems to work pretty well for him. toddlers are just very busy, and require little amounts to keep them going. I had to switch dr's for my son because the first one kept telling my that i need to feed my son nothing but fat to get him to gain weight, only because he was not with the other kids as far as the charts go! His new dr is amazing! He told me that there is nothing to worry about because my son is gaining and has climbed to the 4 percentile, instead of the 1 percentile. My son is just a small guy, but looks very healthy. I did a lot of google research and found some pretty cool websites that give you ideas for snacks and different meals that might interest toddlers. i hope things get better for you! good luck!

Teresa - posted on 02/28/2011

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my daughter now almost 4 wouldn't eat anything for almost 2 years, i started giving her 1 bottle of pediasure a day when she wouldn't eat. i felt it kept her a little more healthy on stubborn days. now my 15 month old is getting to where she won't eat much. i'm gonna start buying her pediasure too. its full of the nutrients they need at least according to the commercials.

HANTIE - posted on 02/28/2011

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IS HE STILL ON THE BOTTLE? IF SO AS SOON AS HE STOPS DRINKING HE WILL START EATING. DON'T WORRY TO MUCH ABOUT IT. GOOD LUCK !

Sandy - posted on 02/27/2011

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My son is about the same size as yours, he will be three in a few weeks, and still wears 18 month clothing, we are just now starting to put him in some 24 month clothing he weighs around 24lbs. Lucas does eat, but never a lot at one time. he also tends to eat a lot in the morning for breakfast, snacks and lunch, and then it tapers off by dinner time. We've learned not to push him at all, he eats when he wants to. we do try to not give him a lot of sugary snacks when he does decide to eat, instead we give him fruits and veggies and dairy for snacks especially when he hasn't really eaten much for a meal. We went through a lot with his pediatrician because he dropped off the growth chart when he was an infant. then after awhile the pediatrician decided he was maintaining just under the growth chart and it was okay. If the doctor is okay with it, I wouldn't worry too much (I don't worry about it too much). I just figure he is really good at reading his bodies cues as to when he is full. Hopefully, he can take that skill into adulthood.

Chana - posted on 02/27/2011

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Wow sounds exactly like my little boy too! (although he also has food allergies). What i figured out is that he likes wet foods only, so i would suggest making fruit and veggie smoothies to get his daily fruits and veggies- for example, take milk/rice milk/soy milk, blend with a banana, orange, a carrot, and some sugar or honey (my son loves this), or bananas and strawberry shakes, and give it to him in his cup. I also give him soup every day, and if he doesn't eat it i put it in a cup. You can grind up meat or chicken and put it in his soup. I find that blending the soup is the best way to get him to eat it. Try butternut squash soup. He also loves shepherd's pie, so i like to make him a large batch and freeze portions. does he eat cereal for breakfast? give him cereal that have added vitamins. These are literally the only foods my kid eats. he likes sunflower butter (he's allergic to nuts) which has protein, and he likes pitas, and he eats alot of snacks, so i try to get him veggie chips, fruit bars, raisins, things that he likes and as close to healthy as possible. You might find that your kid only likes snacks or wet foods, and it could very well be texture issues. Also i would suggest trying to feed him while he runs around or distracting him with books or videos because maybe he doesnt have the patience to sit and eat. Hope this was helpful and good luck.

Janet - posted on 02/23/2011

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i read an article in take 5 or that's life recently which posted a similar question........i'd take him to a paedatrician as he may have an eating disorder - perhaps he has a throat or nasal problem.......what does ur maternal child person say???

Deepti - posted on 02/22/2011

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hi christy.. i know how tensed u cud be bcoz of ur childs habit... but we have to experiment new things to get his attention...for example if he wants to be as tall as his father u can introduce some veggies like ladyfinger which is long and tell him that the tall veg will make him taller.

or if he wants to be smart and popular then he may try a fruit or recipe which u want to feed him and that the recipe will help him become what he wants.more ideas can be had at:http://perspectiveofdeepti.blogspot.com/...

LaToya - posted on 02/22/2011

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I'd say still talk to your pediatrician, but toddlers get picky at this age. I would try giving him Ensure or a similar brand. That way, he would still receive some vitamins and such.

Terecia - posted on 02/22/2011

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i think maybe it is just that age group as i have a 2yr 9mth old boy and i struggle to get him to eat sometimes,then he will have a week where he will eat...during the time he wont eat properly i give him up and go milk drink which is equal to 2 weetbix and milk with the vitamins and minerals....my daughter was the same at that age also and she is now 5yrs7mths and wont stop eating...try not to stress to much as he should grow out of it soon,and like the doctor said he is fine and kids at there age do not starve themselves,they eat when they feel hungry

Keri - posted on 02/22/2011

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My son's small like that too. He's no longer 2 years old (he just turned 4), but isn't wearing "his size" or the size that most kids his age wear. HE on the other hand, eats and eats and eats. We do give him options on what he wants, rather than shoving something in his face and saying "eat." I know you shouldn't be allowing young children to dictate what they eat, but if you want to get him to eat a specific food group, offer him two things within that group and let him pick. If he picked it, it's what he wants and he will eat it.

Colleen - posted on 02/22/2011

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Have you tried putting food into his cup...maybe he can eat his mac & cheese out of his cup instead of a bowl. My daughter eats like a bird also, so we give her Carnation instant breakfast twice a day, at least then I know she is getting some vitamins she needs

Portia - posted on 02/22/2011

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I have a 2 and a half year-old daughter who also doesn't want to eat or be fed. She isn't picky though. She sometimes opens the fridge and picks out whatever she wants, and I just let her have it and she drinks alot of water, juices etc. and loves her chocalates. Even though I don't like that she eats so much chocalate, I just let her have it. She often eats fruits and yoghurt from the fridge too, I would just find the left overs in the fridge then I know it's her:) But she sometimes also tells me exactly what she wants for example: what to put on her sandwich or she would want cereal in the day or a dry piece of bread or canned fruit etc. I give her the freedom to choose whatever she wants, because I don't want her to be hungry. But then there are days when she wants absolutely no food, just something to drink.

Jessica - posted on 02/22/2011

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Hi Christy, I don't want to alarm you at all, but it could (though unlikely) be a medical problem. My oldest son has a rare syndrome that caused him to be "failure to thrive" for the first couple of years. He literally refused to drink any liquids and his brain did not signal to him when to eat solids. For him, it was so severe, he had to have a feeding tube to get enough nutrients. Many kids with his syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome (www.fpwr.org), are not diagnosed until later in life when the opposite eating issue hits them - an extreme interest in food. My son is 5 and still doesn't have the food interest part. Frankly, I don't think he would eat enough if left to decide when to tell us he's hungry. I'm sure they are other medical issues that can lead to failure to thrive or an aversion to wanting to eat. Has he been tested for sensory issues? My point is, if your gut is telling you something is off, keep pushing for answers. See another doc or two. Any doc who tells you kids **always** eat when they're supposed to, is not being open minded to the many problems is **could** be. I sure never thought my son would be the 1 in 12,000 born with PWS (it is not hereditary in most cases, including ours). Keep an eye out for other symptoms that seems a little different from other kids, keep a diary of what he eats, video him him refusing to eat, etc. Bringing all this in to a new doc should make him/ her pay attention to your concerns. You're an awesome mom to keep looking for answers!

Jessica - posted on 02/21/2011

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Sorry to clear up my earlier post, I buy finger foods, for him to feed himself. I dont feed him, cause like I said, he thinks he is a big boy. But yes, Ive been frusterated many times when he doesnt eat, or spits it out, or throws it or, gives it to our Yorkie. I get worried, because Im scared he isnt getting the proper nutrition. So I give him gummy vitamins. He loves those.

Jessica - posted on 02/21/2011

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My son is very picky when it comes to eating. He is a year and 8 months, and he does not like it if I feed him. he will throw a fit and refuse to eat. So I have to feed him finger foods. Also, it seems like if someone else tries to feed him, he will eat. The only way I can feed him, and maybe this will work for you, is if he sees me eating something, then he wants to eat what I have. I wish you the best of luck. :)

Meagan - posted on 02/21/2011

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Talk to your pediatrician. My daughter is actually the same exact way, except she eats constantly. One of the things to help her gain weight and get nutriets is pediasure or carnation instant breakfast once a day. It's awesome! SHe loves it, and it gives her a caloric boost. Also, keep trying. Once you find something he like, stick with it for a while. My daughter eats constantly, but she's picky. So, for 2 weeks she had pbj sandwiches, apples, grilled cheese, mac and cheese and grapes for food. That's all she would eat, so that's what I had to give her. Now, she's at the stage where I can call things "pie" or "cookies" and she'll eat it. You can always try that. If he LOVES cookies, then cut things into circles and call them cookies. My mom had to do that with me, now I have to do it with mine, so it must work! lol

Some kids are just really really picky. But, do talk to your pediatrician about other things, like vitamins, to keep him nutritionally balanced. And, they tend to have great suggestions for food! =]

Judy - posted on 02/21/2011

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My daughter was the same way..... her doc told me something that helped... No (young) child will ever starve themselves.... It was great advice. Just be sure he is getting vitamins (He's old enough to eat chewable ones), and keep doing what you are doing. Give him smaller portions and feed him more often... He might be the snack and graze type. In the long run it is a healthier way to eat. I should mention that my daughter is grown now, thin, tall, healthy, and beautiful. and... she eats all kinds of things.

Matil - posted on 02/21/2011

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Does he have any texture and/or taste preference (e.g. crunchy verses mushy and salty vereses sweet)? That would be my first question...what foods does he generally like? Is his food preference consistent...or is it a hit or miss kind of day? Sorry for all the questions, but need more information to help...I'm a therapist...can you tell? lol I will check the post later for your response and see if I can help. Cheers-

Siddeeqah - posted on 02/20/2011

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I had this problem with my son until he was almost about 3 years old. I kinda figured he just didn't like my cooking, when my mother took over cooking for him he started eating. He is now 3 1/2 years and in pre-school but refuses to eat anything in school at all. I still have the problem of him not wanting to eat at home except maybe fries and biscuit. He eats more at his grandmother's house more than at home with us and I have tried everything.

Jodell - posted on 02/16/2011

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Christy, Please let me know if you find anything that works. When she does drink milk which is very rare I will try to put mix some instant breakfast in it, not very much but she wont take any vits. I know its very hard and stressful I have thrown away so much food it makes me sick. I will just leave things on a table for her also. Cheerios sometimes. Stay positive she has improved some what, I am sure yours will too.... Again all my best

Jodell - posted on 02/15/2011

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I have a 3 1/2 who does not like to eat either......She is almost 4 and is very skinny and tall.... the only thing I can get her to eat is french fries and that is it... I have had constipation problems and she is not potty trained yet maybe due to she just will not eat or drink well.... I feel your pain very well. The Docs are not worried so therefore I am just trying to deal with it.... All my very best

Carolyn - posted on 02/15/2011

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Is there any way you can still give him his comfort cup without filling him up (like water instead of milk) so he has more desire to eat, I've found babies can often be quite lazy and not have much interest in food & the whole process of eating if they can get all they need from the comfort of a cup or bottle, especially if their on formula or other nutrient enriched drinks. But like the doctor said try not to stress over it, I know it's really hard not to but they are so attuned to our feelings & he'll feel stressed whenever you try. Just keep reminding yourself he's healthy (the doctor wasn't concerned) & loved, your doing a great job it's just a little problem that you'll overcome soon enough!

Christy - posted on 02/14/2011

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yes, i have tried all of these suggestions & that's why i'm so concerned about it. his doctor simply said, "he'll eat when he gets ready to, but don't force it upon him because that could make the problem worse." i know that one problem is that instead of a security blanket or stuffed animal, he has a security cup. yes, his security blanket is his cup. he goes absolutely berserk without it at bedtime. i'm getting very frustrated and worried.

Krista - posted on 02/14/2011

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My kids are more likely to eat if they have even a small hand in preparing the food. They also prefer to eat if we all eat together as a family. Some days they eat lots and then others they barely eat anything. Some days one will eat all the fruit in the house and the other will go through an entire block of cheese. Then the next day they'll switch proteins for veg. I try to provide only healthy choices so they can snack about 5 or 6 times a day rather than make three big meals.

Carolyn - posted on 02/14/2011

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Have you consulted a doctor yet, at he's age I'm pretty sure he wouldn't get the vitamins & nutrience he needs, also chewing is important for his jaw muscle development which will affect his speech. I've never had this problem myself but I can imagine it would cause you much concern, seek advice where ever you can but try not to make it a big issue when dealing with him as often the extra pressure on him will cause more problems. Try gentle encouragement, make him wait longer for his milk & always offer food before milk. Babies taste buds are very sensitive too so try making his solids very bland to start while his taste buds are still developing & start with food that's quite running until he's used to thicker consistency. Also make sure he see you & others eating around him & try to make a big deal out of how good the food tastes ect. I hope this helps a bit & good luck

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