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My 14 month won't eat...! Lock Rss

Hi guys

Wondering if you can please help or, if you've had a similar experience.

My 14 month old won't eat...almost anything! We can feed him pastina (baby pasta in vege soup) sometimes, pasta sometimes, bread with nutella and yoghurt but that's it! Well, and the good stuff - like ice cream and custard!

It's been going on for about 4 weeks now and I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. I've tried different foods and I've tried mushing them up but nothing. I'm really reluctant to go back to the baby food pouches but, when on occasion I have, he smashes them. It's like he can't be bothered chewing or there's something magical in them that's not in my cooking haha!

Yes, he still has milk...too much probably. He has a bottle when he wakes up, 2 more during the day, one before bed and two still during the night. Each bottle is 150-200ml. Thing is, when it's a food he does like, he will eat until the cows come home (ie ice cream) so I know the milk is not filling him to the point where he doesn't want food, if that makes sense.

Anyway, I clearly can't sort this by myself so I'd be really grateful for any advice/support on this one.

Thanks soooo much!
I'm sure you would sort it out yourself hehe, us mums tend to over time... Even though you said you don't think its the amount of milk bottles you are giving him I'm going to think (although you clearly already have lol) that it is. So you could try cut some out. In saying that eating is one of those things they'll either do or not. My three year old still refuses dinner most nights but we do make him eat by feeding him. He used to refuse breakfast and lunches to but he is now much better at that. On the other hand my 11month loves to eat and I can give him what ever, he will eat it.

He's probably still a little young to understand bribery but on that note maybe you could offer him his food before you offer him his bottle???

I'm a little sensitive to this issue because of problems we're dealing with with DS so I'm coming from a view point of food issues that are requiring medical intervention yet having had people dismiss my concerns for a while as 'just a phase'. From what I've learned with my DS, it's at around this age (just after they turn 1) that parents might become aware of food issues but this may be because, at this age, children are starting to try and make their own decisions on some things, and they're also starting to be more independent with feeding themselves food etc. It isn't always a problem, and in many cases can "just" be a phase and something he'll work through himself but there can be times where it is something that parents might need more help with.

If you're really stuck and concerned, try contacting your local community health center and ask if they have an occupational therapist or a speech therapist that are trained in food issues. They will be able to sit down with you and go through your concerns and give you an idea of whether they're 'normal' behaviours or if it's something to be concerned about. If they think it is something to be concerned about they'll be able to work with you to start implementing ideas to help you. I know that, where I am, there are monthly 'drop in clinics' were you just show up and can speak to an OT/speech/physio about concerns as that's what I did with my concerns about my son's eating and they did a brief assessment and decided that my concerns warranted further investigation so we were referred on to a proper scheduled appointment with an OT who we are now seeing to work on getting DS to eat more than a few things.

Some of the strategies that we're using with DS are:
* no serving at the kitchen and then just taking plates to the table. All the food is placed into bowls and then put out on the table. Instead of having things all mixed together e.g. pasta with the topping over the top etc, everything is in it's own bowl and then served from there.

* Everyone serves themselves. I don't dish the food up anymore, although I do help DD2 but that's more so that the food doesn't end up all over the table. Everyone serves themselves and takes as much or as little as they want from each component/container. This way DS, who doesn't like his food to be 'wet' can serve up his Sweet and sour pork into 3 distinct sections on his plate with the rice and meat kept well away from the sauce while I can have everything mixed together.

* Everyone must take a bit of everything onto their plate but that doesn't mean that they have to eat it. DS in particular has his 'learning plate' and his 'eating plate'. He serves onto his eating plate but if he doesn't want to eat it he has to move it onto his learning plate. This encourages him to at least touch the food and interact with it etc. They've also recommended that, at the end of the meal, DS put the food he hasn't attempted to eat (the stuff on his learning plate) into the bin by holding it between his teeth and blowing it, not spitting it, into the bin because this lets him experience the sensation of the food on/in his mouth without having to actually eat it. Personally I just can't bring myself to do this part but I do get him to put his rubbish away etc.

* Every meal has something that I know he'll eat. For a while we stopped using spaghetti when having spaghetti bolognaise because he wouldn't eat the spaghetti and also doesn't eat the sauce. Instead we'd use spiral pasta because it was something we knew he'd eat.

* Take the pressure away from meal times, if he eats he eats, if he doesn't it's ok. The OT explained it to me using the flight or fight response - for DS, when he feels pressure to eat he actually eats less and his appetite decreases even more because he's focused on getting away from the situation as fast as he can. By taking away the pressure of 'you must eat this much' his appetite isn't supressed even more and he's more likely to eat his meal.

* Don't use desserts etc as a reward/loss of desserts as a consequence. If you are planning to have dessert after a meal praise their effort at eating regardless of how much or how little they've actually eaten before giving them the dessert because it is a part of the meal. This one seemed counter intuitive to me when they first said it, I thought that he'd just eat less because he knew he'd still get the dessert after. To my surprise it actually had the opposite effect because it took the pressure away about 'having' to eat the main food and by allowing him to have dessert, when they were planned as part of dinner anyway, regardless of how much he'd eaten of the main meal he actually started eating more of the meal rather than less.

* trying to have a regular routine for meals and snacks. there is some flexibility, it's not like dinner has to be on the table at x time or the world comes to an end but we do try to do things within 30min of a certain time.

* depending on where he sits to eat, make sure his legs are supported. DS sits in a chair but can't reach the floor when sitting down. we know have a little stool thing that sits under the table for him to put his feet on and it helps because he's more comfortable.

Like I said at the start, I'm sensitive to this topic because of my experience so not all of this information may be relevant to you and you may find that it is just him trying to be independent and having some level of control over something but, by the same token, I know that people dismissing my concerns and telling me that it was 'normal' wasn't helpful with what we ended up dealing with.

I hope some of this is helpful.

My DS went through the same thing at the same age (he's 15 months now) where he barely ate anything except the good stuff as you say. I'm pretty sure in his case it was because he was cutting teeth and his mouth was that sore that it hurt to chew anything, even stuff you would think wouldn't be a drama. He only ate what he didn't have to chew. So maybe it could be the same issue for your DS.

I do suspect it's all the milk. I know you say he'll eat ice cream etc till the cows come home despite all the milk but that's kids for ya. They will over-ride their full tummy signals for sweets. I remember as a kid I used to tell my parents I had two tummies - one for dinner and one for desert smile

Hungry kids I would reduce his milk to one in the morning and one before bed and no treats and see how he goes.

Good luck!! smile

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply and especially Leisa - you have brought up some great points and some that we might even try with our older son. He's almost 3 and I can see him benefitting from some of the things you said...well, here's hoping anyway!

Re the milk intake - I had actually decided today, before I posted, that I was going to try and cut down his milk during the day a bit to see if that would make him hungrier and I will give that a go over the next few weeks. Usually though, when it comes to milk, he literally screams and screeches and starts shaking until he gets it! It's almost like he's a bit of an addict and that "fix" calms him down haha!

I do always try food before milk during the day usually ends up being that he has a bottle "after (his non-existent) lunch" but before he goes to sleep and in the arvo, a bit like afternoon tea. His morning and before bed bottles we just give him (my older son still has milk in the morning and before bed too)!

Again, I really appreciate the replies and will try to incorporate a bit of everything over the next few weeks...fingers crossed!
yeah, that is one good thing with the stuff we're doing for DS, it works well for the whole family. When we first started it felt really weird and like it was so much more of an effort to do it that way but we've gotten used to it now and it just seems 'normal' to us (been doing it for about 7 or 8 months). The other thing we're doing is working on extending him from things that he will eat to other things that are similar so we've used the spiral pasta that he will eat as a spring board to getting him to have spaghetti (served a little bit with meals that we did spiral pasta for and had him take some onto his 'learning plate' and touch and play with it to see that it was a similar texture to the spiral pasta etc) and also to start considering the pasta sheets in a lasagne. The lasagne is still hit and miss because everything is all combined and he really doesn't like that but he's now at the point where, if he can scrape the meat and sauce off each layer he will eat the lasagne sheets more often than he won't and he'll sometimes have a tiny bit of the meat 'sauce' layers. I've had to let go of the 'don't play with your food' statement, because we're now encouraging DS to 'play' with the food he's not willing to eat yet. At least by 'playing' with it he's being exposed to the food and having some experience with it which will, hopefully, eventually lead to him trying it.

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