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Thread: Food refusal

  1. #1
    Melinda Guest

    Default Food refusal

    I'm after some suggestions as to what we can try........

    Jacob just seems to be protesting to all food with the exception of peas, corn, yoghurt, fruche or petit miam, apples, crackers (e.g. rice crackers, snakatas, water crackers) and of course the 'bad' things he likes of course which he gets as a treat, e.g. biccies!

    We've tried various different ways to try and get him to eat which include:

    ~ Giving him his own spoon to feed himself (we've done this for a long time but he's not even interested in doing that ATM, all he does is throw the spoon or play with the food and tip the bowl up so that all the food goes onto his tray!).

    ~ Giving him his own spoon to feed himself which we attempt to shovel food in with a spoon ourselves (this previously worked to a certain extent, but isn't now).

    ~ Giving him things that he can easily feed himself with, e.g. a few crackers or a few vegies like peas and corn that he can easily pick up with his own hands, whilst at the same time attempting to shovel in food with a spoon.

    ~ Doing all of the above (spoon for him, spoon for us, snacks on the tray).

    ~ Doing all of the above in front of the TV to distract him. We've also done it all away from the TV, but to no avail.

    Part of me is saying that he is trying to assert his independence and say "I don't want that, I want X" therefore he refuses to eat the things on offer. Part of me is saying that I can't offer umpteen different things all at once or one after the other, otherwise it teaches him that if he refuses something, he ultimately gets what he wants. I don't feel like it's the right example to be setting, to be preparing different meals for him as well as us (particularly when he would previously most of the things I made). I feel like if I did that, I'll be setting myself up for a big trap (not to mention a lot of work).

    On the other hand, is he really saying that he simply doesn't like the foods offered any more? Obviously it's natural for everyone to have their own likes and dislikes and if he genuinely doesn't like something, then I don't want to force him to eat it (that would only create more dramas). I'd rather find an alternative if that was the case.

    Jacob seems to be not quite himself these past couple of weeks also..... we've had HUGE tantrums (every day) which seem to stem from communication issues and trying to get his own way (he has also been throwing toys/food and hitting us heaps) and his sleep has also been a bit disturbed, plus I think there may be 2 y.o. molars on the way and he's had a bit of a cold these past couple of days.

    We're getting pretty stressed about the whole food situation because it is always resulting in tantrums and food being thrown about all over the place! Thank god for the messy mat! LOL But obviously having him getting so upset about food, and us getting upset about it, doesn't do anybody any good at all!

    Can anyone give us some suggestions on what we can try? Interestingly enough, the one day a fortnight that he spends with my Mum, he does none of this.....he will quite happily eat his food without throwing it around and doesn't tip it out of the bowl and will happily let her feed him and help feed himself also.

    Going out of our brains here........sorry for the long-winded post!!! Thanks for reading it if you got this far! LOL

    ETA: We have also tried feeding Jacob whilst sitting on our lap (both in front of the TV and away, whilst also providing snacks or going without them LOL), and we have also tried feeding him whilst he is happily playing on the floor (this often works but only with certain foods such as those listed above). Jacob is also going through separation anxiety in a big way, with DH and has been since the start of January, so we're in our fourth month of that.....eeeek!!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2004


    Oh Melinda you poor thing. I am not sure any of what I say will be helpful because we are a long way off that age and it's fun and games! Anyway for what it's worth....
    Maybe when he throws a tantrum, just ignore him and if he won't eat, he'll soon get hungry and realise it's not going to work (ie getting a reaction and he'll want food!) or alternatively feed him something he likes such as just peas for a week - he'll soon get pretty bored of that and want whatever you cook! Maybe totally stupid suggestions so feel free to ignore. Hope something works soon though - I know how stressful the eating issue is!

  3. #3
    Melinda Guest


    LOL! We've got multiple challenges here ATM I think - separation anxiety, teeth, and major developmental milestones with talking/communicating etc (which I think is the major reason for tantrums/frustration/anger etc) plus sleeping disturbances and food refusal!!! Sheesh! ROFL

    I guess he could also be picking up on the possibility that things are changing with me being PG...........I'm not sure.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2003


    were having food refusal problems too, she seems to eat ok with finger foods like fish fingers and stuff but its annoying me because i stilltry to give her her vegies n stuff at dinner and she just refuses to eat it yet she'll eat a biccie.. argh

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Giving the gift of life to a friend..


    My sister had serious food issues with her son...
    The only thing that worked was offering him his meal (after 8+ months of trying many different ways to get him to eat ind you!) & if he didnt eat or seem interested she would take it away, pop it in the fridge & take him out of his high chair & lethim go about whatever it was that he was doing...
    Within a few weeks hedid start eating some food at dinner time, but he never starved & it didnt affect him at all that for months he rarely ate anything!!!
    He now eats whatever is served up & tries new things & is generally a great eater! He is now almost 9!

    so I say try to relax & not make it an issue coz they sense that & I guess it's a form of rebelling & so just say "Here's dinner, eat it up" If after 10 or 15 mins nothing is happening, remove the meal & let him go, coz working yourself up wont help at all..
    Best of luck!!!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    House of the crazy cat ladies...


    Mel I dont have a lot of time to reply right now, but I just want to say that WRT the multiple issues that are going on with Jacob-
    I feel like I have been through something that sounds SO similar over the last few months with Aidyn.

    The hitting/throwing & crying tantrums were driving DP and I bananas, and I honestly was doubting my mothering skills, wondering how I could have raised such a violent child! But then lo and behold in the past 1-2 months the hitting has drastically reduced - very nearly stopped completely, and the throwing has been cut down by over 50% too... But boy it took a while... I think he was in that stage for about 4-6 months.. and it wasnt pleasant. I would say to just continue with exactly what you are doing - telling him that hitting is not acceptable and he must be gentle, etc, etc. I really think it will get through... unfortunately it may take another couple of months (if going by Aidyns age/stages is any indicator)

    We also went through some food dramas, though not that extreme... and TBH I just let him eat what he wanted, as long as it wasnt very junk-like or too sweet etc.
    We have found that he much prefers eating at the same time as we do, and prefers even more to eat off our plates rather than his own. Its not a habit I want him to get into, however if he hasnt eaten much that day, I certainly wont stop him from doing it iykwim.
    I also try to regularly make up batches of wholemeal fruit & bran mini-muffins, or vegie muffins which he sometimes will eat when all else fails.
    Another thing I do is if he really doesnt want to eat his dinner, I then give him a range of semi healthy (and easy) alternatives - such as fruit, or pieces of cheese... and I know its not ideal, but I suppose its better than nothing.

    I guess it could also be quite possible that the dislike of food could be related to his molars coming through too maybe?
    I noticed about 2 weeks ago that Aidyns 2year molars were fully broken through, and I wonder if that had something to do with his recent improvement in behaviour & eating.

    Oh and another thing... Aidyn also eats well, and behaves perfectly at daycare, and whenever anyone else is looking after him... and always has! So maybe it has something to do with them feeling so comfortable in the home environment and so used to their parents that they feel more able to 'let go' and tantrum, as opposed to when they are with someone other than mum or dad, or in a place other than home. And boredom may also come into it as well as a factor for why they get frustrated and cranky...

    Also being sick can effect them in more ways then we can pinpoint I think... After Aidyn has been sick, his sleeping routines usually go totally feral for about 2 weeks afterwards.

    Anyway, sorry I have just realised how disjointed this all is 8-[ I hope in all of that I have been able to offer some sort of advice or reassurance that may be useful to you.
    After feeling like I have experienced similar stages with Aidyn these past 6 months I really just want to tell you that I'm so positive that Jacob will grow out of it fairly soon.
    Huge *hugs* and please email or PM me if you ever need to chat, or just vent.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Forestville NSW


    Well... I must say its refreshing to know I'm not alone in this battle either. Matilda has gone the last week without dinner because she has refused ANYTHING offered to her & I just put her to bed after offering her an ice block, yogurt, vegemite sandwich for lunch which is her fav lunch & she didn't eat one bite. If we try to offer her something different, the only way she will eat it is if we are eating dinner with her & she gets it off our plate (like Aidyn).

    For a few months there we would offer her dinner & then wind up feeding her what we knew she would eat, her favourites... the last week we decided she needed to have some different variety because although what she was eating was healthy, it was limited to 3-4 things (Jacob's got more range than Matilda ) She ate one dinner this week which was a spinach omelette which is good we've found one more dinner for her. I guess what we do is alot like what Tracey said... leave it for 10-15 minutes and if nothing happens (although with Matilda its more likely that everything will be chucked on the floor & she will be screaming & trying to climb out of the high chair) we put her down and leave her. She eats dinner heaps earlier than we do, so lately we've tried to eat with her and sometimes we offer her a "second" dinner when we eat just before she goes to bed, most of the time she doesn't eat it but will sample things off our plates.

    So she eats breakfast really well, eats m/ tea with a voracious appetite, refuses lunch and dinner. We stopped feeding her arvo tea to try and increase her hunger for dinner but it made no difference so now we offer her something small but different than normal & she doesn't eat it either.

    Our dogs have gained heaps of weight in the last month too.... They have to do the initial clean up around the high chair because it makes me feel ill trying to clean up all the mixed up foods.

    Oh! Thats funny...I was just thinking about how last week at puppy preschool I told the owners that they should leave the food with the puppies for 10-15 minutes and if they didn't eat to pick it up & offer it again the next feeding time.... and that promotes good eating and not picky eating... :-k Maybe I should have taken my own advice with my daughter 8-[

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Sydney, NSW


    We went through this when Tilly was over two, but it was so hard going from a fabulous eater to a child that would ONLY eat baked beans and egg (she now eats neither). What the doctor told me once, was never make a big deal of it, and just let them eat what they want. If they dont' eat vegies for a while it doesn't matter. Maybe if he eats some fruit, and what about hot chips? Hot chips that are chunky from the fish shop, so at least he gets some substance. Maybe try a few days of what he wants. The food you listed are all ok, so maybe a few days of just that, just to stop the tantrums. Also is he hungry. I found my dd ate alot better after starving her (ok, this is not as evil as it sounds). She could have breaky and then instead of snacking, wait until lunch and give food before a drink.
    Good luck and hope it improves.
    Just another idea, if he likes rice, I always grate zuchinni in it, as it's almost invisible (with not much skin).

  9. #9
    Melinda Guest


    Thanks guys!

    Tracey - we will do exactly what you said - basically if we try for X amount of time with no success, we put the food in the fridge and generally try again later if it's something that won't spoil.

    Ambah - Yep, I have been doubting my mothering skills also. I feel like it's all my fault somehow, even though I keep telling myself that the things he is doing is all 'normal' toddler behaviour (so the books say! LOL) It's funny that Aidyn will also eat from your plate - Jacob will do the same and we won't stop him if he's not eaten much, otherwise we don't encourage it because it's not a habit we want to continue, just like you said. It's interesting though if you put some from your plate into a bowl or something for him.......he will eat it from your plate or your fork, but not from his own bowl?! Picky picky! You're right too - we always offer Jacob healthy things and I guess thankfully he loves his calcium based things like yoghurt/fruche/custard etc and loves apples and peas and corn so we offer him those knowing usually he will eat them. Anyhow, you have certainly given me some hope that this stage too will pass and that with us continuing to reinforce that we don't hit/throw etc, it will eventually sink in!! It feels like it's been going on for decades LOL!!! In reality it's been around 4 - 5 months I would say.

    Christy - Jacob will normally eat breakfast pretty well also, although he usually just has 1 weetbix with milk and perhaps a yoghurt if we're lucky. Like Matilda, if Jacob doesn't want to eat, he too will throw the food on the floor and be screaming to get out of the high chair in a monumental fashion!

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Giving the gift of life to a friend..


    I hope it helps matey!!!

    I have just realised that Maddy has only had her glass of milk (with Milo) for brekky the past 2 weeks!!! But she is not at all a BIG eater anyways!
    She has then had a wholegrain sanga for lunch with salami & cabbage(?) her latest fad, but hey it's eaten...
    I then pop a suck ya guts out yogurt (always comes home again & gets binned!) a rollup & a pkt of chips!

    The school provides fruits in season & makes a plate up for kids to share etc...

    She is never saying she is hungry! Last night she only wanted a bowl of rice & 3 brussel sprouts! So that's what she had!?

    My Mum & Dad used to sit like Army chiefs at the table until we'd finish our meals & I used to pop it all in my mouth chew it up & sneeze it into a tissue which I'd flush or bin later that night!!!
    I actually cursed my parents nightly... I'd be in tears with them yelling at me to eat & hurry up etc & they'd get angry & Mum would cry... But for what????

    I think you should let him go & not make a big deal of it, coz then your battle isnt so big!

    Best of luck!

    ETA: If it doesnt work... Dont blame me!!! LOL LOL LOL :smt016

  11. #11
    brodes80 Guest


    Well i'm glad i'm not alone!!! My boy (17 mths) can sniff vegies a mile off and turns his head and throws it on the floor!! Oh well, he won't starve!!

    A sneaky trick I've learnt is to mix totally pureed vegies (even baby food for 6 mth olds) into rice cream/yoghurt/custard- at least he's getting SOME vegies!!! mmm sounds gross but he doesn't mind!!

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    whoop whoop or not, not sure yet!!!


    My DS went through all of this too and now we still have certain things we eat one week and not the next especially with dinner style foods. Also the eating off our plates rather than his own was definitely a common occurence when it came to his non favourite foods. Sometimes I find if I take it off my plate and put it on his he's more likely to eat than if its just present on his

    There are some foods I learnt he truly didn't like - eg carrot hates it with a passion - and then others that are just a passing faze.

    I do the same thing as Tracey - if he doesn't eat what he's offered he doesn't eat that meal and will keep to see if interest is shown later - and if I'm concerned that he's not eating much throughout the week at all I make sure the odd meal here and there is something I definitely know he'll eat (pasta or rice).

    I also went back to blending everything into potato when he went back onto potato. Although am getting him out of this now as his tastes widen again. but he went he wouldn't eat any form of meat which worried me then I worked out it was actually anything healthy that required chewing - eg too lazy and too many other things he could be doing

    DS also eats well at daycare where they provide full meals so I don't panic when its been a daycare day and I know he's had a healthy lunch.

    Sorry just realised this is well and truly disjointed - put it down to the flu brain combined with pregnancy brain - but really you aren't alone they all seem to go through it numerous times as they get older as they decide what they do and don't like, as they try you out a bit, as they find life more interesting than eating, as different teeth make certain things easier - the list goes on. Good luck with it and I'm sure things on the eating front will improve - its just not nice when all the challenges arrive at once I know

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