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Pregnancy & Parenting
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My 22 month old refuses to eat

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Hi! I have a 22 month old little boy and he has started refusing solid foods the past couple of months. He will munch on crackers or some fruit here or there but he never will eat a meal with us anymore. He flat refuses. I give him several options including some finger foods and using a spoon, and he just flat refuses. He will eat some chicken nuggets every once and a while but I don't want my child being raised on fried chicken nuggets!!! I have talked to his doctor about this and she has put him on nutrient suppliment drinks Pediasure, 2 a day! If you guys don't know about those, they cost more than formula!! I feel like he is regressing! Anyways if anyone has experienced this or has any helpful hints, Please let me know!!

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Does he just want to snack all day or is he really not eating anything? My daughter just started eating meals. She used to snack only! I figured that as long as she was eating something, her body was using it for fuel. Some days she ate only fruit & edamame, but she was still eating. I'm not sure if that's your case...

In the mean time, there are baked all chicken breaded nuggets you can get in the freezer section that would be better than fried...? 

Does he drink milk? Take a multi-vitamin?

Is this when you have sit down meals? Have you tried just setting some fingerfoods, somewhere and see if he will eat it if you don't pay too much attention? My son didn't want to eat for a while because we were making to much of a deal if he was eating or not. So we would set his food on the coffee table and turn away, and hes back to normal now.

He'll eat when he's hungry.  Keep cheerios and healthy foods around.  My (now teenaged) first son lived on pb&j for 2 years.  He still would if he could, I think.  But pb&j is healthy, the way we made it. 

If you don't want him to eat fried chicken nuggets, then don't offer them.  He will eat when he's hungry enough, and he will learn to enjoy it.  I know this sounds harsh, but trust me on this.  Your first child will rule the roost!  (My other two sons eat anything I feed them, almost.  That's because we were too busy to cater to their wants when they were toddlers.)

Terrible-two's start at 18 months and last until about 36 months.  Welcome to the beginning of your journey.  Keep smiling.  It does get better.

I know nothing about this; but can you make the food look more fun?  like smiley faces and what not?  i guess offer him an array of foods.  could you puree them now to be not so solid so that he gets his nutrients?

Maybe he's counting his calories and trying for a higher deficit?


My daughter is now 2 1/2.  When she was your sons age all she would eat was goldfish crackers and drink water.  After that she moved onto fruit snacks.  She ate so many of those I was just waiting for the day she would poop a fruit snack!!!  She ate very little at dinner time and has only recently started to chow down.  I asked her pediatritian about it and she wasn't worried at all.  She said that it was normal and as long as she was eating it was fine.

What we realized recently was that we were giving her WAY too many in between meal snacks.  They weren't unhealthy snacks...fruit snacks here, cup of crackers there, an apple, an orange, they were just too much.  Now that we have really cut back to one snack in between meals she has been eating better.  I gave her spaghetti for lunch and after exclaiming "Yay!  I love it!" she woofed it down!

So my advice is to watch how many snacks he eats and how much he is drinking especially a few hours before a meal.  Good luck!!

The problem is that now that he drinks the pediasure he really has no reason to eat food.  The pediasure probably gives him enough of a comfortably full feeling that he can hold out even longer.  I would ask your doctor about switching to a chewable vitamin instead.  Then when he starts asking for milk offer him food instead with water to drink if he is really thirsty. 

Heya, i havn't got kids of my own so i dont know if it will work, but have you tried letting him get involved with cooking?

My neice loves getting involved and she ALLWAYS licks the bowl out ofter cooking! If I dont have time to cook with her i buy some plain fairy cakes and writing icing, and maybe some little sweets to stick on top.

To be honest i have just as much fub as she does!


Hi mandwest. I have three children (6, 5, and 1) and all of them have gone through this. They just go through spurts. One time they won't want anything and the next they will eat brussells sprouts if you give it to them and they eat like they haven't eaten in months. I think it has to do with growth spurts. There are a few things that they seemed to always like no matter how hungry and that is cereal (and they are so fortified now that it is actually a good thing) and those little pasta pickups from Gerber. I wouldn't worry too much. Those pedia sure things are very expensive. Has your doctor said if it would be okay to just do formula? Another thing you could try is the grazing thing. Try every so often to give him a little bit of what you are eating (seems to make it more appealing for some reason). Hope this helps. :)

I would *can* the pediasure unless your son has an underlying health problem. Offer him only healthy foods at appropriate times and he will learn to eat at the right time.  Eating on a schedule is a good habit. For kids 3 meals with small snacks in between.

Don't make a big deal about it - there are not too many toddler who will starve themselves; it is not a body image thing for them. 

 If he does not eat at supper and starts complaining about being hungry, he is not old enough to understand that he would not be hungry if he ate.  Offer him enough of a small healthy snack to keep him going

I am no pediatrician but I raised two healthy kids and have two healthy grandkids.  Our dinner rules when they got older were they had to "try" everything and if they did not eat their dinner, tough.

One thing that *may* help you is that little kids seem to have a strong preference for foods to be separate - while you may like a complex casserole, they would prefer individual vegetables like peas, green beans, etc.  Meat seems to be an acquired taste so how about chicken strips, homemade, non battered (baked)

I think this is just a phase.  My son went through the not eating spell at around 20 months old.  He would only eat dry cereal, crackers, mac and cheese, and banana's.  I just kept putting a plate of what we were having in front of him at dinner every day.  Eventually he started taking a bite or two, and then after about 3 or 4 months he got his normal appetite back.  I started giving him a half a vitamin every day and tried to get one pediasure into him a day. 

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Hello Mandwest, I was reading your blog about your son and it sounds like your describing my grandson to a T.

1st of all I've tryed everything under the sun as I've raised my own 3 children and 4 foster children all with very different moods and attitudes, So i am well aware of the different ways to trick kids to get them to eat certain things.Although there are some good responce's to your entry i feel until you've been though it it's had to give the right advice, (Did any of the responces work for you if so which one?) 

He's 22 mths old and literly will take 2 very small bits of something and won't touch anything else.What's troubling me is he height is on point for his age but his only weights about 18 lbs, Both mom and Dad are small framed ppl but i feel like this is just to small for his age, So without sounding like i'm excusing her of not feeding my grandbaby as this is a touchy subject especially for a 1st time mother I'm just wondering if your son worked it out? or if you found anything that worked for you, Please share??

Concerned Scotia Nana.


My son is 24 months and has rarely eaten much dinner. I understand this is common/normal. About the 22-month marker he discovered a new level of playing, it's talking about what his cars do and imitating the real world. My theory for him is that this new phase of play is SOOO exciting, he doesn't want to stop playing for ANYTHING.

That said, I've started trying to time the family dinner with when he's actually hungry. He used to NEED dinner right when we got hiome about 5. But now, I can wait till 6 or 7 given the night. I also just out juice. My mom said it makes them feel full and kills the appetite. It's worked. My son also likes to dip his food. He's definitely into food separation, some nights he insists on separate plates. I stick with variety. He usually eats at least a bite of his dinner so he's exposed to different flavors.

When I'm concerned he ahsn't eaten enough... like I know he's hungry cranky or its the weekend and i know he's barely eaten all day... i play 'airplane' feeding games and spoon feed him. When he refuses, I try feeding his ear, his nose, hands... etc most ofthe time, he'll laugh and tell me to put it in his mouth. If he's really not hungry he'll still refuse and I'll just let it go.

Is your son drinking milk or any type of toddler formula?  If so, how much?  That could be a big culprit in his not wanting solid foods.

At 22 months it is soooo normal for kids to do this.  I actually ended up having to put my daughter back on a formula just for my own peace of mind for about 2 months.  At least I knew she was getting some vitamins!

She is now 27 months and just started eating "normally" (if you can call any toddler eating pattern normal) about 3 weeks ago.  Otherwise, between about 22 months - 26 months she literally was living off of toddler formula, apple cinnamon cherrios, cracker stick/cheese dip packs and yogurt cereal bars.  Anything else and it would be thrown in seconds. 

My 10 year old at that age ... same deal.  We realized she was a grazer more than a meal sitter.  Once we figured that out she was a happy snackin fool.  We would sit out bowls with small amounts of different foods...cut up peaches, goldfish, etc. on her table and she'd get them when she was hungry. 

I wouldn't do the pediasure unless your son is severely malnurished.  Our ped tells us...."they won't starve themselves, they will eat when they are hungry".



 When my nephew was about two he went through a phase like this for about a year. My sister would jump through hoops to get him to eat, she would literally cry and beg him to eat something, or fly into a rage if they ran out of his favorite Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets! He would go a day, some times two without eating a thing! Just juice and milk. He was so stubborn about it, but by the third morning he would break down and finally eat something. Unless there is a serious medical/physiological issue, a child will not let themselves starve.

 A big part of why toddlers fight over food and eating is to asert control over their environment, i think. They want to make decisions for themselves. My sis finally would let him choose between a few of his favorite meals at breakfast and lunch. Dinner was a set thing, you eat what was made, but he was so happy to make his own "chuses" ( choices) for lunch and breakfast. She would even let him help pour the cereal or peal the banana. Ooh, maybe let your son help make the food? He might be more interested in eating it?

My son is about 2 years old now, and loves to serve himself. I let him spoon cold things on to his own plate, like fruit or yogurt. He looks so proud of himself! He also trys to spoon some stuff on to my plate!

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