Feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your child won’t eat anything or refuses to eat at all? There are real reasons and ways you can help picky eater kids. Learn how from a feeding expert and mom.
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As an occupational therapist, parents ask me all the time “Why does my child refuse to eat anything?”
It’s frustrating when you try to serve new foods, or worse, when you serve something they’ve eaten before like their beloved chicken nuggets or peanut butter crackers and they refuse to eat!
Most kids will do this occasionally, but some kids are refusing to eat on a regular basis.
What’s going on with kids that almost never seem to eat?
Or, will only eat if you feed them?
Or, the child that won’t eat and is losing weight?
As a parent, it’s scary, confusing, and stressful. You may wonder if you’re just dealing with a picky eater’s preferences that are like shifting sands.
It’s often much more than picky eating – more on that in a minute.
“My 2/3/4+ year old won’t eat anything” – Where to Start
To help kids that are refusing food, we have to start with figuring out WHY they aren’t eating, because consistent food refusal is not a typical part of development.
In fact, when a kid is repeatedly not eating with or without weight loss, it’s a BIG red flag that something more is going on.
It’s time to put on your detective hat and get to the root of the problem so that you have the tools to help your child eat more food, and avoid power struggles at family meals.
5 Reasons Why a Child Refuses to Eat Anything
The truth is that there are A LOT of reasons why kids refuse to eat food. In my experience, as a occupational therapist with a specialized feeding background, I believe that most can be organized into 5 different reasons.
However, we have to be clear that when a child is regularly refusing to eat very little of any food or has only a few favorite foods that they are willing to eat, they may qualify for a diagnosis of Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD), which was just added as a diagnosable code in October of 2021.
Another option is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, however this is closely linked to anxiety. See more in number 5 below for more info!
This is a good thing because children that are struggling to eat have often been described as picky eaters, which isn’t an adequate definition and leaves kids not getting the help they need.
As you read through the list below, look for signs you’ve seen in your child as a possible explanation. It’s very possible that several of the the underlying difficulties below are present in a child that often won’t eat.
Keeping that in mind, let me explain in some more detail.
#1. Physical or Medical Issues
Although this may seem like the most obvious reason kids don’t eat, it is often the most overlooked, or isn’t explored thoroughly. When kids have a well documented medical condition or are visibly sick, it is obvious that their eating is affected.
But, sometimes there are more subtle signs that are incredibly easy to miss. Two of the biggest culprits are silent acid reflux and constipation. Both of these very common problems for kids can put a halt to eating.
Although acid reflux is common in babies, it can also have an impact on kids much older, even if they weren’t diagnosed as an infant.
Unfortunately, many times it’s because kids don’t complain that their stomach is hurting. Many of them don’t even realize it because they have felt that way for so long OR they are too young to put into words how they are feeling.
Read more about acid reflux in children and to find a few natural remedies.
My older son has struggled with constipation since he was about one year old. I have to carefully watch his fiber intake and when he starts to get a little backed up, his eating is greatly affected.
Every time he doesn’t eat well, I have to ask myself, “Does he need to go to the bathroom?” The answer is usually, yes! Managing your child’s constipation can be a huge game changer in helping them eat new foods.
Read more about severe constipation in children and natural remedies to fix it.
If your child’s refusal to eat is more of a phase, you may want to consider teething, not feeling well, or fatigue as possible reasons for not eating.
And sometimes, if your child is chronically sick or tired, then food refusal or picky eating may become a way of life for them.
I strongly encourage you to see a pediatric GI if your child has any physical symptoms, or if you’ve ruled out the other causes listed here because there could be other possible digestive difficulties. There are many other, although less common possibilities such as:
- Food allergies (3-5% of kids)
- Food sensitivities
- Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE)
- Delayed stomach emptying
- Physical abnormalities in the throat, mouth, or gut
- Tongue, lip, or cheek ties
Some signs that your child may have any of the above medical issues are:
- Eating only small portions
- Difficulty swallowing dry or rough textures
- Dropping a food they used to like such as milk, yogurt, or eggs
- Only wanting liquids and not solid food
- Holding chewed food in their cheeks (pocketing food)
However, each of those signs can have multiple explanations! That’s why that detective hat is important!
It’s a good idea to discuss it further with your doc!
#2. Sensory Processing Causing Food Refusal
For many picky eaters, sensory processing plays a big role in their refusal to eat foods. Simply put, if something feels gross in their mouth or on their hands, they aren’t going to eat it.
The fancy therapeutic term we give for when a child doesn’t want to touch different textures is tactile defensive. And, when they don’t like certain textures in their mouth, or chew/bite/lick everything else but food, it is a sign that their oral sensory system needs some help.
Clues that your child may be refusing foods because of sensory input are: gagging, squirming, or seeming frightened by the sight, smell, touch, or taste of a particular food.
Often, the first signs appear when parents try to feed babies baby or table foods. Sometimes, these reactions start as the taste buds become more developed between 1-2 years old.
And, other times, older kids can develop texture and taste sensitivities that weren’t there when they were younger!
Extreme Sensitivity and Fear of Anything in or Near the Mouth: Oral Aversion
Oral aversion also fits into this category.
If your child has had medical testing, feeding tubes, severe vomiting, or a physical incident in or around their mouth/throat (even from a infancy), they may be scared to have anything come toward their mouth and be overly sensitive in the area.
On the other end of the sensory spectrum, a child may not be able to discriminate food in their mouth well and they will unsafely stuff a large amount of food into their cheeks like a chipmunk.
This helps give them some feedback as to where the food actually is. These kids lose track of the food easily and can’t chew it well. Soft foods that aren’t easily discriminated (think mashed potatoes, cheese, etc.) are usually refused because they can’t manipulate them well in their mouth.
Sensory is often the hidden link in picky eating and food refusal, and while a lot of parents haven’t heard of it before, it’s critical to address it so that your child can learn to eat a variety of nutritious foods at meal times with the rest of the family.
If you can understand why your child is refusing food from a sensory perspective, well, it changes everything. To understand the connection better, read sensory processing and picky eating.
What May Be Causing Chronic Poor Appetite: Interoception
While frequent snack times and drinking milk throughout the day can spoil a child’s appetite for the next meal, some kids never seem to feel hungry or understand what fullness is.
This is related to one of the hidden senses called interoception. Basically, a child with poor interoception isn’t recognizing signs from their stomach that it’s time to eat or to keep eating until they feel full.
It’s like they’re lost in transmission. The good news is there’s a way to improve this appetite awareness! Learn more in our interoception article.
If you want to dive into a whole plan for sensory kids, then get into the free workshop I teach specifically for parents that are trying to help kids that refuse to eat. You can start using the steps today!
3. Oral-Motor Skills
We take it for granted, but chewing is a coordinated skill just like walking, talking, and learning to read. It doesn’t come easy for all kids. Therapists call the ability to bite chew, and swallow, oral-motor skills.
Signs that your child may not be chewing well are:
- Choking/gagging after the food is already in their mouth for a few seconds/minutes
- Pocketing food (holding it in their mouth)
- Wants to eat soft or pureed foods
- Spitting out half chewed food
- Food falls out of mouth accidentally
- Can’t remove food or crumbs from lips or corners of mouth with their tongue or lips
- Throwing up food that looks like it has hardly been chewed
- History of difficulty breastfeeding
Often, these signs are apparent in young children because they have a hard time learning to eat table foods or even pureed foods. While kids with any of the underlying causes listed could have a difficult time with weight, kids with poor oral motor skills get tired and frustrated.
They give up on eating quickly and may not get on a growth curve.
Some kids will start refusing to eat foods because they don’t know how to chew it or they are scared they are going to gag/choke/throw up again on the food they literally don’t know how to eat.
This can continue into the teen years, although when left untreated, kids may figure out some workarounds.
But, it’s not uncommon for a 12 year old’s refusal to eat to be linked in some way to oral motor skills. Head over to Oral Motor Exercises to learn more about how to help your child improve their oral motor skills.
Sometimes, oral motor difficulties snowball to include sensory defensiveness too, because when a child hasn’t eaten any other textures in a really long time or ever, they become very sensitive to them.
These other textures may seem strange and even uncomfortable when they touch or feel them.
If your child never transitioned well to crunchy table foods, then you’ll want to check out How to Transition to Finger Foods
4. Routine, the Typical Picky Eating Phase, and the Snowball Effect
I strongly believe that structure and routine around food and meal time is critical to kids eating well.
Because for some kids with average picky eating, changes to the meal time routine can help your child reduce “junk food”, come to the dinner table easily, and eat more of what we often consider “healthy” meals.
There are some kids that will manage to eat well with a lack of routine, but by and large, most kids’ eating habits will suffer greatly without a regular routine.
*Learn 3 Keys to Turn Around Picky Eating, even for REALLY picky eaters, in my free workshop. We’ll send you a free workbook too!*
Without a routine, kids can slide into eating a separate meal away from the rest of the family and may not eat much food when they eat alone.
If you don’t have regular meal times, pay attention to how frequently your child is eating. Do you eat in front of the TV often, and/or mostly let your kids pick what they want to eat?
If they don’t have a wide variety of foods, only want snack foods, or aren’t willing to try foods, lack of routine may be the reason for it… or at least part of it.
I commonly see this compounded on top of one of the other 4 reasons kids don’t eat. When there is a problem with eating, we get overwhelmed and start grasping at straws just to get them to eat.
This is another way the bad habits can begin and then play a role in food refusal.
That’s not to say that you’re to blame, I mean our kids have to eat, right? And, we do the best we can with what we know. Don’t feel guilty about choices you’ve made in desperate situations.
I promise you that even with the pickiest eaters, there is a way out of eating in front of an iPad or them having their own separate meals. It is one step at a time and I’ll show you how in my tips below.
Although many kids that rely on a screen to eat often get to that point because eating is difficult because of oral motor, sensory, or medical issues.
The Typical Picky Eating Phase
One other common factor is that some children start off as good eaters, and then between 1-2 years of age, eating starts to go awry. Annoying, upsetting.. yes!
Like it or not though, it is NORMAL for toddlers to go through a picky eating stage as their taste buds mature and they begin to want to exert some control into their lives. Parents, sometimes, get scared when their child that had healthy eating habits is now not eating as well, and will begin to throw routine and structure out the window.
The Snowball Effect
With parents just wanting their kids to eat anything or at least some healthy snacks, short order cooking is ushered in, among numerous and otherwise well-meaning, but sabotaging techniques, and parents are left with a bona fide picky eater months or years later.
Although the intention was in the right place, the lack of routine can lead to long term eating refusal and difficulties.
I call it the snowball effect because the eating difficulties started off small and grew with momentum over time, just like a snowball rolling down a big hill!
Most parents I talk to with kids over 5 think that anxiety is the main factor for kids that refuse to eat, and it is often a component. Kids that have a hard time chewing, get stomach aches or worse when eating, or can’t stand the texture of so many foods are scared to put new or different foods in their mouth.
Eating has often not been enjoyable and filled with negative experiences, so yes they are scared. They are anxious.
But, I don’t consider anxiety the main underlying cause unless it goes into clinical psychological anxiety. In which case, kids will often make the following types of statements:
- I’m scared to eat the spaghetti I might choke
- I really want to eat that, but it might be contaminated with germs
- What if there’s poison in the pizza? I just can’t eat it
With clinical food related anxiety, kids often become irrational. And, they often have clinical anxiety in other areas of their life.
This is different than a child saying, “I’m scared that food is going to feel slimy like the avocado”. That is a sensory based fear and is treated differently.
If a child has clinical anxiety and NO OTHER underlying causes that have impacted their eating and are typically over 5 years old, they may qualify for an Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder diagnosis (ARFID), however I see this diagnosis frequently mis-diagnosed when PFD is more appropriate.
If you aren’t sure, get a few opinions and please feel free to leave us a comment below, we answer every one!
What if My Child is Refusing to Eat Because They’re Being Bad?
A lot of people advise parents that kids are being “bad” or that the reason they are refusing to eat is behavior-based. Although behavior plays a role, it is actually a small percentage of kids that actually refuse to eat based solely on behavior.
In fact, with the hundreds of families I’ve treated and the thousands I’ve taught in our online picky programs, I’ve never seen one kid’s picky eating that can be solely explained by behavior.
Now, please don’t mistake me, even the youngest of tykes will learn quickly what they need to say or cry or throw to get what food they want.
All kids go through different stages of development when they are testing boundaries and you can bet they will test it at meal times, too. After all, this is one of the few areas where they actually have some control. But, these kinds of little phases are short lived and aren’t severe.
For kids that have a history of being picky eaters, behavior is a piece of the puzzle, but typically, it has evolved from one of the legitimate reasons listed above.
And, when you address the underlying cause, the behaviors around meals decrease!
What to Do When Your Child Won’t Eat
If you can’ tell yet, here at Your Kid’s Table, picky eating is our thing. We have a lot of resources for parents and therapists working with picky kids.
No matter what combination of reasons are causing your child to be a picky eater, you’ll want to start with not pressuring them during meals while putting a consistent routine in place for them like having regularly scheduled meals with no snacking in between to help them start eating.
Then, focus on specifically addressing the underlying cause, whether that is sensory processing, medical, or oral motor skills.
Once you have a solid routine (grab this free printable to help develop one) and are addressing the underlying cause, you can also use some of my favorite picky eating tips. I love to use dips (even if you think your child hates them, I show you how), fun tools like toothpicks (trust me) and divided plates.
Plus, there are lots of novel ideas like making food fun, and I’m not talking about elaborate food scenes that you spend an hour cutting out.
And, my favorite tip that can make a huge difference is cooking with your kids! I know everyone says that and parents think, “Not my kid”. But, hear me out. I show you how to do it, tell you why it’s important, and give you these recipes designed for picky eaters:
- Pumpkin waffles (added nutrition)
- Bruschetta bar (this seriously is the best dinner for ANY picky eater that likes bread)
- High calorie smoothie
- Homemade chicken nuggets your kid will eat! (my special recipe)
- Not-spicy homemade tacos (check out the very motivating taco truck that can come to the table!)
- Banana sweet potato bread
- Roasted Cauliflower (2 of my kids tried cauliflower for the first time with this recipe)
- Crispy Potato Skins (basic recipe that’s perfect for picky eaters, got one of my kids to eat potatoes with this recipe)
For even more food ideas, head over to healthy snacks for picky eaters and healthy recipes for picky eaters (you’ll find a free printable too!)
If you’ve tried a lot of these tips before and want to dig a little deeper (only use these after you have a routine and positive environment), then you can move on to my heavy hitting picky eating tips. These require a little more thought, but can have a huge impact.
Read about how to get your child to explore new foods and build on what they are already eating with food chaining.
Lastly, to save your sanity, find out how to have just one family meal, even with a picky eater (you can do it!) and how to keep mealtimes positive, even when that seems impossible.
I know you may be tempted to feel overwhelmed at this point, but resist! This page is here (pin it so you can come back). Remember, one step at a time!
Getting More Help for the Child that Refuses to Eat Anything
Having a picky eater, let alone an extreme picky eater or child with PFD, can be extremely overwhelming and paralyzing. I’ve experienced it myself and the worry can take over your life. But, there are a few ways to get help from a professional:
- Come to the FREE 3 Keys to Turning Picky Eating Workshop with me! Yes, you can save your seat and listen as I talk in a lot more detail about how to help kids that refuse to eat.
- Learn more about feeding therapy and if it would be a good fit for your child!
- Join our Mega-Edition of Mealtime Works – our picky eating go-at-your-own-pace course filled with tons of printables, resources, and even a private facebook support group. (Doors close on 5-25-2023, get in now!)
You might need the tips and link shared here again. Save it to Pinterest here!
More Articles for the Child that Refuses to Eat Anything
8 Tips to Keep Your Child Seated at the Table
Fun Plates, Forks, and Other Cool Stuff that Get Kids to Eat
8 Things You Can Do When a Toddler Refuses to Eat
Are Food Jags Affecting Your Picky Eater? What you need to know…
Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 19 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.
My son is 11 he does not feed himself and only eats chicken nuggets. My ex wife and I got a divorce and this being one of the reasons. He will refuse to eat. He goes all day in school without eating. I don’t know what to do. He has worked with therapist when he was younger but it didn’t help.
My 3 year old is really picky so we end up having the same 7 meals every week for dinner. (However, come to find out she will eat a lot more stuff at school and with her grandma and grandpa.) So my question is, what do you do if your child refuses dinner then wakes up hungry in the middle of the night? This has happened multiple times before and drives us to keep her full at dinner time. Help!
Hi Morgan! Thanks for reaching out! Here are some tips:
Offer a bedtime snack! Provide a small snack before bedtime, but make sure it’s consistent and nothing too elaborate (think simple, like toast or fruit). Assess portion sizes! Evaluate the portion sizes you are offering your child during dinner. It’s possible that they may be overwhelmed by large portions, leading to refusal. Consider serving smaller portions initially and allowing them to ask for more if they are still hungry. Establish consistent meal and snack times! A consistent routine around meals and snacks can help regulate your child’s hunger cues. Offer meals and snacks at similar times each day to create a predictable eating pattern.
Hope that helps! For even more help, check out our free picky eating workshop here.
My son is 6 years old. Before he turned six he was just like any other picky eater would only eat snacks pasta rice chicken some ground beef and no vegetables. At about 6 months ago the doctors found out that he lost a pound at his last doctor’s appointment. He had to go see a GI specialist to see if there was any issues with his weight. They said that if you didn’t gain 5 lb by his next appointment which will be next week then they would have to scope him from both ends. Right when winter break started is when he started to not want to eat anymore. He would eat some things but not a lot. Sometimes he would ask for food and when we get it for him he would change his mind and said no he’s not hungry he doesn’t want it. Even with some of the foods that he does like he would change his mind and say no he doesn’t want it. Even with some of the snacks he likes he stopped eating a lot of it all together. I just don’t know what to do because he is very skinny he is about 37 and a half pounds at 6 years old. By now he should be at least 40 or more at his age. Please help what should I do?
Hi Ashley! Thanks for reaching out! We have a FREE picky eating workshop that can offer tons of help, tips, and resources for exactly what you’ve described! If you’re interested, click here to join! In the meantime, keep offering food variety. Try serving meals with 1-2 of his preferred foods, that way he feels more comfortable and may eat the other foods on his plate. And as always, try not to force or pressure him to eat anything. Also, for weight gain tips, check out our other blog post!
Over the last evening and day my 8 year old Grandaughter has only eaten an ice cream and half a bowl of porridge oats, with a small milkshake, She does not want to swallow any food as she thinks she is going to choke. Even with the soft porridge she still spat one mouthful out. She will drink water. any advice please ?
Hello! Thanks for reaching out. Definitely try talking with her and asking her about her fears. Do your best to calm her fears and encourage her that she will be okay. Oral aversions can be tough! We have a blog post with more tips and information for overcoming them— check it out here.
as a kid i used to refuse food, i ate a toast with cheese, cup of tea in the morning then same tea and a toast in the evening.
I did have constipation issues and i remember how weird some food looked and i had problem with texture, also i think parents usually had arguments at the dinner table so it might add to the anxiety. It all ended in the adolescence
Hi Le! Thanks for reaching out and sharing your story. A negative environment at the dinner table + anxiety can definitely affect a child’s eating! Glad to hear it got better over the years.
Hi there! My 8 year old son is on the autism spectrum, high functioning but he’s always been a very picky eater. He has started refusing foods he previously ate, cheese, rice etc. We did feeding therapy for a year with “no pressure to eat” and he made very little progress. Right now we are trying other foods with the promise of dessert, and he doesnt have to swallow if he doesn’t like it. I havet found anything else that works! Hes 8 and needs some nutrition from food- it’s so frustrating. Thanks for your article!
Hi Nicole! Thanks for reaching out and sharing your journey- we understand how stressful it all can be! Hang in there- you’re doing great! Sometimes progress is slow, but if you feel unsatisfied with your current feeding therapist, it may be beneficial to find a different one. Hands on assistance with his eating difficulties will still be helpful, given his age and feeding issues. You may also want to try our free picky eating workshop. It has more in-depth tips and information that may also help your son- save your seat here!
My son ate everything under the sun and was always willing to try new foods. He had the flu 2 weeks ago and started chewing his food and spitting it out. Currently, he just drinks pediasure, drinkable yogurts, water, juice and ice cream. I will offer him food or make whatever he wants and he might put it to his mouth and then leave. It’s seems like he wants the food, but something is holding him back. The Dr. seem. To have now concerns as he was pooping ok, but I’m still worried.
Hi Adia! Thanks for reaching out! It’s common for kids to lose their appetite after being sick, and may take a while before they fully bounce back. Be patient and keep offering food variety without pressure! We have a blog post dedicated to this with more tips— check it out here and let us know if you have any additional questions!
My daughter is 7 and has always been a bit of what you’d call a “picky” eater. But she ate everything, albeit in small quantities, when she was a baby/toddler. I have a rotation of about 5 meals she will eat. This list is ever decreasing as there is something on the list she no longer likes. Macaroni cheese used to be a favourite – no more, quiche – gone, even pizza is now not tolerated. Anything with black bits (the pizza had charred bits on the base – from the way it’s cooked in a pizza oven, not actually burnt!), cheese on toast is too cheesy and suddenly butter in sandwiches is a no no. She does eat chicken. For now! Which is one godsend. And of course she likes the usual snack rubbish. And she’s always adored broccoli! Favourite food! She has a wobbly tooth that she just won’t get out – it’s been hanging on for months now. Could this be the reason for the fussy eating? Or is this an emotional cry for help? I’m concerned soon there will be no foods left that she will eat except junk food.
Hi Alex! Thanks for reaching out! It definitely could be related to the wiggly tooth— keep an eye on it and see if this changes once it finally comes out! In the meantime, try serving meals with at least one of her preferred foods and always utilize a no pressure environment! We also have a free picky eating workshop that can help— save your seat here!
Hi! I’m glad I came across you’d post! My son just turned 4 two months ago and when he was 1-3 years old he was eating pretty good no issues. Only issue wasn’t eating “enough” so I wouldn’t push it cause I always thought he is a toddler he will out grow it. And my son loves to eat non fatty food. He’s the type to pick cucumbers over chips. But my recent concern is now everytime he is about to eat he gets so scared. He threw up twice within 2 weeks and now is terrified to eat. He will usually say “will I throw up if I eat”. He always brings up “vomiting”. And he is getting over a cough as well he was sick and the cough provokes him to gag at times. Again this literally happened out of nowhere. The sudden change in him switched literally from 1 day to another. And I have bad anxiety because of it now. Please help me.
Hi Jess! Thanks for reaching out! Oral aversions after being sick and vomiting are so common. We have a blog post that can help with some tips! In general, be patient, keep offering without pressure, and talk to your child about their fears.
Hi, my child is now 3 years old and literally just wanna eat the same cookies everyday no matter how many food is being offered. We dont really presure him so he wont be traumatized but to TBH I am the one feels in trauma now cause I am so worried. He only drinks milk and eat cookies, thats it. We tried decreasing milk but it didnt work, still he wont eat. This started when he was like 18months old.
Hi Michelle! Thanks for reaching out! Definitely continue with the no-pressure environment, however, perhaps trying to implement a feeding schedule might help with his appetite. Try having designated meal/snack times, with 2-3 hours in between each meal or snack. In between that time, only offer water. Hopefully, this will allow him to feel hungry enough to eat something at mealtime, aside from his milk and cookies. For more in-depth help, I highly recommend checking out our upcoming FREE picky eating mini course! Sign up here!
My grandson had a feeding tube from 9 months until 15 months old. Strict NPO from 9-12 months.
He initially ate well but now at 3 won’t eat anything (except pizza…sometimes). He drinks well some days but not every day.
Troubling is that he doesn’t even seem hungry but is often very moody.
Would he be more at risk for silent acid reflux with his story of g-tube?
Thank you for any help/advice you can give.
Hi Elaine! Thanks for reaching out! I would definitely consult his pediatrician regarding these issues. They could run tests to see if silent reflux is something possible. We do, however, have a blog post regarding silent reflux- check it out here! And for additional help regarding picky eating in general, check out our FREE picky eating mini course that’s starting soon!
Hi good day I have a 4 year old she refuses to eat anything else she only wants Mac n cheese noodles or chicken and will drink juice but refuse to eat fruits and rice and other foods I need help on what to do
Hi Andrena! Thanks for reaching out! We have an upcoming FREE picky eating mini course that can offer tons of help, tips, and resources for exactly what you’ve described! If you’re interested, click here to join our waitlist! In the meantime, keep offering food variety. Try serving meals with 1-2 of her preferred foods, that way she feels more comfortable and may eat the other foods on her plate. And as always, try not to force or pressure her to eat anything.
Hi, we’ve been travelling for 5 months and my son started to go off his food and then got covid and now just doesn’t want to eat. He will drink and each days just says have I ate less than yesterday and just doesn’t want to eat. Taken all pressure off but just no desire and will just have soup and custard but that’s it. Lost a lot of weight and tired a lot more. Been to drs and they said wait 3 months
Hi Vicky! Thanks for reaching out! Since you mention he had Covid, it’s possible his sense of smell or taste could have been affected— which could definitely affect his appetite. In general, being sick can snowball into picky eating. Continue to take baby steps, get him to the table for meals, have him help plan dinner for everyone, offer more foods similar to what he likes, continue to put other foods on his plate even if you know he won’t eat it, minimize snacking, and have him help you in the kitchen. For more in-depth tips, check out our free picky eating workshop- save your seat here!
Sorry I forgot too add that constipation is the norm usually as well for Tilly.
Sue, hopefully this blog post can help with easing her constipation!
Hi, I am in the UK and the grandmother of several grandchildren and although some of them do have niggling food pickiness it is one of my granddaughters aged 7 next month that I am really concerned about, my daughter has tried many times over the years with doctors and everything takes around 2 years here to get referred due to waiting lists. Tilly was showing signs of food issues before she was 6/7 months old as my daughter started introducing home cooked foods and weaning her off baby foods, she refused almost everything except fromage frais and milk, as she grew she was never into finger foods but did like white bread toasted, no matter how much we all tried to coax her she was never interested even if we all went out, she would also react badly to noise and have total meltdowns and one of us would have to take her away until she calmed down, she does have some speech issues and is very thin with bones protruding and her skin is so dry and she has to be held down to even get calpol into her if she’s in pain, after 2/3 years of waiting to see specialists they seem to think after spending just 30 minutes with her on 2 occasions that she’s fine 😥 as she “seems to have lots of energy” she eats white toast, fromage frais, chocolate biscuits (one type only) and two types of crisps and only kinder chocolate eggs, that is everything she eats and she only drinks water nothing else at all, we can’t even get vitamin drops in her without holding her down which makes her really upset. Please can you help as she has barely gained a few pounds in 2 years, she is very pale with dark rings around her eyes even though she sleeps quite well.
Hi Susan! Thank you for reaching out! I am so sorry to hear about your granddaughter’s struggles. We understand how stressful it can be. I’m also sorry to hear that the doctor wasnt of much help… I would try to get a second opinion from another healthcare provider, or try to get a referral to an Occupational Therapist/Feeding Therapist! I think some 1:1 hands on assistance through therapy would be great for her. It definitely sounds like she has some sensory sensitivities, which can be affecting her eating. In the meantime, we always recommend continuing to serve meals paired with one of her preferred foods, without any pressure on her to eat anything. The less pressure, the more comfortable they feel with eventually trying new foods. Try some sensory bins and sensory activities with her to see if that helps! Lastly, we have a free workshop for both picky eating and sensory issues. Each workshop would give more insight and tips to help with both of these issues.
Hi, I’m very happy to come across your site. I have been feverishly googling over the last few weeks in hopes to find something that will help my daughter. As a baby and toddler she was a great eater, lots of different foods and consistent eating. However a week before the start of kindergarten, she completely stopped eating. She tells me that if she eats the food it will then be gone forever. For example, she won’t eat a strawberry because that specific starwberry will be gone forever. I have tried to take pictures, but that doesn’t help. She’s going to a new school and I know she was very anxious about going. She has been there for a week but not much change in her food intake. I have, with good intentions, put pressure on eating, but ignoring it doesn’t seem right either. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea how to help her.
Hi Mollie! Thanks for reaching out! It sounds like she may have some anxiety surrounding food and eating it- maybe some fears about it disappearing. I would try talking to her about this- try asking her more questions to see if you can better understand why she feels this way. Then, you can work with her to come up with some kind of plan- baby steps that she would be comfortable taking to overcome this fear of hers. We have a blog post all about anxiety with eating- check it out here! Hope that helps!