One of the problems I see in my mother’s life is a picky diet. A child who refuses to eat can be a source of real pressure on families. From baby food to significant and chronic choices in older children, and everything in between when your child isn’t eating, things can get stressful.
I feel like you’re banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your child isn’t eating or refuses to eat at all? There are real reasons and ways to help them. Learn how a nutritionist and a mom.
People keep asking me, “why doesn’t my child eat?- Most of you know how frustrating eating time is when you try something new or worse when you offer something you’ve eaten before and then refuse to eat! Most children do this from time to time, but for some, it is a way of life. What is happening? Well, various contributing factors can and may develop causes over time.
In detective work, it makes sense, because when you get to the root of the problem, you get the tools to help them eat more food, more consistently. In my experience as a licensed occupational therapist and with my specialized education in nursing, I believe there are five different reasons why children refuse to eat.
Although it is generally believed that a child who does not eat, is underweight or does not grow up, I have seen a variety of conditions, including children who do not eat and have regular or even heavyweight.
5 Reasons Why Children Won’t Eat
People were often asking that their “1-year-old baby not eating” or “1-year-old baby refuses to eat”, so these are the possible reason for non-eating.
While this may seem the most obvious reason why children don’t eat, it is often overlooked. Well, at least it’s not always explored deeply enough. When children have a well-documented medical condition or are clearly ill, it is obvious that their nutrition may be affected, but sometimes there are more subtle problems.
2. Oral-Motor Skills
This can be a bit tricky for parents because you need to consider how well your child chews and swallows their food. Therapists call it oral-motor skills. You can probably rule this out if you have a child over the age of 2.5 who is safe and easy to switch to table foods as children. Signs that your baby can’t chew well: choking/vomiting after food is already in the mouth for a few seconds/minutes, spitting out half-chewed food, or nausea that looks like it was barely chewed. They may also have difficulty breastfeeding.
Children will start refusing to eat food because they don’t know how to chew it, or they are afraid they will vomit again on the food they literally don’t know how to eat. They often stick to a limited diet because they know they can eat this food safely. Go to oral motor exercises to learn more about how to help your child improve their oral motor skills.
At the other end of the sensory spectrum, the child may not be able to distinguish food well in the mouth, and they will be unsafe to stuff their cheeks with lots of food like a Chipmunk. This helps give them some feedback as to where the food really is. These children easily lose count of food and can not chew it well. Soft foods that are not easy to distinguish (like mashed potatoes, cheese, etc.) are usually refused because they cannot manipulate them well in the mouth.
Sensory is often a hidden link in picky food, and although many parents haven’t heard of it before, I promise it’s worth your time to read a little more about it. If you can understand why your child refuses food from a sensory point of view, it changes everything. To better understand the connection, read “sensory processing” and “picky nutrition.” If you want to dive into a whole plan for sensory kids, then read the legible meal plan I used for my son.
This can be a sensitive topic for parents; we all have our healthy eating habits and habits that we have already established for ourselves as adults. We often continue to do what is convenient for us with our children, but it is not always what makes us teach them the habits that we really want them to have. If you don’t have a regular meal time, Pay attention to how often they eat. Do you often eat in front of the TV and / or basically let your children choose what they want to eat? If they don’t eat well or don’t want to try the food, lack of routine can be the reason for this… or at least part of it.
Another common factor is that some children start out as good eaters and then between 1-2 years the food starts to get distorted. Annoying, frustrating … Yes! Like it or not, it’s normal for toddlers to go through the picky stage of eating as their taste buds Mature and they begin to want to exert some control in their lives. Parents sometimes get scared when their once “good” eater now eats poorly and starts throwing routine and structure out the window. Among the many other well-intentioned receptions appears cooking hastily, but sabotage methods and parents are left with conscientious picky eater months or years later.
Even the youngest children quickly learn to talk, cry or throw to get what they want. All children go through different stages of development when they test the boundaries and you can bet they will test it while eating. After all, this is one of the few areas where they do have some control. But such small conditions are short-lived and are not serious. For children who have been picky or bad eaters in the past, the behavior is part of the puzzle, but it usually evolved from one of the legitimate reasons listed above.
What to Do When Your Child Refuse To Eat
These following task you can try when your kids won’t eat or refuse to eat.
1. Have a lot of patience with your child’s food
For many young children, this phase of “not eating” will pass. For most young children, fear of eating, interruptions in eating, and unwillingness to try new food are limited in time. If you do your job (above), your child will be better off doing their job (eating) and going through this phase on their own. If you intervene using pressure, rewards, punishments, or other ways to get your child to eat, you are likely to encounter a delay or stop in this area (i.e. poor nutrition) for much longer.
2. Give several options
Children like to speak – it’s part of growing up. So give them a choice regarding food. Remember that you set limits on what options are available. For example, you might say, “what would you like for your morning tea – fruit or sandwich? or: “which Cup do you want to drink water from – blue or red?”
3. Meals and snacks are available at regular times
Because babies have short attention spans and small appetites, they tend to eat frequently throughout the day. Serve small, attractive dishes.
A small appetite means that healthy snacks should be offered between meals to give children all the nutrients they need. Instead of sweet or fatty snacks, try slices of bread, fruit and vegetables, yogurt or cheese.
If food is rejected, quietly remove it. Most products can be safely stored in the refrigerator and offered later. Try not to intimidate, not to fuss and not to offer bribes. Food should not be given as a reward.
4. Use structure and systems to facilitate feeding
I used the food system that worked for our family. Mostly nutritious foods, but definitely some leeway for sweets and treats. My system wasn’t just around food. I also had a system for sleep, sleep time, activity, and how each day would unfold.
Children are very good at structure and systems. It anchors their day so they can anticipate and predict what will happen during the day. This ensures their safety. When you have a good system and structure in place, it will be more convenient for you to be flexible. This also applies to food.
I would not be able to successfully feed their four children without the structure and systems. The structure I used included a routine meal and snack time, a regular place to serve meals and snacks, and a menu that was mostly decided by me.
5. Set limits to maintain your structure and systems
Of course, changing the way your baby is fed can be scary. But when a child refuses to eat, it is his right and his choice. It may reflect a lack of appetite due to slow growth or a large previous meal, or it may be due to pickiness or other reasons. However, by moving to a routine structure with food and snacks, you support regulating your child’s appetite
Here’s another way to look at it: do you set sleep time limits? I think so. Are there moments when the routine goes away? That’s possible. If you do attempt to return to the routine or stick to more free graphics which may not match the best interests of your child?