Ask the Moms: Aversion to Solid Food

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Categories Ask the Moms, Feeding, Feeding Older Children, Solid Foods, Special Needs, ToddlersTags

What to do when a child won't take solid food? Feeding therapy may be the answer.

Reader Brielle had the following question for us:

I have 1 year old twins (11 months adjusted). My little girl is doing great, but my little boy is slightly delayed in some areas. One area that I’m concerned about is his diet. He. Will. Not. Eat. Food!!! He only wants to nurse! He won’t take a bottle or sippy cup. (I try every day.)

We first started solid foods when they were 6 months, and he has always been a struggle to feed, but there have been times when he will eat. But not anymore.

The doctor hasn’t really given any suggestions. His weight is right on track, so the doctor isn’t concerned about development. I feel like I will be nursing forever! I was hoping to start weaning them, but I can’t if he won’t eat anything else. Has anyone experienced anything similar? Any suggestions??

Brielle, it sounds like your son may have an aversion to solid food. Feeding therapy is available, usually through your local speech therapist. When my daughters’ pediatrician suggested seeing a speech therapist for dinnertime issues, it sounded crazy to me. I quickly realized that speech therapists work with children on all aspects of oral motor control.

Feeding therapy changed our lives. I am not knowledgeable enough to be able to predict what the source of your son’s dislike of solid foods, cups and bottles is. However, my daughter suffered from trouble swallowing (dysphagia) due to poor tongue muscle control thanks to a tongue too big for her mouth (macroglossia). A few months of tongue exercises at age 2 made mealtimes manageable and helped her get the calories she needed.

HDYDI author Goddess in Progress‘s youngest daughter has also been through feeding therapy and Marissa‘s son is working on it right now. Their situations sound more like your son’s. I’m pleased to report that Goddess’s daughter now willingly eats crackers, sandwiches, and other solid foods. Marissa’s son has been seen chowing down on a pickle!

  1. Ask your doctor for a speech therapist referral.
  2. If he/she is not supportive of your going down this path, get a list of available speech therapists in your area from your health insurance company.
  3. Document details of your feeding efforts between now and your first speech therapist appointment. Write down what you try and the details of your son’s reactions.
  4. Once you do start meeting with a speech therapist, make sure that he/she is someone your whole family is comfortable working with.
  5. Do your homework. Make sure your son does any exercises he is supposed to do. Make it fun.

Please let us know how it goes, Brielle. And HUGE kudos for having breastfed twins for a full year!

Anyone have other advice for Brielle? Your own feeding therapy stories?


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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

5 thoughts on “Ask the Moms: Aversion to Solid Food”

  1. I have advised lots of breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding moms on solid introduction. It is not uncommon for babies this age to not want to eat and, if he is breastfed and healthy, I find it highly unlikely there is any issue of tongue or swallowing (otherwise it would have been noticed already). I also breastfed my twins long past the first year and although solids were not an issue, they really did rely much more on nursing than food at that age (and probably until about 18 months).

    So, first I think we need more info about the situation. What is “not eating”? Zero-zero solids? Have you tried just leaving stuff for him to eat around the house? My girls refused 100% of food if I tried to offer it on a spoon, but they would gladly eat with hands or forks by themselves. Also, they never wanted mashed stuff (of course, no spoon), nor any kind of starchy-floury food (bread, cookies or crackers, rice, even pasta) except sometimes yams. They LOVED meats, eggs, and both cooked and raw vegetables. We called peas and chickpeas “little balls” (“bolinhas” – we speak Portuguese and use lots of diminutives with kids) and they thought it was hilarious and had fun trying to pick them up with fingers or forks. They also liked to stick their fingers into sliced okra! So eating was a sort of playtime for them and I did not worry much about the amount they had because (like you), I knew they were very well nourished with my milk.

    1. You make a good point, Julia. My response was on the assumption that “not eating” was a complete refusal to put solid food in the mouth. Obviously, being willing to nurse, Brielle’s son doesn’t have a complete oral aversion.

      I’m looking forward to hear back from Brielle on their progress. I know that she has already received a referral for a speech therapist from her son’s physical therapist.

      1. Yes! It is VERY common (at least around here) that moms come desperate saying kids “don’t eat” and we end up finding out they are actually eating a bit, sometimes totally appropriately for their age. As there is a sister, we know at least she eats way more than him, hehe, but the amount an 11-month old can eat and still be within “normal range” varies widely.

        There is also the “1 year crisis”, when they may start eating less than they ate at say 9 months, because of growth deceleration, discomfort with teeth and separation anxiety, which may lead all babies to cling to mommy (in her/my case, to breast, haha) all day.

  2. One of my twins, though not as severely as you describe, did not eat very much at all until he was about 18 months. He preferred breastfeeding and then slowly weaned himself and went to whole milk and food. He NEVER ate puree – just hated it from the start, except on very rare occasions. However, he enjoyed large apple slices, mango spears, toast triangles, etc, which he could hold and gnaw or scrape with those tiny teeth. I did wonder how he would get enough, especially since he was my smaller one and his brother LOVES food, but he did seem to know what he needed and I just followed his lead. Now at close to 2, he eats everything! :o) Looks like some great advice above, good luck!

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