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12 mo old cries at mealtimes--don't know what to do

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
My DS cries every time I put him in his high chair and put his bib on.

He will rub his eyes and put his hands up to block the spoon and turn his head away and cry. He doesn't appear to have any known allergies. His eating has been very up and down. Somedays I can get him to eat fairly well and other days, very little.

Sometimes I can get a spoonful in and he accepts it, but then he refuses the next ones and cries. I don't know if he's just not hungry or just doesn't like what I'm feeding him. Some of this stuff is food he has eaten before quite well.

He is still on pureed food after 6 mo of starting solids (I try to make it thicker), though he has started to self feed small chunks of fruit and does cheerio-like puffs.

I have experimented with timing, figuring that maybe he is not hungry and that's why he is crying. So, I'll wait maybe another 45 min to an hour and try again and we go through the same thing, so I'll wait some more. Inevitably, nap time arrives and I end up having to nurse him, and he is obviously hungry then. Sometimes, he doesn't even fall asleep for his morning nap, so I've blown the chance to feed him solids for breakfast.

He eats maybe 4 oz total a day, sometimes less.

This evening, it has been 5.5 hrs since he was BF to sleep for his nap and he still won't eat, though he is fussy. I presume he must be hungry after that many hours. I tried feeding him something he ate before and seemed to like, as he refused the pureed peas with mashed up hard boiled egg in it (which has has eaten before). He will eat applesauce nad avocado, but he can't survive on just applesauce or other pureed fruits.

Beinga first time mom, I just don't know if he is being a picky eater and I'm getting totally frustrated with doing this several times a day to the point where I just had to walk away at dinner time this evening and let my DH take him out of his high chair. I'm actually getting somewhat angry during mealtimes when he doesn't eat what I've prepared, kind of the "let him starve then" attitude, which I don't want to have, and I feel like a horrible mom.

Should I just give in and let him eat applesauce or whatever pureed fruit he wants three times a day just to get him to eat? My worry is that it's not nutritionally balanced and full of sugar, albeit natural. I used to have luck with pureed veggies, but have been adding various beans for the protein and fiber and he's getting pickier.

I still BF, but have been trying to start the weaning process (trying to skip a session during mid morning) and have been thawing about 16 oz of frozen BM a day to try to get him to take that. It pretty much takes him all day of taking some sips of it before it's all gone. I still have to nurse him to sleep for naps and bedtime.

Any clues? I'm just totally frustrated and don't want to take it out on him with my lack of patience, but I'm at my wit's end.
post #2 of 28
Is there a reason that you have so many 'rules' surrounding his eating? Must he sit in his high chair to eat? Will he eat if he's on you or DH's lap? Must he eat purees? Have you tried more finger foods with him?

At 12mos my DDs were eating full-on table foods with us. We're not totally strict about sitting still while eating and often the little one will pick at her meal long after we've all finished. LOs often have a different timetable when it comes to finishing a meal, I've found.

It sounds like you're stressed about the amount of food that he's eating. I wonder if he is picking up on that. What would happen if you relaxed your expectations a bit, keep nursing and let him graze on finger foods more often?

Good luck! Toddler's eating habits can be frustrating!
post #3 of 28
it sounds like you are really frustrated. However, what he is doing is pretty normal for his age. Most babies and toddlers are very picky eaters. My DS didn't eat more than a few bites of food a day until he was about 15 months old. We never did the pureed thing though, and just let him self feed.

Honestly, this is what I would do-- Back off on trying to make him eat. Make it fun, and let him self-feed. Try offering foods in different settings/places/on different plates, etc and don't put him back in the highchair for awhile. Let him see that food can be good and fun, and once he seems more accepting start with the highchair again. If he is still getting breastmilk, he is getting plenty of good nutrition. I know you want to start weaning, but if you are still nursing a few times a day plus giving him breastmilk in a cup, he is getting plenty of nutrition. Are you giving him 16 oz of expressed milk a day? On average, at that age they only need about 24 oz of milk a day, so if he is getting 16 oz in addition to nursing he is still getting a lot of milk. I would cut back a little on the expressed milk, maybe to 8-10 oz a day, and see if he will eat more solids as well. And avocado is a GREAT food for him to be eating in addition to breastmilk, even if that is the only thing he eats. I would start there, and work from there letting him self feed. Good luck!
post #4 of 28
A 12 month old definitely does not need to be on purees unless there is a medical issue. My ds started refusing purees at around 7 months, and so we just moved on to finger foods. He hated bibs so I just used some cheap secondhand larger size shirts as kind of smocks, and also just did a lot of laundry (in warm weather I'd just strip him down to his diaper).
Have you read Baby Led Weaning yet? The idea behind it is that if babies feed themselves from the beginning they will learn to love food. I am basically doing this with dd in hopes she will be less of a picky eater than ds.
Why are you trying to wean him? Are you WOHMing?
post #5 of 28
oops double post, sorry
post #6 of 28
this could be way out there
but do you make sure he has clean diaper on
made a world of differents in my DD
post #7 of 28
Stop trying to put food in him. Stop purees. Stop spoon feeding him. Offer him small bits of what you eat and allow him to feed himself. He'll eat what he needs. At that age my dd hadn't yet eaten 3 tablespoons of food across a whole day.

Your job is to offer healthy food choices. It's his job to decide what to eat and how much and at what rate.

The majority of his nutrition should still be breastmilk.

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
When we first started solids (rice cereal), I didn't know any better and tried to get the food in however I could, even if he was crying (open mouth=opportunity). So, I did that for a few days before I realized it was not the thing to do. So, I think that is where his high chair and bib aversion came from.

He's been underweight for his age, so I was concerned that he wasn't thriving and that I had to do whatever I could to get food in him.

Also, everyone keeps saying, "Food before one is just for fun". Well, he's almost 13 mo old, so I got worried about that too. His ped thinks he might have sensory issues (he was a preemie by a month and had a 3 week NICU stay), and wants him to go to a feeding clinic since he hasn't progressed much with foods. I am checking into early intervention programs. That's a topic of another posting in another group though.

He had gotten much better at eating (sometimes even eating old fashioned oatmeal and steel cut oats for b'fast), so I'm thinking he just might be going through a picky stage.

Up to what age can BM still be the majority of his nutrition?

I've posted previously about why I need to wean (in a nutshell--to go for #2 and my age of 44), so I don't want to go into it again, but I would like to wean by the end of the summer, as sad as it makes me.

His ped (whom I love) is the one who expressed concern over his eating and lack of progression, so naturally, I got stressed over it. Unfortunately, stress is in my DNA...Sigh.

The only finger foods I have offered are the cereal puffs and bits of fruit. In the past, anything of a thicker texture would make him gag/vomit so I would wait a bit of time. I did get him to eat some mashed/whole lentils and split peas a couple of times, but now he refuses them both. So, I recently started introducing fruit chunks. Not sure what else to offer next. That was major progress to have him eat the very small fruit chunks. I've tried a small pancake and a bit of bread, but he just spreads it around his tray and makes it into crumbs that can't even be picked up by him. Anything else is foreign to him and he just smears it around or throws it off the side of his tray. I suppose that is part of the learning process, but he does need to eat something.

Thank you for all the suggestions. Any help is appreciated. I really want to be a great mom and do what is best for him.
post #9 of 28
I have a 12 month old and some days he eats tons while most days he hardly eats, this includes solids and nursing. He's really good at hitting my spoon and knocking its contents to the floor. Then I give up and try again at the next meal. No worries. If he's not hungry, he's not hungry. Although at times it appears he has tons of food preferences, but I can't figure them all out.

I think it's hysterical his new tongue ability. He was self-feeding a bagel and I snuck a bite of scrambled egg into his mouth right as he was biting the bagel. He realized my sneakiness and pushed the egg right out of his mouth with his tongue and continued on his happy way with his bagel.

Today was a not eating day, only a few good nursing meals in the night/morning and just nibbles of food during the day.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
It helps a great deal to know that this is not uncommon. I just thought that with him being more mobile (crawling like crazy), that he would work up more of an appetite.

I just don't know how to read his hunger cues without trying to put a bite of food in his mouth and seeing if he accepts it. Is that how you figure out if your LO is hungry?

Also, what do you do about foods like oatmeal, purees and yogurt, as a few examples? Do you have them self feed foods like that that are not really finger foods? Do you just let them smear it on their fingers and put their fingers in their mouths to self feed?
post #11 of 28
Originally Posted by lkmiscnet View Post
I just don't know how to read his hunger cues without trying to put a bite of food in his mouth and seeing if he accepts it. Is that how you figure out if your LO is hungry?
I will either offer him a bottle or I'll offer him a piece of food out of his bowl. If he opens his mouth for it or grabs for it then I assume he's interested. But that interest may only be for one bite or for 2-3 sucks on the bottle.

I only put my guy (8 1/2 mos) in the highchair a few times a week, but he's eating multiple times a day. When I make myself breakfast, I get him a little dish with some chopped up fruit (right now cantaloupe and nectarine), maybe a slice of cheese or a bit of yogurt. If he's interested (which he always is in the morning) he'll come over to me and pull up on my knee and stand there begging almost like a dog would - watching every bite as it goes into my mouth. When he gets down and crawls away or spits it out and starts fingerpainting with it, then I know he's done. We repeat this pretty much any time I eat throughout the day. If he keeps playing with his toys while I'm eating then he's not interested. But if he's sitting at my feet or standing at my knee then he wants some. For the few times I put him in his highchair, it's usually to keep him occupied, which is best accomplished by letting him feed himself - he can spend close to an hour doing that. I just strip him down to the dipe beforehand and plan a bath for after.

The ONLY time I don't respect his cues as to hunger/not hunger is when he's obviously exhausted and refusing to eat (because eating = sleeping), and then a cradle hold or a swaddle and a bottle are in order.

Oh, and if he's not liking the milk from the freezer - have you checked it for excess lipase? If you have excess lipase, then he may not like the taste and that's why you're having trouble getting him to drink it.
post #12 of 28
I think your 'need' to get him to eat food is your stress over trying to get AF back so you can conceive again if I am hearing you. In one of your posts you said, he needs to eat. But really he doesn't need anything but breastmilk. dd2 went through a period of eating, and is now eating very little except breastmilk again at 18 mo. She nurses a lot that 's for sure. Breastmilk can sustain a child until they are at least 2 I have been told.

My girls both just had a bit of whatever I was eating (although I did buy a few purees for dd2 since she started solids earlier (at 8 mo) than dd1 (at 10 mo), she didn't really like them. Even the organic ones have additives like citric acid. We don't have set 'mealtimes', we just eat when we are hungry. If dd2 is hungry she asks for my hand and leads me to the pantry or fridge, but I am pretty good at offering stuff 6-8 times a day (which she generally doesn't eat, so I do) I eat organic and no processed stuff. Cheerios are not on the shopping list. They have GMO ingredients (I believe babies can taste that it isn't good for them, but that is just my belief). Avocado was the first food for both of them. Peas are good too. I just pick them off the vine in the garden, and shell them and give them raw. Or you can buy frozen organic ones and thaw a few for a bit. The important thing is to feed pure foods (nothing processed, things that can be eaten raw, even if you choose to cook them.) We do eat a lot of fruit here. Good organic blueberries are always eaten. bananas, pears cut up....We are GFCFSF and I love it!

I agree you should not use the highchair. You are probably right that you gave him a complex with that cereal day (I skipped the cereal for the most part with girls too, the added iron (even in the organic ones) made it something they didn't want, so I followed that cue). It is ok to let children eat other places. We don't own a highchair. Now that it is warm, let the child eat outside if mess is a concern. We don't have a kitchen table due to space problems, and I frequently eat standing in kitchen, so I use a 'food blanket' for dd2. It is about 1 meter by 1.5 meters. I use a small ceramic custard dish to hold her food. She sits down readily. I ask her if she wants a spoon, she almost always nods yes, though she rarely actually uses the spoon. I do feed her the blueberries (I get frozen organic ones grown in the US) one by one with a toothpick she wanders around doing whatever and comes to me when she needs another blueberry), otherwise she would be blue from head to toe and it stains...

It is normal for a child to gag a bit when learning to eat. I lost a child to SIDS long ago, so I am pretty high on the freak out about everything scale, and when the baby seems to get something stuck in her throat I freak. But only on the inside. I breathe normally and before you know it, she got it right and is swallowing it normally. There have been times she gagged so strongly the food came back out. As long as your child is old enough for solids (can sit unassisted, pincer grasp, tongue thrust reflex gone) then everything is working right. Breastfed babies have a very strong gag reflex. It is normal, and it works fine to protect them.

I am a lactivist. I believe in breastfeeeding a baby from the source until the age the child weans around 3-5 yo. I believe in no nipple but my nipple (no bottles or pacis), but in your case it may be more gentle to give your child a replacement in a bottle. First choice would be your frozen stash of milk, next would be donor milk, if that is not possible, and you plan on introducing the child to other mammal's milk, there are goat milk recipes and the like available. You use raw (raw is important, not pasteurized) milk and add some things to make it more like human milk. I imagine the baby just wants you to keep nursing him from your breasts at will though...

I am sending the last bit as a PM...
post #13 of 28
My DS thrived on 95% breastmilk (other 5% being solids) until he was around 15 months old and began getting interested in solids. He weighed 27 lbs at a year, on breastmilk alone. Especially considering your DS was premature, he is still well within the age range to be on 100% breastmilk. We followed baby led weaning approach with solids, and he is a great eater now. Not picky at all, and he eats a LOT.

I have a friend who's DS is 2 (today actually) and he is the pickiest eater I have ever heard of. He basically survives off of chocolate milk, cheese, and mandarin oranges. He won't eat anything else, and he is very tall (like the size of a 3 year old) and very active. He is just an extremely picky eater... This to say that your DS is very normal (especially after being forced to eat while crying) for refusing food and being "picky" and kids can survive/thrive off much less. If your DS still refuses food while you are weaning, you can replace the breastmilk with other milks (Goat's would be my first choice, though DS is sensitive and we use Coconut milk now that my milk has dried up from pregnancy), while still allowing him to self feed finger foods. You can add a multi-vitamen. You can make "smoothies" for him to drink and mix in all kinds of good stuff. There are many ways to get healthy foods into him, while respecting his preferance for eating.. Our pediatrician said that many breastfed babies/children prefer a more "liquid" diet well into their second year. Will he drink from a sippy cup? Have you tried a straw? I am a big fan of smoothies, and if he will drink out of a straw you could try those with fresh fruit, add in some baby spinach leaves, avocado, etc.

If he does have sensory issues, some therapy may be good. My nephew was 16 lbs at a year old, and had some feeding issues. Once he got some therapy he got much better and is now a normal/chunky 2 year old.
post #14 of 28
I've read some of your other posts on his eating and it seems to be a major point of stress for you. I have a tiny toddler too so I get that especially when coupled with your stress over weaning.

I would back off. Find something else you are comfortable giving him if you're weaning for good (goat's milk, toddler formula, whatever) and relax on the solids. Gagging is normal, I'd give him bits of whatever you're eating when you're eating and let him do what he will with it. Once the whole highchair, bib, spoonfeed ritual is done I'm guessing he'll start to more clearly indicate he's interested in food. And as hard as it is, relax. Just keep reminding yourself you don't want to turn food into a lifelong battle.
post #15 of 28
Clearly he still needs for breastmilk to be the majority of his nutrition. It has many more calories than most typical baby foods by volume.

If you can not continue to nurse him then he needs formula.

post #16 of 28
Originally Posted by woodchick View Post
Is there a reason that you have so many 'rules' surrounding his eating? Must he sit in his high chair to eat? Will he eat if he's on you or DH's lap? Must he eat purees? Have you tried more finger foods with him?

At 12mos my DDs were eating full-on table foods with us. We're not totally strict about sitting still while eating and often the little one will pick at her meal long after we've all finished. LOs often have a different timetable when it comes to finishing a meal, I've found.

It sounds like you're stressed about the amount of food that he's eating. I wonder if he is picking up on that. What would happen if you relaxed your expectations a bit, keep nursing and let him graze on finger foods more often?

Good luck! Toddler's eating habits can be frustrating!

IMO there is rarely a reason to ever use pureed foods. I mean, what did people do before Gerber invented babyfood 50 years ago? I have very little expectation of how much or what my 10mo DD will eat. A couple of times a day I will put her in her high-chair and give her some of what I'm eating. She's never had separate meals, even when she was 6mo old. This morning she ate about 6 tiny pieces of bagel and 2" of a banana. I have never spoon-fed her, so she knows how to feed herself perfectly well. If she doesn't want to eat I'll let her get down and that's-that.

I have a feeling that your LO probably wants to do it himself. Have you tried little pieces of food and then giving him the spoon? My DD loves to "try" to use a spoon while she's eating. Also, 12mo is a little early to be worrying about food hang-ups. Some kids aren't even ready to try solid foods until 12mo++. My best friend's baby didn't start eating on a regular basis until 14mo. Just keep offering a wide variety of healthy choices and your DS will get it eventually. Good luck.
post #17 of 28
I think trying to wean him to food, at this age, is too much of a stress for you both.

I think you need to figure out what you are ultimately weaning him to, milk-wise, and focus mostly on that adjustment. Are you trying a bottle? Sippy cup? Cup?

DD1 went right to a cup (not sippy cup), with help obviously. DD2 does great with a cup, and also a slow-flow (kids) sport bottle.

As for solids, DD2 lets me know when she wants some. Usually now whenever she sees anyone else eating But she has also, on occasion, "walked" me to the kitchen, or the dining room table, and motioned for me to lift her up, so she can look for food. But even with her extreme interest in food, she's not eating a LOT of volume. 3 meals sees her eating total maybe one large strawberry, 2-3 tbsp yogurt, 2 tbsp cut up meat.

She started eating with sips of my smoothies, and "baby mum-mum" rice crackers. Taking an entirely different approach to eating might help get past the stress of how it's gone so far. I'm not a fan of the rice cracker things, nutrition wise, but they do serve a purpose in getting used to the idea of food without gagging. Maybe you can stick him in the stroller, give him one to explore, and go out for a walk. Try him with some sips of smoothie while sitting on your lap.

While getting breastmilk, I don't think I'd personally be overly worried about lack of interest in solids until well into the 2nd year.

Not that you asked for advice on this part, but what is nursing like at night? For many, having a 6 hour stretch without nursing at night, is enough for fertility to return...
post #18 of 28
Relax, it will all work out.

I'll share my stories from my 2 dd's.

Dd1 is now 4.5 and perfectly developing in all areas. We first tried purees at 6 months, because It's What You Do. I had never heard of baby lead solids or anything like that. We started with sweet potatoes, she refused all of it. I might have gotten a microgram into her. I tried the next day at a different time of day and at this time, warmed it up. She again refused. I figured she didn't like sweet potatoes. I waited a week and tried something else. No go. I tried cereal, I tried fruit, I tried veggie, warm, cold, mushy and thick, thin and runny. No go. At one year of age, she ate an entire thing of stage 1 prunes. I was shocked. And then she didn't do ever do it again. I was lucky if she ate more than 3 cheerios. We had our 1 year visit with our (former, horrible) ped. At this point she was formula fed as my milk dried up from pregnancy so she was completely bottle fed. The ped pretty much said just to starve her and she will eat. I told her in no uncertain terms that I will not withhold food from my baby. That either she is just slower than average to eat solids or there is an underlying problem, neither of which would be helped by withholding formula and forcing solids on my baby. She suggested sensory issues and listed other symptoms, none of which fit my dd. I posted here and there were several other lovely MDC mamas who said their dc were just like mine and that they weren't worrying. I decided from then on that I wasn't going to worry either. That if she still was solely formula fed at 2, I would start to worry.

I gave her what we ate and left it at that. Rarely did she accept, and that was fine. I just set it on her high chair tray and let her play with it. One day at 15-16 months, a switch flipped. She was going through 9 oz of formula an hour and it just wasn't satisfying her. I researched toddler formula thinking that maybe baby formula wasn't enough for her and found out that it basically was the same thing thing and just a marketing gimmick. From them on, she started eating REAL quantities of food, on her own. She enjoyed stabbing food with her fork and had ENJOYED eating. Her formula consumption slowed down considerably over the next few days and after a week, she was only down to her bedtime bottle (now milk) for comfort.

Another couple weeks and dd2 came along. I said i wasn't going to stress about solids. After all, she was not my first and I already had everything figured out. Ha, ha! At 3 months she started grabbing at my food, by 4 months it was nearly impossible to hold her while eating and at 5 months she snatched a graham cracker out of dd1s hand and gobbled it up. All this conditioning myself to not stress for nothing.

I say all this to say that kids, even from the exact same gene pool, vary widely. I would wait until 18 months and do a no-pressure attitude towards solids. I had to be very strict with family that they were not to offer my dd solids at all. Only dh and I were so she could again trust that solids were completely on her terms and that no one was going to try and trick her into eating. Research the symptoms of sensory disorders and see if any of the others fit your dd. If she does fit some of the others, then look into it. Otherwise leave it alone.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ironically, my worries are based on comments from others leading me to believe that things aren't "normal".

"Food before one is just for fun". Okay, so now that he is almost 13 months I thought there was cause for concern since he isn't getting much solids and he is small. And, I read posts from other moms with kiddos who eat a lot more than my LO.

To add to my concern, his pediatrician was concerned enough to write an Rx for a feeding clinic because she said that he should be well on his way with finger foods and 6 mo on purees is very sloow progress. She has raised 5 kids herself.

So, I figured there was something I should be worried about. I mean if his dr is concerned...

His dr suspects oral sensory issues since he was a preemie and it's common in that group, so that is why she thinks we need to nip this in the bud before the feeding issues carry through to toddlerhood.

There is a bit more to that, but I posted a separate concern on that in another group, so didn't want to get into that in this post.

I just wasn't so sure that he had sensory issues, which resulted in my initial posting on not eating well and thinking I was doing something wrong. I have since researched more and heard from other moms and think it could be an issue for him based on the criteria.

I have been wanting to wean, but that was a secondary thing to this whole eating issue because of his ped's concerns.

I do make my own organic pureed fruits and veggies (he only gets organic foods), though I have supplemented with some store bought organic options since some things I couldn't puree smooth enough for him. He is progressing, but very slowly, and he seemed to be regressing on some days. Due to my inexperience in momhood, I didn't know that is common.

I had to do purees because that was all he would eat without gagging and vomiting, which is probably tied to the oral sensory issue. I waited until he was 7 mo old before doing solids.

I probably have about a 5 mo stash of frozen BM from what I can estimate, and I have started to give that to him in a sippy cup to drink throughout the day. It's probably about 10-12 oz. I thought it was more that that. I'll have to measure the contents of a bag next time. I was determined that he would get BM for as long as possible as I transition to weaning. The past month or so, I have been able to go 4-6 hrs without BFing him during the day and at night, and yesterday, went as long as 7 hrs during the afternoon. He was too busy playing.

I guess what I needed to hear from others is that this eating behavior was "normal" because I have not been around babies before and didn't know what to expect with my own LO. And, hearing from many of you, I now know that it is quite common. I still need to have him evaluated for oral issues per his ped.

I do need to chill out. I wish I were wired that way. If I could be "reprogrammed" I would be the first in line, as I want to be the best mom possiblef or my LO.
post #20 of 28
I don't know anything about oral sensory issues, but with both ds1 and ds2 we've done table foods since day one (ds1 started solids ~7.5 months, ds2 probably closer to 8 months). I just give ds2 (10 months) bits of whatever we're eating. Most of it ends up on the floor but some does get into him.

Honestly, I'd stop purees and just set him at the table and give him bits of whatever your eating. If he eats it, awesome! If not, oh well! GOod luck!!
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