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refusing solids... takes breastmilk only. related to overall delays?

441 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  kati_kati
Hi - I could use some ideas and advice about what to do... My 14 mo DS has some developmental delays and refuses solid food. He is pretty much exclusively breastfeeding. He has had some solid foods (purees) in the past, but has been refusing for the last 3 weeks again. He nurses great and he's in the 50th percentile for height weight. His gross motor skills are at about the 9-10 month level, and fine motor is at about 6-7 months (he has trouble picking things up and is very selective about what he picks up).

We let him play with food, sit down with him at meals, offer food... but he doesn't want to eat it and bats everything away. I can nurse him just fine but it is really hard to get him to take a bottle so everyone else is feeling especially frustrated and it makes it hard for me to be away from him. He will chew/suck on frozen things in a mesh feeder occasionally but that doesn't really count as eating since he doesn't get much of it.

I'm feeling a lot of pressure from the developmental specialists who say he has to learn to eat solids. Some have hinted that I should stop breastfeeding on demand, which I do not want to do because it doesn't make sense to me. Part of me wonders if it will just come with time since he's delayed on motor skills overall, 6-9 months is about when he would start solids anyway. The funny thing is that when he does eat, he eats just fine. For a few weeks in Feb/Mar he ate 2-4 oz of pureed food 2-3 times a day, no gagging nothing. So he _can_ eat, but he now refuses.

Any ideas? Is this just his way of saying he doesn't need any solids nutritionally? Or is he refusing because it's scary for him and he's not in control? We try to let him hold the spoon and play with the food, but he doesn't want to put it in his mouth very often at all and even then sometimes doesn't swallow it. Maybe when his fine motor skills develop enough, he will eat?

I've seen people at MDC say that babies should not be fed solids until they can pick it up and eat it themselves. So should I be waiting for that, even if he's so delayed? Or will it cause longer term feeding issues if he doesn't learn to eat now?

Sorry so long... any advice on what to do would be great.


(I cross posted in Special Needs.)
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My son is 14 months and also refuses solids. He has always had trouble swallowing and he gags frequently when eating solids. Trying to get my son to eat solids is nearly impossible. Also, my son also does not walk or talk yet. He can take steps but has to be encouraged to do it or hold on to my hand. Aside from his iron level being low (we are giving iron supplement now), I don't have any problems with him taking his time and learning to eat on his own schedule. Everyday I offer him some solids. Usually the only ones he will eat are snacks like cereals or the soft part of popcorn, nothing that has any real nutritional value. Sometimes I can get him to eat a couple bites of a homemade soup or something. He HATES baby food.

My advice is to let your son learn at his own pace. I firmly believe that children can be guided but ultimately will do things at their own pace. My son is certainly doing that. I disagree that you should stop feeding on demand. Breastfeeding gives your son emotional support too, not just nutritional.

Btw, I don't thing this food refusal has anything to do with the other developmental delays. I just think some children take longer at a variety of developmental milestones.
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I've heard of kidsthat were EBF to 2 so yours sounds fine. Some kids just take a little longer, you know? I have a feeling DD wil be a later eater - she is gaggy and choky (like really choking to the point of throwing up sometimes) on almost everything. We're just going at her pace. I figure, I haven't met a teenager that doesn't know how to eat solids - so if she is still EBF then we may have a problem ;-) I would just let him play with solids and not worry at this point - you said he's gaining fine and he does know how to eat solids, just isn't right now. I read a quote somewhere about how extended BFing is so great bc when the picky toddler years hit, or when they just don't eatmany solids, you don't have to worry because they are getting their nutritional needs met with the BM *hugs*

You could do child led solids - give him long skinny pieces of food that he can hold (like french fries size) and then he can gum what he wants off of there. We've gone really slow with DD, I've done sweet potatoes chunks, broccoli (she loves!), kidney beans, (I squish the insides out into her mouth and eat the skin myself), white potatoes. He's still so young - and especially being a little behind on the fine motor skills, I really wouldn't worry too much. Go at his pace and trust your intuition mama!
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Kids who have developmental delays need to breastfeed as long as possible to get all the benefits of breastfeeding. Do not let them bully you into weaning.

If your child has been evaluated by an occupational therapist ask about tactile sensitivity. Some kids with developmental delays do have tactile problems and don't want to eat. Occupational therapists may not pick up on this because they may not have been trained or they are used to formula fed babies. You may have to ask around to find an OT that is trained. When I found the right OT she had my FTT DD son eating in 3 days. The bad doctors were going to put in a feeding tube.
Thank you all for your replies and support! Looks like his feeding issues may or may not be related to overall delays... It's encouraging that other kids without delays go through this solids refusal sometimes. But he definitely has fine motor issues, and might have some sensory stuff going on, I'm not sure. I'm going to stick with extended nursing as long as I can! I think you are all right that baby knows best.

I posted more of an update here:
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