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My Child Won’t Eat: 12 Reasons Kids Refuse to Eat

When kids refuse to eat, there’s always an underlying reason. Understanding why your child is refusing to eat, or when they don’t want to eat, is the key to understanding and helping your child move forward.

Ironically, when kids won’t eat, it’s not always because they don’t like the food that’s being offered. There can be other reasons.

Here’s a scenario I ran into recently:

“I’m at my wits end. Every night, my little guy barely touches the meal,” said Debbie. She described how, night after night, getting her child to eat would ruin the family meal.

“It’s a real struggle!”

I learned that Debbie’s son was getting a lot of pressure at the table to try new foods, especially because he had several food allergies and Debbie was afraid his diet was too narrow.

Related: Force feeding and Food Pushing 101

12 reasons why kids won't eat

Why Won’t My Kid Eat?

We hear so much about child obesity and kids who overeat. And, in general, many parents worry about their kids eating.

But what about the parent who’s asking about a child who doesn’t eat enough? Or the kid who is refusing food?

When your child won’t eat, it can be extremely frustrating, whether it’s your baby, toddler or teen. If your child is refusing food, it can leave you angry, full of despair, and even hopeless.

I don’t want you to feel that way.  

As a childhood nutrition expert, I’ve worked with many picky eaters in my day. In my experience, when a child is refusing food it’s important to understand the root of the problem.

Because this will help you solve the issue.

Whether it’s a physical condition like chronic constipation, a behavioral tendency, or something negative that’s going on in a child’s eating environment, there are several common reasons why kids refuse to eat.

In this article, you’ll learn of 12 potential reasons your child isn’t eating, and what you can do about it. 

  1. Your Child’s Growth is Slowing Down
  2. Your Child is a Picky Eater
  3. Your Child Experiences Pressure to Eat at the Table
  4. Your Child has a Food Allergy
  5. Your Child has Super Sensitive Taste Buds
  6. Your Child is Sensitive to Texture
  7. Your Child is on a Food Jag
  8. Your Child is Filling Up on Snacks
  9. Your Child may be a Disordered Eater
  10. Your Child has Too Many Distractions
  11. Your Child is Too Tired to Eat
  12. Your Child is Sick

1. Your Toddler’s Growth Has Slowed Down

At about age two or three, a toddler’s growth slows down, and his appetite follows. It’s no coincidence that this is right around the time that picky eating begins.

Although it’s concerning, it’s pretty common for young children, especially toddlers.

Read more in depth about the toddler refusing to eat in this article: Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat

But let’s talk about kids. School-age kids are steady growers and their appetite stays fairly predictable. A drop in appetite may happen after your child has a short spurt in growth. This happens for some kids. They are steady growers and eaters, then they ramp up their appetite for a few days, then taper off.

Although this can be disconcerting, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s just how some children grow. Remember, appetite often follows what’s going on with growth.

2. Your Child or Teen is Still Picky

It’s increasingly common for older kids to be picky eaters. In fact, more and more kids have a condition called ARFID, or Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.

These kids are certainly choosy with food. They often won’t eat vegetables and may refuse to try anything new.

Food neophobia, or a fear of new food, is a common characteristic of picky eating. Food jags, or eating the same food day after day, is another hallmark and we see these characteristics in the older picky eater as well.

Extreme picky eaters can also be sensitive to the appearance, smell or overall sensory experience of unfamiliar food. The characteristics of food may cause an aversion or disgust. If you suspect you’ve got a child who is sensitive to the texture, flavor or appearance of food, be sure to explore this further.

My article, Does My Child Have ARFID? sorts out in more detail what’s going on with older and extreme picky eaters.

I explore a more positive way to feed picky eaters in my book, Try New Food: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat & Like New Foods.

3. Force Feeding or Pushing Food Happens at the Table 

Forcing your child to eat or laying on the pressure to try or taste food doesn’t work. In fact, it often backfires.

Research shows that children who are pushed, pressured or prompted to try new food, take another bite, or finish their meal may be less willing to try new foods. and more likely to eat poorly and less healthfully. Pressuring kids to eat may cause early fullness and even shut down their appetite.

Let’s digest that.

The more you ask, remind or demand your child to eat, the less he does.

Alternatively, pressure to eat may cause different results: encouraging children to eat beyond their appetite, and perhaps too much.

How does that happen?

That child who is compliant and does what he’s asked may eat more than his internal body cues are telling him to. Doing this over and over can teach children to overeat.

If your child isn’t eating, take a step back and assess whether encouraging him to eat is working or making things worse.

Any kind of pressure, even celebratory remarks like, “Yay! I knew you could do it!” and excessive praise can lead to the same results. 

Pressuring kids to eat is a sign of a Controlling Feeding Style. You can read more about that in these two articles: What’s Your Feeding Style?  and Parenting Food 101

Unfortunately, picky eating may drag on if you force your child to eat, bribe him with dessert, or take away privileges (or food).

Child refusing to eat

4. Your Child has a Food Allergy

Some children won’t eat well when they have a food allergy. There are several food allergies that are common in children. We call them the Big 8: milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nut, wheat, fish and shellfish.

 If a child has multiple food allergies, you can bet there are many food restrictions and diet limitations, which can lead to narrowed food selections and boredom.

Poor eating is a real risk in this situation.

Be sure to work with a nutrition professional if your child has food allergies so that you can make sure he’s getting all the nutrition he needs to grow well.

5. Your Kid is a Super-taster

When your child won’t eat vegetables or other foods, like meat, it may be due to highly sensitive taste buds. For some children, the taste of bitter is highly offensive because they taste it more intensively.

Super-tasters have more taste buds on the tongue, and they may be more sensitive to the chemical components of food, especially those of bitter and sour flavors.

If this is true with your child, it can result in selective eating, especially with vegetables.

6. Your Child Has a Texture Aversion

When I hear a child is not eating, I sometimes am suspicious of texture aversion. If your child is leery of foods that are mushy, wet or slippery, she may be exhibiting signs of sensory sensitivity.

Picky eaters who tend to eat bland foods or all white foods may also be sensitive to the appearance or smell of food. This can be the case in children with ADHD or autism.

Having a sensitivity to certain food characteristics can limit the diet, leading to poor eating and nutrition.

You may need to work with a feeding specialist or nutritionist who can help your child branch out to new foods and learn to tolerate those textures.

7. Your Toddler is on a Food Jag

Is your child eating the same things day after day? Loving a handful of foods? Your hot dog loving preschooler may be on a food jag, getting stuck on a few favorite foods.

This may look like your child isn’t eating, but most likely he is eating enough, just not the variety of food you’d like to see him eat.

If you’ve turned into a short-order cook, offering only the foods your kid will eat, or enjoys eating, then you’re enabling the food jag.

Instead, you’ll want to keep offering a variety of foods even if your child doesn’t want to eat them.

Think of it this way: If your child refuses to eat broccoli, and thus, you never bring it to the table, your child will never come around to liking it because he’s not seeing it enough.

Read: Overcome the Short-Order Cooking Syndrome

8. You’ve Got a Snack-a-holic

When your child refuses to eat, it’s time to look at the big picture. What is she eating throughout the day?

If she’s filling up on snacks, she may be curtailing her appetite for mealtime. 

Some kids will fill up on food-based snacks, while others will fill their bellies with juice or milk. Any of these foods and beverages can shift the balance of the diet and interfere with eating.

Make sure your child has plenty of opportunity to eat meals and snacks on a predictable schedule. Oh, and check out my book called The Smart Mom’s Guide to Healthy Snacking!

12 Reasons Your Child Won't Eat

9. Your Teen May Have Disordered Eating

If you have a teen or an older child who won’t eat, you may be dealing with a larger concern called disordered eating. When kids and teens cut back on their eating, they may be trying to lose weight or diet.

They could also be emulating their peers, experimenting, or dieting due to body dissatisfaction.

Disordered eating includes skipping meals, cutting out food groups, or dieting, and paves the way for an eating disorder.

10. Your Kid is Distracted 

If you’re using distraction techniques to help with your kid’s eating, they may be working against you rather than for you (or your child). Kids are easily distracted by TV or toys at the table, and this may have a negative impact on their eating.

It’s best to let your child focus on food and eating at the table—he can get back to playing or TV time later. This encourages a mindful approach to eating and helps kids tune in to their appetite, eating the right amounts for their body’s needs.

11. Your Child or Teen is Too Tired to Eat

When your child won’t eat dinner, it may simply be due to sheer exhaustion from a long day. Think of the young athlete who’s gone to school all day and attended sports practice afterward, or the kid who is naturally tired at the end of the day.

(I’ve got one kid who needs a nap everyday and she’s in her 20’s!).  

The good news is most kids are good at making up the difference in their food consumption when one meal is less than stellar. They just increase their eating at the next meal or snack.

12. Your Child is Sick

When kids are ill, they are often eating less. This is mainly due to a reduced appetite, which is common when any of us get sick.

Generally, illness is short-term and not a worry, as the appetite tends to comes back when your child starts to feel better.

The most important aspect of managing your child’s illness is to prevent dehydration. 

Loss of Appetite in a Child and Losing Weight

If you have a child who won’t eat and is losing weight, you’ll want to pay more attention to the nutrition you are providing him. In my experience, this is one of the most stressful challenges for parents. 

Instead of hovering and pushing your kid to eat, you’ll have to take a balanced approach to this delicate situation.

Feeding the underweight child includes optimizing calories and nutrients to help the picky eater gain weight, while also using a positive feeding style.

It’s a good idea to check in with your doctor if your efforts to help aren’t making a difference.

Children need to gain and grow during childhood. If poor eating is causing your child to lose weight, seek professional help.

What if Baby Refuses to Eat?

Generally, babies want to eat, so when they stop eating, the alarm bells can go off. There are 5 common reasons why baby won’t eat.

However, when babies won’t eat for a period of time, you need to call the doctor. That’s because babies can become dehydrated quickly and get into trouble.

What are the Symptoms of Not Eating Enough?

The two main symptoms of not eating enough are weight loss and dehydration.

Remember, the job of childhood is to gain and grow. If your child isn’t eating enough and you’re worried, head to the pediatrician to check weight and growth on the growth chart.

It might surprise you to find that your child is gaining and growing fine, despite looking like he’s not eating anything. But, if you find his growth has stalled or he’s lost weight, you’ll be in the right place to get help.

Want an Eat Everything Kid?

Feeling stuck with your child’s eating? Want to help your child try new foods? If your child won’t eat and your find yourself caught up in a negative cycle of feeding, I’ve got the perfect resource for you! 

Book jacket of Try New Food workbook

Try New Food will help you, step-by-step, set up a positive environment to help your child taste new foods, even if it seems you’ll never get your child to eat. You’ll even get new foods for picky kids of all ages.

Grab your copy NOW! 

If your older child isn’t eating because he’s a picky eater, read this article for more help. 

For more resources, classes, workshops and books on child nutrition and feeding kids, check out my shop.

Listen to The Nourished Child Podcast

I’ve got several podcast episodes on picky eating that can help you more!

Feeding Picky Eaters with Dr. Natalie Muth

How to Help Extreme Picky Eaters with Melanie Potock

Simple Tips for Adding New Foods

This article was updated on January 17, 2021.

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  1. Hi Jill, my four and half year old boy won’t try new foods. He eats chips (only fries), garlic bread, one particular pizza and bananas. He has eaten baby steam meals (spag bol, chicken and mash, pasta) which is why he isn’t malnourished! He starves himself through the school day and refuses to try anything. When I ask him he begins to cry and panic immediately. I’m at my wits end, not sure if I’m doing the right thing thing or making matters worse. Please help, it’s beginning to impact on the rest of his life.

    1. Hi Kerry, I’m sorry you’re both going through this! A couple of next steps to think about: evaluation by a feeding therapist to assess any sensitivities that can be worked on. Also, my book Try New Food (available on Amazon) may help you be able to see some trends with his eating and work on ways you can set up his environment to be pressure-free and supportive.

  2. My 20 month old son won’t eat anything and is losing weight, he is allergic to a lot of things and I am frustrated right now. Please help

    1. I know it’s so concerning when your child won’t eat — plus having a limited diet with allergies! I think you need to go to your doctor for evaluation and ask for a referral to a pediatric dietitian and a pediatric allergist in your area.

  3. Jill, I have a 3 year old that does not eat very much. She never eats breakfast or breakfast items and that worries me because I read once and heard many times that having breakfast is the most important meal of the day. She also does not eat much during the day. Snacks maybe here and there but never eats a full meal. Is this a big issue? What can I do to help her eat?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Jill, my 3 and half year old has never been a big eater, but lately she doesn’t want to eat at all. She;ll have some dry cereal in the mornings, and during the day, she hardly eats. To make up for lack of nutrients, my wife and I give her Pediasure, but we get frustrated that she doesn’t want to eat solid foods. We beg her to take a few bites, she may do it at times, but rarely, We cant get her to drink water, either. She wont dare try new food if we present them to her. But, we don’t know if shes bored of what she eats when she eventually does. It’s really hard for us emotionally to deal with her not eating.

    1. Adam,
      Yes, it can be very frustrating when kids won’t eat. However, they have this keen sense for that frustration and this can further dissuade their eating…so can pressure to eat (nagging, begging, etc). I cover exactly this stuff in my e-book Try New Food–I think you may find it helpful.
      Also, feel free to look around this site, as i have several articles on picky eating.

  5. Please help. My little girls who is nearly 3 has gone from having a big appetite to not wanting to eat hardly at all. If there are crisps or chocolate on offer she will never say no but as for lunches, dinners etc she doesn’t touch it. Two mouthfuls if I’m lucky. I have tried spoon feeding her and begging with her to eat more but this ends up with a gagging reflex and bringing everything back up again. She drinks quite a lot. I try to give her water but she always wants juice. Just such a shame as she always had a good appetite, never one for salads or vegetables but most other dinners she would eat. Just hope it’s nothing serious.

    1. Juice between meals can certainly fill up little tummies! I would offer only water between meals, try to offer 3 meals and 3 small snacks regularly through the day with no in-between foods. Same with sweets–eating then in lieu of balanced meals can sabotage appetite–have you seen my eguide, Try New Food? It specifically helps with the picky eater!

  6. Hi Jill,

    Am Pathak, my daughter is 14 months old, presently she moved to her grand mom town from Hyderabad city, and last 5 day’s she is facing omitting motion, and eating very less, she will omit 1 or 2 times a day when we try to feed medicine and food. And she is active playing laughing, but not taking food, any drinks, except water, every day she eats maximum 200 gram food including ( biscuit, very less juices, less food, this is intake).
    And we met doctor, and they have given medicines, and he said, it will take some day;s to get cure.
    He told reason for all these are –> Wisdom teeth is showing the face, may be infection, or some allergic.
    Could you pls, help to understand the issue and what could be the next step being a father. And also am in Hyderabad, and my wife is with her mother and child, i need to assist her.

    Can you pls assist,

    1. Hi–if she is cutting teeth or has an illness, reduced intake is normal. I would still offer food at regular times; cut out distractions such as toys while eating; and maybe offer soups/soft foods to ease the pain with getting new teeth.

  7. My 3-1/2 year old daughter hasn’t ever been a big eater. The last few days have been a nightmare. We make her a plate of what we are eating will put a bite in her mouth and spit it out. We have tried lasagna to pizza bites to plain Ramen noodles with no success. She will freak out and have what I can only explain as a panic attack screaming shaking and crying until she pukes. With no explanation of what is wrong. Any ideas? My wife feels like a horrible parent.

    1. Did she have a bad experience with eating? Sore throat, reflux, pain somehow? I am not sure but if this is a sudden change in her usual behavior, I would seek out your pediatrician to rule out any mechanical issues/pain.

  8. MY 22 month old son doesn’t eat or want to try any food some times the look or smell will just turn him off . He may eat a. Small square sandwich but will take little bites . He had reflux as a baby so was never a good eater. He is also very slow in his speech .

    1. Katie,
      You might consider working with a feeding therapist (SLP or OT certified in feeding therapy)–his history of reflux and slow speech are red flags for feeding difficulty. He may associate eating with pain given his GER in the past…

      1. Hello jill my little boy is 2 he wont eat nothing apart from crisps and milk and juice! He also ad reflux wen he was baby! He always ask for chips i do him them but wont eat them x

  9. Hi Jill,

    I have a 4 year old daughter. When I give her her plate, she eats two spoons then says that she doesn’t want to eat anymore. If I ask her why, she says that the food is good but she doesn’t want to eat anymore. I think that my daughter is having a difficulty in filling the spoon with food and successfully put it in her mouth. This is causing a lot of frustration for her. In most cases she ends up eating very little throughout the day. But if I feed her myself, she eats the whole plate.
    I tried with her baby steps to encourage her by putting little food in a small plate, but that didn’t work out well.
    What shall I do?

    Thank you in advance..

    1. It’s hard to know whether there is a true delay in her feeding skills or if she prefers/likes you to feed her. You may want to have her assessed to make sure her developmental milestones are on target; if so, she may need to be encouraged to be more independent…

      1. Hi Jill, my 9 yr old boy has started spitting food out either on the plate or I’ve caught him spitting it down the toilet ( food which he’s had before and likes). He has been bullied at school numerous times and apparently been dealt with??
        He didn’t eat any tea last night and not ate his cereal this morning either, I’ve spoke to teacher but no idea what to do, he’s very small for his age too and gets called midget alot, do I need to take him docs or a therapist??
        Jen x

        1. Hi Jen–Aw, Do you think this is due to bullying? If so, I would think about seeking some help from a counselor. You could also talk with him about why he’s not eating–let him know you see that he is hurting and you want to help. Also, have you tried some strategies to help him gain weight?

  10. My daughter eats a variety of food, but she often overstuffs her mouth or chews food, spits it out, puts it back in and chews more. She wants foods like chicken nuggets, bread, ice cream, etc. She rarely eats meat other than the processed nuggets. She also has a very sensitive gag reflex. Someone suggested she may have poor oral muscle tone. Is there anything I can do to help her? I cut up her food to try to prevent the overstuffing, but she just shoves a bunch of pieces in.

    1. Hi Katherine, I think an evaluation by a feeding therapist (speech language pathologist or occupational therapist specializing in feeding) will help you understand if there is a mechanical chewing/swallowing issue–if so, they can help treat and correct. Meanwhile, keep the variety of nutritious foods at meals and snacks coming!

  11. Hi Jill,
    Thanks for the tips. Do you have any advice on generally slow eaters? More so, I’m usually at the table asking for my 6 year old and 3 year old to “please eat” ten to twenty times. I know it’s my own doing…any tips on how to get them to pay attention and just eat?! I have a 10month old and I don’t want to be in the same boat three years down the road with her too! The only time they will is if it’s something like corn dogs or mac and cheese which they don’t get often at all. TIA!

    1. I generally recommend putting a cap on mealtime to no more than 30 minutes/20 min. for young toddlers–it often becomes counter-productive when it’s longer than that. Some of my families use a timer, and end the meal when it goes off. Most kids learn to eat before the timer goes off; just reassure them with the timing of the next meal/snack so they understand another eating session is in the future. Once they pick up the pace you don’t need to use the timer any more. Try it and let me know how it goes!

      1. Dear Madam,
        My baby is 1.5 year old boy, He did not eat anything even milk also no feeding. We are very forcefully giving him something . We could find what is his actual problem, we never seen he felt as hungry .So please advise what we will do ? If it is any symptoms or not for illness .

        1. Ginu,
          I think my book, Try New Food, will help you understand the positive ways to feed your son. If it seems there is more going on after you implement some of these techniques, I think you’d want to see a nutritionist or feeding specialist.

      2. Hi Jill. My toddler (he’s 2 1/2) has always been a really good eater. He would eat anything and everything. Just within the past couple of weeks he has stopped eating meat. If I make pasta with meat in it he will eat it but if I make chicken or steak or hamburgers he will only eat the veggies. He’s allergic to eggs so he can’t have those. I’m worried he isn’t getting enough protein. We’ve tried to tell him he’s going to bed if he doesn’t eat, no tablet for not eating, etc…. will this timer suggestion work for my situation or what should we do? He’s unbelievably smart and stubborn as well. I’m not sure if this is a power struggle either.

        1. Hi Tracye,
          Your son is at peak picky eating stage, so the interactions and how you introduce food really matter and can set the tone of his relating to food and eating in the future. I have lots of articles about picky eating–even some cheat sheets for free on the blog–just search “picky eating” and they will come up. Also, my e-guide, Try New Food, helps parents like you take positive steps for helping kids try new food without pressure and struggle. You can find it here:

  12. My daughter has been having a fever for the last 4 days and i started giving her medicine and it would go away until 2 days ago she would take it but she said her head hurts a lot and she has lost her appetite she rarely wants to drink anything and i really dont know what to do anymore ???

    1. Keep trying fluids–cold drinks, soups, popsicles, etc to help her stay hydrated, and make an appt to see doctor since she’s had a fever for a few days.

  13. Hello Jill! My daughter is almost 16 months. She refuses to eat. We will try literally everything. Some days it’s only a few bites, others it’s nothing at all no matter what or how hard we try. I’ve tried letting her feed herself, eating off of my plate. Absolutely everything. This has been going on about 3 months! She’s lost 1.6 lbs since her first birthday. I really don’t know what to do. Her PED is aware and tells me to keep trying and give her what she wants. But she doesn’t want anything!

    1. Hi Lilly,
      Given that she has lost weight, I think you need to find more help. I hate to see very young children lose weight! And “not wanting” anything suggests to me that there may be something else is going on. I would suggest a dietitian experienced with children and perhaps a feeding therapist to assess if anything mechanical with eating is going on. You’re welcome to check out my offerings on my website too (…

      1. my baby of 10 month is no more eating,and hes running temperature..what can i do….and hes lips were turning black..i need ur help

  14. My three year old always had issues with texture on certain foods but always ate a decent variety up until he got sick with the flu seven weeks ago. He was very ill for about four days and since then it has been a struggle to get him to eat anything. He takes daily vitamins, drinks milk but will only eat tortillas and yogurt. Every now and then I can give him an apple but it’s tough and he gets so worked up and can’t even watch other people eat food. I am at a complete loss. His pedi says not to force him and he will come around as long as he isn’t losing a large amount of weight. He recently added crackers to his list of okay items too but it’s been seven weeks and I am so worried.

    1. Did he throw up a lot when he was sick? Have to take oral meds? Sounds like something is off–what happens if you give him food and let him eat independently without any help from you?

  15. My 4 year old daughter will not eat. When I make her eat, she sticks her fingers down her throat til she throws up. She says it’s cause her mother said it was healthy for her. (We’re in a custody dispute right now, I have her as of now. Mother is on drugs really bad). I’ve had my daughter to doctors therapists and everything. She won’t listen to anyone and says it’s healthy for her. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve lost so much sleep over this. I’ve lost my last job cause of it cause I’m trying to help her so much that I’m losing everything else in the process. Please, anything anyone could give for advice would help. I don’t know what to do anymore. Thanks…

    1. Steven, this is tough and i am sorry you and your daughter are going through this. That being said, have you investigated treatment clinics for extreme picky eating (called ARFID) and even therapists/feeding teams that specialize in treating disordered eating? It seems that this is very complicated and touches on not only nutrition, but behavior, psychology, and more.

    2. please ma,my 18 months old baby girl love eating well,later she stop eating.she will be feeling hungry bt when u bring food she will start crying nd wont eat when i try to force her she bring everything out and i have give her spoon to eat by herself bt no way only drinking stuff like milk,yoghurt and water please help me i feel very bad since 3 days nw hv not eat anything

  16. Hello my 5;year old she likes food so much,but sometimes she doesn’t want to eat at all the things she likes to eat is fried chips,I sometimes get worried she sometime have a nose bleeding but just a little,and she gets tired

  17. My 4 year old rarely eats solid food. 95% of his diet from day 1 is the Costco complete nutrtion shake. The last 4 months I add 2 ounces of veggie smoothie to 7 ounces of the shake. He drinks about 5 per day so he is getting about 50 to 70 ounces of veggie smoothie per week. Is this ok for now?
    Please help, we are very concerned.

    1. Joe, You should probably look to find a pediatric nutritionist to help you move your child to solid food. I would be interested to know if he has been meeting his nutrient requirements. Is there a reason he is getting his nutrition from smoothies? Does he have food aversion or texture sensitivities?

    1. Carissa, I have several posts on this blog to help you. Be sure to search around. Also, make sure to grab the 6-Step Guide freebie to get the basics down of how to think about this and get going. Then, if you need more help, my e-guide Try New Food really digs into the action steps, plan, and monitoring that needs to happen to see progress.

  18. My five year old daughter wont eat to the point that my wife and I are at our wits end! Our child lives in a nurtured, and loving environment but breakfast was always challenging because of how early Kindergarten starts in Florida. It has accelerated after a bout of Strep Throat to where she wont eat at all practically! Even the mere thought of sitting at the dinner table sends her into tears; but if we tell her she can wait to eat until she calms down they stop immediately. She has recently escalated this behavior by lying to us and throwing out her lunch at school! I’m running out of options and its truly affecting the family, whats a parent to do?

    1. I have the same problem with my 4 year old boy and we have been to the GI, food counselors, speech therapists…I feel like I am going nuts!!!! He ate a brownie for dinner last night. A BROWNIE. If you find a solution let me know! for now, hes being evaluated for texture issues and possible therapy.

  19. Hi Jill,
    My Son is 4.5 year old …he does not like to chew his food. he eats pizzas, chips etc without any problem but he doesn’t eat the food we regularly eat . he swallows them when given, I have to mash his food in the blender and give him. I want him to try eating fruits and veggies as any kid of his age would do. Please help as his preschool has informed that we should not send junk food to school.

    1. Hi Jish,
      I’m sorry you’re struggling with this! It sounds like your son may have developed a preference for some of our less than healthy American foods! Will he eat your native diet if you leave it whole (not blenderized) and allow him to feed himself?

      1. HI Jill

        Thanks a lot for your reply 🙂 No he would not eat our native food if not blenderized..I have been trying to giving him our indian food(without blending) in different varieties to attract him .. but he does try 2 spoons but later doesnt eat…He doesnt eat by himself we need to feed him. In his school also he doesnt eat by himself and the teachers feed him.
        I do want him to chew food like other kids of his age ..I dont mind him eating pizzas or burgers once while. 🙂

  20. Hello,
    My 6 years old son is not eating anything entire day. if we ask him he replied ” i don’t want food”. even if we trying to feed him. He takes 2 hours to eat 2-3 chapatis with sabji.

    even i tried, we were not force him for 2 days but in those day also he not asked for food, first day he asked for biscuits in the evening.

    please suggest what need to be done.


    1. I would review this with your pediatrician and explore why he isn’t eating–you may need to see a feeding specialist. For instance, is there pain? Are there sensitivities to texture? Is there too much pressure to eat? Does your son want to be more independent with eating?

  21. My 4-year-old daughter is not eating properly for the last two months. Before that, she was eating well and everything. Now, she is becoming “picky eater” and has started nausea and vomiting after eating even she eats food of her choice. We do not feel or see any signs of illness. What to do??

    1. Anjali,
      The nausea/vomiting is concerning and can certainly be the reason your child doesn’t want to eat. Have you taken her to the doctor?

  22. Hello,

    so happy to find this article of you on internet. i thought only i have this kind of problem. my son is 3+ years old. he doesn’t eat anything at all. he eats only yogurts for hole day. Dont know what to do. i tried to give him normal food, but he doesnt want. maybe he has some problem with his health or its a mental problem? should i need to go to psychologist?

    thanks in advance.

    1. I would talk with your pediatrician about seeing a dietitian and a feeding therapist for an evaluation. It’s hard to know why he is eating this way without a professional evaluation. 🙂

  23. Hi everyone, my 2 year old daughter has stop gaining weight since 6 months. She ate almost nothing throughout the day. I tried everythings. From pressure to sweet talk, favourite foods, etc but she only took 1 bite and then done. She didn’t want to take her milk anymore. At the daycare they started telling me that she slept alot in the daytime (3-4hours) and doesn’t want to wake up for food. She is lively as always but sometimes, she just sat in the corner and stared…

    1. Oh and i forgot. The only thing she may eat are: pasta(without sauce), rice, bread(plain) and snacks.
      I find theses only contained glutinous but she doesnt eat anything else.

    2. May, If your child hasn’t gained weight since 6 months of age, you need to get her back to the doctor’s office and get more help for her. Children should be gaining weight and growing–your doctor should be able to get you the help you need, which will probably include a nutritionist to help with food and feeding. 🙂

  24. Hi Jill my son is 2+ now and not even eating anything from the time he started eating food till today I force him to eat. Whole day he will stay only having a glass of milk n some water. Really worried. Now also I have to mash the rice n force him

    1. Hi Suma,
      I’m sorry to hear you’re having challenges. Have you tried to let him feed himself? Forcing may be turning him off. I would offer the foods your family eats and let him eat at a high chair/table with the family and feed himself/go at his own pace. At 2 years, he should be eating what your family eats and doing it with you all.

      1. Yes, I so much agree my 21 month old won’t eat if try feeding her. She will only eat if I sit her next to the older kids at the dinner table, so much better . Something about kids wanting to feel independent….

      2. My daughter is 3.5 yrs and she too the same , not eating anything and has aversions to any food 🙁

        She don’t know to bite and when force feeded she swallows the food without chewing , she got all the teeth but seems some mental fear which she thinks and try to vomit when any food sticks on her tongue.

        We tried all the ways , she cannot feed herself and can live without any food and water whole day

        What we can do now ???

  25. Hi Jill

    Our 5 year old son does not eat well and bring back his lunch box from school without finishing. Before joining the school, he was eating well but now ever after coming from school, he does not like to eat anything and it looks from his health also. He is happy in school and enjoy it. We are really worried about it. His behaviour also has been changed like does not obey us, lazy, crying etc. Please give us suggestion in this regard and any other suggestion also for parenting, diet of 5 years kids.

    1. Hi Pawan,
      Perhaps your child is enjoying the social aspect of school and the lunchroom, and finding it hard to eat his lunch there? I might have a conversation with him about what’s going on and see if you can get a better picture as to why he’s not eating–he might be able to tell you! In the meantime, I would try to make sure he has a good breakfast before school, eats a snack at school (if allowed) and a nutritious snack at home after school. You can always offer a bedtime snack to help make up any lost calories during the daytime.

  26. Hello my son is 2 years old and he is not eating anything, the only time he will , is take milk and it must be mix with cocoa and will he just drink small half cup … for the past three 3 weeks whatever he eats , he will poop and its very watery. what should i do?

    1. Joycelyn,

      I would take your son into the doctor and figure out what’s going on with his tummy…I think his symptoms warrant a check in with the doctor.

  27. Okay. My son, age 5, has never been a picky eater, he’s always tried new things and ate more than my 10 year old son. All of a sudden about 2 weeks ago he stopped eating. He refused pizza today because it had cheese on it. Now I know that kids go thru phases but we’re approaching a month here and I’m really starting to worry (he used to just eat shredded cheese out of the bag,won’t touch it now. He also just started 4k, 2 full days a week. What do you think the problem might be??

      1. Jackie

        Has he lost weight? Energy? It might just be that he’s “off” cheese for now…not unusual for a toddler to do this. In this case, it’s best to ride the wave and not make a big deal of it. However, if he’s dropping weight, I would check in with your pediatrician.

  28. Hi, I’m really depressed my son is 3 years he doesn’t eat nothing just the only thing he likes is pizza, and milk I’m worrying about him I took him to school from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm 5 hours he stay there with no food he’s teacher try, and nothing I try every thing with him, please tell what I have to do is this is normal ??

  29. My son is 6. He has always been a picky eater, but it seems like he is getting gradually worse. He dislikes most foods, except for spaghetti noodles with meatballs, cheese, meat, bread, and the normal picky eater foods. In the past, he has gone all day without eating, and he refuses most food now. He will not eat breakfast, he picks at lunch whether he buys at school or packs his own food, and he picks at dinner. At his last health checkup he seemed to be steady on his own growth curve, albeit on the very low end (single digits). He is very slim and has a lot of bones protruding, especially in his torso. Recently, within the past few months he has almost no interest in food. I have tried many different things, to no avail. Ensure/Pediasure,, taking electronics and toys away, allowing TV while eating, and a slew of other things. Help.

  30. Hi I’m having a real hard time with my 22 month old son….he has not been a great eater at all, and when he tries foods he’ll spit it out or gag and sometimes vomit. He even has trouble drinking just about anything because he constantly chokes on what he’s drinking, coughs up a storm and throws up. If I bring the spoon to his mouth he turns his head and fusses and pushed me away……I can’t get him to try new foods and I’m truly concerned. All I get from his pediatrician is I wouldn’t worry about it because my son literally is 35 pounds at 22 months and 38 inches long, he’s literally the size and weight of a 3 year old and he’s always been like that. I have no idea what I’m doing for him to be that big……it’s not like he even eats. Maybe pick on very little things but rarely. What should I do to make eating a good experience for him? What can I try to give him? He is such an active kid that sitting down on his chair is impossible! So I’m trying real hard here to do something about it because this stresses me out!

    1. Yasmin,
      To get started on the right foot with feeding your son, I would consider getting a good resource (I think my book Fearless Feeding would help you a lot). Given your son’s age and current weight, there may be some things that are off that need to be addressed–portion sizes, for example, or structured meals. All this is in the book. The other thing is have you thought about making an appointment with a dietitian? A pediatric dietitian could help you get all this sorted out. I think you’d have more success that way, as this forum is for general topics and I am only able to give general guidance here. 😉 You can certainly search my blog for feeding and toddler nutrition information!

  31. Hi

    My son is 6yrs old. And does not eat normal food at all. Since he was born. He’s daily food that he takes in, is dried cereal like oatees, then he would eat two slices of bread, with either Bovril or peanut butter on. At nite I have to give him purity butternut, just to get vegetables into his body and then also yoghurt. But the past 2 weeks, he was sick and still is and have been eating even less. This morning he did not wan to even eat yoghurt. With eating like he does, he gets a lot of flu, cause he is in Grd R now also. He does not look under weight for his age. But I am so worried. I dont know what to do anymore. He needs to start eating like a normal human being. Could it maybe be cause he thinks eating food is punishment or something. I also buy him like mini cheddars the salty type of biscuits, and other cookies, just to get something in his stomach.

    1. Hi Allen,
      It’s pretty normal for kids to eat less during and after and illness. The concern is that your son doesn’t have a wide variety of foods in the first place, and that complicates things further when he gets sick. Have you tried to meet with a nutritionist to help him eat more variety and assess his current diet for simple additions that would make it more nutritious? My 3-part series, Introducing New Foods to Kids may help as well:
      Be sure to read the other 2 parts, as well!

  32. My daughter is almost 3 and she doesnt want to eat regular foods that she was eating before. All she wants to eat now is junk foods and cookies and biscuits. Everytime she eats her regular food she just bite a little bit and she dont want to eat the rest. Please help me what to do.

    1. Hi Joy, I just did a podcast on this topic that I think will help you:
      I also have posts on the blog about picky eating and a free download called The Do’s and Don’ts of Picky Eating–available on the sidebar of my blog.
      But, in a nutshell, I think you want to keep offering meals and snacks at a regular time, offer the food you want her to eat (balanced meals with most food groups–a protein source, dairy, grain, fruit and veggie), don’t give her an alternative if she refuses her meal or snack, and just stay on a routine so that she is offered a meal or snack about every 2.5 to 3 hours.
      Good luck!

  33. hi, My daughter is 12 months and few weeks, She hasnt been a huge eater and i feel she is tiny because of that, about a week now, She has stopped eating, all she takes is milk ( Similac Advance) and alpple juice, I am worried Cos this is not healthy. What suggestions do you have/ or what can i feed her with, She has a teeth coming out but she is not drooling, or hot, or fussy, infact she is in the best condition, Active playfulll. but she refuses all the food i have tried….Please help?

    1. Hi Mary,
      I’ve seen this before when kids are transitioning to solids and they get reliant on their bottle–it’s easier, it’s familiar, and it’s secure for them. However, I would try to offer her food at meals with just a little bit of milk in an open top cup after she eats food. It’s easy for kids to fill up on milk, so offering it after food can help. She should only be getting about 2 cups of milk per day at this point, with food being a big part of what she consumes during the day.

  34. My daughter is about to turn 10 and has always had a lot of anxiety about new foods and will eat very few things–no fruit and no vegetables. We are concerned that she is not getting the nutrition she needs, but also it causes some issues. I have a very heightened sense of smell and taste (have been called a super taster), so I understand some of it. My family has some history of eating disorders. I am worried that “food issues” will develop into something much worse.

    Many thanks,
    Lisa Duncan Lancaster

    1. Hi Lisa, your daughter might have what is currently referred to as ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder)–it is basically extreme picky eating (which can be related to a variety of factors such as texture sensitivity, a medical condition, or negative past experience with food for example). ARFID often has anxiety associated with it. I would discuss this with your doctor and perhaps get an evaluation to see the extent of what’s going on and if she needs more support.

  35. Hi, my step daughter is 7, she refuses to eat what we give her. We used to think it was because she was picky, she only liked specific boxed pastas, and tomato soup. But recently we’ve heard her complain about her weight. We have joint custody, so we have her week on and week off, and she’ll talk about her mom being fat, and how her mom says she’s fat, though her mom is average weight. It’s really starting to concern us, she’s to the point she’s always tired and pouty and sad. She’ll take 2-3 hours to eat a little bit of food. And recently, she had 2 eggs, and threw them away in the trash thinking we wouldn’t notice. Hiding food that she doesn’t eat. We’ve had plenty of conversations asking her why she doesn’t eat. And why we want her to eat food. Why it’s good for her, and what happens if she doesn’t eat.. It’s getting out of hand now, and we’re worried. Any advice on better ways to handle this? We’re both a little out of our depth! Never thought a 7 year old would be concerned with her body image as much as she is

    1. I would definitely discuss this with your pediatrician…
      I have an eating disorder series that may help you tease out what is going on and feel free to look at the picky eating posts too–sometimes it’s hard to discern what exactly is going on, but i would definitely partner with your doctor on this one for further direction. This is part 2 of a 3 part series:

  36. Hi my name is tina i have a daughter that 12 yrs and suddenly she doesn’t feel hungry at all she goes allday without eating an when she trieds to eat her stomach hurts she can go without eating for days and suddenly I notice she losing get weight ..y is that.

    1. There may be something going on with her stomach. I would check it out with your pediatrician; she is also at a sensitive age for body image concerns. Best to explore with your doctor.

  37. My foster niece is 6 and she has been with my brother and sister in law now for about 2 months. She is extremely difficult when it comes to food. She likes anything sugary and hot dogs. She will eat a chicken nugget one night then 3 days later you make the same ones and suddenly she doesn’t like it, she does this with everything. And if you ask her just to try a bite she immediately shuts down or starts crying. Then when she refuses to eat whats for dinner she persistently asks for snacks or desserts. I think its a control thing since being a foster kid has def taken a toll on her at such a young age. Any advice would be hlep ful, its starting to drive everyone nuts.

    1. Have you talked with your doctor about this? He/she may direct you to the appropriate help, such as a dietitian/nutritionist.

  38. my son is almost 2 and has suddenly stopped eating from last 2 days…….
    what might be the reason.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Several things can cause kids to not eat–often it’s just a phase. Keep offering food at regular times, don’t put too much pressure on him to eat, and if it looks like something more is going on, get to the doctor.

  39. My 5 year old son takes an extremely long time to eat, and I noticed he chews his food for a long period of time and then takes a long time in between bites. He doesn’t eat much either and will zone out during meal time. He can sit for an hour and eat three bites. If I’m lucky, I can get him to eat half a piece of french toast in the morning. He’s so skinny and kind of stagnant on the growth chart, but his doctors have only recommended Pediasure when I bring it up, which to me is frankenfood and is not addressing the issue. He’s also resistant to trying anything new. One day he’ll eat a strawberry and say these are good, and then the next day he’ll tell me he doesn’t like them anymore. I’m at a loss where to go to from here. Whether, it’s a sensory, behavioral, or something else.It’s maddening, especially when I know he’s throwing fits because he’s so hungry but still won’t eat.

    1. I think you might want to see a feeding therapist for an evaluation and an RD to make sure he’s getting the nutrition he needs to grow well. With support, he can overcome these issues. You might want to read Extreme Picky Eating by Katja Rowell for insight and help, too, but my sense based on what you’re saying is that a professional evaluation is in order.

    2. Hi,
      My son is almost 4yrs old and I am dealing with the same issue. He was eating really well until maybe 3 months ago, now he barely likes anything. He gets McDonald’s happy meals and he will eat part of it and then he’s done. He loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, absolutely love milk, juice, any sweets and crackers. He actually love broccoli and even chicken and pork chops. He eats spaghetti and mac and cheese.
      The problem is, it’s not consistent. He is actually growing properly and weighs 33 lbs. He takes vitamins everyday but he’s very hyper! I’m just concerned he’s not getting enough nutrition. I’ve added fruit and veggie smoothies but he will only eat once a day if he could get away with it. He feeds himself so, he has his independence but I just want him to be more consistent with his eating habits before he goes to preschool this year. Can you suggest something to try?

      1. It sounds like you might need to work a little bit more on the structure, boundaries and reasonable choice part to feeding your son. I have some posts that may help you get started:
        That should get you started–also my online class may be helpful to you!

  40. My issue isn’t so much my son not eating, it’s his refusal to eat for anyone buy me. He’s 21 months old and I’m a single stay at home mom. We live with my mom and they adore each other. But when I have to go out and it’s meal time, he flat out refuses to take even a single bite for my mom. I’ve had to cut my outings short because she calls me saying that he’s crying and refusing to eat and she doesn’t know what to do for him. He’s a really good eater for me most of the time. And other than having trouble getting the whole chewing thing down, he eats really well. I still give him mostly soft foods so he doesn’t choke. I’m really just not sure what to do to get him to eat for my mom as this has happened every time I’ve left the house recently. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of him not being used to my mom feeding him or what. Any thoughts?

    1. Sometimes kids are very attached to their primary parent and this is ok. Perhaps if he is able to feed himself that will help him be more confident with eating in any environment.

  41. My daughter is 7 and has very mild autism. She has always been a good eater – she especially loved fruit and vegetables. About two months ago she had a sore throat and refused to eat or drink anything for three days – she wouldn’t even swallow her spit. She was hours away from being in hospital on a drip. The class bully also said something about her being fat (which she’s not). Since then I’ve struggled to get her to eat anything. Tonight she wouldn’t eat her roast chicken (which she used to adore), and only ate about two forkfuls of vegetables. This whole process took almost an hour. I’m at my wit’s end. We’re late for school every day because she won’t eat much if anything of her breakfast (30 minutes to eat half a pot of yoghurt). Her twin sister eats anything and everything. We’ve just moved house which I know was very stressful for her, but this problem started way before then. Any thoughts/ideas would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Alda,
      I am sorry to hear your having some challenges with your daughter. I would think about trying a smoothie in the morning before school, just so she has something to think and learn on. Then, I would seek out a feeding therapist, and probably a counselor who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy. It sounds like she has had a negative experience she will need help to overcome.

  42. My daughter is 23 months old and will only eat carrot and cucumber sticks. Or chicken nuggets and chips. Is this normal for her age or should i worry

    1. Yes, if that is truly all she will eat, she won’t be meeting her nutrient needs. Do you have my book, Fearless Feeding? It covers the foods your child needs, and the amounts–i think it will help you.

      1. I kind of have the same problem with my 3 year old son. All he will eat is a certain brand of chicken fries and French fries (of which I try to bake). On rare occasions he will eat crackers with peanut butter, veggie straws, or chips and very rarely he will take a bite of a banana. Anything else he gags actually has an extremely sensitive gag reflex.

        1. Have you had his oral skills evaluated, especially since he has a sensitive gag? A feeding specialist could help you work around the gag, perhaps.

  43. I ma’am my daughter is 13months old, she don’t eat proper food, I tried different food for her, but she starts crying when I bring food front of her. Really worried for her place suggest.

  44. My son is 13. Weighs 76 pounds and is 4’10”. He has peanut and shellfish allergies. My other two older kids have no allergies and no eating problems. My 13 yr old eats only pasta rice bread vegetables and fruit. No snacks or sweets except goldfish and occasionally Oreo cookies. I’m concerned about his health. The pediatrician is as well and ordered bone tests and blood work. That was 6 months ago. All came back as normal and in range for his age. I’m concerned because he’s now at camp and they called me tonight stating he is not eating. He saw a video of cows being slaughtered a few years ago at a friends house and from then on he doesn’t eat meat. He eats cereal with milk every day and takes multi vitamin. I’m wirried he’s becoming anorexic and feel it’s totally psychological. Is this “normal”? Going back to dictir next week so they can see if he’s gained weight since last checked 6 months ago. He’s gotten taller but no weight gain. Should I be concerned because I really am worried!!

    1. Sounds like you may need to get him in to see a dietitian to assess his nutrient needs/growth and a therapist to help address why he isn’t eating…would discuss with your doctor first, of course.

  45. My son is almost 4 year old. He has always been an extremely picky eater. I could always rely on foods like homemade mac n cheese, chiken nuggets, a few rice meals, and some other various meals. But he has regressed to only eating fruits, carrots, and peas. He won’t eat anything he use to. I’m very worried he isn’t getting what he needs. I am giving him a liquid vitamin with iron. Please help! Im going crazy!!!

    1. You probably need to meet with your doctor and get into see a dietitian. He sounds like his picky eating has become more extreme and may have some underlying issues (sensory, fear/anxiety, medical, etc) that need to be addressed.

  46. hi my baby is 18 months.he is just 7 and 1/2 kg and didnt show any interest on eating i tried to feed me different food but he refused so he is too thin and he didn,t start to walk yet but he can walk with support. plz suggest me what to do next

  47. hai mam my baby has 2 years old she don’t won’t eat anything.she just take some milk hole day.what i do .

  48. Hi mam,
    My son is 20months old, some days he eats fine regular adult meals, some days he wants to skip meals, Present time his weight is 10 kg .Every1 at home.gets worked up if he.skips food, he does milk at all. So we try a variety of adult food. We r Indian.doesn’t.fancy fruits much and now he skips his day naps too. Playing all the time, and he needs the breast milk or water .What to do.? if he wants food he will signs. As a mother iam worried about him….

    1. I would keep him on a schedule of meals and snacks offered every 2-3 hours so that he has opportunity to eat. Adult food is fine–my book Fearless Feeding will help you with foods to offer, and check out some of my other blog posts here under the infant and toddler nutrition section. 🙂

  49. Hi my is 5 years old, she started school and we put her on school dinners. Only to find out she told us she did not eat any of the meals because she did not like any of them as she is scared of trying any new food. We then put her on pack lunch as we could atleast see what she has had to eat when we pick her up. Everyday shes eating less and less and it has come to a point where she has gone all day without having anything to eat or drink. Im really running out of ideas as ive been taking away privelidges away and sending her to bed early but nothing seems to change it just gets worse

    1. I think you need to find out why she isn’t eating–is she being bullied? are there social pressures that make her feel uncomfortable? There’s a reason and getting to the bottom of that will help. I wouldn’t punish her…I would find out why and try to help her work through eating at school.

  50. I babysit this 3 year old but I absolutely don’t know what to give him. His mother told me he was a picky eater but I find this unhealthy. He doesn’t eat much at all. Even if it’s a McDonalds meal he’ll only eat about two fries and half a peice of chicken and he’s full. If I take him to a restaurant I need to feed him with my plate with small pieces because he never eats his if I order him a meal. Same goes for any other food. Soup is given in a spoonful on his plate and he STILL doesn’t finish. He never finishes any meal even if he likes it. I have bought him vitamins but this really worries me.

    Also I believe it might be connected to his mother still giving him a bottle of milk. I feel he is too old and try hiding it from him and give him to drink in other children’s cups. Yet his mother continues to give him bottles of milk.

    Could this be related to his bad eating?

    1. Yes, bottles of milk may be interfering with his appetite. CHeck out my resources on picky eating–i think they will help you with food solutions and help with positive feeding.

  51. Hi my son 3 years old since I stated solid food he is been always problem he is very slow and picky eater, he only eats when he gets really hungry other than that no, I’m tried everything in the past now I got to the point he need dicide to eat if he is not finish on time food is taking away and no other food at all. He slowly start eating better but still not 100% do I do wrigh thing to give him time limit and no other food if main meal wasn’t finished

    1. It might be time to meet with a dietitian and make sure he’s getting the nutrition he needs; what is tough is that you don’t want to punish him for not eating, or withhold food. Keeping a time limit is OK as long as he is offered food again (meal or snack) 2.5 – 3 hours later.

  52. hi.
    my 6yr old does not want to eat any healthy food. All he wants to eat is toast. cereal. crackers. We will make dinners that he would eat and now us starting to refuse. He gags when he tries new food. doesn’t like different textures. He will throw a tantrum If u try and get him to eat any food other than the list mentioned earlier. He is slightly overweight as he does eat big portions of those foods. even if I ensure his good and hungry for his dinner he still hates it. spend all this time cooking fesh homemade dinners and then he won’t eat it. Then a couple of hours later his crying with hunger and my husband does not want to feed him as he feels it will encourage his poor eating habits and now his trying to hid eating these foods from his dad. .Otherwise his a happy lovable boy. grateful for any advice

    1. Suzanne, It sounds like your son would benefit from an evaluation with a feeding therapist to evaluate his sensitivity to texture. This may be underlying all the other behaviors you are seeing around his eating. In the meantime, be sure to read my picky eating posts here on my blog (just search “picky eating”) and be sure to download my Do’s and Dont’s of Picky Eating (on the sidebar of the blog page:

  53. Hi. My son is 18 months old, some days he eats fine regular adult meals, some days he wants to skip meals, he is just abt his normal height and weight. Every1 at home.gets worked up if he.skips food, he does milk at all. So we try a variety of adult food. We r Indian.doesn’t.fancy fruits much and now he skips his day naps too. Playing all the time. What to do.? As a mother I feel sad and sometimes I.tell.myself its ok, if he wants food he will signs. Is it logical?

    1. He is young and it is very typical to see erratic eating–just keep providing 3 meals/3 snacks per day so he has several opportunities to eat throughout the day. Make sure to stop all play, and sit him down for meals and snacks, removing all distractions. My book Fearless Feeding will help you with WHAT to feed and HOW to do it to encourage healthy eating.

  54. Hi my 3 years daughter don’t like food and snack fruits vegetables milk etc.. And she always swallow the food instead of biting…. What to do… She dnt have interest on any food… How can I solve this.. Pls helpful… From india

    1. Hi Vanitha

      Are you serving meals and snacks (solid food) first, then liquids? Sometimes when kids aren’t eating, milk beverages are served instead but this ends up reinforcing liquid nutrition and takes the child away from eating solid food. I would set up structured meals and snacks, offering liquids last. This may help:

      1. Hi , my 4 year old son ate a lollipop and swallowed the gum and I quickly noticed his face expression and I told him gum is bad for you and for the past 2 weeks he refuses to eat . He only wants to drink milk, juice and eat yogurt and icecream. I have started giving him ensure for kids because he won’t even eat soup or blended food . I don’t know what to do. My husband says that I scared him and I have already scheduled an appointment with his pediatrician. This is really frightening me. I know that he is now scared of swallowing things since that day and I ask him to chew and chew but nothing helps.

        1. You may have to get a feeding therapist or occupational therapist who specializes in feeding to help him regain confidence with swallowing–I would discuss with your pediatrician.

  55. My daughter is 10 and a half and has not eaten for over 2 week now.
    She has lost quite a bit of weight and its beginning to concern me a lot now. She has been to the GP 3 times now who doesn’t seem to think its a problem. I have had to insist she has a blood test which they say cannot be done until July…..I cannot go that long without her eating
    As stated its starting to worry me a lot now…..what can I do?

    1. Hi there–It’s always disconcerting when a child won’t eat, especially if it’s going on for a while and you see she has lost weight. I’m not sure why she isn’t eating… is she willing to eat? Is she ill? Perhaps getting some calorie-containing liquids into her would help, but again, it’s hard for me to say not knowing the root of the problem. I would get back into the doctor’s office if you aren’t settled with the situation.

    2. My fourteen year-old son hardly eats anything has lost 9 pounds- he is in the 13 percentile for his age, the doctor said if he gets any lower she’s going to hospitalize him. He’s depressed and sleeps a lot. He has posttraumatic stress syndrome (because of an abusive situation that is in the past. I got him out of there)

      1. Yes, trauma can be a factor in not eating. I hope your son is able to get the help he needs to overcome his emotional situation.

  56. Hello my son just turned 3 a few weeks ago. He was on prednisone (steriod) for 5 months due to kidney issues. He’s no longer on it it was tapered off of course. Now, he doesnt want to eat ANYTHING. He drinks fluids I have him on viatmins but please help! Really frustrating not seeing ur kid eat.

    1. DO you have a dietitian that your work with re: your son’s kidney disease? Sometimes a low appetite or even an illness can cause changes in children’s motivation to eat. I would contact your doctor if it goes on and see if you can check in with a dietitian to help build solids back into his diet, and make sure he’s getting proper calories and nutrients, within any constraints related to his kidney issues.

  57. My son was a picky eater, but he started to gag on his food even his favorites. But now he won’t eat them or anything but butter sandwiches, butter crackers and waffles. He says he will choke again if he eats the others. He had tonsillitis not too long ago but this started before that.

    1. Kathy
      It may be a good time to get him evaluated for feeding therapy–gagging when eating can instill a negative association with eating in kids and cause kids to eat poorly (poor food variety and not enough for good growth).

  58. How come you never mentioned control over their parents. To me it sounds like you are rationalizing why kids refuse to eat. This to me seems like e a problem of the affluent. Are there picky eaters in countries where people are starving to death because they can’t put food on the table. I doubt it. Have kids always been so picky? Or is just in our day and age? Did kids 10000 years ago tell their parents that I will only eat pizza? I doubt it. I don’t think you are actually getting at the real problem. Look in the mirror!

    1. There are multiple factors. In my experience, kids aren’t generally manipulative of their parents, unless they’ve learned coping skills due to negative experiences from food, or the interaction associated with feeding.

  59. Hello. My grandson just over two will eat nothing other than peanut butter sandwichs. He will occasionally eat a few bites of pancakes and froot loops cereal. No fruit. No veggies. No meat. No fish. He will drink milk and orange juice. This has been going on over the past year or so. Before this, he ate anything offered to him. There are no allergies. No tramatic experiences. Any advice will be appreciated. Thank-you.

    1. Hi there–it’s frustrating to watch a toddler narrow his food preferences, especially when he ate everything in his first year! First, I would rule out a medical problem with the pediatrician. Secondly, I would take a closer look at how he is being fed (the interaction, the meal environment, etc) — I think my book Fearless Feeding will help you understand this more. Meanwhile, this series may give you some immediate ideas:
      There are 3 parts to this–also, just search my blog–i have helpful info for picky eaters too.

  60. Hi Jill
    I just came across your website and it looks helpful to me as these days i am frustrating about my 10 year old’s picky eating habits. However he was always a picky eated. He never eats fruits and vegetables. He only ears few things. However these days my concern is he is only eating 1-2 meal a day ( only breakfast in front of me and the second meal in school). He doesn’t want to eat anything after that. Even for these meals my son wants to eat mostly sugary stuffs such as waffle and chocolate spread. We both parents are working and have super busy daily routine with our second toddler child. I am really concern about my son’s eating pattern as he plays sports and the long day outside for him too I think he should have bigger aperitif and need to get more nutrients.

    1. I think you need to confer with your pediatrician–make sure he is growing, query about a multivitamin since he isn’t eating produce, and start meeting with a nutrition professional to help your son. In my experience, at the age of 10 years, he may have multiple drivers to his picky eating that need to be addressed (?medical, sensory, behavioral, etc) and these generally require outside help. Best regards.

  61. Hello,
    My name is tiara and my daughter doesn’t want to eat. At first she was doing great. But now she never eats her breakfast and she eats her dinner late.
    The only foods she really likes to eat are crackers, fish sticks and spaghetti… And she seems to eat that during the weekend but love eating fruits and crackers everyday but that’s it… She doesn’t like milk or veggies but loves her fruits… It’s that healthy I feel like she only feeds off of fruits crackers and cranberry juice during the week and when she’s with her grandmother on weekends she eats really well… Chicken, spaghetti, fish sticks, potatoes etc.

    1. I’m not sure how old your daughter is, but it’s common for kids to gravitate to the foods they like. It’s encouraging that she eats well for her grandmother! I would just make sure you’re not just making what she will eat–nudge her to branch out to different foods and make it the norm that you offer a wide variety of different foods. These two posts will help you I think: (there’s a free download, just click on the link in the body of the post) and (be sure to read all 3 parts). Good luck!

  62. My daughter just turned 3 and has always been a good eater. Lately I will name off what we have at home and she decides what she wants but then takes 3 or 4 bites and she’s done, 30 mins to an hour later she wants something else and does the same with that something else. When you are on a budget, do you just suggest letting her pick out new things as the store?

    1. Kelsey–I would only give her two options (banana or peach?). Endless or several options is too overwhelming for a little one. I would keep her on a schedule of meals and snacks served every 2.5-3 hours. Close the kitchen between meals and she will learn to eat at mealtimes/snacktimes, and will also learn that you are in charge of food. These will help: and

  63. Hi my son is 2nd half yr old…he doesn’t eat any thing.i got irritated by making various dishes bt he split out of his advice to stop feeding milk with he is having conic constipation sometimes blood comes while passing stool.he is loosing weight day by day and easily get irritated.dnt speak single word.for me to look after a baby is becoming so challenging.plss help me out

    1. SHubra, I think you need to get my book Fearless Feeding which will help you establish a structure with feeding, and highlight how to deal with some of the challenges of feeding a toddler.

  64. I have 13 months old he won’t eat nothing he only drink his milk which is pediasure peptide which is two bottles a day he don’t cry for anything to eat he sleep he been doing every since he was 7 months old I really need some advice on what can make him gain his weigh he is 17lbs an 5 oz he can came at 31weeks an weight 3lb an 4 oz its driving me insane I tired all kinda of food an my baby won’t eat his GI doctor change his feed bout 10 time less than a year he taking feeding class its not work please I need some advice on making my son to eat

    1. Hi Brittney,

      i am so sorry you and your child are going through this–I think you should try to get a pediatric dietitian involved and maybe a feeding therapist also…I’m sure your doctor is great, but from the sounds of it, you need some more input. You can look for a dietitian in your area by going to this link:

  65. My 6 year old son has always been a picky eater and underweight. But the problem is, even if I give him his favorites, he eats a few bites and stops eating. If I feed him food, he holds it in his mouth and I have to remind him to chew. I am not sure if I should cajole him or get angry on him. I don’t allow toys on dining table.

    1. I think you might want to check in with a feeding therapist, especially since you describe him holding and pocketing food in his mouth. An appointnment with a dietitian/nutritionist can also help address his nutritional issues. You can find a RD here:

  66. My 7 year old refuse to eat anything. When he was a baby I feed him the proper baby food but now he wont take a single bite of food, he says he doesnt like it. Please help he cant survive on Milk, Pediaure and bananas!

  67. My 1year old does not eating food from fast 20days (except mother’s milk). she got urine infection and doctor has given antibiotics (toxim-o forte 100 mg 2ml twice a day for 10 days)…pls give me suggestions what I have to feed food to her.

    1. I would try to get her back on a regular meal schedule, offering the typical food diet she was eating before she got sick. Offer food first, then milk. Good luck!

  68. My 5-year-old is a good eater – tries different foods and will do the normal amount of fussing with new foods. The problem I’m having with her is that she gets distracted and won’t eat. She sits at the table and wants to talk a lot – she’s very inquisitive- or move around and out of her chair or do something else with something she sees on the nearby kitchen counter. We take time to talk about our day but then we have to constantly tell her to eat. She doesn’t and then a battle over not listening begins. Any tips on what we should do other than fuss at her and get frustrated?

    1. Sometimes setting a little timer will help. It gives a concrete ending to the meal. Make sure she understands what happens when the timer goes off (the meal is over, the table/kitchen is cleaned, and there is no more food until next meal/snack). Also, obviously you’ll want to minimize distractions, and perhaps hold off on “chatting” for a minute or so to allow her to get started on the meal. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  69. My daughter is 3 and used to be a very good eater and now refuses to eat anything but candy… I have taken the candy away but she still won’t eat whay should i do?

    1. There are a lot of resources on this blog for you–one important one is the series: How to Introduce New Foods to Kids…hang in there and don’t give up!

  70. Hi my son is 22 months old he usually doesn’t want to eat just want to drink all the time. He lost a lot of weight due to him not wanting to eat his doctor put him on pediasure if he doesn’t want to eat he’s a very picky eater just wants the milk what can I do to get him to want food more than milk?

    1. Jessica,
      Try to offer the food first –sometimes kids fill up on liquid and it reduces their appetite for solid foods. Also, it may help to see a nutrition professional who works with kids in your area–your pediatrician can give you a name, I’m sure. If you don’t have Fearless Feeding yet (my book), I think it will help you.

  71. Hello Jill
    I absolutely love your articles. My son is 26 months old and he does not eat anything at all. All he wants is formula milk and junk food which is so unhealthy. He never tries anything new. He just spits out ever solid food. Iv tried potatoes banana eggs pasta and what not. He just wont eat and thus he has trouble sleeping and always stays constipated. Please help.

    1. Hi Shiva!
      Thank you!! I might advise you get my book Fearless Feeding to get the fundamentals of nutrition and feeding down pat. Also, my online course may be helpful for you as well. Last, check out my posts on feeding styles, pressuring, and authoritative feeding–i think they will help!

  72. My son will be 2 in may and he refuses to eat anything all he wants is junk food and im trying all kinds of food but he just throws it on the ground and i make smoothie with vegetables and fruit and he wont drink those anymore all he wants is milk and juice i dont know what to do 🙁

    1. Hi Jenn,
      Sounds like your son is starting down the picky eating road…totally normal for his age. I have a few posts that can help and be sure to download my DO’s and Don’ts of Picky Eating on the blog sidebar!
      Remember, your job is to introduce new food and even if it is rejected, you want to keep offering a variety of different things. I would hold off on offering liquids until he’s eaten food. Food first, then liquids.

  73. My child is 4, she just recently got sick 2 days ago nothing but a fever and sleeping, yesterday no fever and ate a few bites here and there and complained that the food doesnt taste good….food that she usually eats….what can I do to fix it or will it fix itself

  74. Please “Help” my 22month old grandson is a very poor eater, he is offered a good selection of food at each meal but hardly touches anything he just seems to want breast milk which his pediatrician said was alright to still breastfeed because he is such a poor eater, the problem is that he gets very cranky and is still waking up at night then nurses constantly throughout the night. What are your thoughts ?

    1. Hey Diane–feel free to look around my blog here for info; also my book Fearless Feeding (on could be helpful to you. Sounds like he’s filling up on liquid nutrition…have you checked with a dietitian in your area?

  75. My granddaughter used to be a really good eater but she has really slowed down she eats hardly anything at school she is 6 but come dinner time maybe half of what she used to eat, if she is not eating at school and then not hungry come dinner should I be worried

    1. Hi Ann,

      I would check to make sure she isn’t eating/snacking before dinner. If she isn’t snacking/eating before dinner, then I would investigate why she’s not eating at dinner–you can ask her in a concerned and loving way and see what she says…

  76. I am very concerned about my 5 year old daughter. She is 29 lbs and 38 1/2 in tall. She was diagnosed with a slow digestive track but here lately she won’t eat at all. She barely drinks also. She says she isn’t hungry and I’m very scared that something is major wrong or is going to happen to Her.

  77. My Daughter is 3yrs old and ever since she was born she does not like to eat,,, now is worse…. she lives off milk and water,, the doctor said it was normal but we don’t think is normal. We are going crazy. She has so much energy but where does she get it we don’t know. I really need help. Parents in despair

    1. Hi and thanks for writing. No, as a 3 year old, your daughter should be eating a variety of different foods and textures, in addition to milk and water. I’m sorry this is so hard…will your pediatrician refer you to a nutritionist to evaluate your daughter’s eating, growth and nutritional status? That’s probably your next step. The following link will let you put in your zip code and “pediatrics” and locate a RD in your area:
      All the best-

    2. Jill we live in Poland and we can’t find any experts to help, do you know of anyone that will help over the phone that you can recommend?

      1. I don’t know anyone in Poland…you could try the Facebook group Feeding Bytes–I think they are based in Europe.

  78. I would like some help with my 10 yr old daughter, who has no appetite. She was born with a hole in her palate. She had a feeding tube in her stomach for about 4yrs. and now for the past several yrs. it has been removed because she was eating but now, we fight over food and she doesnt feel the need to eat or really want any kind of food. Now she is 50 pounds and 4’9. She is the smallest one in her class. She stays sick through the better part of the winter. For her height she is just now at the 10 % on the growth chart. Her weight is not even on the chart. I have lied to myself and others about her condition. I’m afraid I’m going to lose her. She has complained about her stomach hurting. I believe that is due to not eating very much. I’m very worried about her. I want her to live but how can I get her to want to eat food. She want tell me if anything is bothering her at school or at home. Can you help me ?

    1. Hi Kristie,

      Do you have a nutrition professional/dietitian locally that you can see? I encourage you to see someone who can look at the big picture and help you and your daughter. Ask your pediatrician for a referral or check to find someone locally. It will at the very least give you peace of mind, and will probably help you and your daughter get back on the right track with food and eating. I am in Fairfield County, CT if you are close, i could help!

    1. Eating is fun! And, for some kids, they need help with the mechanical aspects of eating, as well as the fun side of eating–hope your little brother is doing well!

  79. hi my daughter is 3 years old and she is not eating anything,she just drink small half cup of milk only… i make different variety of food then also she does’t eat anything…what should i do?

    1. Has she lost weight? It is probably a good idea to make a visit to the pediatrician and talk about your concerns. Good luck!

  80. Hi there,

    I’ve read your book, and am trying to implement the overall philosophy that it’s our job to provide our children with healthy foods and routine, and their jobs to decide what to eat.

    The issue is, we have a very fidgety 27 month old. We sit down for dinner, for example, and he’ll take one look at his plate and whine, “Don’t want dinner!” and get down from the table.

    He rarely eats more than a couple bites at any sitting, and his daycare provider also tells us that he eats very little during the day.

    My husband and I are at a loss. I know we shouldn’t worry, but it’s become a real hot issue, and even though I try to remain calm, my husband will often resort to bribing and pleading, and we argue a lot about it.

    Can you steer me in the right direction, or point out what I’m doing wrong?

    1. Hi Jen–
      Sounds like you have an active toddler! Couple of suggestions: have your husband read the toddler chapter; use a timer at the table, set for 5 minutes and explain to your son he doesn’t have to eat, but he needs to stay with you until the timer beeps. For every time he makes it to the beep, place a sticker on a chart to show how well he did–and celebrate with praise. See how many stickers he can get. If you want to move it up to 8 min. over time, do so, then 10, and 15-20 minutes–that’s about tops for toddlers.
      Toddlers like concrete instruction and usually respond well to achievement charts and timers. If he can’t make it, try the next time. If you need to rescue his not eating with food at unscheduled times, do so with something healthy and seated at the table you normally eat at.
      Between meals, only do sit down snacks and end snack time after 5-10 minutes.
      Pretty soon he should start getting the message that sitting down for meals and snacks is the time to eat. Make sure he isn’t filling up between meals/snacks with calorie-containing beverages and other snack foods–this will undermine eating at meals and snacks! Let me know how it goes!

  81. Don’t forget about filling up on sugary liquids, and parents fighting/ family discord.

  82. My son is beyond the “normal” picky stage and is very sensitive to texture and smell. He is “highly sensitive” in nature and trying new things (food especially) is challenging for him. If he had his choice, he would only eat pizza and plain pasta. There are many unhealthy foods that many kids love and he won’t even eat. We have tried sDOR, but he only eats the carb EVERY time (for MONTHS). No progress. My son got sick often and his behavior is HORRIBLE. Once he gets some real food in him, he is a different person. I think sensitivities need to be considered in each case. What do you recommend in these cases?

    1. Hi Jaime
      Does your son have other challenges? from what you describe, it sounds like he is texture and perhaps sensory sensitive. when kids are past the normal “picky eating stage” from 2-6 years, they often have an underlying condition–it could be sensory processing d/o, ADHD, overactive gag, early medical situations like prematurity or adverse interactions with food or the mouth–many of these boil down to a child who won’t eat, and they need additional help to desensitize them to food, texture, smell, appearance, etc.
      In these cases, often a feeding therapist (speech language, or occupational therapist) can be very helpful–but, the process takes time and consistency. I have found that the sDOR can be useful but it won’t be your only answer—additional help as mentioned above can help your child accumulate new foods and improve his eating.
      not sure what you mean by behavior being bad–but if you are challenged with behavioral issues, this could reflect poor eating. If you can pursue nutrition and feeding help, i think it could help a lot–but remember, whatever strategies used have to be implemented consistently. Keep me in the loop!