My son completely refuses to eat food. If I forcefully insert it in his mouth, he tries to vomit and throws the food out of his mouth.
He loves milk in his bottle, which we give him only when he is ready to sleep. He won't sleep unless we give him that bottle with milk.
We try to give him food which we normally eat, we totally avoid sugary foods, chocolate, everything 'fancy' or 'junkfood' which is damageable.

Till now we could not understand what his favorite food is, except for his bottle and milk.
He eats whenever he is extremely hungry and at that time also refuses to eat unless we forcefully put the first morsel in his mouth, then he continues for some time and when he gathers enough energy, tries to throw up and avoids and runs and cries.

Another thing is that he drinks a lot of water, a lot means a lot for his age.

How do we make him eat our food, is there any training or trick? And how to remove that bottle attachment?

  • 1
    At 23 months, he should have been eating some solid food over well over a year. Have you discussed this with his pediatrician? Mar 9, 2015 at 23:34
  • The pediatrician insists to let him eat what we are normally eating and avoid sugars completely. The pediatrician also told that if he doesn't eat for 1 full day don't worry, he is going to eat the next day but this is not the case. Mar 10, 2015 at 5:41
  • 1
    Is it possible that there is some medical attention needed? Maybe eating solid food is painful for him for now?
    – DainDwarf
    Mar 10, 2015 at 9:07
  • 1
    "a lot of water" would be more helpful with an actual amount - 1000ml a day, 1500ml a day, etc. It could be possible he's filling up on water (which both makes you full and can cause mild stomach upset).
    – Joe
    Mar 10, 2015 at 14:55
  • 4
    Is sugary junkfood more damaging than no food?
    – user11394
    Mar 10, 2015 at 19:12

2 Answers 2


Ok, not from a professional, but from a parent's perspective:

It seems you have built yourselves a nice battlefield with your son - I sense a power play and a lot of unnecessary tension. A vicious cycle.

First step:
Stop this right now.

That means, no yelling, no fusing and, above all, no force feeding. Try to eliminate this battle ground completely. Mealtime is no longer a time for discussion or arguing about food. Its not about behaviour and not about control. (For now. We address proper table manners and other issues way later.)

Your pediatrician gave you the ok and the fact that your son hasn't starved himself yet is another indicator that he somehow gets enough food - otherwise your doctor would have registered his concern.

So what can you do?

At 2, he should be able to feed himself and to drink from a cup, so all milk/water bottles need to go. Perhaps except for the bedtime bottle, but that's a completely different issue and you should address this another time. I say he should feed himself because your (force) feeding must stop now.

Go back to square one. Your child seems to have never have grasped the concept of "eating" or "mealtimes", so do what you would do for a smaller child - except for actively feeding him.

  • Decide on five to six time frames when you will offer food. These times should include the family meal times, the others are appropriate snack times like mid-morning or mid-afternoon.
  • Offer small bits of food on a plate (plastic, in case of tantrums) or in a bowl. Do not overthink what you offer or nutrition yet, the goal is to make eating "normal" for him. You might offer a range of food, ideally starch, a protein and some fruit/veggie, but a few leftover pasta shapes will do nicely, too. Even some crackers or a teaspoon of raisins. Make it easy for you, too. This is about offering, not about eating a well-balanced meal (yet). At family mealtimes, put small pieces of whatever you are eating on his plate. Some children love forks (again: soft plastic, preferably) and spoons, others use their fingers. Offer a small cup of juice or milk at mealtimes, if he drinks it and if it calms you.
  • And that's it. Do not urge him to eat or try. Do not coax, argue or pressure him to eat. Do not talk about how good X tastes or how healthy Y is. Be mentally prepared for a few very lean days. Dump uneaten food or offer it at the next mealtime. (That's the advantage of crackers or raisins...) If it helps, imagine him being sick - sick children may go for a few days without food, as long as they are drinking enough. Plus, he's still drinking his bedtime bottle. Encourage him to stay with you at the table for a while during family meals, but don't open another battlefield here - if he happily stays a few minutes, perhaps has a bite or two, that should be enough for the beginning.

And one side note: The caloric need / food intake of a two-year old is smaller than you probably think. Usually they have so much going on and to discover that eating is just a distraction to some of them. Also, a few bites at multiple meals really add up (as every dieter will know...).

I agree with your pediatrician that a healthy child will eat and won't suffer from a few days of fasting. But if your son still doesn't eat at least a bit after about a week, if you notice serious weight loss (a bit is ok for the initial re--training phase) or if he shows other symptoms that cause concern (e.g. unusual fatigue), talk to your pediatrician again.

  • I agree with everything you've said, particularly stopping the force feeding, but am curious about one detail. Since this child really hasn't ever eaten solids, would there be any better (or worse) food textures/consistencies? In other words, are squishy foods like pasta or oatmeal going to be better received than crackers, carrots (crunchy) or raisins (chewy)?
    – Acire
    Mar 10, 2015 at 12:14
  • 3
    Actually, I'd stay away from everything that he can't get in his mouth himself. Without practise, he'd need his mom to feed him oatmeal or puree - and we're back on square one. And even babies manage to eat stuff they can "chew" before they have teeth, which he should have enough by now. I'd go with whatever he can easily grasp. Perhaps not raw carrot sticks, though. My first try would be banana (sweet!), pasta (wholewheat perhaps, for nutrition), hard-boiled egg or mozzarella (for protein) and crackers (crunch! salty! melts in the mouth).
    – Stephie
    Mar 10, 2015 at 12:28
  • Good point on the oatmeal, that really does require spoon skills :D Thanks!
    – Acire
    Mar 10, 2015 at 12:29
  • Thanks for your comment, we tried yesterday by giving him one plate and spoon and food when we sat for dinner and he tried to eat but while lifting the spoon, the food was falling, it was funny to.watch but without any powerplay, I jusf told him to eat and ate about 25% from the plate and was lifting the spoon and throwing on me, his mother and laughing , he thought it was a play buy after sometime, I stopped what he was doing and removed the plate. He cried for 2 minutes but later was ok. Later in the night, I rewarded him and we went outside and had a mcdonalds softy icecream. Mar 11, 2015 at 5:17
  • 1
    Good for you! Seems you really made progress! Perhaps your child would get even more food eaten when he can have small cubes to pick up with his fingers? Some playing and experiments is ok for now. BUT: Please be careful: When dealing with food issues, don't reward with food, extra playtime is much better in this case. And remember: While a kiddie cone at mcD's has 45 calories, even a low-fat ice cream cone clocks at about 170 calories, that's almost 20% of a toddlers' daily requirement (but just junk!), a hot fudge sundae at 330 kcals equals one third! That's more than a full meal...
    – Stephie
    Mar 11, 2015 at 7:32

It's hard to tell from the info in your question whether this is a medical issue or a behavioral one, or a combination of the two. It's clear that force-feeding is backfiring and not getting the desired result.

We've followed the advice of Ellyn Satter on The Division of Responsibility for Feeding Kids, and it's worked well for our 1-year-old so far.

The Division of Responsibility for babies making the transition to family food:

  • The parent is responsible for what [type of food is offered], and is becoming responsible for when and where the child is fed [as opposed to on-demand feeding of infants].
  • The child is still and always responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods offered by the parent.

See more at: http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php#sthash.6M1hi8sV.dpuf

After implementing this strategy, we got into fewer battles over food with our daughter, and she gradually became more interested in food.

As to the part of your question where you say your 2-year-old drinks a lot of water, just be sure to get a blood sugar test, as this could be a sign of diabetes. Refer to: http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/diabetes-normal-thirst/

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .