We've got a 1 year old daughter and she is generally refusing to eat or drink. She started off not eating anything by mouth (and gags at textured purees), but eventually managed to get her eating smooth purees. In the last few weeks she'd also started drinking from an open cup with our help.

Now however she seems to be going backwards again - refusing to eat puree etc. She'll pick at finger food (chicken, cheese etc) but not enough. She does drink (but generally not much milk). The main milk she get's is from breastfeeding though she's doing this less now.

She does have a medical condition (Turners Syndrome) but I'm not aware of any way that would affect her eating (apart from possibly making her a bit fickle). At the moment her weight keeps dropping (matching her 7month weight) and unless we can get her weight to head in the right direction she'll be admitted to hospital. She has been in the hospital once already for 4 days with an ng-tube (nasal-gastric) to feed her which was a horrendous experience for us and her. So we're really keen to avoid this again.

What I'm hoping for is suggestions on how we might be able to get her eating, we've tried singing songs, giving her toys to play with as a distraction but she tends to just close her mouth and shake her head refusing food. Video's on a phone sometimes work, but not all the time and I don't want her becoming dependent on them.

I should also add we have some "high calorie" powders prescribed that we mix with purees - which means while finger food is fine, the puree is what we need to get in her really. Unfortunately the whole "babies don't starve themselves" doesn't seem to be true in this case.


2 Answers 2


We have a 13 month old son who has a genetic condition that led him to having failure to thrive. He's been on an NG tube since 6 months old, so we understand how much of a pain it is to have one.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is an easy answer, or one answer that works for everyone. Our OTs have said that we focus on making eating pleasurable and fun, with no pressure. We try different things (even sweets) that he is safe to eat and let him play with it. He will eat a little, but not enough to grow on right now.

My suggestion would be to just try lots of different things and let them play with their food and make it fun. The sad thing is that if she continues to lose weight, it might be better to go to a doctor, or even the hospital, as painful as that is.

Have you talked to your pediatrician about it, and ask for a referral to a feeding clinic? If you're in a city large enough for a Children's Hospital or something similar, they may have a feeding clinic that can help with that.

  • Welcome to the site, and thanks for the informative and compassionate answer. Commented Aug 28, 2015 at 5:16
  • Thanks Brian, I'd be interested to know how you've found the ng tube. We found our daughter pulled it out daily (for the 4 days she had one in) and it was horrible seeing it put back in. We've found some things she likes (currently cheese so taking advantage of that). We have had referrals to speech+language (SALT) who've said her swallowing ability is about 6months behind but they've not found anything physically wrong. But said she does have a food aversion and it's trying to get around that.
    – Ian
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:52
  • Our son does pull it out on occasion, but it is pretty rare. The more common problem is that the tube gets caught on things sometimes, such as a chair, or the carseat. We have tried a number of ways to secure it and have settled on sandwiching the tube between a strip of DuoDerm and TegaDerm. Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 1:41
  • We are going to be starting a program at the local hospital which has a dedicated program for people with feeding problems, where they will use scopes to check him out from one end to the other. They will assess if he has any medical problems previously undiagnosed and then develop a plan of action for helping him come off the tube based on that. The tests are later this month, so hopefully it won't be long before we can develop a plan. We are as eager to help him come off the tube as he is. Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 1:43

Wow, this sounds like a really tough situation. My daughter has never had much of an appetite and it is often a struggle to get her to eat (forget getting her to eat anything she doesn't like). Does your daughter like to go new places? Sometimes when we would put my daughter in a stroller or car seat and take her places she would eat (almost absentmindedly) as part of the experience if we kept food in front of her.

Also (and this may not be a practical suggestion for you) but having a dog helped. We would feed the dog bits of chicken and then feed her bits and she would get very excited about watching the dog eat. Of course, she was old enough to understand the concept of "taking turns", but you get the idea. It might work with a cat, too, if you've got one.

One other thing, I have often noticed that babies seem fascinated by mouths, especially tongues. My daughter thought it great fun to feed me, maybe you can work out a game where your daughter gets to feed you one and then feed herself one. Make a big deal out of letting her see the food in your mouth and making it disappear by swallowing. If you can turn eating into a game you've scored a big victory.

  • Thanks for the answer. We actually find that new places just too much of a distraction, she'll turn her head so much you can't get food near her mouth and don't have a pet. We have tried encouraging her to feed us though like you've mentioned which she enjoys and we give her a round of applause when she eats something etc. Still slow progress though.
    – Ian
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:49

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