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My Child Won't Eat! What Do I Do?

The fussy eater! We've heard of them, encountered them, and possibly pulled our hair out as they sat across the dinner table from us. Whether your own child is a fussy eater, or you've listened to friends share their concerns over their little one not eating, we all know it is such a challenge to deal with as a parent. All we want is what's best for our children, and ensuring they are getting all the nutrients they require to grow and thrive is a top priority. 

One of our members got in touch over on our Facebook page, as her child is refusing to eat for her at the moment. Our lovely community had lots of comments and suggestions as to why her son might not want to eat, they shared their own personal experiences, plus gave some ideas about what to do to fix the situation!

"My son is 15 months and he's not eating. He spends two and a half days in the creche and eats there. For the rest of the week, he just won't eat for us. He was eating for his grandparents but now that's stopped too.

For two weeks, breakfast was the only meal that was not a struggle. Now he doesn't want that either. He will take a drink of milk twice a day. I've tried: Leaving food in front of him. Spoon feeding him. Trying to let him spoon feed himself. Eating the foods in front of him first. Eating my dinner with my hands to show him picking up stuff. Ignoring him if he does eventually put something in his mouth/praising him. Offered different foods etc. Nothing works.

He doesn't have a fever, he doesn't appear to be teething, he has a runny nose and mild cough but his nose doesn't appear to be blocked. He looks at us eating and mouths chewing like he's hungry and then has an absolute meltdown if we offer him the food. I'm giving him a multivitamin. He's getting 20+ oz of fluids a day. I'm not sure how long that is sufficient for a 15-month-old boy. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks."

Here's what some of our Facebook members had to say:

Is He Filling Up With Milk?

Andrea: Cut out his milk, even if it’s cows milk. It’s leaving him too full for food.

Sharon: I am in exactly the same boat here. My 15-month-old is refusing 99% of the food we offer him. The only time we can get him to have anything is a bit of banana here and there but he won't eat at mealtimes in his high chair. He does eat for his childminder where he spends three days a week. I was at the paediatric clinic this week and the doctor told me to give no more than 12 oz cows milk per day and to quote her "He won't starve himself" I'm not really comfortable with this approach so interested to see what advice people have to offer.

Linda: You need to cut out the milk. I had to do the same with my little one as she wasn’t eating and now she only gets a milk before bed... also I was giving her breakfast too soon in the morning. She wasn’t after building up a hunger for it. So she wakes and an hour later has breakfast. It took her a few weeks to get back into eating.

Elaine: 20oz of milk, might be taking the edge off his appetite. My lad is just coming up on 14 months and I give him milk/water after his meals, to ensure he eats. Also, try to give him water between his meals not milk as that definitely takes the edge of them, kids that young tend not to eat just cause it's in front of them, they have to be hungry enough to want it.

Check With The Professionals

Mairead: I would bring him to your public health nurse. If he is gaining weight and healthy it may not be too much to worry about and she will be able to advise you on what to do next. My nephew went through a phase of this. Hopefully, it will pass.

Trina: I feel you should bring him to the doctor, my little man always stops eating with an ear infection, cold or teething. So better get him a checkup and make sure he is not in any pain or uncomfortable, which is making him not want to eat.

Could He Be Under the Weather?

Nicola: He might have a sore throat. Will he eat yoghurt? That's all my wee fella eats when has a sore throat.

Maybe It's Teething?

Jenny: Just went through that with my 15-month-old, a back tooth was coming up, once it came through his appetite came back.

Mary: I think it's a phase. My now 18-month-old was the same but only for two weeks. And as it turned out, he was teething! He got eight teeth all at once. Now he is back to normal. He eats breakfast, milk for a nap, then dinner and snack, followed by porridge and milk before bed. 

Be Persistent

Emma: My boy is two and a half years and we’ve just come out of a year-long “phase” where he wouldn’t eat anything properly for me and the one thing that worked was going back to the basics and introducing one food at a time. He had a few days of just mashed potatoes and gravy then I added veg and then meat. Two weeks later he ate bacon and cabbage, shepherds pie etc. Hang in there! It’s tough making healthy dinners and then resorting to sausages when they refuse it.

Have you any advice to add? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Editor of, Mairéad Cahalan is a creator of content, a lover of music, red wine and coffee, and a part-time wedding singer! Find her on Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and LinkedIn.


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