My 11-month-old son will NOT eat solid food. We've been trying since 6
months of age w/ a range of tastes, textures and techniques and if he
gets the littlest bit of food in his mouth he'll gag very dramatically
and a couple times has vomited. He jams his mouth closed, shakes his
heads, and eventually screams if we insist. He WILL happily mouth
toys, his hands, leaves at the playground, etc., so I know he CAN and
will put things in his mouth. He'll also grab at food that we're
eating, but only wants to touch it.
He's managed maybe 5 bites of food in 5 months. Once a tiny bit of
yogurt, a spoonful of rice cereal, and one cheerio.
He's being fed breastmilk exclusively at this point-- by breast and
bottle. He's growing nicely and is hitting all the developmental
milestones just fine, so on some level I'm not terribly worried about
this. Still, his pediatrician is NOT happy and wants us to see a
swallowing disorder specialist. (Earliest appt I could get is in July,
a couple weeks shy of my son's 1st b-day.) I'm fine w/ doing that,
but am wondering if any parents on the list have experience with this
kind of thing.
We've tried just about every food in about every form possible.
Purees, finger foods, homemade, commercially prepared, grown up table
food, etc. We've tried feeding him w/ other babies. We've made a game
out of eating. We've let him watch us eat. We've tried in his high
chair, on the floor, in our laps, etc. We've tried letting him play w/
an empty spoon and bowl. I've tried giving him a very soupy rice
cereal w/ breastmilk. No luck.
He did have great difficulty breastfeeding for the first 4.5 months of
his life-- was diagnosed w/ a tongue tie and had a frenotomy, but now
feeds beautifully. He babbles normally and makes a range of sounds, so
I don't think his tongue is the problem.
We did see an early intervention specialist about the nursing early
on, but it was determined that he wasn't eligible for care. We might
approach them again to see if they've be willing to reassess him.
My gut says that the answer is simply: He's not ready! He loves
nursing and since he doesn't read calendars, doesn't know he's
supposed to eat solids. He won't still be subsisting on breast milk in
college. (I hope!) If we give it time, he'll eventually start eating
Any thoughts, words of wisdom or encouragement? I'm curious to hear
how others resolved this, when the turning point happened, etc.
Your son sounds just like my daughter at that age. She had sensory
issues mostly in her mouth making eating painful and oral motor issues
such that she could not move food around in her mouth and had to be
taught how to chew.
as you say, he may not be developmentally ready, or it could be
something he needs help with.
I highly reccomend you call 311 for another eval by early
intervention. Make sure they send a speech/feeding therapist not just
a speech therapist to evaluate him. Not all speech therapists know
about feeding issues, also specify you want him evaluated for sensory
We went through the exact same thing with my daughter. She gagged and
threw up everything we tried to give her to eat, and my gut told me
there was something wrong. (everyone told me she wasn't ready to eat)
I consulted doctors, a neurologist, pediatric nutritionist, etc., and
then went to an osteopath on the suggestion of my friend- took me a
month to get an appt, but we went when she was 11 months old.
The osteopath spent 1 1/2 hrs with her, and (I am simplifying here)
told me that the bones in her head did not return to their normal
position after birth, and that because of this eating made her
uncomfortable. He said she couldn't curl her tongue, and a few other
things as well. He made various adjustments on her, and immediately
afterward, she nursed differently. (and I had been to a lactation
consultant a few times to correct the latch!). She got home that
night and ate for the first time, and hasn't stopped eating since! No
more gagging, no more throwing up. Honestly, I couldn't believe it
worked. I went every few weeks to make sure the corrections stayed,
and then spaced out the appointments every 3-4 months until she was 3.
When my son was born, I made sure one of the first appointments was
to my osteopath! I continue to take both kids a few times a year for
maintenance. I can't recommend osteopathy high enough!
I copied these names a few years ago when people were asking about
osteopaths- I drove to Long Island to see Dr Smutney, since he was
recommended by a friend. The rest are recommended by Park Slope
Shawn Tepper 917 545 9000
Zinaida Pelkey 212 662 6560
Reena (in Park Slope) 718 564 3888
Katrina Cakuls 30 E. 40th St 212 679 4335
Patricia Mader in Greenpoint 718 383 6033
Charles Smutney in Massapequa, Long Island- 1 hr drive from Park Slope
516 798 3400
He may have an oral aversion. My nephew did - there are great speech
therapists in the area that can help you with that. The thing is, if
it really is an aversion, it will take him a loooong time to get over
it. So, your doc is right, it's best to work on it now.
My daughter wouldn't eat solids until she was almost a year too. Same
thing - gagging and total rejection of pretty much everything. Except
toys or any other inappropriate object she could chew on.
One of the first things she ever ate with joy was a teething biscuit
and then more foods followed. Our ped was concerned but wanted to wait
till she was a year old. She also had trouble breastfeeding, she never
really latched well and was diagnosed with an uncoordinated suck. She
did fine on bottles but breastfeeding was always a problem.
Fast forward to 3.5 she is a pretty decent eater and doing very well.
I say go with your gut, he just might not be ready and I think giving
him some more time, as long as he's gaining weight well, is the right
thing to do. Kids are rushed into everything these days. Some kids are
grabbing food off of mom's plate at 5 months and others are happy with
their bottles and breasts. And I'm sure he'll be done in time for
below is what i sent to the mom of a 9 month old not eating solids who
posted last week.
we went through absolutely everything you did, including difficulty
breastfeeding (but we never managed the breastfeeding and i pumped for
4 months). our kid is fine. he's 23 months, eats solids like broccoli
and peas and pasta and cheese and dried fruit, but wouldn't touch any
of it until i forcibly weaned him from bottles during the day - see
---------- Forwarded message ----------
fwiw - our kid didn't really eat solids of any kind, including purees,
until 16mos. he occasionally ate rice cereal, but much more frequently
refused it. unlike your son he didn't gag or puke, he just wouldn't
take any of it at all. we tried everything - nothing worked. we kept
him on baby formula until he was 16 months because we didn't feel he
was getting sufficient nutrition otherwise. all the doctors we asked
(3 pediatricians and an ENT), plus the early intervention evaluators
(yes, we did that too), said he was absolutely fine. and they all gave
us the same advice - if you take away his bottle and give him no
choice, he'll eat solids. now, i never would have done that at 9
months old, since at that point solids are really a cultural
preference and there's no reason for them, but by 16mos i was ready to
and of course, before i was willing to do it, i got him fully
evaluated to make sure there was no physical problem. the weaning
sucked for a few days, it took him a month to really eat the solids in
any kind of reasonable quantity, and now at 22mos he's a great eater.
i guess you could call it a "sensory issue" but that strikes me as a
diagnosis that can be applied to anyone at any time and makes you
worry for no reason. yeah, my formerly colicky, orally-obsessed,
late-eating, non-boob-latching kid probably has some "sensory issues",
but he's 100% healthy, so whatever.
point being, your kid doesn't have to have something wrong with him to
not want to eat a wide variety of solids. some just don't take to it
right away. and it really is an american thing born of a time when
women needed to get back to work and it became culturally
inappropriate to breastfeed for years at a time and there weren't
great baby formulas out there. which is why your ped keeps telling you
it doesn't matter. but yes, we also were really worried it might be
something physical and did get him checked out at some point. some of
the tests are pretty invasive though, so you might want to wait until
he's older and you're ready to wean him and see if that works before
you go for any really bad tests just to rule something out.
I can understand your frustration, but I say, go with your gut. It
really sounds like he's just not ready. One of the first criteria for
being ready is that they lose the tongue-thrust reflex which it
doesn't sound like your little one has done yet. I have a 5 month old
and started reasearching when I can and should start him on solids and
I've found kellymom.com to have the most informative site about it. It
is actually encouraged to wait longer than 6 months to start solids.
Especially since you're breastfeeding (and even if you weren't
actually) your baby is getting all the nutrients he needs. I wouldn't
jump into a specialist just yet. Every baby is different and some take
longer than others to do things and there's nothing wrong with that.
They're human beings! Doctors can be alarmists and although it can be
a good thing, it could also be bad. You just have to trust your
instincts and do what you think is right. If your doctor is pressuring
you rather than reassuring you, maybe you should find another dr who
is more open to listening to parents (let me know when/if you find
one!) Check out these links (if you haven't found them on your own
Just keep following your babies lead and keep trying every so often.
Don't force it too much b/c then he'll associate it with negative
feelings. Just give him room and time. He'll certainly get there.
Unless you're really concerned, I would wait on the specialist another
couple of months. But do go for your peace of mind if need be. As a
new mom, I know the hell it is to stress over all this stuff!! Good
luck and breath :)
I just wanted to share that my Ollie, who just turned 1, has had very
similar challenges. He still is extremely resistant to eating almost
everything. The only thing he really eats are teething biscuits and
the baby puffs that dissolve in his mouth. I've tried the full
spectrum of options as well.
He went through a very short phase (maybe 9 days) where he ate some
homemade purees but then he went on strike again. I had a very casual
attitude toward his lack of eating for the first six months but it is
def getting old and a bit worrisome now.
My pediatrician suggested we stop giving him milk via a bottle and
only give it to him in a cup and occasionally nurse. The idea is that
he will drink less via a sippy cup than a bottle and be less full and
slowly become more interested in food. If I could get him to
successfully drink from a sippy cup this would be plausible.
my son is 11 1/2 months old and until last week, he too wouldn't eat
solids. He shuddered and made a face as if we were giving him lemons
when we tried baby food (purees), and when we tried the little bites
of cereals that dissolve quickly, he would spit them out. BUt one week
ago (!) he was suddenly into it, he even ate fairly spicy hummus and
some guacamole. And he has been eating RICE RUSKS - I read about them
online and randomly found them at a health food store up in Rhode
Island near my mom's house. They too dissolve in the mouth. He isn't
eating as much as his peers, certainly, but he is starting to eat now.
His Dr. wasn't worried and said it is pretty common actually. And I
know from my own personal family Dr who isn't alive anymore, he would
be close to 100 years old (ok that's weird, but he was my old DR).
anyway, he said the old time Drs told their patients to breast feed
exclusively for 1 year, then start introducing foods
at age 1 - NOT 6 months - if you don't have teeth how can you be
expected to eat and changing the consistency of the food (as in to
cook and puree) doesn't change the fact that with teeth comes
digestive enzymes and it is totally bogus to feed a 5 mo old rice
cereal, for example, they just can't digest it. So, it depends whom
you ask. I am just tired from making so much milk to nurse all the
time. And I am hoping my son continues to progress in the eating
department now that he will be 1 so soon. So maybe - hang in there?!
When he is ready, he'll let you know. It is hard not to compare when
you see what other kids are doing, and I have an older child and think
back to when she was this age and all the things she ate ... but every
kid is different.
A little anecdote: I'm not saying this is nutritionally sound, but as
of course you know, early eating is about experiencing the texture,
etc. more than nutrition. That said, my friend who had similar
problem finally resorted to those Bahlsen wafer cookies with chocoate
cream filling. Bingo.
Maybe you should smear his chew toys with jam.
pt. 2 from same person:
The reason I called my response an anecdote, not advice, was that what
opened the floodgates for my friend's kid was chocolate -- real
chocolate layer on the cookie.
Oh, and have you tried putting sweet fruit chunks like pears in one of
those little net bags with with a handle on in designed for safely
letting little ones chew on? Can't remember what the item is called
but it's made by Sassy or Munchkin, I think.
As his refusal is so profound, I personally don't think it hurts to
keep the appointment with the specialist as a rule-out. See what the
group says. It could be a swallowing or sensory thing, or just his own
developmental time line.
we had the same problem. It turned out he was missing enamel on
his teeth and he also had "tongue-tie." He too had a tough time
nursing, but it was the only way he could be fed and we did it
exclusively, no bottle. He couldn't even do that. We resolved it by
surgery, dental work, and then therapy.
Here is my advice: do not wait and see if things get better. Of course
he loves nursing, but he is hardwired to do the eating thing. If he's
not doing it, it's probably because he can't. The longer you wait, the
longer it will take to fix the problem. If there's a mechanical
problem in his mouth or throat, you will have to fix it, but if you
let too much time pass, he will miss the milestones that enable normal
eating and may require more therapy to get over something that maybe
is not such a big deal. And you will be (even more) scared out of your
1. Gastroenterologists start at the back of the throat. I had my son
evaluated by one of these guys, and the guy didn't even look in his
mouth, just his throat, and so of course missed the problem.
2. Try to relax. My son's nutritionist explained to me that if I was
too frightened, i would communicate that to my son, and then i might
bug him too much about eating, and he could develop a "feeding
behavior" separate from the real problem.
3. The feeding specialists from early intervention were the pits. They
gave me a lot of baloney about sensory this and sensory that. That's
all they know about. Your son puts stuff in his mouth, so sensory
problem sounds off. If course I'm not a doctor! But most of the
feeding ladies know only about sensory, and if that's not what's
wrong, they don't have a clue.
I have two excellent people, and they both helped my son eat. One was
a feeding therapist, Evan Lipman Parnell, on the Upper East Side. The
other was a nutritionist, Richard Kahn (surprisingly through EI) who
helped me to understand how little my son actually needed to eat, and
what to feed him. If you want their numbers, let me know.
My son's first solid food was PEPPRIDGE FARM GOLDFISH, at 16 months.
Don't let everyone blame you - they always blame the mommy. You will
sort this out. Just don't let it go.
Call the swallowing specialist and scream bloody murder to get an
earlier appointment. Tell them he's losing weight.
does Django have teeth yet? Ivo didn't cut his first tooth until he
was 11 1/2 months,
made eating more interesting to him. he was also exclusively breast
fed up until we tried
solids at around 8 months, but he didn't really take anything until
around 10 months. at
that time we did have some success mixing rice cereal with banana and
breastmilk - also,
that was given to him by a sitter, not me. (we didn't stop nursing
completely until he was
it was certainly nothing our pediatrician was concerned about.