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Toddlers on a Hunger Strike

Is Your Toddler on a Hunger Strike? You're Not Alone!

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Stacie Lewis about toddler food strikes.

When I picked up my toddler, Ieuan, from day care last Monday, he greeted me with a huge smile. “He’s just such a happy little boy!” his nursery worker said. Then, as she does at every pick-up, she gave me feedback on his day. “Ieuan had a good day,” she began, “he played with building blocks, got very messy in the sand pit and ate all his food.”

Wait a minute. What?

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“For breakfast, he had cereal and he ate all of that. For snack, he had apple sauce and he ate all of that. For lunch, he had spaghetti and he ate most of that!”

Sorry, what?

That was Monday. On Tuesday, same thing. And, Thursday – the only other day he attends day care – the report was exactly the same. 100% happy. 100% food eaten.

“I don’t get it,” my husband said, baffled. “He never does that with us.”

Sure, Ieaun is a happy boy but, at home, he barely eats anything. On Friday, he drank a few bottles of milk and ate half a bag of potato chips. That was it for the whole day!

He doesn’t look malnourished and he definitely eats – at least, he eats on the three days he attends day care – but is it enough? And, what will happen to him if this phase continues?

The BabyCenter Experts know all about toddlers who refuse to eat:

It’s no coincidence that right around the time children learn to walk… they become much less interested in food. When there’s so much to discover, who has time to eat? Plus, their growth has slowed and, no matter how active they are, their energy needs are smaller…

Rather than get hung up on the fact that your toddler has refused everything you put in front of her today, write down what she eats over the course of one week. Parents are often surprised to find that their child’s food intake balances out.

Don’t forget to consider fluids in the food equation, too. Milk and juice can offer vital nutrients… But since too much fluid can also dampen an appetite, you may want to serve drinks after and between meals.

This description fits Ieuan (and his mom) perfectly. I give him a bottle while I rush around preparing his meal. I can’t believe it never occurred to me that this might be a mistake. And, I focus on the uneaten meals. Probably, I don’t want to think about the day care’s successes.

Ieuan is a rambunctious toddler. It’s a phase. Just wait ’til he discovers pizza.

How do you feel when your child won’t eat?

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