What Does it Mean if my Toddler Refuses to Eat?

Toddlers can be very picky eaters. They often battle with their mothers over food. However, it's important to try not to let meal times become a fight.

Sometimes it can help to get someone else to give your toddler his food, and to keep yourself away during meal times for a while until the tension between you has eased.

Your job is to help your toddler discover the joy of food and eating. It should be a journey of discovery. As he explores the taste and texture of new foods, this should be fun and interesting. Sometimes he won't like foods because of how they feel, look or taste. Sometimes he will refuse to eat a food that he has been eating for months without any trouble.

Your toddler should be trying to feed himself some of the time. Make that your aim, although there will be times that you will prefer to feed him.

Some toddlers use food as their weapon or ammunition against their parents and caregivers. Mom is usually the greatest target for this, because it's the most intense relationship in your child's life. Your toddler tries to find ways to manage his little world without you. So if you get too controlling and bossy with him about food, it gives him something he can use against you. Your toddler knows that it's important to you that he eats his food. So as he tries to prove his independence, he may refuse the food that you give him or the food that you make for him.

Sometimes toddlers won't eat unless the mother - or father or another adult - feeds them. This might mean that they want to hold onto their dependency and keep their caregivers as close as possible to them. Some toddlers don't want to grow up and be independent. They can have mixed feelings about the process of separation.

Growing up and becoming independent is a complicated, long and interesting journey, with many detours and unexpected turns. Refusing the mother's food is sometimes part of that journey.
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