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Health & Wellness

Health & Wellness
Health & Wellness



Managing food strike @ 13.5 months

What happened to my boy's appetite?
Once upon a time, when my little food connoisseur was 6-13 months old, he had a steady appetite. A very good one in fact. He ate almost everything that I prepared for him. See his food journal. Ain't he a lucky little foodie?

However, somewhere in the back of my mind, I always have this little fear about the emergence of food strike. I know it will happen, sooner or later.

And it happens. SO SOON. Now, he REFUSES to eat much of anything all of a sudden. This starts when he turns 13.5 months. Oh gawd. My little plan of being my boy's best personal cook is thwarted. I feel so defeated.

So, I read up about food strike, to arm myself with some pointers to deal with him during meal times.
I ain't eating that, mama! Where are my 'O's?
I know it's food strike when he starts to refuse to eat certain food items, such as his favorite bananas and rice crackers. He refuses yogurt, which tops his favorite food list. He once loves bread and muffins, now he doesn't even want to open his mouth.
He demands to eat 'O' cereals. ALL THE TIME. I mean during breakfast and dinner. Note: He has lunch (porridge / pasta / soup / mashed potato) and some snacks (fruits / smoothies) at the babysitter's house.
These are the 'O' cereals that he wants to eat all the time - organic whole grain rice and barley cereal. At least they are healthy. I hope so. Every morning, he will ask for a bowlful and munches happily and quietly at his high chair. I guess it's better than not eating anything.

He demands self-feeding (which is good I suppose). He prefers to eat with his fingers, but okay with using the spoon too. He can spoon mashed potatoes quite well into his mouth. And he's nursing more often than usual (I'm happy that he's not refusing boobfeeds!).
So, why does food strike happen and when?
I read up that a drop in appetite is expected when a baby turns 12 months old onwards. This is because he is now experiencing a normal slowdown in growth as compared to his baby year. Therefore, he needs fewer calories and food. Thus, the food strike.

Furthermore, at this stage, he is experiencing a growing desire for control and involvement in everything around him, which explains his erratic appetite.

Is it gonna be permanent?
I also read up that refusal to eat is usually temporary. His appetite might dip during teething (I think my boy is teething is first pair of molars but I'm not too sure), spike during growth spurts, drop during sickness (my boy's appetite for nursing when he has fever), and so on.

As long as he continues to gain weight and inches and remains healthy generally (aside from common flu bouts), there's little reason for concern.
So, what can be done?
Know that food strike is part of growing up. Don't take it personally whenever it happens. Rejecting food doesn't mean he's rejecting you. You're not a bad mom. You're still his favorite person on earth. :)

Let him decides how much he wants to eat and when to stop. Actually, food strikes have more to do with control and willpower, not so much whether the food is delicious or horrible. He knows that food is your source of anxiety and perhaps, anger. Although worrisome, food strike should be dealt with in a calm manner. (Easier said than done, haha.)

Mini pancakes, yogurt buttons, bread as snack

Provide healthy choices. Although you can't (and shouldn't) make him eat, you can definitely prepare a variety of healthy snacks or tidbits.

Keep meal portions small. His stomach is still small. Remember, he won't starve himself. If he's hungry, he'll eat. If he likes what he eats, he'll ask for more. If he doesn't, at least you don't waste the entire meal that might (or might not) gotten thrown off his chair.
Check his seating arrangement. If he starts to struggle to get off the high chair, it's time to get a booster seat.
Make eating time a pleasant experience. If he wants to hold the spoon, let him hold. He will make a mess. He will be covered in food but hey, if he feels that he's in control and enjoys it, he will eat!

Note: He has started eating more again! Yay!



  1. Gosh! I dread those stage when our cute baby turns into monster! I think it is a stage every child goes through. It happened to my older kids. I just hope my youngest would not be the picky eater like his older siblings!

    1. I heard there are more phases where angelic babies turn little monsters. I'm bracing myself for the notorious terrible two phase in a few more months down the road. Haha.

  2. When my girl was small, she would not eat anything. Would keep a spoonful of rice or porridge in the mouth for half an hour and then spit it out! Took milk regularly though. Was very skinny like a Somalian refugee...but she grew taller and taller, her long pants became shorts - no need to buy new ones, still ok round the waistline.

    Took her to see the doctor and he said as long as she was active and healthy, no problem. Active? She was a livewire! Hantu!

  3. Hi Joyce, can you share more what you mean by "Check his seating arrangement. If he starts to struggle to get off the high chair, it's time to get a booster seat."

    My boy is on food strike and hates to sit on the high chair! climbing up like a little monkey.


    1. Hi Jen, thanks for reading. :)

      A booster seat looks like this - - it can be tied down to normal adult dining chair. It makes the toddler feels that he's part of adult dining time and will be more willing to eat better. But this is child dependent as well.

      Sometimes they will still sit in their high chair, sometimes they might even want to sit on the floor or on your lap. So, it's up to you to set the rule for your toddler. :)

      Good luck!

  4. Hi, may I know what plate you are using in this photo?