Why does the child refuse to eat at about 18 months?
Around the age of 1 1/2 to 2 years, a change in eating behavior is very often observed in small children. The one who ate so well and didn’t seem to show any distaste whatsoever for whatever the food offered, began rejecting and refusing a certain number Be selective about your plate.
Nutritionist Aurélia Bardot “It’s a completely normal phenomenon called neophobia that affects about 3/4 of children around the age of 2.”
Neophobia translates as fear of anything new: Baby seems cautious and avoids all foods it is not familiar with.
This phenomenon, which is not unique to humans, is entirely physiological and would contribute to the survival of the species. The child begins to walk and explore its environment, neophobia would protect it from possible poisoning or poisoning.
Furthermore the famous opposition phase – which usually occurs by 18 months – during which time the baby asserts itself against its parents and begins to refuse almost everything – including food! This phase of refusal can last up to the age of 7, but it can also stop much earlier. And the attitude of parents and those around them during this time is particularly important.
Which foods are rejected most often?
Food neophobia is generally associated with food selectivity: “The child tends to Refuse vegetables firstthen to a lesser extent fruit‘ said the nutritionist.
On the other hand, they retain a strong appetite for starchy foods they are familiar with – pasta, rice – and sweet foods.
They end up avoiding any foods that are strong in flavor and not very rich caloriesand are attracted to sweet, high-calorie foods.
A link to food diversification
Up to about a year, Baby mainly eats purees, mixed or crushed. Whether it’s carrots, zucchini or sweet potatoes, it doesn’t change much for him, even if he distinguishes between the different flavors very well: his dish always looks like mashed potatoes. From the age of one and a half years, fusible pieces are introduced, then they gradually become larger and more distinct: the child no longer recognizes his plate !
“Even though he loved mashed carrots, Baby will probably think his sliced boiled carrots aren’t the same food and risk refusing them.”
That Food diversificationwith the launch of new textures, new recipes, new flavors and new foods, therefore exacerbates this neophobia.
Different degrees of neophobia: from restraint to strict refusal of food
If the refusal to eat affects a very large majority of babies around the age of 2, it can be more or less pronounced depending on the blond heads. About a quarter of them will never be affected by this rejection phase.
Among the others: Some will have a simple reluctance to eat new foods we’re talking about neophobia flexibleand others will categorically refuse any food that he does not recognize, we are talking about it rigid neophobia.
When to worry if the baby won’t eat
For parents, their child’s refusal to eat is one of the biggest sources of worry and stress: “How is it going to meet all its needs? It’s growing, it needs calories and food more than ever. Vitamins!”.
So should you be worried if your baby rejects something that closely or remotely resembles a vegetable or fruit?
“No! Parents really need to be reassuredand see this period as a mandatory and normal step‘ the nutritionist reassured.
Usually notbecause a child who avoids certain vegetables will inevitably make up for it elsewhere: raw vegetables in sticks (carrots, cucumbers, etc.) or cherry tomatoes always go better than cooked vegetables, as do certain fresh fruits, peeled and diced as they can by hand nibble.
And how do you know where neophobia ends and real eating disorders begin? “anorexia with the little ones is very rare,” says Aurélia Bardot.
Aurélia Bardot: “What should alarm parents is when there is a break in their child’s weight and height curve”
Food neophobia does not affect the baby’s growth curve because the foods that are traditionally rejected are the least calorie-vegetables and fruits, and the child balances this out with any foods that are more calorie-dense.
A refusal to feed, coupled with a decline in the baby’s weight and height curve, should alert parents and prompt them to seek counsel rule out possible anorexiaprimary or secondary to a pathology.
“That’s exactly what’s tricky: Above all, do not force a child to eat‘ the nutritionist says. Threats, blackmail, shouting and Punish can only make the problem worse. The meal must remain a convivial and pleasant moment for the child and the parents, it must not become arm wrestling.
Et the more parents will express their concern and insist that the child eat, plus this one is likely rob.
What to do if a baby refuses to eat and does not like certain foods
Food refusal is normal in young children and is not a cause for concern. To keep this phase of neophobia short-lived, it’s best to maintain a relaxed attitude and downplay rejection. Parents can then use Tricks to get the kid to try everything :
– You can, ideally share the same meal than the child, and eat in front of him the food that he refuses, showing that he likes it,
– Do not stop offering him a dish or food that he has refused and stay patient
– Vary recipes, compose pretty platesmake colorful dishes, imagine fruit or vegetable skewers…
– Vary the food preparation: if he might be put off by cooked cauliflower, offer him small florets of raw cauliflower to nibble by hand,
– Prepare meals a gameor a experience. “Imagine you are a little Martian, you are trying this food for the first time and you have to describe it to me,” gives the example of the nutritionist.
– Take him shopping and let him choose the fruits and vegetables he likes,
– Involve him in the preparations Court,
– Offer the refused food at the beginning of the meal if he is very hungry”Everything is better when you’re hungry“, recalls Aurélia Bardot.
– Offer small amounts: a large plate of vegetables will immediately discourage him, while a small portion on a small plate will startle him less.
“It’s also important to remind the child that they don’t have to love everything: we all have foods we don’t like and it doesn’t matter,” explains the nutritionist. You really have to downplay the situation and make your rejections a non-event.
Cold, stomach: He no longer eats because he is sick, what to do?
A decreased appetite when the baby has a cold or otitis is whole normal. This is often the case with adults too.
An exceptional solution in an exceptional situation: It is then advisable to give the child something that makes them happy and comforts them. It is especially important if he has a fever keep you hydrated and offer him something to drink: a bottle of milk, soups, broths, squeezed fruit…
A sick child has less appetite: therefore it is better to divide his meals into several small snacks.
In case of gastroenteritisand low-residue diet a must: well cooked rice, cooked ham, cooked carrots or carrot puree, chicken broth…
What about teething?
When milk teeth grow, they cause a number of not very pleasant symptoms for him: swollen and sensitive gums, irritable mood and excessive salivation. So it is quite normal for teething to affect the baby’s appetite!
During this time, we can prioritize certain types of foods that seem to alleviate them:
– that cold or even frozen foods : relieve pain caused by vasoconstriction of inflamed vessels,
– that soft and mixed foods that do not put too much strain on the gums: smoothies, purees, soups, yoghurts,
– as opposed to hard foods to chew to massage the gums: piece of bread, rusk, ladyfingers, piece of apple…