1 year old baby refuses to eat- How to get him or her to eat

As an Amazon affiliate, we earn a commision from qualifying purchases.

In this article, we will specifically look at what to try if your 1 year old baby refuses to eat anything

Mealtimes can be absolute pain and shattering for parents- it’s so stressful (and frustrating).

In fact, some of us dread feeding times more than anything else because our little ones won’t just eat no matter how hard you try (nobody wants to be told their baby has gone off the growth chart because they won’t eat).

The good news is you’re not alone – and even better, there are strategies that you can use and succeed in getting your son/daughter to eat.

In this article, we will specifically look at what to try if your 1 year old baby refuses to eat.

Read to the end if your 1 year old baby refuses to eat or drink.


1 year old baby refuses to eat- what to try if your one year old baby won’t eat

Your biggest goal is ultimately to help him/her have a better relationship with food (eating enough of foods that make him/her feel healthier and have energy).

So here is what you should try if your 1 year old baby refuses to eat:

Is there any food they love?

If your baby loves a certain food (but won’t eat anything else), try to add a little of other foods (to make it balanced) if it is possible to mix it up with new foods.

It’s called food chaining- you take any food you know they will not say no to and modify it just slightly to include new foods.

For example, if they like cheese (for a snack), try to add a bit of fruit.

Also, you can make him eggs (and other foods) with ghee and then add cheese when possible.

More examples:

If they really like French fries, try to give him or her sweet potato fries.

And if they madly enjoy Mac and cheese, try to give three bites of plain Mac and cheese but then the 4th bite will be mac and cheese plus a few tiny cooked carrots (mixed in).

The idea is to keep experimenting by adding extra items…


Try to have her eat in small bits

One thing you can try is to make them eat in small bits – those tiny bites are an extra boost every time they take a bite (their stomachs are still pretty small anyway).

An especially helpful trick is upping the snacks (between meals)- snacks  will make your baby hungrier and he/she may start to eat more when it is mealtime (observe the 3 meals daily rule).

And please do not skip the snacks- they could get hungry to a point of getting tired(or cranky) and they won’t eat.

Try finger foods

If he or she is a grazer, then finger foods for 1 year old typically go down way better than other food.

Some finger foods you can try (unless your 1 year old baby won’t eat finger foods):

  • Soft-cooked vegetables ( broccoli, courgette, cauliflower, parsnip)
  • Toast, pitta/chapatti fingers
  • Un-salted and un-sweetened rice/corn cakes
  • Carrot/cucumber sticks and avocado
  • Strips of meat (without bones) like chicken, beef, and lamb
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Omelette fingers

Try to spice up things

Try to spike his or her food with butter(for savory dishes) and perhaps coconut milk (for sweeter dishes).

The fact is, if extreme, you will need to stop worrying about eating healthy because it’s more critical to get calories into him/her.

Later on- once they have gotten used to eating- you can gradually introduce fibrous veggies, fruit, meat, and those other healthier foods.


Distract them during feeding times (Offer “Bribes”)

It may not be the smartest thing to do but it’s worth a shot if your 1 year old baby suddenly refuses to eat – during meal times you turn on some games/cartoon on your iPad (or TV) and let them watch as you spoon-feed him or her.

It might work because if he or she is watching TV, then they’re barely noticing what’s going into his or her mouth, the hunger, fullness levels, etc. so they will keep opening their mouth.

Now, if they don’t open their mouth, you pause play – chances are, they will open their mouth and let you feed him or her.

There are also plenty of “baby sensory” videos out there on YouTube that you can play for them.

Here is another way of “bribing”:

Does your boy or girl enjoy dipping things? I’m asking because my son loves ketchup and he’ll eat a lot more items if I let him dip them (in ketchup).

Let him eat what you eat

Another thing you can do is feed him/her what you eat (whenever possible).

So if you’re having pasta, so will your baby.

It sometimes works.


Try the eat –in-color approach

Try the eat-in-color approach as well- it is one of the easiest strategies to make bad eaters start eating.

Read more about it here.


1 year old baby refuses to eat solids – more strategies to try

Try to create positive associations (with the table and food)

This could mean switching to a more kid-friendly seat (from a higher chair), having a couple of simple toys or even coloring books (at the table).

Also, play a little (positively) before starting the meal.


Let him/her feed off their own plate

If your child is fiercely independent, try to give them food on their own plate- probably the many fights are due to you spoon feeding him/her.

We actually recommend that his/her plate be similar to yours (the last thing you want is to give them an impression that your food is different from their serving).

In the meantime, a way of making everything more positive is to occasionally take a bite off your child’s plate and also allow him or her to eat off of yours.

Limit drinks before a meal

Another idea you can try is to limit the consumption of heavy drinks such as milk or pediasure for let’s say 90 minutes to 2 hours before mealtime so won’t fill up (on drink).

You instead give them such items right after they’re done with the meal.


My 1 year old baby doesn’t want to eat – More tips

Create a pressure-free eating environment

Many parents are guilty of aggressively pressurizing their 1 year olds to eat- and it’s very wrong.

Put simply, you should never pressurize your baby to eat!

There are actually a couple of studies that have shown that kids tend to refuse to eat in homes with pressured eating so drop your yelling and screaming strategy.

Instead, the bottom line is to make the feeding environment positive/friendly for your baby- you want to create comfort during meal times and not fear!


Offer more variety

Try offering your son or daughter a greater variety of foods and model good eating behaviors/trends.

Modeling good eating might inspire him or her to sit for meals (and stop running around and away from his plate).

We would also suggest you let your baby explore their food- If it’s something he/she can hold, try to hand it to them and check if they will attempt to eat it (on their own).

This creates some connection in their brain and they may have no problems eating such items when cooked.


Offer one safe food!

The whole thing can be hard so on days your baby won’t eat (they do get moody sometimes), give him/her something they will eat at ease (a loaf of bread, maybe with butter or just  plain pasta) before bed so you can be sure they’re not starving.


Getting him or her to eat vegetables

Wizz up some vegetables (with milk + peanut butter) and chances are, he or she’ll drink it!

Shove in there as many veggies (Broccoli! Kale! Spinach! Avocado!) as you can- and you can hide their taste with blueberries (and bananas).

This is one way of the best ways to get vegetables into your son or daughter.


Watch out for constipation problems!

Some children who lack a good relationship with food usually eat less due to constipation issues so check if he/she is pooping without problems if picky when it comes to eating.

ALSO READ: How to help kids with constipation (natural remedies, medicine, foods, exercise, and more)


See a feeding therapist

If you have tried most of the above strategies and haven’t succeeded, we would suggest you see a pediatric feeding therapist ASAP – you may want them assessed further to determine why he/she isn’t eating.

Now, feeding therapy is generally a specialty of occupational therapists or speech therapists and it’s a good option because they’re trained to handle feeding problems in kids (they work very closely with you).


Wrapping it up

There’s nothing as frustrating as when a kid won’t eat but as you have seen in this post, there are some effective tricks that can work.

Of course, a pediatric dietitian is an option if your baby is super stubborn when it comes to feeding.

One final helpful rule to keep in mind: You provide the food (you choose) and your baby chooses what to eat/not eat!

We wish you luck as you fight mealtime wars- and when nothing seems to work, just remember that it’s a phase that will eventually pass so keep doing the correct thing.



Leave a Comment