baby sleep, food, motherhood, parenting

The fact that he won’t eat. And I no longer sleep.

When Waleed was little [as opposed to the college professor he is now] he ate anything. Fettuccine. Stir Fry. Fish. And like a fish he wouldn’t stop eating though given his high activity level his constant eating resulted in very little upward incline on the weight charts. Now, while he still eats anything from paper to pad thai [I’m fairly certain he’s part goat], two to three bites in he waves his hand, annoyed, indicating he’s done which isn’t possible since he last ate four hours earlier and played more vigorously than even a certain Miami Heat basketball player [who really could have made more free throws on game six]. After that much activity, how can a few bites fill him up?

I’m told not to push it. Let him stop eating when he wants, after all, children never ‘starve themselves to death’; when he’s hungry he’ll eat. Yes. I believe in my son’s survival instinct. However. I take issue with the ‘when he’s hungry he’ll eat’ because while he does eat, since lately he wont eat during the day he is now hungry at approximately 1am, 4am, 5am. [And last night, up on the hour every hour] His survival instinct is interfering with my sleep instinct.

It’s possible the waking is unrelated. He is [finally] getting teeth [four at once!] plus I read kids at this age can wake because they begin actively dreaming now and wake up screaming when they find themselves in a dark room when seconds earlier they were prancing around grabbing bunnies and running head first down the stairs [which is what I imagine is the stuff baby dreams are made of] but regardless, even if he was sleeping through the night, he needs to eat- I think?

The experts say you shouldn’t teach your kid to clear their plate. It can lead to long-term eating and obesity issues. Yes. But. How do I make sure he’s getting his nutrition when my kid is eating three bites per meal? Back home I’ll just slog out the refusal getting a bite here and there be it through ‘airplane’ mode [as in make high pitched sounds to make him gape at me like I’ve officially lost it giving me the mouth opening large enough to stick a spoonful of food in]. Usually we make it to the end of the bowl in this way at home, but here amongst grandparents, he’s somehow aware of his many sympathizers so puts on grand displays of protests which on the bright side leave me fairly confident he’ll be thanking me for an Academy Award someday.

To be fair he does usually eat one meal a day with vigor, and he loves snacks like apple sauce and string cheese, its just that the chomping emptying the fridge baby of months past is no more despite the variety of foods I try offering him. Maybe this is just the new normal. Except, the hourly wakings is not sustainable. I woke this morning put two tea bags in a mug and stuck it in the microwave. Without water. The brain cells that I was slowly regenerating seem to be jumping ship once more. Sleep- it was nice while it lasted.

Can you relate? What are you doing, or plan to do, or have done to handle this eating or non-eating issue?

22 thoughts on “The fact that he won’t eat. And I no longer sleep.”

  1. Ugh, so sorry W. isn't eating well. Even sorrier he's waking up at night. Henry pretty much stopped eating every single time he started to teeth. And he'd wake up at night–hungry, but also, I suspect, confused as to why his mouth hurt. He'd start up again (both the eating and the sleeping) as soon as the offending tooth broke through the gumline & gave him some peace. Hope W. is over this soon (4 teeth! Poor baby!) Continuing to keep your whole family in my thoughts & prayers. Miss 'talking' to you daily!


  2. Susan- that must be it! It coincided with the teething- I knew the wakings might be related but I didn't stop to consider that since the area you eat is the same area painful business is going on- he might not want to, well eat. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers. Miss chatting daily too, look forward to resuming once I return home πŸ™‚

    Thanks Anon, I appreciate it! πŸ™‚


  3. i can totally relate, louise is not keen on eating right now. last night was the first time she ate anything for me in a weeks time, and still, i offered her five different things and she would only eat two of them, but i guess i should be happy she ate at all.


  4. I don't believe in pushing kids too much for food either (though I will disagree with experts who say not to teach your kids to finish their plate). But it's strange that he would be so hungry, he'd wake up, especially since you said he does at least get one good meal a day.



  5. Poor Aisha – there's always a new roadblock to you geting any sleep! You must be worn out! I can only hope that little Waleed will make dinner his favorite meal so he'll have a full tummy all night!


  6. My son had same issue with food. He grew at 5 percentile till age 5. Everytime we push to eat he threw up. But since he cross 6 – he starts eating and now I am worried he eats too much.

    Just let it go. They will pick on their own. I promise!


  7. I don't have huge advice on the eating…there are times when G slops down two eggs in one sitting and times he eats two bites of toast and throws the rest on the floor….I think part of it is they are starting to become picky…and part is the distractability (there are so many more cool things to do besides eat!) (wish I felt that way because eating is so very cool to me).

    As for the up all night…..yes. Well. I can only tell you for us it is ALWAYS teething. At least I think. And on the nights he wakes up over and over (like two nights ago), he wakes up and asks for milk, over and over and over. I think, personally, it is more for a comfort thing than really being hungry.

    We aren't a huge drug fan in this house–but tylenol or motrin at night will usually stop the night waking. Honestly it's the nights I test it and think “maybe it isn't teething…” that he's up screaming all. night. long.

    I think teething can also make them less hungry…so it could be all related to that.

    You'll probably notice that as soon as those 4 bad boys break through, he'll go back to 'normal' and you'll get rest. πŸ™‚


  8. I think it's the teething – they really don't like to eat when their teeth and gums hurt. They do like sucking though – so you might want to try to add some sort of pablum to some milk at bedtime if you wish. Also Tylenol and Advil (or homeopathic equivalent) at bedtime for a few nights only.

    Without sleep, well, I'm a beast. Good luck, my friend. Remember, this too shall pass.


  9. Thanks for the advice Marie!

    Rasha- I wonder if its not the food now that I read these comments but the tooth pain that is keeping him up at nights. I guess the downward trend of eating and the upward trend of wakings might be just correlation not causation.

    Kate, does she wake up more on nights that she ate less during the day?

    Stacey- lol thanks!!!! no such luck yet, but here's hoping once the final tooth pops through the gum line we'll have sleep again!

    Mystic- i will trust your expert advice, thanks πŸ™‚

    Murgdan, thanks for the advice- I really appreciate it! when Gabriel is teething, do you let him CIO at all? I'm so torn because on one hand he seems to appreciate the feedings and holdings but then again, am i retraining his bad habits once more?


  10. A woman my age, thanks for the advice- yes, I'm not too pleasant to be around sleep deprived- luckily in Florida my mom takes him in the morning so I at least get a few hours of nice uninterrupted rest, but I worry about returning back home and working on the fragmenting sleep- its going to be scary!


  11. Hi Aisha,

    I've been reading your blog for a while but never commented – till now – I have a 19 month old daughter and know EXACTLY what you are going thru.

    My daughter also stopped eating at around 13 months and used to wake up frequently in the night crying. Googling let me to believe she might be having night terrors (which are apparently common at this age) and also teething. I've been using Camilia, which is a homeopathic teething medicine for infants, available at Whole Foods – not sure how much it helped but I've also started giving her a little mylicon in the night before bedtime each time she tried some new food,and I've also started giving her a full bottle of milk before bed – to fill up her stomach. I dont know which of the three actually worked but her crying in the night has reduced to about once (much better than almost every hour like when it first started).

    The other thing I wanted to tell you is don't stress out about him not eating. Try to give him new foods, at this age, they want more variety. And if he doenst eat, then leave him be, he'll be hungry in a few hours and will eat. I used to get very very stressed out about this initially but after talking to some cousins and friends and realizing that everyone is going thru the same thing, I've started to relax a little. One of my cousins, who's a pediatrician, even told me that if my daughter's weight drops to below 20th percentile, then I can give her one pediasure a day, which is equivalent to a complete meal, and that's absolutely fine. We haven't had to resort to that yet. Just try to give him a variety of food, and let him eat when he's hungry.

    Sorry for the long post…



  12. Aisha, I'm so glad to see that you are posting! I was a little worried that something wasn't right…glad to hear that your dad is healing up like he should be!

    Bear definitely regressed sleeping-wise around 1 year. It got better after a couple of months though. I believe that what helped her was a night light. She'd never used one before, and I think that she was waking up in the night and getting scared. The light seemed to help her. She still wakes up sometimes, but mostly now, it is because she heard a noise, which upon inspection, usually turns out to be the air conditioner.

    As for eating, sigh. I don't know. I thought we had it down. I was sure that Bear was a good eater. Now, we're on week 2 of a “yucky” phase. Everything is yucky. Playing is so much more interesting. The child lives on milk. I'm no expert. I can only say, keep on trying!


  13. Well, as the others before, we are going through food strikes when there is teething. Now, third tooth cut through (FINALLY) and the fourth is getting ready for action.
    George does not get any fever, but he stops taking solids, reverts to hourly night wakings and nurses, nurses, nurses.
    Then he gets back to eating food and sleeping better.
    During teething he likes to much on yoghurt (which is cold), pretzels (the Bavarian ones, I think they put baby crack in them, all kids eat them like there is no tomorrow), cheese and cold pieces of fruit. He did not gain much in the last couple of months, but I think he is rockier, perhaps all that activity is transforming fat into muscle. ;-))
    Best of luck. Hope W teeth give him (and you) a rest soon.


  14. Sue, thanks for leaving a comment and sharing your point of view. I really appreciate it. I think he has had a few night terrors- he wakes up bawling and can't be easily put back to bed. I guess that's more traumatic than regular waking up from a dream for them? Will haev to google it. hmmm. Thx for the reassurance about him eating or not. I appreciate your own perspective and the experiences of those you know!

    Raising, aw thanks for your concern! πŸ™‚ I appreciate it! Just got back in last night and he woke only twice as opposed to hourly so I'mw ondering if it had somethign to do with his environment too, since yesterday he only ate twice, breakfast and dinner and nothing in between. Thanks for the tips on the nightlight, and hope both our kids start eating good soon πŸ™‚

    Mina, I wonder if they have Bavarian pretzels here, **I** want some! LOL Thanks for sharing your own perspective on this- and yes you are right, that's the best way to say it, Waleed is also becoming rockier, lol. His legs are so toned it makes me awestruck!


  15. louise has woken a few times in the night, i'm not sure if it's due to hunger or the fact that she is getting molars. a couple times she just fell back to sleep, but once i did get up and give her a bottle because i was concerned about her being hungry. what about waleed?


  16. Thx Toyin πŸ™‚

    Kate, I think teeth have a lot to do with it! W is also getting molars coming in at least I think he is in the way he's biting down on things. . . we shall see! Good luck to you and me!


  17. My niece also seems to give her parents a hard time. She is a picky eater and her mood is not to be messed with, if she is to be made to eat. She always wakes up during the night, if she does not eat her dinner fully, and so my SIL constantly struggles with her to eat. One option is to give her what she wants so that the tummy gets full (which my SIL does). I do not know what the parenting advice givers think of it, but my SIL also force-feeds the little girl. There is running and chasing and admonishing and a bit of crying, but the mom ensure kid finishes the thing. (My niece is 3 years old).

    I hope Waleed is only this way because of teething or so.


  18. St. Elsewhere, thanks for your perspective on this- that really helps- I would NEVER I hope force feed him, though I think that when I'm most frustrated I can understand why parents do this- I am afraid of making him either a) hate food and see meal time as a dreaded event or b) grow up to ignore his own innate 'stop eating' instincts because I squashed them now. It's all so confusing- but I know we all do the best we know how.

    BTW- I was looking for your blog and can't find it. . . might you e-mail me with the link??


  19. I can relate! I think my baby is part cat or goat or something, because she will eat anything! But lately as she is nearing closer to one, she is quite distractible and also wakes at night with a little whimper like “hold me Mommy”. Good thing she is right beside my bed, because I am too lazy to get up and go into another room to comfort her. But anyway, back to the food issue – I don't try to force feed her, but I just patiently wait for her to finish doing whatever she is doing and give her a few more bites of food. She will eat anything we give her, but is particularly fond of goat cheese. If you are having a problem with Waleed gaining, maybe try some high calorie dense foods like avocado, or make a nut and date paste or something.


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