Yes, we have no bananas.

Dear New Readers who have been promised Funny. (Thanks Pru!)

I’m sincerely apologetic, but I am having a crisis. I am not funny today. Today, I am a thousand words of longwinded and horribly self-involved blathering instead. Perhaps come back next week?


I do wish I could be one of those people who react to a bit of misery by losing their appetite and going all consumptive.


Quite why I rationalise that my anxiety entitles me to roughly 1000 extra calories a day


when the hulking size of my shadow is itself a major source of angst, is totally beyond me. I am exercising, but only if you count the increasingly frantic rummaging through the kitchen cupboards, looking for something illicit to sustain me. Yesterday I emerged triumphant, waving a large packet of dark cooking chocolate clutched tightly in my grubby paw. Bit of a pyrrhic victory there, really.

This evening, I was cramming my mouth full of pancakes when Hubby came home, saw baby and I sat exhaustedly in our different corners of the kitchen, and gently enquired as to the state of affairs. This brutal approach tipped me over the emotional edge and I instantly began to sob and wail; choking horribly on my pancakes as I did so. I don’t want to die of pancakes, dammit, I’m too young.

The source of the Hairy Farmer Family anguish – because I estimate that we are all suffering to a roughly similar degree – is Harry’s refusal, for the past fortnight+, to eat. He has lost weight. He has been referred for an eating assessment, whatever one of those is. The GP I saw today drew a blank with his prodding and has told me to take him back next week if he hasn’t started to eat by then.

Fuck only knows what’s wrong with him. Besides his determination for nil-by-mouth, he wakes from sleep in a turd of a mood, and is driving us utterly barmy. Hungry, I expect.  He has, admittedly, been poorly, and still has a juicy, hacking cough. The excess phlegm (nice!) was also making him cough and choke whilst eating, making it plausible that he is now frightened of having another choking episode. He does have another toothy peg breaking the gum. And he’s always been a bit of a diva over food. I know kids do have phases like this. There’s probably no reason to worry.  

You can hear my hollow laughter, yes?

I know it doesn’t sound like much. FFS! I can hear you muttering. So he isn’t hungry; why the drama? And… yeah… it doesn’t sound like much, when I come to write it down. But I’ve cried at least twice a day all this week, and I’m ridiculously anxious about him now. Harry has been distressed and upset at every mealtime. John is worried and starting to lose patience. Two and a bit weeks is close on 50 mealtimes, and that’s an awful lot of food bowls for a baby to say No to. An insanely frustrating amount of No.

I estimate he used to eat about 8oz of food per meal; now it’s one spoonful. Maybe two or three if we’re lucky. The rest ends up either in the bin, on the floor, in us, or on us. So that’s, say, 50 x 8oz = 25lb of baby food. Plus the second meals we cooked to try and tempt him. I do not mind the waste, you understand. I just mind his trousers being looser, and his poor belly being empty to the tune of about 2 stone of needed ballast.

I’m sure he is hungry. Although he refuses deliveries via spoon, it isn’t as if he won’t actually put food IN his mouth. A small slice of cheese he will simply dive toward and stuff it happily past his gleaming row of gnashers. He begins coughing madly as it hits his tonsils, and he then has both hands up to his mouth, clawing desperately inside with his fingers to eject the food. Why he doesn’t just push it out with his tongue, I dunno, but he’s never spat food out in his life. So we tried him with soft finger food – mashed potato, squishy marrow – and he does the same: grabs it with gusto, stuffs it inside, and then scrapes whatever he can manage back out with his fingers. Even yoghurt, the ultimate Harry-yummy, is now rejected outright. Today he started to cry and shake his head when he saw John merely approach, yoghurt pot in hand.

What the fuck do we do? We’re like a pair of headless chickens here. We’re just about astute enough to realise that the more worked up we become, the more antsy he will react, so we’re always Jolly Hockey Sticks and calm about meals, even when it’s going uber-shit. We’ve tried accepting his refusals immediately, hoping he’ll eat the next meal. And we’ve tried persevering in a You’re-Not-Getting-Out-Of-That-Chair-Til-You’ve-Eaten-Something-Young-Man-type manner. And we’ve tried following him round the house all day, coaxing him to have a bite here and a bite there.

There was a tiny breakthrough this morning, when we realised that he will sit and feed himself half a banana, biting off chunks and swallowing without choking and clawing at every mouthful. Hence, he has been assiduously given a banana for breakfast, lunch, and supper, and we are now Out Of Bananas.

He has to eat properly again soon. All I can see when I shut my eyes is that bloody NG tube that he couldn’t lose.


Not in a good place currently.

Send help.


16 Responses

  1. I am a fairly new reader, so forgive me if you’ve tried this and it has failed before or if Harry is allergic/unable to eat them, but: Farley’s Rusks. They have gotten us through a number of nursing/eating strikes, from the time my son was 8 months old (and merely gummed a rusk for hours at a time) ’til now, at 23 months, when he asks for “One, two tookies, mama! New ones!” and can finish a rusk in under five minutes (this is an expensive habit, since we live in the US and must import our stock of rusks).

    Good luck with whatever you try. At least bananas are nice and nutritious!

  2. This is my opinion, based on my limited experience of three much younger siblings, some cousins, seven nieces and nephews and a great-nephew. Please ignore the lot if it doesn’t seem to fit.

    He has a sore throat. He has post-nasal drip, all the gunk from his nose is dripping onto his tonsils, he is coughing, and it is making his throat ache like the blazes. Because he is only one and hasn’t developed common sense and fortitude yet (some people don’t manage it until they are 80-odd, if ever), he can’t make himself swallow past the soreness. The throat soreness is more in the muscles needed for coughing and in a slight rawness from coughing and irritation rather than an infection, so it won’t be noticeably red or swollen, which is why doctors do not think of it. My little brother (this was the second-to-youngest and ever the littlest) used to get this and refuse to eat for days and days and days and his poor poor mother would cry too.

    Most fruit (except bananas!) yoghurt, anything tomatoey, anything even slightly acidic, will be even more painful for him to swallow. So he won’t. Anything he needs to chomp on, or manipulate much in his mouth to get it to swallowing position, will be too uncomfortable, so he won’t want finger foods or toast. In Italy, they’d recommend baby pasta (teeny pasta shapes, stars, things like that, about the size of a grain of uncooked rice) cooked in mild unsalted broth and served as a sort of soup. Lots of lovely carbs and protein, and extremely bland so it doesn’t sting, very slippery (unlike actual rice. Rice can be too ‘grainy’)and doesn’t need chewing or much mouth manipulation to get it to the back of the tongue and swallow.

    Or anything else you can get into a sort of soupy texture, and isn’t sour or salty. Or custard, if he’s eating eggs and likes them.

    I know it’s terrifying, watching him shrink, especially after his rough start. My heart goes out to you. To all three of you. But especially to you, as you have to do the worrying. Big big hug. And tissues. And a cup of tea. Here, blow. OK? Thinking of you.

  3. I’ll start this comment by talking about me. I know you have been trawling through my archives when you have a spare moment, but you may not have gotten to the time around P’s birth. She was 4 weeks early, small (5lbs 14ozs at birth), couldn’t breastfeed, had reflux, a heart murmur, and jaundice. It was all going against us, plus she was, and is, just quite petite.

    The food issue has followed me all of her short life. I still worry she’s not eating enough, and as she’s a picky eater, this paranoia persists even now. I still bristle every time someone mentions her size (23 1/2lbs at 25 mos) in relation to other kids her age.

    This is my way of saying that I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from. Some days I’m all calm about how little she’s eating, other days, I’m freaking out and wondering if she’s overly tired because she’s slowly starving to death, or if it was all of the running, jumping, and climbing trees (ok, not that part perhaps) that she has been doing.

    P’s food strikes started when she was about Harry’s age. I attributed it all to teething and the resulting colds/congestion, and I think that really affects their appetite. You’re doing what you can, and I think by offering up a lot of alternatives you will find something that he will eat (like bananas).

    I always tell myself that if P seems otherwise fine and energetic, that she is getting enough nutrition somehow. I don’t really know where it’s coming from, but it’s enough to keep her going all day, often without naps. Unless Harry is lethargic and unwell, try not too panic too much. I know, I know, I should shut my stupid fat mouth.

    Feel free to email me if you want some reassurance, being as I’m an expert and all on kids that don’t eat shit. Well, not eat shit literally of course, but hey – nutritious, in a way…

  4. Who needs other comments anyway, with me and May around?

  5. I think May is onto it with the whole warm slippery carb thing. My toddler has always been a fang and it’s when he stops eating that I know he’s sick. I’m really sorry, this sounds horrible, for everyone. I hope that he starts eating something and that the cold/flu/lung thing clears up soon, and it will. You are doing all you can. You are good parents. Hang in there.

  6. No useful advice, but lots of sympathy. What would be hard for any mom must be extra hard for you because of your past experience.

    May’s thought does sound like a real likelihood–when I read it, I said oooooh, I wonder… But whatever it is, I hope it gets solved soon. Poor thing, poor all of you!

  7. Oh dear! How distressing!

    Just a thought – can he spit out other stuff (toothpaste, dirt…) because it is possible his coordination isn’t good enough to spit yet, which might explain things but doesn’t help much.

    Does he drink? Can you get some calories into him in liquids? If so, and it does sound like he’s a bit afraid of choking on solids, then perhaps start with them and go gradually thicker?

  8. Hi… just found your blog through Julie’s. I have no advice. My past 6 years of feeding issues, sleeping issues, diaper training, biting and hissy fits have all boiled down to one big blur for me. But I know that you will get through this. Somehow. Be strong. And eat chocolate. It’s okay.

  9. Was all set to ring travel agent and book ticket to the Old Country to offer hands on help. Then slowed down to read the comments.

    I’m fully agreeing with May here, especially the suggestion of the tiny pasta in unsalted broth. Also suggest oatmeal made with milk – the really fine powdered one not the rolled oats kind that would be like sandpaper on an irritated throat. And, I hesitate to suggest the next two things since they contain excessive amounts of the demon sugar, virtually a banned substance at Villa Kore, but (i) a lemonade icy pole (iced lolly to you, methinks)always was appreciated by poorly food refusers with nasty throats and (ii) a chocolate thick shake, home made or from the dreaded Scottish hamburger joint, ditto. And with (ii) I was pretty sure there were sufficient calories in even a tiny amount consumed.

    And Pru’s wonderfully sensible advice about how if they seem fine they probably are? Hang on to that.

    Sorry it’s so crap for you. This too will pass.

  10. Mate (fatigue makes me ocker- I’m not normally being from the UK myself), I have no earthly idea.

    My twin 2 is currently being all pissy about her bottle at the moment and is eating bugger all herself. Similar hair pulling scenes Chez MI….



  11. Oh, and can I confess I’d happily shove the ng tube back down her throat right now and gavage feed her myself? It’d save me at least one hour in four and probably all the writhing, back arching, vomiting and plain old bloody screaming that gets right on my tits even though I feel so awful on her behalf. Because ten minutes later she’s either happily in the land of nod or all smiles and big eyes.


  12. I’m sorry you’re feeling so horrible. It’s a mother thing and no matter what we do it never goes away. Just wait until Harry is 15 and has his heart broken by the girl he loved.

    I have no advice for you, others seem to have done a great job with that. I think May has some great ideas and I am going to try a few myself.

  13. I don’t know how old Harry is (the picture makes him look TEENSY) but my baby did the same at around 8 weeks and got dehydrated, got the NG-tube, etc. and it was due to multiple protein allergies. There is a formula called Neocate that is MAGIC stuff. He may be choking and sounding junky because of reflux (which all babies have to some degree but babies whose pyloric sphincters are eroded from allergies have in spades). I might be totally wrong, but perhaps you could ask you docs about trying him on Neocate? They often try Nutramigen/Allimentum (partially hydrolyzed formulas) first, then Pregestimil (extensively hydrolyzed), and Neocate is the Big Guns, broken down into individual amino acids and completely hypoallergenic. It’s also expensive as all-hell, but most insurance will cover it if the baby has an NG-tube or G-tube. If you ever want to ask me any questions about this, I don’t publish my e-mail address but moderate comments on my blog, so you can leave me a “for your eyes only” comment with your e-mail and I’ll happily help you out in any way I can. I’m so sorry to hear that this is going on–it’s terrifying when they don’t eat! Hopefully this resolves itself quickly although in our case the kid is almost three and still takes the Neocate (1+, for toddlers) via G-tube, but is meeting developmental milestones, sassy and rambunctious, and the tyrant of the household. Have they taught you to replace the NG-tube yourself? That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mother. Good luck, and I’ll be thinking of you.

  14. 😦 Poor bub! I hope something is figured out soon, I don’t have kids so I have absolutely no advice to offer but I’m sending a hug instead. Maybe he’d like to share your m&ms and snickers with you? Are kids allowed to eat food like that? I’m useless.

  15. Probably by the time this comment flashes thru cyberspace, this storm will already be resolving… (I agree w/May & Ms P BTW; Dr Val diagnoses a very sore throat!) Just kidding [disclaimer]; I can’t Dx the human species 😉
    Best wishes from across the pond…

  16. ugh, sounds horrible and stressful. Food is such a tough one when you have food issues yourself, yes? Even when you don’t perhaps, but when you do – Oi. My problem is that Pob won’t stop eating, to the extent she’s started to throw a tantrum when we show her the bowl is empty. Joy.

    I hope one of these suggestions works. My only other thought is that formula? is a balanced food. So if in doubt, milk or formula, and if they eat nothing else for a couple of weeks, they aren’t starving.

    Oh and ella’s kitchen. Tried those? Very smooth texture, quite yummy to babies, and do actually contain some nutrients. And you can get them to suck them right out of the package so they are in control.

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