Mother losing food standoff

Parent Q&A

May 03, 1998|By T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. | T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.,NEW YORK TIMES SPECIAL FEATURES

Q. My 7-month-old grandson does not like to eat. My daughter breastfed him for four months, and he didn't like that. Now he has formula as well as cereal, vegetables and fruits. It is always a huge struggle. Many times he just lets the food sit in his mouth until he is distracted, and then he will swallow.

My daughter is obsessed with his eating. She wants him to drink at least 24 ounces of formula a day and writes down how many ounces he drinks.

My grandson is very healthy and is a perfect angel in every other way. I want my daughter to relax. Please advise what strategy to use.

HTC A. I suspect that your grandson's lack of appreciation of his mother's breast milk may have been based on a kind of "oral hypersensitivity" with which some babies are born.

Your daughter probably took this personally as his rejection of her and her milk. She may have felt helpless and anxious about how to reach him, both emotionally and with adequate nutrition. Her tension about his eating may be communicating itself to him. Hence, he refuses to eat.

Of course, she's worried. But criticism from you will likely increase her anxiety and misery over his refusal to eat. Your daughter needs a pediatrician or other professional who can help her understand her son's refusal to eat and learn ways to work around it. Perhaps you can help her find one.

Address questions to Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, care of the New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 122 E. 42nd St., New York, N.Y. 10168.

Pub Date: 5/03/98

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