Bug has “fasted” before but I thought we were past that. Then I arrived at school to pick him up this afternoon and heard he had an “awkward” day. After two breakfasts — strawberry-banana oatmeal, Swiss cheese, and cantaloupe at home and a breakfast of eggs, toast, and pineapple at school — he refused to eat for the rest of the day. He slept through lunch. He skipped the afternoon snack of zucchini bread in favor of a bottle of whole milk, and he developed a diaper rash so uncomfortable he couldn’t sit on his bottom.
He’s only been in school for 16 days, but I’m used to hearing that he had a great day when I pick him up. I take pride in my happy, easy-going son who eats well and loves his teachers and classmates. Suddenly I was hearing that he had essentially starved himself all day and that there was a painful rash on his boo boo. I headed home, totally stressed out. WHAT THE H–L WAS GOING ON HERE?! How could I have failed my little precious so spectacularly? Because, clearly, this was all my fault.
I called my mom the minute we left school and she reminded me that it’s normal for a one-year-old child to be difficult at mealtime. She added that diaper rash was also very normal and nothing to worry about. “He’s totally fine, I promise,” she said. But still.
At dinner, I decided to serve Bug a few of his faves and then call the pediatrician if he still refused to eat. I laid out a spread of brown rice bread topped with melted organic cheddar cheese, organic roast chicken, and cooked organic Gala apple. Simple, low-key, impossible to resist…I hoped. Bug fed himself the goods. At one point, he kicked back and nibbled on his toes. No big deal, just enjoying a leisurely meal. I tried to be nonchalant but inside I was doing a little victory dance. Mama fixed it all, everything was right in the world once again. When he was finished eating, I tackled that diaper rash with a thick coat of Desitin.
Crisis averted, I could think more logically about the situation. I had to admit there were compelling reasons that seemed to have contributed to this hunger strike: 1. Bug was tired after a rough night for of being up at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., upset for reasons unclear (let’s face it, we were both tired) and he preferred to catch up on sleep after two adult-size breakfasts. 2. His wicked diaper rash was uncomfortable enough that drinking a bottle and playing on his knees was preferable to sitting in a hard chair on his bottom, even if it meant missing yummy zucchini bread. 3. He missed his mama and her amazing cooking.
OK, #3 is probably wishful thinking. But reasons #1 and #2 are solid. Perhaps I had freaked out for no reason. Bug ate a very decent dinner — and he was his usual giggly, active self all night until bedtime. But it’s really scary to hear that your child declines to eat for a six-hour stretch and the diaper rash was vicious, so I’m giving myself a break for overreacting.
Has your babe ever refused to eat? What were the circumstances, and what did you do to end the hunger strike?