Why Is My Baby Not Eating At Daycare? (Reasons & Ways To Help Your Baby Transition)

There are many reasons why your baby isn’t eating at daycare. It could be because they’re feeling pressured, has separation anxiety, is bored, distracted, or isn’t hungry. Other reasons can be having too much food, too much liquid, trying new food, or having a medical issue. But, if you recognize these issues and make it a priority to converse with your baby, you can adjust them well in their daycare. Then they will feel comfortable enough to eat their food.

Sending your baby to daycare is a significant change for them, even bigger than you realize. Being away from their parents will definitely bring about adjustment issues at the new place, the daycare.

One such issue is adjusting to the food provided at the daycare, which your child refuses to eat.

While the daycare you send your child to must be providing healthy and delicious food, you’ll still find your baby isn’t eating the amount they should or not even eating at all. But what could be the reasons?

Are there ways you can make your baby eat their meals at daycare without actually being there? Let’s find out!

9 reasons your baby isn’t eating at daycare

1. Feeling pressured

An infant girl is sitting and crying at daycare because she's new there and doesn't like the new environment change.

The more you push your child towards eating, the more they will resist. If you try to force-feed them, that’ll never work.

So, if at mealtimes the staff at daycare try to force-feed your baby, that won’t automatically make them finish their meals. Your baby can sense when they’re being forced.

2. Separation anxiety

As I mentioned before, joining daycare is a significant change in your baby’s life.

Before, they were constantly reassured as they were always near you. You know your child best, so you could feed them whenever and whatever, and they wouldn’t refuse or make a great fuss.

Now, they are in new territory, away from their parents. So they’re obviously getting separation anxiety which can be seen in their not consuming any food.

3. Bored

Another genuine reason your baby isn’t consuming their food is that they’re actually bored with the meals they’re getting at their daycare.

It’s essential to know these things about the daycare before you send your baby there. They must be repeating their meals so often that your baby is bored with the food and thus not eating it at all.

4. Distracted

A toddler boy is playing with drums at daycare and is having too much fun to stop and go have a snack.

Your child has various distractions at the daycare, being toys, watching tv, picture books, etc. It is really the responsibility of the staff present there to see to it that every child is free of any distractions when they are feeding them.

📌 We also have helpful articles on how much breast milk or formula to send to daycare if your little one is still breastfeeding or bottle-feeding at home.

If your child gets engrossed in toys like playing with blocks, they won’t obviously pay any attention to the food in front of them.

5. Not hungry

One simple fact that could be behind your baby not eating at daycare is that they’re not hungry.

This could simply be because there are days when they feel like that, similar to adults when some days we just don’t feel hungry enough.

Or it could also be because they aren’t pooping well; they don’t have enough space to consume more food.

6. Too much food

Yes, there is a thing called too much food on the plate. It’s when your child is served too much food during their mealtime. Your baby can be put off quickly if they see they have to finish so much food at one time.

This is another thing the staff at daycare needs to be aware of. They’re responsible for portions of food served to your baby. So if they’re serving too much food, your baby won’t eat it.

7. New food

Your daycare might be serving food to your child that you don’t usually do at home. What happens is that there might be limited food items you make and serve at home.

When your child goes to a daycare, they find many new food items that put them in a pickle. They either get scared, nervous, or overwhelmed to try this new food.

8. Too much liquid

Depending on the daycare you send your child to, different meals are provided, like breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

During these meals, they will also offer juice, water, or milk to your baby. Now, not all babies are big fans of eating food.

So, they end up drinking more liquid as compared to eating food. With limited space in the tummy, your baby fills up on fluid and has no room to eat their meals.

9. Maybe a medical reason

If none of the reasons seem possible, then the last cause could be that they have some medical issue.

This is a vast issue, and there could be many reasons why they aren’t consuming food, not just at the daycare. For them, eating is uncomfortable, feels weird, too hard, or too scary.

7 ways to fix your baby not eating at daycare

A group of toddlers are sitting together at daycare and having lunch.

1. Adjustment

Don’t force your baby to eat at daycare. With them entering a new environment, let them adjust to this new place and become familiar with it.

For the time being, like a week or two, you can pack a lunch for them. Get to know what the daycare is serving for the next week and pack a meal accordingly.

2. Providing comfort

In the beginning, you can even visit your baby’s daycare and see if they’re eating or adjusting correctly. It is a nice thing to do, so they feel comforted too.

This will make them comfortable and urge them to eat their meals with their peers.

3. Making food interesting

If your child feels bored, it’s because you’re fixing their meals for them for the week. What you can do is let them choose from the options available and eat whatever they want.

4. Filling up on snacks

Sometimes, the snacks being served to your baby are more delicious than the actual meals.

If the snacks are served in a larger portion, your baby will fill themselves up with snacks and won’t eat their meals at all.

So, serving the correct amount is something that needs to be taken care of by the staff.

5. Mealtimes

One way to make sure your baby eats their meals is by coordinating the meal times at home with your daycare. Matching the meal times will make them hungry at the scheduled time.

6. Different foods

Provide your baby with a wide variety of food at home so when they go to a daycare, they won’t be surprised by different varieties there.

If there is something particular your baby absolutely hates, then let your daycare know that.

7. Emotionally and physically well

You can make your baby feel fine by calling them too before their meals are served so they feel emotionally well. Checking up on your baby daily about how they’re feeling both emotionally and physically is essential. It should be a priority of yours.

Remember, your child won’t verbalize their feelings. You’ve to notice any warning signs and interact with them.


How do you know your child is unhappy at daycare?

There could be signs that your child is showing that can quickly tell you if they’re unhappy at daycare. They must either be stalling, showing behavioral changes, not eating meals at daycare, and so on.

So keep an eye on your child, and you’ll notice if they are unhappy. Prioritize interacting with them daily to know how their day was to keep yourself updated.

What are the 4 signs of stress or distress in toddlers?

1. Change in eating habits
2. Disinterested in everything
3. Change in sleeping habits
4. Physical ailments

Do babies feel abandoned at daycare?

In the beginning, they might feel abandoned. Make sure you go in between lunchtimes or call them before meals to adjust to the new environment.

Their feeling comes from you, so if you feel guilty about leaving them at daycare, they’ll pick at it and feel your emotions too. So you need to show enough love so they don’t feel abandoned.

How long does it take my baby to get used to daycare?

Every baby adjusts differently. For some, it might be easy and quick to adapt, but for some, it might take a bit longer and some reassurance from their parents.

You can slowly adjust them into the daycare by showing up initially and then fading out your visits.

Is it normal for my 1-year-old not to eat?

Some babies start eating at an early age as compared to other babies. So, don’t panic if your baby hasn’t started to eat by the time they turn a year old.

Just be patient, as your child has their own pace for everything.

To summarize

There could be multiple reasons why your baby isn’t eating their meals at daycare. You can solve any issue they’re facing by recognizing it first.

As adults, you’re responsible for what food is being provided, when it is being provided, and where it is being provided.

For your child, the things under their control are how much food they eat and whether they eat certain items are not.

Remember that you can’t force your baby to eat at the end of the day, whether it’s at daycare or home. So, try to sit down with your baby, resolve their issues, and talk to the staff at your daycare to solve their problems of not eating.

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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