Baby won’t eat at daycare [Solutions and Reasons]

Verified by  Ana Carolina, MD
Verified by Ana Carolina, MD

Dr. Ana Carolina is a Pediatrician. She has been practicing for 7 years and is passionate about providing comprehensive care to children.

As a parent or caregivers, we understand that ensuring your baby gets proper nutrition and develops healthy eating habits is a top priority. When your little one starts attending daycare, it’s natural to feel concerned about their eating habits, especially if they seem to struggle with mealtime in their new environment. It’s not uncommon for babies to refuse to eat at daycare, but rest assured, you’re not alone in facing this challenge.

Baby won’t eat at Daycare – 5 common reasons.  

Here are the five common reasons babies won’t eat at Daycare.

1. Separation anxiety and attachment to primary caregivers

It’s natural for babies to feel attached to their primary caregivers and experience separation anxiety when they’re away from them. As a result, your baby may refuse to eat at daycare because they’re missing the comfort and familiarity of eating at home with you. Remember that this is a typical part of their development, and they will gradually adapt to the new environment with time and support.

2. Unfamiliar environment and changes in routine

The daycare setting may be overwhelming for your baby, with new people, sights, and sounds that they’re not used to. This unfamiliarity can cause your baby to feel insecure and hesitant to eat, even if they’re hungry. Be patient and understand that it may take some time for your baby to adjust to these changes in their daily routine.

3. Sensitivity to new textures, flavors, and food presentation

Babies have their own preferences when it comes to food textures, flavors, and presentation, and they may not immediately take to the food provided at daycare. It’s important to acknowledge that your baby’s preferences are valid and communicate with daycare providers to help create a menu that caters to their tastes.

4. Peer pressure and social aspects of eating at daycare

Your baby may feel unsure about eating in a group setting, especially if they’re not used to sharing mealtimes with other children. They might be shy, distracted, or influenced by the eating habits of their peers. Keep in mind that this is a normal part of your baby’s social development and can be addressed through encouragement and positive reinforcement.

5. Medical issues or undiagnosed allergies

In some cases, babies might refuse to eat at daycare due to medical issues, such as gastrointestinal discomfort or undiagnosed food allergies. If you suspect that this might be the case for your baby, consult with your pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical concerns and receive appropriate guidance.

Baby won’t eat at Daycare – 5 solutions.  

Let’s look at five solutions you can implement to encourage your baby to eat at daycare.

1. Gradually introducing the daycare environment and routine

To help your baby feel more comfortable in their new surroundings, consider gradually introducing them to the daycare environment and routine. You might want to spend some time with your baby at the daycare center before they start attending regularly, allowing them to explore and become familiar with the space while feeling secure with you nearby.

2. Collaboration between parents and daycare providers

Open communication and collaboration between parents and daycare providers are essential in addressing your baby’s eating habits. Share information about your baby’s likes, dislikes, and mealtime routines at home, so the daycare staff can create a more familiar and supportive environment for your baby during mealtime.

It is also important to talk with the daycare providers about snacks – if the snacks are served in larger portions, babies will fill themselves up with snacks and won’t eat their meals.

3. Establishing a consistent mealtime routine and environment

Babies thrive on consistency, so establishing a routine that closely mirrors their mealtime habits at home can help them feel more secure and willing to eat at daycare. Work with daycare providers to create a consistent mealtime schedule, seating arrangement, and atmosphere that encourages your baby to eat.

4. Encouraging self-feeding and age-appropriate food choices

Empower your baby to develop their self-feeding skills by providing them with age-appropriate utensils and food options at daycare. Encouraging your baby to feed themselves can boost their confidence and independence, making them more likely to engage positively with mealtime.

5. Addressing medical concerns or allergies with a pediatrician

If you suspect that your baby is refusing to eat at daycare due to medical issues or allergies, consult your pediatrician for guidance. They can help identify any underlying concerns and provide recommendations for dietary modifications, as well as strategies to support your baby’s nutritional needs while at daycare.

Tips for parents to support their babies’ eating habits at daycare

In this section, we’ll walk through some helpful tips that parents can explore.    

Open communication with daycare providers

Maintaining open lines of communication with your daycare providers is crucial in addressing any concerns or challenges related to your baby’s eating habits. Regularly discuss your baby’s progress and any changes in their dietary preferences or needs. This collaboration will help ensure that both you and the daycare staff are working together to support your baby’s well-being.

Pack familiar and nutritious foods

To help ease the transition, consider packing some familiar and nutritious foods that your baby enjoys eating at home. This can provide them with a sense of comfort and security during mealtime at daycare. As your baby becomes more accustomed to their new environment, you can gradually introduce new foods to expand their palate.

Foster independence and self-feeding skills at home

Encourage your baby to develop self-feeding skills and independence at home by providing opportunities for them to practice using utensils and making food choices. This will help build their confidence and prepare them for the more communal eating experience at daycare.

Reinforce positive eating habits through praise and encouragement

Celebrate your baby’s progress and achievements by offering praise and encouragement for their positive eating habits. Reinforcing these behaviors will help your baby associate mealtime with positive emotions and experiences, making them more likely to engage in healthy eating habits at daycare.

Seek professional help if necessary

If your baby’s refusal to eat at daycare persists despite your efforts, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a pediatrician, nutritionist, or feeding specialist. They can offer expert guidance and support in identifying any underlying issues and developing a personalized plan to address your baby’s eating habits at daycare. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and commitment to your baby’s well-being.


To tackle a situation in which a baby won’t eat at daycare, it is important to be understanding and patient.

Every child is unique and adjusts to changes differently. Maintain open communication with your daycare providers and stay committed to fostering healthy eating habits.

Be patient with progress, and remember, your steadfast efforts will guide your baby toward establishing positive eating habits, laying the groundwork for lifelong health and well-being.