The Boynton Beach parents told police they fed their son, now 3 years old, milk and applesauce because he didn't "like solid food," the South Florida Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reported Monday.
Champagne Gillis, 31, and her boyfriend, Thomas Phillips, 38, were arrested Friday after police found their son at an area hospital with a mouth full of sores, an inability to swallow, a 102-degree fever and diarrhea, police said.
The parents told hospital officials when they brought their son to the medical facility that he didn't like toothbrushes, police said.
Phillips told WPEC-TV, West Palm Beach, he and Gillis were at a loss when trying to get the boy, who weighs 25 pounds, to eat.
"If your child doesn't want to eat the food, it becomes very difficult to feed him something he doesn't want," Phillips said. "If you try to force feed, it's abuse. If you don't shove food down their mouth, it can be taken as abuse"
Florida Department of Children and Families Southeast Region spokeswoman Paige Patterson-Hughes said the case was being investigated and the child remained hospitalized in another facility.
Gillis and Phillips have two other children who were placed with relatives, Patterson-Hughes said.
The two were released Saturday after posting $3,000 bail each.