DD refusing food

(14 Posts)
FoodFoodFood Sat 15-Feb-14 14:58:24

We're 3.5 months into placement, DD has just turned 4.

She has always been a picky eater, but the list of foods she will eat is getting shorter daily. She's decided this week she'll no longer eat chicken, cereal or pasta so the only foods she will now eat are;

bananas
yoghurt
apples
toast
cheese
biscuit/cake/chocolate/crisps

She will eat other things when she's at nursery or with her cousins, but not at home. The foods we eat at every meal are all foods she ate when she was placed with us but has since decided she doesn't like.

We have tried everything we can think of;
letting her choose
letting her help make it
having her sit at the table while we eat
letting her choose crockery etc
letting her use 'grown up cutlery'
feigning nonchalance
not reacting to declarations of 'I don't like that'
praising when she eats
praising her brother when he eats
not mentioning anybody eating/not eating etc

At the moment we're trying feeding on demand, but she keeps demanding and then not eating. (Taking two bites of a banana and so on).

She's not 'demanding' the sweets and chocolates all the time, presumably because she's not been allowed them except in very limited quantities previously (by us and by FCs).

The FCs said they could bribe her to eat with a pudding (yoghurt) but that doesn't work any more -- she's unbribable/unrewardable. She just says 'It's okay, I won't have pudding' as she pushes her uneaten main course away. So now we give her yoghurt just so she's had something.

We have talked about it with SS and we decided to just watch and wait for a while as we didn't really want her to have any more professional involvement than she's already had. But that was before she stopped eating pasta/chicken this week. AFAIK, nothing happened that made her stop eating them -- we didn't have a row or a change of routine or anything like that.

(Little brother has just turned 2 and we're also trying/hoping that he doesn't see/learn any of this behaviour. ATM he eats just fine and we want to keep it that way!)

In all other ways she seems perfectly well settled. She's happy, chatty, sleeps, gives cuddles, tantrums occasionally, plays well, fights with her brother.

Any ideas or suggestions would be really welcome. I don't think she's had more than about 8 pieces of fruit and maybe 5 yoghurts and some biscuits in the last 3 days. She must be starving.

crazeekitty Sat 15-Feb-14 16:26:16

My daughter did the same. The therapist said it's a way of taking control. Her advice was blunt. Put the food on the table, let her help herself and when she stops eating then just clear the plates. She said "if she's hungry she will eat". One night she went to bed having only eaten lettuce. I felt awful doing it but the behaviour wore off pretty quickly. Also I realised that she's getting quite big portions at school so she wasn't wasting away.

I don't understand the mentality of it at all. She doesn't trust I'm going to look after her so tries to take control by not eating so ends up hungry. Self fulfilling prophecy.

She did stop that particular behaviour but did replace it with a whole host of others around food. But that's a battle for another day and hopefully it won't happen to you.

Also, she started suddenly tucking in then had a massive growth spurt.

I'm not sure what I've said is helpful because it caused me no end of anxiety and it does sound similar to what you've already tried. In short, the therapist was just saying "she will eat when she needs to". Difficult isn't it.

FoodFoodFood Sat 15-Feb-14 16:57:02

It is horrible -- and given your other thread atm, your reply doesn't fill me with joy!

I just worry because there is so little of her anyway - she's tiny. And of course, with half term this week she won't even eat what she normally might at nursery. sad

One of my problems is knowing that she will eat sugary crap. I can't decide whether its better to let her eat that so that she's eaten and is full (because I believe she would eat lots of it given the chance) or whether to keep giving her the real food and then clearing it away mostly uneaten. Did your therapist say anything about that, by any chance?

I hope you're having a better day than yesterday crazee.

Hello,

We were about the same into placement when DD4 did the same. Same age, too! smile I discussed this with her paediatrician who said similar to what Kitty has said.

I had to take a deep breath each meal time, put a plate in front of her. After 20 minutes the plate was removed, regardless of how much or how little had been eaten. One meal time she literally ate 2 baked beans!!! I was convinced that SS would take her away from us thinking I was neglecting her and starving her. BUT within a couple of days she was eating meals without a fuss and tucking in to things she had refused previously.

It was definitely a control thing with DD4 and we have had a circle of control behaviour over the years (she is now 16 years old).

I was told that at her age she would not starve herself. You do need to be strong and not worry about her in the short term. It was soooooo hard and I remember after the 2 baked bean meal time I had to go into the toilet and have a cry to myself as I felt that I had failed her so badly. We can be here to hold your hand through it if you like!

crazeekitty Sat 15-Feb-14 21:02:53

Oh please don't think my other thread has been caused by the food issues. I don't want to terrify anyone. The food is just one of a massive mosaic of issues (mine as much as dd).

I read somewhere that children who have been exposed to addictive substances early in life and or experienced neglect have a higher craving for sugar and salt than other children. Obviously don't share your lo's story but just thought I'd mention it.

It is awful isn't it feeling so harsh. The two baked beans resonated with me. When dd continued relentlessly on her refusal to eat what I gave her I arranged to drop in at mum's and she would just happen to have tea on the go. Dd always tucked in to nana's meal. Win win situation..incidentally she tucked in to an identical meal that she had refused from me. Aaaagh! I could see the funny side of that though.

crazeekitty Sat 15-Feb-14 21:08:23

Oh. Sorry. Just seen your other q.

The therapist said serve the nutritious food you would normally eat otherwise you're making a rod for your own back further down the line... When you want to wean her off the sugary stuff you'll just go through the same palava again.

And also that when the yawning emotional hole inside her starts to be filled up then she will regulate her eating better.

Does your lo eat in secret? I expect she's too young to be able to squirrel away food for later. Just wondered if she's more full than you realise? No empty biscuit or crisp packets down the back of the bed?

FoodFoodFood Sat 15-Feb-14 21:37:36

Thanks crazee.

We might need to start eating in company more often! Thanks so much for your answers.

She's definitely not eating in secret, she's got no access to anything.

KristinaM Sat 15-Feb-14 22:52:55

I'm not a dietician, just a mum. But at least what she's eating is ok, she's having 2 fruits, bread and cheese as well as the yoghurt . She won't starve or get ill in the short term anyway.

Does she drink milk and water?

I agree with not giving her many cakes or biscuits as she's getting plenty sugar from the yoghurt ( assuming it's the little pots with fruit purée )

I think you have tried all the usual suggestions and need to return to putting food in front or her at meal /snack times and just ignoring it otherwise.

It does sound like a bit of a control issue.the rules for you are

Never fight a battle you can't win
You can't win battles over what goes in or out of her body. ( And school /nursery . )

You can't win the battle so don't engage in it . Sorry, I know it's easier said than done .

FannyBazaar Sat 15-Feb-14 23:01:10

Try reading Carlos Gonzalez - My Child Won't Eat! Good advice much like Crazeekitty was given. Has she lost weight? If not, you're doing fine, just keep on with providing nutritious food as you would for the whole family and allowing her to eat it or not as she pleases. Don't put more on her plate than she normally eats even if that is only a spoonful, she can ask for more if she wants it. You are doing a great job by providing the food, she will not starve herself.

deakymom Sat 15-Feb-14 23:39:17

my daughter would eat nothing but jam sandwiches or jam on toast for over three months till her poop was pink i offered her other food she refused (screaming like i cooked a puppy and served it to her) one meal a day was different and for three flipping months she refused she got bored before i did went on to spaghetti on toast or toast so we had orange poop again around three four months nothing but spaghetti and toast remarkably she is 13 and eats everything now

my trick was simple i served three meals two were meals she would eat one was not i didn't hover over her i gave her food and turned my back on her if she refused i took it away and popped her on the floor again turning my back and refusing to engage with her (she was argumentative my son is the same i take food away throw it in the bin and two hours later he is still telling me he doesn't want to eat it) my house was the cleanest ever as that is how i would disconnect from her ranting at me (she was two) its really hard but dont give in and go the sweetie route you will only have to wean that habit too xxx

deakymom Sat 15-Feb-14 23:40:11

the other thing is get one of her friends around who you know is a good eater they usually take examples of others eating habits

FoodFoodFood Sun 16-Feb-14 00:42:57

Thanks everyone. She has a fairly sizeable glass of milk at bedtime and lots of weak squash during the day.

I also sometimes give her vitamin gummi bears. <devious>

I'll go check out that book now too.

And tomorrow is another day... <sighs, resolves not to fight battles I can't win>

KristinaM Sun 16-Feb-14 15:12:35

That's great that she is drinking milk. Make sure it's full fat if she will take it.

Re the squash -I'd keep making it weaker and weaker until you wean her onto water. Milk is much better for a poor eater

FoodFoodFood Sun 16-Feb-14 19:58:45

Thanks so much everyone. I'm not sure she ate a whole lot more today than the last couple but at least DH and I were able to face it again anew and more calmly.

(And she did eat just a tiny little piece of chicken... grin)

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