resistant eater support thread - come and join me.....(272 Posts)
I hate mealtimes and have done for 4 years now. DS is 4 and has issues with food (likely due to illness in his first year) since week 4. We finally sought help last year and have seen paediatricians, SALTs and dieticians. It hasn't stopped the number of acceptable foods declining. We are mow down to plain/dry carbs and soft desserts/smoothies and chocolate. We hide supplements in the smoothies!
Over the past year we have got so much better at keeping things calm at mealtimes and trying to avoid pressuring him to eat (i give myself 3 "eat ups" per meal). But all that means is that the stress gets bottled up.
Anyway having ruled out physical and social/communication issues it seems to come down to phobias. He is a cautious chap and doesn't like mess or lumps/bits. The last SALT i saw actually knew what she was talking about and said that if we did nothing else we should do desensitisation exercises. We plan to use the ones in Just Take A Bite [[ http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1932565124 here]]. This thread is partly to record that process and keep us on track.
We dont know anyone else with a resistant eater and so have noone to let off steam with. I hope there are some of you out there in a similar situation who want to share? Particularly if you are further down this road - i want to hope that these execrises will work but hope faded a couple of years back if i am honest
If you have read this and and are thinking about posting about your dc who isnt that keen on veg or that "kids will not starve themselves" then please don't bother. You are way out of your depth and i get enough of this in rl! Sorry to sound rude but i am hoping to find some people who understand how utterly helpless i feel <sob>
Anyone out there?
Hi - I'm back!
Half term has been hectic - so sorry for the delay.
Not long after I last posted we were finally offered a place on a course with our local Speech & Language Service for resistant eaters. Everyone invited had children who had no intention of complying with the parents' wishes that they should eat "normally". I found the first session very emotional - just being the same room as people as desperate as me was a bit much TBH! Anyway I discovered that many had resorted to force feeding and sadly not everyone had tried a dining table. Anyway it was a meeting once per week for 6 weeks.
The first week was an induction. The SALT did a great job of explaining the process by which we all consider what we eat:
Can we be in the same room as the food?
Can we have it on a plate on the table near us?
Can we have it on our plate?
Can we touch it with a tool/fork?
Can we touch it with a finger?
Can we bring it close enough to smell it?
Can we bring a finger-full to our lips?
Can we lick it?
Can we nibble a bit?
Can we chew a bit between our teeth? (and spit out)
Can we chew and swallow the food?
Once someone has explained that sequence, it just made so much sense to us. There is no point hoping he will eat something that he will not touch etc!
Weeks 2 to 5 we used a medical room where they had laid out toys on mats and put items of food around the toys. Parents were asked to "model" desired behaviour of touching and eating the foods but were told NOT to urge the children to do anything about eating. It was all play with the aim of desensitising. Each week we moved through a different type of food: dry/crunch, soft/cakey, wet and then (the devil's work) mixed textures!
Week 6 was a one-to-one where they helped propose an individual plan for each client and promised a 3 month follow-up phone call (which we are probably overdue for).
We have had no major leap fowards, but some interesting progressions which I will have to come back and post about next time! Sorry for the teaser but apparently DH has run me a nice bath, so I am off to languish! Possibly be back on Tuesday when I have another chance to grab the computer.
Thanks tricot that is helpful regarding the sequence of 'events' - we have had some progress with ds1 tolerating some veg on his plate, and although he won't eat it I should remind myself that this is progress nonetheless. He used to get hysterical about a few peas just being on his plate, even when reassured he didn't have to eat them. After much encouragement
involving me putting on silly 'pea' voices he actually gave one a lick. So your post was a good reminder that this is all small steps forward, thank you. :-)
Hello! Thanks to a link from piggybank I've come to join you all if I may
DS is 3 (4 in August) and really driving us crazy!
He does eat some fruit and veg so I know it could be a lot worse. But his diet is very limited. He's always been one to declare "don't like" after trying things but for the last few months he's been refusing to try anything at all. He will just walk away from dinner unless it is pasta or beige food! I don't know if it is fear, or texture or what.
I feel like we've brought this on ourselves really, due to health problems with both of us we have been really repetitive in what we are cooking/using convenience food etc - especially as DD (nearly 6) was a little fussy as well, though she has come out of it now and is pretty adventurous.
DS also has a severe speech delay.
Looking forward to reading the thread and getting some advice
Hello fuzzpig and welcome! I often recommend a book called 'Just take a bite' - it helps you identify what is going on with your dc, if they are fussy or have a genune food phobia, and gives some tips on how to approach it. I have found the step-wise approach the most helpful way - just tolerate it on the plate (a few peas perhaps), to taking a lick, to taking a bite - tricot sums it up best above. It isn't magic, but ds1 now eats carrot sticks after using that approach - which given that he has previously never eaten a vegetable, is nothing short of a miracle. He will now tolerate peas on his plate, although he won't lick one. The only attitude to have is that it will be a loong slow process, and tiny steps forward, such as not having hysterics at the sight of a vegetable, are progress nonetheless. If you compare your child to other children of their age it will just upset and depress you. Climbing a mountain starts with one step at a time!
Hi fuzzpig. Good to see you - but sorry that you have to join in with all this trouble our darling DC are giving us! I know that it is rather long but do try to read the thread from the start. Hearing others' stories is really helpful and will help you to realise that it is very unlikely that you have brought this on yourself. Part of the process is accepting that it is their choice and that you only try to help them. You can't make them do what they do not want to do!
I second the Just Take a Bite book. It hasn't been a magic wand but it gives great insight. It also helps you put the structures in place to help success: family meals at table, set snack times, calories are king (variety comes second) etc etc. Then is moves on to physical issues - eg making sure that your DC has a footrest on their high chair (if they have weak posture, no footrest makes them slump and it is difficult to swallow as their head flops forward) through other sensory issues (some children can't eat in a noisy environment) etc etc. The one problem is that there are sooooo many subtle factors that it can seem like an impossible task working out which bit of the book applies to you! However it is still better having the book as some sort of guide, rather than staggering about blind, or listening to ill informed advice (which is what we did until we discovered it!)
OK so my last installment was about the process of the workshops that we went to. Here is a brief update on what happened.
The first week was the induction. The SALT explained that progress would probably be slow, very slow, very very slow, and that we had to think of it as a marathon, rather than a magic wand. She asked people to set a realistic target of what they might like to achieve at the end of the 6 weeks. Realising that miracles would be in short supply, I opted for DS touching a vegetable to his lips, but not necessarily having to eat it. The woman next to me (clearly had not listened nor understood) said she would like her DD to eat normal family meals! Oops - yes we all would, but pay attention in class!
Week 2 was Dry/Crunchy texture. We all sat in a circle and sang a Hello song. DS hates that sort of thing and tried to hide/lay his head on the floor to avoid any attention. They then got on to playing with the toyd: trains, garages, cooker/kitchen etc all laid out with crisps, crackers, dry pasta, ice ceram cones, digestivev biscuits, breakfst cereal etc as toys. There were cocktail sticks for skewering foods on, train carraiges and cars for driving foods about. Also a ramp on the garage for rolling stuff down. The aim was to be as messy as possible with the food and toys. Parents and staff munched the foods, said yum and talked about the food but were not meant to encourage the children to eat anything. If kids didn't want to touch with their hands, they were encouraged to use a "tool" like a stick, car, bulldozer etc to build up exposure to the food in a non threatening way. Some kids snacked on things, but DS didn't even though he would have eaten some of the items in a "food" setting. They finished the session with bubbles being blown to each child. In order to have the bubbles they had to sit on a mat provided in the circle on the floor and put their hand to their chest and sign & say "me please" to the SALT. That was really interesting as it clearly encouraged the children to engage with the professionals if they had be reticent. Also it finished off the session on a high note, so that the children were keen to come back for more. Probably a good idea for sessions done at home - keep it fun!
Week 3 was Cakey/soft. Same set up as Week 2 with mainly the same toys and added to the dry foods from the week before were breads and cakes (fairly plain) Again adults modelled good behaviour without comment and the children were encouraged to play with foods to explore their texture/feel. Songs and bubbles were the same each week.
Week 4 things started to get tough for us. Wet foods clearly our Achilles Heel! They added tinned potatoes, large peas out of a jar, some tinned fruit and peeled bananas. They also had some yoghurt, honey and chocolate spread with paint brushes for artful daubing. DS was fairly horrified but was prepared to be close - another little boy spent the entire session desperately hanging off the door handle trying to get away from the stuff. He was absolutely terrified - his parents were at their wits' end. DS initially tried to avoid having anything to do with the wet things until I rolled a couple of potatoes down the garage ramp - apparently this was hilarious so he started to try to move the potatoes himself using sticks or in the back of a dumper truck car - ie touching with a tool. In the same session, the potatoes got a bit drier and he began to tolerate touching them with his hand. It was really informative to watch that progression. He then got the bit between his teeth and daubed yoghurt across the rest of the garage with a brush and might have poured a pot down the ramp had I not intervened! One of the SALTs seemed to have reached HER threshold for mess as her face was a picture! However it was interesting to see that none of the adults cared for the mess on their hands and everyone was clearly resisting the urge to say "bleughh"and wipe their hands clean. So again that was enlightening to see where other people reached a limit to what they were happy with.
Week 5 would have been mixed textures, except it was cancelled due to staff illness - or maybe the idea of DS with a pot of trifle on the garage was too much! Anyway apparently mixed textures are the most difficult for most children.
Week 6 was a one-to-one session where we reviewed the sessions. The staff said that we were doing all the right things and that they wished all their clients had a dining table, and used it! Sadly they had to agree that DS was a stubborn little mite who was a tough nut that would be slow to crack. They would normally only suggest this for slightly older children but they said he might be up for a "food preferences book".
Basically we have pages with the progression headings as I posted above with pictures to match (Bleugh, finger to lips, plate, smiley face etc) and we printed off food pictures from the internet. It has taken quite a long time but we filled up the book with pictures so that we have some on every page. The idea is then that you get your child to choose which food they want to move up a page by doing the next step on. They are meant to do the next step 4 or 5 times before the picture moves. I think that you can use a star chart if you want to record that. We haven't managed to use this system terribly formally yet as I think he is too young for it, but we can see that having the discussion about it all with DS has been helpful for him and that he can now understand the steps and decide to make some himself.
Victories since the course ended a few months back have been few and far between, but suddenly in the last couple of weeks he has started to "surprise us" and he likes to say that when he tries something new. We obviously praise him a lot when he does good things to help things along. So the main things are that he had been happy to cut sweetcorn off the cob and then a few weeks on licked a corn on the cob. Also he put his finger on an egg yolk and put a microscopic piece of egg on to his tongue - and said it was tasty!!! Both of those foods are ones which he has shown interest in in the past, so it is probably worth working on stuff based on their preferences.
Right I am signing off again after that mammoth post. I look forward to hearing news from others.
That's great tricot thank you for taking the time to write all that out. I almost feel like I went to the course too! The food preferences book sounds interesting. How old is your ds now?
Ds1 had feeding tubes as a baby and didn't start weaning until 15 months, and then we ended up (under advice from SALT) having to give him things like meringue and trifle sponge fingers because they dissolve in the mouth and he wasn't swallowing anything - just chewing a little and spitting it out. It was a breakthrough to get him swallowing, but not surprisingly that his diet has always been so limited, and that he has a sweet tooth! The only fruit he eats is two flavours of baby fruit jars - must be the same make, and eaten from the jar, and until recently he had never eaten a vegetable. Unless you count Asda potato and carrot waffles (very slightly more orange than potato waffles, carrot content probably not much at all). Eating carrot sticks recently was a huge breakthrough! As you said, carrot was something he had shown an interest in for a while, so I persevered with it. I think he minds it less than other veg because it isn't slimy and doesn't look entirely dissimilar to a chip. Very skinny chips as I have to cut them soo thin! At school they now have to take a snack in which has to be a fruit or a vegetable - thank goodness for the carrot eating or he'd have nothing. Rather narrow-minded school - what's wrong with breadsticks? A child that won't eat fruit and veg is not always being 'naughty'. Found that a bit irritating but am happily sending him in with some carrot sticks - today he ate 3.
Sorry long waffle and not much said. Hope everyone else is hanging on in there. x
Hi, still hanging in there. DD (3.6) still on pasta and pesto with sweetcorn for suppers - and variety of bread /cereal for the rest of the day. Not great - but has been worse. Am going to get that book and try the carrots and some of the techniques Tricot mentions.
DD not just food resistant but also resistant to any kind of change - uses a sippy cup with lid still, uses hands not cutlery, won't poo on loo, only goes in pull-up at night, won't speak in front of strangers ... BUT is imaginative, articulate, can play alone for over an hour, spells words well, loves 'reading', excellent memory... not sure what to think, but hoping it'll all settle as she grows up.
hhm i am a bit worried about what ds'school might make of his packed lunch.i think i will try to get a letter from the SALT just in case we run into trouble when he start in sept.
will be heading off to asda to trial their waffles though! this might be our chance to break into carrot consumption!
glad the description of the course was good. i thought it might help people do.stuff at home. it is all very simple but not completely obvious iyswim
well a couple of interesting developments. for some reason ds is getting more happy to smell and taste (small bits off his finger dip). i think it may be because i stopped asking him to eat things and concentrated on asking him to sniff a few months back.if he likes the smell i suggest he could taste a little off.his finger. he did this with egg yolk (has been interested in eggs for years) and i think it gave him confidence with other things. we call our messy play/desensitisation exercises "science ecperiments" amdd this also seems to encourage.experimentation. on friday he was tasked with finding seeds in various fruit & veg and was prepared to taste juice from strawberries and.raspberries. he also put a sliver of carrot between his teeth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
progress may be glacial but we are feeling jubilant! wishing you all some progress soon
Anyone have any news?
Had a good week away on holiday and have returned to increased resistance and the same old games. Feeling
I'm so glad I've stumbled across this thread. My DS was born very prematurely at 29 weeks & had IUGR. After 3 months on the neonatal unit he came home on oxygen & had severe reflux until age 3, which was treated with adult-dose omeprazole & domperidone.
He has always had high calorie milks to promote weight gain & attempt to "catch up" a bit. He's been very behind with weaning & textures. We attend a dietitian & SALT.
It's just a constant struggle. He has almost no interest in food, and has become dependant on his prescription milk. He eats from a narrow range of foods, which I bulk-cook & freeze.
He's now 4.5 & I've also got a 4 month old DD, so I don't have as much time & energy to devote to his eating.
I'm looking forward to sharing experiences with people who understand. It's beyond most people's comprehension to have a child who has so little interest in food & such a crap eater.
Sorry to hear that you are in the same boat.
It is not the fastest thread in the world and there are no magic answers nut welcome on board.
Have you managed to read much of the thread? nanny has some positive stories about her (now grown up ) son
Hi lots and welcome . I've changed my name btw peeps - I was mummy2benji Now I have dd2 I thought I'd better include her in my name too!
Lots I sympathise - my ds1 is 4.9yo and developed a feeding phobia as a baby due to severe reflux, which has also led to extremely delayed weaning and resistant eating. But.... I am almost hesitant to say it.... we have started to make some significant progress in the past few months. He was also fiercely dependent on his Neocate milk - which is ironic given the fact that he used to scream at the mere sight of it, and the numerous hospital admissions required before he was 1 for point-blank refusing to drink anything. But a few months ago we managed to get him off it and onto cow's milk. Nursery helped enormously in that, as he started to take a few sips at school. At first it had to be in a baby bottle still at home, but a couple of weeks ago I persuaded him to try it in a slightly more grown up cup / sippy bottle with robots on it. Finally the Avent bottle is in the bin!!
Another development is pizza!! Sausages was one of the few foods he would eat, and a few months ago I managed to get him to nibble a bit of pizza that I'd totally covered in chopped up sausage (pizza base barely visible!) - this required an elaborate role-play whereby sausage pizza was the favourite food of his Lewis Hamilton toy car (from Cars 2), and we had a sausage pizza party for him as he had been away and returned (aka lost, and a new identical Lewis Hamilton hastily purchased and presented to ds1 in its place). All the toy cars came to the party and ds1 entered into the spirit of it so much that he nibbled some pizza, and decided it was tasty! I then started substituting a bit of the sausage for ham, and have since managed to get him to eat ham pizza. I know it's not fruit or veg, but still - it's great progress for ds1.
Hope that gives a little encouragement! tricot I am also wondering what the school will think of ds1's packed lunches. Think I will have a word with his teacher on Day 1.
Thanks for the welcome. DS has started being sick again over the last few weeks. Only 4-5 times & I initially thought it was a bug, so I kept him off nursery & cancelled play dates. But I'm now wondering if it's the return of the reflux , which of late was worse Sept-Feb & associated with winter illnesses. Really frustrated with it, as we've had no sickness for months.
On the other hand, he did ASK to try one of his daddy's noodles last night. A minor miracle!
His dietitian appointment is next month & I'd like to discuss reducing his prescription milk. Finding an alternative will be a challenge though: We've tried homemade smoothies, Frijj etc but he only takes small amounts. And considering his milk gives him up to 600kcals daily, it's a huge gap to fill. Last time we tried he lost 5% of his body weight in 3 weeks so had to abandon it.
Here's to finding solutions to our challenges!
It's a big relief to find this thread - my first post on MN so bear with me.
My son (sorry: 'ds') is just coming up to 7. He had a normal birth, weaning etc all went well - by 18 months old he was eating everything we gave him, and was doing fine. Then one day at nursery when he was about 18-19m old, he was spectacularly sick, and not surprisingly didn't want to eat much else that day.
To cut a long story short, he's hardly eaten anything since then, 5.5 years ago. We've tried everything we can think of, but his eating pattern has never recovered.
He eats: Pasta (totally plain - no sauce whatsoever), toast with margarine (nothing else on it), Cheerios (no other cereals will do), fruit (strawberries, apple, banana, grapes), crisps (plain only), and chocolate (as much as he's allowed). He drinks milk. That's literally it. He's not eaten any meat, any vegetables, anything hot, or anything not on the list above, since he was 18-19 months old.
We've tried all the normal things: reward charts, bribery and corruption, etc. Sometimes there'll be a breakthrough (he'll eat one pea, for example), but the next day it's back to square one.
It's not obviously a flavours problem, or a textures problem. He gags and retches(sp?) when he gets anything different in his mouth - when it's something "new" like a pea, he might manage to swallow it, but it's obviously a major psychological effort for him. We've done the "try this 20 times on 20 days" thing, but it doesn't seem to get any easier for him even after all that time. We've just realised he can't even stand the smell of some foods, and he won't even touch most foods with his fingers. It's as if he's just repulsed by food.
In all other ways, he's a "normal" kid - loads of energy, loves biking, karate, running, etc, and is bright for his age. No actual physical problems, or allergies. He's thin, but not worryingly so, and he's tall. We've been to and fro between GPs, health visitors, dieticians, etc, but nothing's working.
So it's good to find this thread! I've only had time to read the first 2 and last 2 pages so far, but I'll read back. Meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, I'm all ears! Sorry for the long post.
Hello there everyone, especially tricot who started this thread nearly a year ago. I hope you are all managing to cope okay with the daily worries that having a resistant eater brings.
My grown up resistant eater continues to make steady progress, he is home from university now and makes himself some reasonably healthy meals, still quite a limited choice but vastly improved from the childhood days. At the age of 22 he has still to experience quite a lot of " food activities" and doesnt regard eating out as a pleasant social experience but will join in reluctantly.
Its been a long worrying slog, but hes healthy and happy with no longterm bad effects physically so your children will get there in the end. Best wishes to you all.
Dad72 hope you can take encourage and get support from this thread. Your sons diet sounds a bit like my sons was for the first 16 years, and yes, I think he too was repulsed by food. Its still not that important in his life. Its as if the hunger trigger was never activated. Keep going with the fruit and pasta and toast, its probably giving him enough energy at the moment for his sporting activities.
Hi Story just popping back to say no change here with DD. But change for me - despite a diet that still consists mainly of bread, pasta (if we're lucky!) and yogurt I am no longer so stressed. This thread - and your experiences - have helped me to let go of my need to control her eating, and to go with the flow. Also helped by the fact that DD seems to have some other issues going on (nursery suspect aspergers -though I still tend to think she's quirky and highly sensitive). But anyway, hearing about your experiences have helped. Thank you .
Ah constant, glad you can step back a bit, I wish Id had this thread to keep me sane when son was younger. In years to come you will be able to look back and use your experience to support someone else.
On Sunday we had a perfectly normal roast dinner with meat (chicken of course as most others are still barely tolerated) roast pots, veg and ..... Gravy! All on the same plate touching each other. This was followed by home made lemon meringue pie which he claims he has always liked, not in my memory though. Everything was eaten and despite him now being 22 I breathed a sigh of relief!
Oddly he doesnt seem to recall much about the years of refusing, maybe he is blocking the memories as they were so fraught. My other older children have bad memories of it all though particularly the times when I completely lost the plot and screeched like a banshee, but we can also laugh about it.
Keep smiling or gritting your teeth
MisstRee you are not alone. BM to our 3 DSD's doesn't eat any fruit or veg. You can figure out the rest....
storynanny: Thanks for your reply, which I've only just found (sorry).
I've just cancelled our latest dietician's appointment. After the first one, which was really useful and full of ideas about how to help widen out his "range" of foods, we had a second one with a different dietician, who basically said he's fine as he is and doesn't ever need to eat anything else. I'm sure he doesn't physically need any more than he's getting, but I strongly disagree from the psychological point of view. He's already feeling left out at the "food" part of parties, and now doesn't want to go to parties at all, for that reason - that's just one example.
Anyway, thanks for the support. We'll keep trying.