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How to get my LO to drink when she is anxious about food

(18 Posts)
Serenity70 Sat 20-Oct-12 20:10:16

I am new here. We just had two LOs placed with us, 1 and 2. The 1 year old is very anxious about food, probably because of her background - neglect. However, she is not a good drinker and now she has a cold. We tried different drinks and different cups. We got her off her bottle as she used it all day and night for comfort. The problem with that was that she drank too much, was never hungry and constantly had a wet chest as she chewed on the teat and dribbled the bottle content on her/the bed/everywhere.
She loves her food and goes crazy when it comes to meals/snack time. I tried sitting her down 5 minutes earlier and give a drink first, but she gets very upset and can go into a right tizz if she gets the impression, no food is coming.
I am not sure whether I am too careful and we are simply heading for a massive power struggle, she is very strong willed. Then again i do not want to ignore her background and i do believe she is anxious about food because she was neglected. I do not want her to get stressed about food and around feeding times. She has started to trust us and now let us feed her. Something that she could/would not do at first, no matter how bad (spills ...) the "results".
I have been told that as long as there is one pee nappy within 24 hours, not to panic. Ho, hum ...
Any advice? Thank you for reading.

RandomMess Sat 20-Oct-12 20:12:57

I think you really need specialist advice.

How about giving her a small serving of food and then offering her a drink before the next "course" of food.

This is likely to be something that will take a long long long time to resolve, are you getting support from SS with them still?

FishfingersAreOK Sat 20-Oct-12 20:19:27

I used to worry about my DS when he was between the age of 1-2 and spoke to my HV about how little he drank. Again got the thing about the 1 wet nappy and reassured about the fact they can get an awful lot of "liquid" from their food. Just maybe try and make sure she has a good range of "wet" foods (yoghurt, veggies, ice cream) and is not just eating dry stuff - bread, biscuits. And you are right - just try not to let it become a battle ground.

Speak to your team about it. And the spills and mess will continue for some time...

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 20-Oct-12 20:42:55

Think you have done absolutely the right thing in getting her off the bottles Serenity and welcome to MN smile.

Agree with the others, I'd stop worrying about it. Just sit her at the table when everyone else sits and make sure she has access to water 24 hours a day. I've always left a lidded cup of water with mine at night and our DD, who also drinks little during the day, will drink at night.

Also agree with just offering high water foods such as soup, oranges, melon and jellies. If you are feeling really adventurous you could get her to make her own fruit salad with one of those children's knife. Pampered chef do one for about £3.

Have a look on amazon at My Child Won't Eat. It is a great book on children and food.

Also agree though that you do need some more specialist advice.

As for the mess, I still have to do the floor, table and mats after every meal and mine are 5 & 8. If you want to save your floor just buy a cheapo shower curtain from Wilkos smile.

Oh and try a straw.

SamSmalaidh Sat 20-Oct-12 21:33:44

I would let her drink from a bottle. If she has only just been placed with you and uses the bottle for comfort, it seems to big thing to take that crutch away from her - especially if it is going to impact on her health.

Kewcumber Sat 20-Oct-12 21:36:47

I got DS back on the bottle when he was adopted at 1 to improve our bonding - I fed him every night with a bottle with an enlarged hole in the teat in the dark/almost dark in his room and we just used to sit and I'd sing whilst he drank his milk. It was the only time he had a bottle and I took it away with me when he was finished although he nearly always fell asleep straight afterwards.

Other than that, DS (who also had huge drinking issues because he had been deprived of water) permanently had a sippy cup with him probably for 18 months after coming to me. The trick is to get the right sippy cup. The american playtex tall beakers are brilliant because they really don't drip/spill at all and I'm sure if you ask around you'll find others which are good. I had strict instructions with my mother and childminder that he wasn't ever to be separated from his water!

From memory your placement is very very new? Only a few weeks? At this stage I'd be doing everything I could to give the children comfort not taking it away. Have you considered a dummy if the sucking was giving her comfort?

The most important thing, which I'm sure you're already aware, at this stage is making the children feel secure and to help them attach to you. "Normal" practice of non-adopted child rearing at this age really doesn't apply - don't worry about doing things people think you shouldn't just give them all the comfort you can.

Don't worry about the short term effects of drinking water instead of eating, it really will be short term and the child isn't going to starve to death in a few days. I personally wouldn't be worried about the physical effects of either too much or too little water in the short term, only the need for comfort and access to food/drink thats within her control. DS was exactly the same.

He didn't need any specialist advice and it didn't take so long in the grand scheme of things to sort out (maybe 18 months but no great hassle over it) - I just accepted that people thought I was odd to let him have a sippy cup of water all the time and to bottle feed him nightly until he was about 2. He is now about to turn 7 and has no food or drink issues at all.

Kewcumber Sat 20-Oct-12 21:39:53

Sorry its slowly beginning to come back to me!

DS used to gorge himself with food - eat until he was sick because he'd never actually eaten as much as he wanted to before. I let him (to everyones horror!) because I felt it was important for him:
a) to know that it was differnt now and he had no restrictions on food (or drink);
b) to learn to regulate his food and stop when he was full.

It took about 3 months of him eating until he was sick before it stopped and I did wonder at one or two stages if a child could actually eat himself to death! But he was so underweight it probably didn't do him any harm.

RandomMess Sat 20-Oct-12 21:39:59

kewcumber, you are the specialist advice grin

Water in a bottle?

Kewcumber Sat 20-Oct-12 21:42:15

Oh and I know every child is different but if your newly placed 1 yr old is as behind developmentally as mine was then she won't be even close to capable of making her own fruit salad!

ALso DS would pretty much only eat what he had eaten before (very limited) so I kept his diet very similar for about 2/3 months then started expanding it. I'm not really sure on reflection that I needed to but I'll never know now!

Serenity70 Sun 21-Oct-12 12:15:45

Hi everyone,

thanks so much for all that advice. I ponder it all.
A bit more information:
She is not developmentally behind. She benefitted from a good, experienced foster mum. She does demand confort (wants to be picked up and cuddled) and she also takes comfort (and gives it!! ) to her favourite cuddly toy, which she takes everywhere.
We took the bottle away during the day because she spilled so much liquid that her chest was constantly wet, and I mean down to her belly. Yes, i can see why some fo you think that was too early ...
At night she switched from bottle to dummy. She seems very happy with that.
You are right it is early days, they have been with us 4 weeks now.
I do a lot of soup (with some bread to dunk - they both love that) for lunch and they always have fruite and veg (desert/snacks). They are both good eaters. When they finish their portion I am now presented with the finihsed bowl and a big smile, so I do not give them seconds, but try to judge their portions on the generous side. They were both very overweight when they came to foster carers and it was assumed that they were both neglected but also kept quiet with food and drink ... We seem to get the timing right and i think they find it re-assuring that they a) have access to drink b) get regular meals and snacks, but both are eaten in teh kitchen, sitting down, with us or one of us. I also tell them that i prepare food now and it will take 5 mintues (because i mostly pre-prepare!). They seem to really like that and both start humming and "singing".
Yes, I still get support as they a still in foster care with us for a few months. will discuss with SW (both).
kewcumber - interesting that it took you DS 3 months to sort himself out re eating, but that the comfort thing (drinking took so much longer. I assumed that if I leave the bottle with her, I would simply have to hugely upset her in about 12 months time when it will be time to wean her off it, but your comment makes me think that she might be able to grow out of it herself. Very re-assurin got ead that your DS has no issues.

I think I might do the following: they both have acces to drink all day (anyway). Cups are kept on kitchen table where they can reach them and place them back. Somethign that they enjoy doing. I will re-introduce her bottle for her to drink from, but not allow it away from the table, ie.e she will not be allowed to run around with it. I do think that is a problem (wet chest!) and although i appreciate it is a comfort thing, she does get comfort from other things/us.
I see how it goes. This morning she had some milk. Morning snack she refused to drink, but when I encouraged her, she had some watered juice after she ate her snack. Huge praises, joy and smile from me and a cautious acknowledgement from her (oh, look, mummy has gone crazy bonkers, how funny!).

Phew, excuse epic post.

Kewcumber Sun 21-Oct-12 12:22:58

It all sounds OK to me at this stage - DS did just grow out of needing his water to hand, no real trouble, I also weaned him of a dummy relatively easily but of course it all happens once he was secure.

There are the playtex sippy cups I mentioned - I'd really recommend them over bottles during the day - they are truly 100% spill/dribble proof - the valve means you really have to suck to get anything out - I had two brought over in the USA for me and I used them to death. WEll worth getting.

RandomMess Sun 21-Oct-12 12:50:44

i had some of those cups too just because I happened to go to the US when dd was a toddler, they are fantastic.

Kewcumber Sun 21-Oct-12 12:52:09

Once I had one I would have sold my soul for more (not necessary as it happened as a friend is American)

KristinaM Wed 24-Oct-12 23:06:31

Wet chest is a very minor problem compared to a childs emotional stability and attachment. Use a bib with a waterproof backing and change her top more often. Put Vaseline on her chin if it's getting sore

Why would you need to wean her off the bottle in 12 months? As long as its only water or milk there is no need. You need to prioritise her attachment and ignore many of the normal rules of child rearing, especially if they are just due to custom and not medical needs. Very few children take a bottle to school with them wink. You need to focus more on meeting their emtional needs and less about trying to conform to being a good mummy and making them " normal " kids . They have suffered a lot of trauma and loss and dealing with the effects of that is the most important thing.

Serenity70 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:23:42

Thanks for more answers and advice.
Kristina: do you thin then that it is necessary to give her the bottle back? I take your point about (emotional) needs and past trauma/loss. I am a bit uncertain which way to go.
i have lots of those bibs and change them constantly as she is drooling (teehting) at the moment.

BUT: she started drinking again! This is AFTER she got over her cold. now what do I do??

KristinaM Mon 29-Oct-12 23:09:18

That's great that she started drinking again. You must be relived.

Bottles are very good for bonding IF you cradle your toddler in your arms and feed her. And if shes awake she should be making eye contcat with you, Not playing with a toy etc. Walking around with it doesn't help her associate comfort with YOU.

RandomMess Mon 29-Oct-12 23:34:29

Keep on going, glad to read that she's drinking again.

Kewcumber Tue 30-Oct-12 23:46:39

Bottles are very good for bonding IF you cradle your toddler in your arms and feed her. And if shes awake she should be making eye contcat with you, Not playing with a toy etc. Walking around with it doesn't help her associate comfort with YOU

This is what I did - with a bedtime feed. It was good for both of us and really not difficult to wean him off once he had settled.

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