Overweight child :((105 Posts)
Hi, can I have a private post please? Thank you ❤
My 4 year old son is overweight. I'm not in denial about it. A bit of backstory, he had PICA from about 9 months to 2.5 years ish, in which time we struggled to get him to eat 'proper' food. Instead he preferred to eat plaster/mud/sand/toilet roll ect. Because he was skinny and it obviously wasn't doing his tummy any favours we were desperately trying to tempt him to eat normal food, offering chocolate/ice cream ect. He eventually started eating proper food but gained weight rapidly. In the space of a year he went from a size 3-4 to 7-8 (I don't formally weigh him at home). I've been to the paediatrian who diagnosed an iron defiency (which she did the last time) and offered general advice but Alive and Kicking (?) classes aren't available until he's 5. I've been working with his preschool on lunches until they were happy with them. I cook dinner pretty much as soon as we're home to limit snacking, and he has a supper of a sandwich/toast before bed. I don't keep rubbish food in the house anymore and I try to keep us active (but it can be difficult in the cold weather and I can't afford frequent activities like swimming or trampolining regularly). I have so much anxiety over it as he starts school this year. 6 different people on different occasions have said to me 'he's such a sweet boy, he's going to be a target for bullying' and the thought of that makes me feel sick. It's getting me so down and depressed and it's making me question sending him to school at all, even though I know it'll benefit him and there's no garentee he'll struggle socially. But he truly is such a sweet, lovely little boy and the thought of it breaks me.
I don’t know what to do
Sorry I forgot to delete the top bit, it's a copy and paste 😅
There's plenty of time between now and September for him to lose weight. He'll grow upwards as well, which will even things out a bit.
Just stick with good, healthy food in reasonable portions and lots of exercise.
The weather isn't really an excuse. You can keep active indoors. Also unless it's actually pouring with rain or heavy snow you can get out for an hour or two. Just wear appropriate clothing. You don't need to do expensive activities.
What about joining your local parkrun at 9am on Saturdays? Or junior Parkrun on Sundays?
Completely free, loads of fun for all the family, great community spirit and gets everyone moving.
Are you able to say what your son would eat on a typical day?
I am a bit intrigued about the supper of sandwich/toast before bed... this could be a "4th" meal in terms of calorie intake without much nutritional value.
Could you perhaps give him a snack of fruit when he gets home from school and then dinner a bit later so he is not hungry before bed? He may not like this at first as it is breaking a habit but he eventually the habit of eating fruit may develop.
Why does he need toast/sandwich before bed? What time does he have tea and what time does he go to sleep? Normally a meal with a good mix of carbs, protein etc should keep him going until breakfast. Do you regularly walk with him? a walk to the park and a run around is just as good as formal exercise.
Yes the forth meal before bed is quite unusual?
Mine is hungry after school (aren't they all) but has a snack (orange/apple/banana/cereal) and then a dinner before bath and bed time.
A sandwich for supper isn’t really necessary for a four year old.
No reason not to walk or play in the park in winter. Just wrap up warmly.
Just don’t let him snack except perhaps as he comes in from school. Then he can have a banana or something to fill him up.
Longer term you need to move his ‘food is reward/comfort’ behaviours but that won’t happen overnight.
Agree with what's been said already. Cut out the bedtime meal and feed him a healthy tea with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Go to the play park every day and let him run around and use energy. Take him swimming or cycling at weekends. Keep as active as you can and avoid any snacks, sugary food (including breakfast cereals and fruit yoghurts) and sweets. He will be fine. Good luck. Ps for breakfast the healthiest thing you can give him is porridge. Cook it with some banana and a tiny bit of sugar if you think he needs it. Will keep him full for ages and is so good for him.
Might be better with an apple pr banana after school and a later tea, or fruit for supper instead of toast?
Have you seen a dietician to work on food groups and portion control?
Sounds like you might need a weight reducing plan, not just a healthy eating plan
I agree with what's been said already. Cut out the bedtime toast as he doesn't need it and toast has little nutritional value. Give him three healthy meals a day with no / low sugar, lots of fresh fruit and veg. Avoid all snacks and only give him water or milk to drink. Aim to exercise daily for at least 30 mins - play park, a walk, cycling, running, scooting, swimming, kicking a ball. A tip for b'fast - most cereals are stacked with sugar. Best option is porridge cooked on stove with banana and milk / a little water. He shouldn't need sugar - but add half a teaspoon if he moans. I buy the frozen fruit / berries bags from Tesco and add a (defrosted) spoonful on top of the porridge. My kids love it. Good luck.
Like PP have said, cut out the before bed meal. He doesn’t need it. Think you’ll need to cut this down over a short period cos he’s gonna be confused as to why he is suddenly not getting this meal.
Then what id recommend is cutting down on portion size if it’s larger than a child his age would usually require- you could cut down on starchy food like pasta/potatoes etc for a little extra veg in his meal.
Then what id recommend is if you can, take him to the park as often as you can. Park a little way from the park, take a ball. Get him as active as you can.
Snacks should be crudités, fruit.
You’ll see the weight come off. But he can’t feel like he’s being denied all of the things he loves, they just need to become a bit rarer, he needs exercise- no problem him being a bit chilly. He will soon warm up with movement.
My youngest got called a ‘little porker’ once and we had to get him on a diet
I would advise getting some proper nutritional advice here but I guess you need to get him exercising double and eating well but less calorific food
The PP gives great ideas
I have mananged to slim mine down as he has got into football fortunately
Try and have the whole family
Make the switch at the same time so it’s not a diet but a family lifestyle switch x
I agree with everyone else, no one needs to eat like that before bed, it is ok to feel a bit hungry sometimes, children don’t need to eat to avoid the feeling all the time.
My daughter was in age 6-7 at 4. She was really really tall and still is! 5ft 9 at 12.
Is he tall or is does he just look overweight. If a child has eaten little for several years, then starts eating properly, l would think the body would put on extra weight to save it.
He may just stretch out and grow yet
4 is still little.
Could you do regular trips to the park? We often set up assault courses for the 3 year old to tire him out but that could help too.
I agree the sandwich before bed sounds unusual.
Yes I've come to realise that others think the sandwich before bed is abit odd. I never realised
Thankfully he loves his fruit and veg, so it's not an issue having them in his diet. We've tried porridge but he absolutely hates it, he generally has a boiled egg and fruit for breakfast. We have dinner around 4.30, and he is hungry by bedtime (around 7). I will replace this with fruit.
Our house is tiny so it's not quite so easy to do indoor activities. Our living room isn't even big enough for a hula hoop or a skiprope without breaking something. Our nearest park is a 30 minute walk away, I don't have a car so it's not as easy as that on a school night with an older daughter who has homework/reading to do, plus dinner/bathtime/bed ect. (There is a park near the school but its been being refurbished for a long time now!) We do make an effort to go for a walk a few times a week after school and his nan takes them to the park every tuesday after school, and we always walk to school, which is a 20 minute walk. I try and vary our diets as much as possible and I've kept food diaries that my peaditrician was happy with (I meal plan anyway on a low budget). He only drinks milk and water anyway.
His paeditrician thinks that his PICA is down to sensory issues and he is and always has been, a very impulsive eater. If he knows there are ice creams in the freezer (which we don't keep in there now by the way) he wants them all right here right now. I have to keep the strawberry on the top shelf because he will eat the whole packet. He is over the top when he's hungry, and it's very exhausting and I'm finding it hard balancing healthy meals with keeping him full, within my budget. But there are some great ideas here so I will definitely swap out the sandwich and request a referal to a dietician.
And yes, he towers over his class. Last time we measured I think he was 3ft9? But that was in October, and he's definitely grown since then. He's visibly chunky but 7-8 clothes don't swamp in the length. He was always long and tall even when he was skinny.
Oh and he's also at preschool monday-thurs, 9-3. They have a fantastic and massive garden that he spends most of his time in. His preschool says he stays very active. He literally runs everywhere!
I didn't realise that PICA went away I thought it was a lifelong condition. Are you sure he isn't eating anything secretly?
No it hasn't gone away completely. He still eats toilet paper (was always his 'food' of choice) but it's not often at all. I can't see what or when he would eat without me knowing, as I said before our house is tiny and I meal plan and haven't noticed anything missing.
It is very easy to underestimate the amount of food you are giving a young child. Most parents of overweight kids don't think their kids are overweight at least you recognise there is an issue. Does he have a dietitian?
I think you need to get out of the ha it of anything before bed.
Fruit is full of sugar so not a good pre-bed snack.
4:30 is crazy early for dinner. We eat about 6:30.
Snack when in from school about 3:30. If he's hungry is he getting enough protein?
We were eating dinner around 6 but the snacking was absolutely exhausting. It was just constant tantrumming, to the point where I couldn't get anything done, and it was massively unpleasant for all of us. I'm trying so hard to balance everything but I don't seem to be getting it right
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