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Advice needed - 18m DD refusing food

(12 Posts)
littleduck Sun 07-Nov-10 12:48:27

DD was mostly a pretty good eater from when she was weaned (apart from some problems when confronted with lumpy food to start with but she has the hang of that now!) and would try quite a wide range of things. She has always particularly liked fruit. She has eaten well both at nursery and at home.

However in the last month or so she has become very fussy and refuses many things she has happily eaten previously. Mostly she refuses savoury type foods. The only things DP and I have been able to get her to eat this weekend have been smoked salmon (nicked off my plate and then also gobbled down when offered to her at a meal separately), bread, tuna and mashed potato, soya yogurt and a variety of fruit pots. Everything else has been spat out or refused, accompanied by tears even though we never force her to eat anything. She will eat organic snack bars like carrot bars.

She is very definite when she does not want something and says 'bye' or 'no more' so there is no room for misinterpretation!

This has been going on pretty much since she started cutting her pre-molars, these are now nearly fully through but she has now picked up a cold so I wonder if she is just not hungry as she has been feeling under the weather what with her teeth and now the sniffles.

I am also worried I have made the situation worse as I offered her a mix of courgette, carrot and tuna (which she usually loves) for lunch yesterday and checked the temperature to make sure it wasn't too hot. She opened her mouth to take the spoon but once the food went in she started to cry as if it was too hot. I double checked and it didn't seem too hot to me but who knows. Anyway this seems to have put her off even more.

I am just getting really concerned, I don't want to turn food into a battle and try to make mealtimes fun but I am worried she just isn't getting the nutrients that she needs and don't want to pass on my stress/worry to her.

Any advice gratefully received.

Many thanks

MmeLindt Sun 07-Nov-10 12:53:08

Are you spoon feeding her? Maybe she would prefer to eat independently.

Other than that it could be a phase - she has learned that she can refuse something and have something else offered. I can be a bit of a game, a testing of how much "power" she has.

I would keep putting food down to her, familiar and unfamiliar and as long as she is eating something not worry about what exactly she is eating.

mummycreepynora Sun 07-Nov-10 12:57:18

could be one of a few things

1 - from around 18m there is some poison aversion reflex (or somesuch) which kicks in from back when we were cavemen, this is why some children suddenly have a hugely restricted diet... something to do with the age when we would forage for foods ourselves - am sure someone with more knowledge will correct me on that waffle

2 - the back teeth might be hurting with the spoon... have you tried giving her some ashtons powders 15 mins before food ?

3- might want to feed herself... try putting a few bits in front of her and see how she gets on ?

SandStorm Sun 07-Nov-10 12:57:47

This sounds quite normal to me. If she's hungry, she'll eat. Try not to worry too much about what she's eating at the moment. As long as she's not eating chocolate and nothing else she'll be okay. It's just a phase.

FWIW DD1 went through a phase of eating nothing but marmite sandwiches, breakfast, lunch and dinner, for about two weeks. I worried at the time too but it didn't last forever and no harm was done. She's now 12 and eats like a typical 12 year old.

littleduck Sun 07-Nov-10 13:13:42

Thanks for your replies so far. I always have two spoons, a spoon for her and a spoon for me. She seems to like it if I load up a spoon for her and she then eats from it so I have been doing that but to no avail, she will only pick up a spoon herself for the fruit pots and then she eats fine so I don't think the spoon is hurting her. Offering finger food doesn't make much difference, she will pick a filling out of a sandwich if she likes it and then leave the bread - little tinker!

Could be a power things as you say.....

She never has stuff like chocolate as she is cow's milk allergic - which cuts out a lot of junk from her diet automatically, somewhat fortuitously. We have been offering alternatives when she has refused her savoury stuff so maybe it is time to offer something savoury and if she refuses just offer her fruit and nothing else.

Any more thoughts very gratefully received

strawberrie Sun 07-Nov-10 15:38:18

My DD is the same age and we have gone through quite a few phases of this. Sometimes she just doesn't seem to be in the mood to eat. I think you're handling it well, and the foods that she is eating sound like a pretty nutritious mix.

I try very hard not to react to her refusal of foods (which I find really difficult to do). I was a desperately fussy eater as a child and I have keen for her not to follow in footsteps, but at the same time I can tell myself that I got through my childhood in good health despite a dreadful diet and now eat a wide variety of food.

If she doesn't want to try her meal I simply move it away from her (but still in sight, sometimes after a few minutes she relents and will have it back) and she gets offered some bread and butter. She always gets fruit after a meal and yoghurt once a day, and I give her those regardless of how much she has eaten of her meal.

loonyrationalist Sun 07-Nov-10 16:26:19

In my DD2 (20 month) appetite seems to vary hugely week by week.
I also agree with those who have pointed out the control aspect.

Keep providing your DD with a healthy meal & I'm sure she will slowly come back to it.

Both my girls were great eaters from being weaned, both went fussy at about 16/17 months. DD2 is still fussy at times. DD1 4 still goes through fussy stages but is back to eating most things

cece Sun 07-Nov-10 16:35:39

My 18 month feeds himself completely. The only thing I sometimes spoon into him is his weet a bix. That is mainly due to the concrete like qualities of it once it sets, so if he makes a mess it can be a pain to clear up. Even that though he can feed himself with if I am busy with the other two DC.

TBH my 18 month eats what we are eating,at the same time as us. Therefore no one really takes too much notice of him. Hence he just gets on with the eating and tells us once he has finished by handing us his bowl. I never try to encourage him to eat anymore as I reason he is full enough - an 18 month old isn't going to chose to starve themself are they?

littleduck Mon 08-Nov-10 19:20:18

Thanks for your thoughts.

DD refused everything at nursery today apart from bread, fruit and some cream crackers they had at snack time. Everything else was either refused point blank or tasted and spat straight out. Her poor keyworker was really worried as it's not like her.

This evening at home she refused a chicken and rice dish she normally like but had her fruit pot enthusiastically.

When she was in the bath she looked as if she had lost weight - her ribs starting to show through more than usual. She isn't big for her age, only just in 12-18 month clothes at 18 months, so I am really hoping her appetite will pick up again soon and that it's just because she has a cold.

Trying to keep it positive - offering but not forcing and removing if she still won't eat. But feeling worried all the same.

loonyrationalist Mon 08-Nov-10 21:25:32

Littleduck it is hard not to worry I know but she will not starve herself. I really do find they go in phases. My advice would be to carry on as you are & review it in a few weeks time. If you are still worried in a few weeks it would be worth talking to your health visitor.

ekkiethump Mon 08-Nov-10 21:26:26

have recently been through the exact same scenario with my 16 month old. used to be good as gold with food and then suddnely started refusing all foods except yoghurt, bananas and plums!
worse thing was that he ate perfectly in the nursery!

anyway phase lasted about 4-6 weeks on and off and now he has suddenly resorted to being a good eater again after instilling the following rules
1. gave him only a small amount of food (much less than i thought he should eat) in order to not overwhelm him if he is not feeling hungry. if he ate it all would then offer more.
2. once i put his plate down i did not hang over him watching him intently to see if he would eat. would busy myself and sit down and eat with him (even if just a snack
3. if he refused just took the plate away with no fuss
4. if he did eat a bit of savoury even if just a small amount still gave him pudding.
5. gave him no snacks between meals unless he was showing obvious signs of hunger.

after a day of this he went back to eating (but don't know if just coincided with him getting better - he has also been teething his molars)

whatever it is i am sure she will resort back to old eating habits as long as you don't get too fussy and offer to much choice.
i would tell you not to worry about it but there is no point because i still did!

Pancakeflipper Mon 08-Nov-10 21:39:56

My 2 yr old son was abit younger than yours when he began to use food as a weapon.

He would live on bananas but savoury was out.

He'd been ill for 6 months and I'd allowed too many plain biccies just to get food into him when ill. It was like he knew which spot to hit. He's on a dairy free diet currently. So food has been a faffy thing to deal with anyway getting diagnosis etc.

I decided to get firm. He can have whatever collection of cutlery he wishes. If he throws food or is still sat there with his plate untouched after we have finished - I remove it and him from the table Tantrums follow. The rest of the family eat our pudding without him.

He never starved. I found he'd skip one meal usually lunch but manage some evening meal. This first week was hell so pick a week no-one is coming for a meal. And don't back down.

He would eat breakfast so we praised this. And I was careful not to introduce new foods for a while. I also made sure when he was beginning to eat his main meals again that his pud was something he liked.

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