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Screaming in the morning - food and tantrum issues

(9 Posts)
rattling Fri 10-Dec-10 20:34:32

I have 19 month old twin boys who have, till recently, been pretty easy to deal with. Until a few weeks ago this was particularly true in the morning - okay, they'd get up far too early (5.30), but were happy and fun from the moment they woke. So we took turns to get up with them, give them a bottle and doze on the couch while they played, thus allowing each of us to get a reasonable amount of sleep.

A. has always had a bit of an issue around food - and if he didn't want to eat he would often scream. Ideally I would have just taken him out of his high chair and back to playing (he usually had a good breakfast and followed his own, slightly skinny centile line perfectly), but generally couldn't as his brother loves to eat. So he'd sit (scream) while M. worked his way though a few bowls of main meal then maybe join in with fruit/yogurt.

However, about a month ago they both got ill and off their food. I was happy to offer whatever they fancied (banana and yogurt mainly). This was a couple of weeks after deciding to only give them milk in sippy cups in the morning which they weren't entirely happy about, but had come round to. Mostly didn't drink much, but have loads of dairy during the day, huge breakfast and a big night-time bottle, so I don't think they need it.

Now they are well again and both, but particularly A. are super-hungry. When he'll eat. From the moment he wakes up until we can convince him to have the first mouthful of breakfast he will scream himself into a frenzy. If there is food in front of him he throws it on the floor in a rage. If it is out of reach he stretches for it in a rage that he can't get it, but when he does throws it away. The only solution seems to be to get a tiny bit on his lips - by the method which I hate and feels all wrong to me of jabbing a spoon through his defences and smearing it on. Then he licks his lips, tastes it, settles down and proceeds to eat a huge portion.

Other meals can have the same issue, but somehow mornings are worst. He has been waking up at 4am recently, too screamy to leave so he comes into bed where he proceeds to crawl over me screaming, headbutting and punching till he falls asleep exhausted for a bit longer (wake up time is now more like 6.30). When he does get up he heads straight for the kitchen and insists on being put in the highchair.

So we seem to be dealing with a mixture of tantrumming and hunger. I think he is so awful in the morning because he is hungry, but his reaction to that seems unacceptable. Do I go back to a bottle in the morning (or at 4am to get him back into his cot)? Should there be some consequence to his awful angry screaming other than us trying to find things he might like and constantly picking up after him? But if we take him away (2 of us around in the morning so he could safely go elsewhere) I really think he will scream for ever when getting some food into him will calm things down.

I'm so sorry for going on at such length. I've been writing this message in my head for a few days now and this is the pared down version!!

Jacinda Sat 11-Dec-10 00:20:03

Well, my son is nearly three and still gets his morning bottle in cot. He wakes up hungry/thirsty and I'm too lazy sleepy to muck about with proper breakfast, much prefer a little snooze while he's emptying his bottle. BTW his teeth are perfect and I'm not convinced it does any harm as drinking from a cup takes him far longer, hence his teeth are more exposed to milk. He's a fussy eater as well and can get upset before he decides to eat something.

It made me a bit hmm to read words such as unacceptable or consequence in relation to behaviour of a 19-month old. At this age you can safely do whatever makes you all happy. Stress and crying is far worse for small children than a little indulgence, as it changes their brains for life, and not in a good way.

JarethTheGoblinKing Sat 11-Dec-10 00:26:20

Biscuit first thing in the morning to take the edge of the hunger... DS used to be the same with nursery (they did breakfast slightly later). Something small with a bit of sugar seemed to help (same as when he woke up very grumpy from a nap - low blood sugar made him very cranky and a tiny biscuit def helped)

Jacinda - I can't imagine my 3yo still having a bottle in the morning, but that's just me

Jacinda Sat 11-Dec-10 09:20:23

I guess I'm fairly relaxed mum. It has lots to do with the fact that I remember my early childhood well. The amazing taste of warm milk early in the morning, while still half-asleep... Mmm.. The sadness when it was late for some reason. And I know that little children don't cry because they are naughty or difficult, they cry out of utter sadness and despair. When they misbehave, they laugh.

rattling Sat 11-Dec-10 13:53:15

I partly agree with your hmm regarding my language. This is an issue I am wrestling with as my baby is growing up into a more independent little boy. His behaviour is that of a very upset child, and I would love to offer what he needs and "fix" it, but that doesn't work anymore. A biscuit would be flung across the room (have tried going to get him with pockets full of ricecakes) and I suspect that a bottle might also too now. I did plan to give that a go this morning, but wasn't necessary as an altogether happier little boy woke up this morning and just played till breakfast was ready.

We managed to divert disaster mid-breakfast when some porrige was removed from the bowl to small plates to let them spoon-feed themselves (which I thought they wanted to do), so the possibility of screaming was still there.

I do know that he isn't being naughty (his brother is the naughty one - started hitting recently, with a smile on his face as you say), but it doesn't feel right to be running about after a wee boy who is in a rage - getting porrige, then weetabix, a banana, bits of yogurt, pieces of orange, cups of milk (anything he might have eaten one day, but refused another) walloped across the room to hit me, his brother, the cat.

Sadly it is a natural consequence of having twins that they get left to cry for longer than single babies - I would do anything for that not to be the case now that they can get get up and come to me when they want me.

LaLoose Sat 11-Dec-10 18:10:42

Rattling, I've got twins too (mine are 20 months) and boy twin sounds just like A. If he's been ill and off his food, he gets what I call a 'man flu hangover', which is mostly tantrumming due to hunger, twinned with refusal to eat and rage when confronted with food.

The hard thing (and it won't be comforting) is that if he's like my boy twin, he won't improve totally until he has starting eating more.

BUT we did have to install a naughty pen, for the sake of my sanity, two months ago. It has worked. Even if he's in a fearful rage, he will calm down in seconds, come back to the rest of us, and behave in a civilised manner. Worth a try? I never thought I'd do it and it was heartbreaking at first, but it has solved my problem for the moment.

Good luck! x

rattling Sat 11-Dec-10 21:17:26

LaLoose - I have posted this in a last ditch attempt for suggestions other than starting "time-out" style repercussions for this behaviour. But the morning problems that we avoided today occurred at dinner time. He had a huge lunch, so wasn't starving and was offered a particular favourite - I just mis-timed offering that first mouthful so he pushed it away and raged.

Thankfully at the moment his brother is merely bemused by him, but I wouldn't be surprised if he joined in or got upset. I have a lot more help over the next few weeks as family turns up for Christmas, so I'll try to use lots of distraction to get through this.

Otherwise there could be some unwanted NY resolutions in this household.

Thanks for all the advice.

Teaandchristmascakeplease Sat 11-Dec-10 21:31:30

My son is 22 months and sometimes if he is very unsettled I still offer him warm milk in a bottle. He starts the day often by requesting a "nana" (banana) which I give him. At the moment his favourite breakfasts are honey cheerios, wheetos or cinnamon grahams. I know not good for your teeth blush

He throws his food or anything else when in a temper it is very wearing isn't it? sad

I would try warm milk to line his tummy if you think he's hungry first thing followed immediately by breakfast if it helps? My boy ends up having breakfast at 7am at the moment confused

If he is really outrageous with his behaviour I warn him and then do a time out as well actually. Only 2 minutes generally but I've had to start to do this.

Sometimes after I've had a tummy upset I find biopot yogurt or similar helpful, as it takes a while for my tummy to recover. You could try some of that and see if it helps. the other thing I would say is if my boy doesn't get enough sleep the tantrums escalate. He still needs a 2 hr nap in the day as well as a solid 12 hours at night.

Gosh this post is rambling isn't it? Maybe something in it will be helpful though. I suspect as they learn to talk better with you there will be less frustrationg. Have you thought about doing a baby signing session with them every week?

LaLoose Mon 13-Dec-10 14:34:59

Good luck rattling. I know what you mean completely. I really never ever thought I would do it. But from the sounds of it I am pretty sure that the festive distractions will drag him out of it. x

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