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Help, 20 month old DD won't eat!

(139 Posts)
Blatherskite Sun 07-Aug-11 18:03:10

I had it easy with DS. He ate pretty much anything from the start and with the exception of obvious cheese (ie not melted in/on something) ,raw tomatoes and curry, he still will now at 4.5

20 month old DD is a whole different matter and I have no idea what to do.

She eats breakfast well, in fact the first thing she does when we get downstairs in the mornings is to stand at her high chair and call to be lifted in. She will then happily devour between 1 and 2 weetabix normally so she is obviously hungry. From then on it gets harder.

She won't eat sandwiches or soup or quiche or any of the usual lunchtime things, she turns her nose up at salad and dip. If I give her something she does like - today we had noodles and spring rolls - she'll eat a very little bit then stop. Same with dinner. She will eat pasta with a tomato-y/bolognese sauce, beans or pretty much anything 'Little Dish' make but apart from that, she just pashes it away and refuses sad She used to love baked potatoes with cheese and beans but even that got pushed away yesterday, her previous favourite of quesadillas got refused last week too - she's getting worse and I'm panicing.

She must be hungry because when I call "dinner" or "lunch" she comes running and stands next to her highchair ready to be lifted in but then she'll take one look and turn her nose up. She must be hungry as she's only eating breakfast everyday!

Today I made plain, pan-fried haddock, boiled new potatoes, brocolli, asparagus and some purple cauliflower - all reasonably bland and easy to eat. I even gave her a blob of ketchup to help it go down but bar dipping her fork in the ketchup a few times she ate nothing. Then comes to argument between me and DH - I think she's too little to understand that she must eat her dinner to get a yogurt for dessert (although we do say this to her - repeatedly) and he thinks she's just waiting for the yogurt and shouldn't get anything if she won't eat her meal. The latter is how we work it for DS but he's almost 3 years older and so has more understanding of consequences. He thinks the yogurt fills her up just enough so that's all she wants. We refused her the yogurt today and let her down from the table but then she just cried as DS got his yogurt because he'd eaten everything on his plate and she wanted one too. I have tried giving other 'desserts' but she won't eat fruit either. She's eaten it in the past but very, very rarely, that usually gets pushed away too. On the odd occasion she does eat, there are lots of smiles and "Good girl"'s. If she's not eating, I usually leave her to it while I eat my food and then try to spoon feed her myself when I'm done - although this never works.

DD is also a very early riser (5.30am-6am) and I worry that not only is she too small to go without anything but that by not even giving her a yogurt, we risk her getting up even earlier because she is hungry. Beditme is about 7.30-8pm for both children.

All this is compounded for me by the fact that DD has always been tiny. She stuck to the 0.2 centile line in her book all the way up to a year. She's still wears 9-12 month clothes (she's just beginning to fit a few 12-18 month bits) despite being a few days off 20 months old. I'm just worried that she hasn't got a lot of weight to loose. I'm also worried that she's not getting enough nutrients in her diet of weetabix and mid morning smoothies. She's still dirtying at least 1 nappy a day so something is getting through, I'm just not sure what.

I have no idea where I've gone wrong or what to do next. Please help Mumsnet.

Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to get as much as I could think of down at the beginning.

Blatherskite Sun 07-Aug-11 18:36:16

Oh and we all eat together as a family. She sits opposite DH and DS so she can watch them eat (or at least see DS eat if DH is home late). I sit next to her. She normally copies everything DS does - they're currently running round the lounge, occasionally DS will fall to the ground on purpose - every time he does it, she copies. He just ran up and kissed my arm - she ran up and kissed my knee. Eating seems to be the one thing she won't copy.

birdofthenorth Sun 07-Aug-11 18:45:00

Just out of interest, will she eat junk if offered, eg quavers or chocolate buttons? I only ask as DN is 2 & reaaaaally fussy but eats treat snacks v well. We are all a but worried about him fading away as he refuses most meals except for chicken. I'm afraid I can't offer many pearls of wisdom as DD1 is only 11 months (currently eating great on BLW but who knows what lies ahead).

Have doctors/ health visitors ever raised concerns about her size? Is DS on the small side too?

Blatherskite Sun 07-Aug-11 18:50:05

Yes, she'll happily eat crisps and chocolate buttons if offered. I try not to give her treats/snacks very often though as I want her to be hungry for dinner.

There were a few concerns about her size when DD was very tiny and still BF but they stopped when she was weaned and still following her 0.2 line perfectly and we haven't seen a HV since she got too old for the weighing clinic at 12 months. DS was always 25th centile-ish and while he too is skinny (they both take after DH) he's very healthy. DD doesn't look overly skinny but she doesn't weigh a lot either - about 1.5 stones at the moment - and is short (like me)

Zimm Sun 07-Aug-11 18:52:46

Hi op - on one year old is similar - I am just booking marking incase you get some decent advice! She will also eat breakfast, hardly any lunch and then often refuses dinner....

Blatherskite Sun 07-Aug-11 18:56:17

Sounds very similar Zimm. Welcome to the club smile

She currently having a cup of milk, about 1/3rd of a pint. This is usually drunk although she doesn't ahve it everynight as I tend to forget blush If I remember, she sometimes (maybe once a week) gets one at nap time too. She's refusing naps recently too though.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 06:32:48

She woke up at 5.15 this morning after getting nothing but milk last night sad

Zimm Mon 08-Aug-11 08:11:50

Oh Blatherskite what a pain! Mine fills up on milk, although still BF so no idea how much - but she needs to eat! Organix and plum make a fortune out of us as she will eat their snack foods...

Will yours naps now to make up for early start?

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 08:58:30

I quit BF DD when she got her top teeth at 12 months so started biting me! No amount of taking her off would stop her as she's so willful - probably the same issue we're having with the eating tbh.

She's been fighting napping at all for a couple of weeks now and has gone whole days without them. I'm hoping she'll have one today but with 4.5 year old DS to amuse too, I won't be able to join her.

Galena Mon 08-Aug-11 10:44:34

DD is 2.3 and still in 9-12 month clothes... No-one's particularly worried about her though.

She's a pretty good eater - will eat a relatively large amount of a variety of foods. However, given 'plain, pan-fried haddock, boiled new potatoes, brocolli, asparagus and some purple cauliflower', I don't think she'd eat anything either... she did, however, polish off a jumbo fishfinger, some oven chips and a pile of mushy peas last night.

I've decided I'd rather feed her foods which some people would frown upon, and not turn mealtimes into a battleground, than worthy foods which she won't eat. She doesn't like veg on the whole, but will eat it if: in a casserole, hidden in bolognaise, in Tesco vegetable hash browns, etc. or mushy peas! I don't panic as she'll eat fruit.

She won't eat new potatoes, but will eat oven chips, homemade potato wedges, hash browns, mash, jacket potato, rice and pasta. So that's what she gets. If we have new potatoes, I'll make sure there are other things she will eat.

I guess what I'm saying is, choose your battles. While DD is still young, I'm going to provide her with a diet which some people would frown on, but she eats so mealtimes are not battlegrounds. Once she can understand better, her diet will start to become more healthy as then the reasoning can begin.

Sorry - a really rambling message, but hopefully a slightly helpful one.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 13:17:03

Thanks Galena. My worry is that the list of foods that DD will eat is getting smaller and smaller. We're pretty much down to Weetabix, bread, pasta with tomato/bolognaise sauce and Little Dish meals.

She used to love baked potatoes - she won't eat them anymore. She used to like chips - she won't eat them anymore. She won't eat fruit, she won't eat veg, she won't eat meat, she won't eat fish - even fish fingers.

Last night's meal was chosen because it's what DS and DH love, we have a range of things and not all is so "worthy" I promise.

I've been trying to pick my battles but this one has gotten to the point where her diet is so restrictive, I'm worried it's doing her harm and it's making day to day life difficult, so I need to do something about it now.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 13:18:36

Thank you for your post though. I'm trying to to sound snappy but I'm sooo tired after our early start this morning. I do appreciate all help given

foxy123 Mon 08-Aug-11 14:05:02

Hi I haven't got any magic solutions but just to let you know you're not alone. DD 2.5 will only eat the following:

Breakfast: Toast/Marmite
Lunch: cheese sandwich
Dinner: pizza, pesto pasta or macaroni
Snacks: crackers, cheese strings - oh and anything naughty ie cake, biscuits, ice cream which I try to only give in moderation
If you're really lucky she might eat some apple, strawberries or blackberries.

I find that you're constantly told to make sure your LO gets their 5-a-day, but as soon as you ask for help it's "well as long as they're putting on weight then don't worry"

I made myself ill trying to force DD to eat. Now I just go by the theory of 'give her what she wants and introduce new things slowly' as I don't think the parent's anxiety does the situation any good?....

She is trying new things every now and then but it seems that every time she starts liking something new, something old is rejected in return.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 14:49:58

Thanks foxy, I know what you mean about the conflicting messages and that menu looks very familiar smile

So far today DD has had 2 Weetabix with whole milk and a smoothie for breakfast, a little pot of biscuits and rasins while we watched DS at his football class (she ate the biscuits and chewed then spat the raisins) and then she fell asleep 2 about half 11 - 2 hours before her normal nap time - probably because of our early start this morning. She's just had lunch. I gave her exactly the same as DS - a big-ish slice of fresh bread from a loaf we bought this morning, some ham, some cucumber and a bowl of a mostly melon fruit salad. She's eaten the bread and chewed the fruit before spitting most of it out (but kept going back so she can't have hated it that much confused) and totally left the ham and cucmber.

I'm going to do a pasta bake tonight because she loves pasta but I'm going to try chicken rather than a tomato sauce to try and get her to branch out a little.

foxy123 Mon 08-Aug-11 15:41:21

All we can do is keep persevering! I am hopeful that when my DD goes to nursery the peer pressure will get her into trying more things? Maybe that could be a goal for you too?

Don't make yourself sick with worry though, I think that will just make things worse.

I must admit I do blame myself though. I wonder did I do something when I was feeding her when she was little to make this happen? Or if it's heredittery as I was a fussy eater as a child. Something I realised not too long ago is that my DD is actually a vegetarian who does not eat vegetables!!!

Galena Mon 08-Aug-11 17:30:55

It's ok, you didn't sound snappy. Just trying to help... Let's think what other things I've found.

One thing I found with DD (Probably around 20 months) was that suddenly 'mixed' food was no good - no pasta in a tomato sauce, but if I put some plain pasta, with some tomato sauce next to it and some cheese in another pile, she'd eat it.

I also found that if I put her full portion on a plate she wouldn't eat it. However, put 3 bits of pasta and a bit of cheese on a plate and she'd polish it off and ask for more.

Also at that age she started understanding 'First... then...' So we started with 'First this one piece of pasta, then your yoghurt.' If she didn't eat the pasta she didn't get the yoghurt. No fuss, no getting cross, just no yoghurt. Then we gradually increased the amount she needed to eat.

Now she knows that if she wants pudding she needs to eat a certain amount of dinner. We show her on a separate plate what she needs to eat. She eats it and she gets pudding, she doesn't eat it and that's fine, but no pud.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 20:53:33

I ran out of time to try the chicken pasta recipe in the end so we had plain pasta in tomato sauce and she demolished the lot. Even picking up bits that had fallen down her front and shoving them into her mouth. Every single piece went along with a yogurt afterwards.

She must be hungry - just stubborn (can't imagine where she gets that from wink)

She still uses her partitioned plate a lot so last night with the fish, it was mostly in separate sections with the veg together, the potatoes together and the fish on it's own. I'd dipped it in milk and flour and lightly fried it so it had a golden crispy coating - pretty much a fishfinger. She's not keen on that plate though and seems to prefer a particular bowl so maybe I'll stick to just that for a while?

We're trying with the "first...then" but she really doesn't seem to get it yet, or if she does, her stubborness is winning out and she's just screaming to have what she wants. I'd got her down from the table yesterday without yogurt because she wouldn't even try anything and she just clung to my leg screaming sad

The more I think about it, the more I think her stubborness is the issue. She never eats fruit but once demolished a whole bowl of blueberries because she fancied it - it's never happened since. She ate strawberries last week but wouldn't again this week. She chewed and sucked the melon today but just wouldn't swallow it. It can't be that she doesn't like these things, just that she won't eat them

AngelDog Mon 08-Aug-11 21:10:17

I think it's really normal for toddlers to sometimes eat something and then not want it. 19 m.o. DS eats fairly well - between 12 and 15/16 months he refused all veg and potatoes - but now there are points when he'll attempt 75% of things.

Last week he only wanted bread & marg for lunch one day, then only cheese the next, then refused to even try either for the next 4 days. He often isn't keen on 'mixed' food either.

I find getting him to 'help' with the shopping / cooking has really increased the things he's prepared to try.

18-21 months is supposed to be a really, really big developmental transition, and IME that often means children become fussier with food. Problems with sleep are also really common during developmental leaps, so you might find that it improves once there's less developmental stuff going on.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 21:15:30

Her sleep has never been great Angel but hopefully, if this is down to a developmental stage, we can hope to see it improving soon.

I didn't know about the leap at 18-21 months, that could explan lots! Thank you

sleeplessinderbyshire Mon 08-Aug-11 21:18:54

you are not alone. dd will be 2 next week. she'll almost always eat readybrek with fruit puree in for breakfast (or dry shreddies or rice crispies)
Tonight we had the most amazing dinner as she ate almost a slice of toast with peanut butter and a petit filous and 2 chocolate finger biscuits and some raisins

apart from that she'll never refuse quavers or chocolate buttons. sometimes eats breadsticks, is obsessed with oatcakes at present and will eat 4 flavours of ella's kitchen stage 1 pouches.

that is all (oh apart from chocolate cake/tiffin)

I have given up getting stressed about it, ojne day she'll be ready to eat normally. until then life is too short (at least she'll sit at the table wiuthout screaming these days)

AngelDog Mon 08-Aug-11 21:22:39

One developmental psychologist refers to 18-21 months as 'the mother of all developmental transitions'. smile

Galena Mon 08-Aug-11 21:26:15

We had a breakthrough today - 4 tiny, tiny bits of carrot! Had a roast chicken dinner with roast potatoes and veg. The potatoes and chicken are pretty much always winners and the veg is always ignored. I managed to persuade her to try a bit of chicken and potato with a bit of carrot, and then the next 3 forkfuls she said 'Carrot on top'. I was shock ! grin

Glad the tomato pasta went down well.

One other thing we do, if we give her something new and she doesn't like it, we give her either a bowl of readybrek or a cheese sandwich instead at the table, then yoghurt. If it's something she's had before and completely refuses to eat, we get her down and ignore it, but tend to give her a bowl of readybrek before bed so she's got something in her tummy before bed.

ConstantCraving Mon 08-Aug-11 21:30:08

Hi, Can I join you? I don't have any suggestions but lots of sympathy as I am in the same boat. DD is 21 months and has gone from eating most things to only eating breakfast (oatibix and sometimes toast), lunch (if you can call it that - breadsticks and hummus or fish fingers) and for the last 2 days has refused supper. The only food she really likes to eat in the evening is pasta and pesto or pasta and tomato based sauce. She used to try anything, but just says 'no' now and pushes it away. I have been giving her a 'pudding' of cereal and yogurt before bed in an attempt to get her to sleep longer and i'm wondering if she's holding out for that? I keep trying her on new things - cauliflower cheese today as she does like cheese - but she spat it straight out. Am trying not to stress and glad to hear I'm not alone! It's compounded by her going through a really clingy phase and only wanting me to the point of telling my DH to 'go away' sad - luckily he's quite chilled about it, but she's sudenly very much the toddler rather than my passive baby! Glad i'm not alone with this. Will try some of the ideas on here and hope things improve for us all.

AngelDog Mon 08-Aug-11 21:34:06

ConstantCraving, at the risk of banging on about developmental stuff, clinginess is really common when working on a developmental leap. Researchers have described children as 'clingy, cranky and crying' then.

Apparently it can often take 17 times of offering a new food (or about 6 months of offering it reasonably regularly) before a child accepts it as a 'normal' food.

A book I've often heard recommended is My Child Won't Eat published by La Leche League.

Blatherskite Mon 08-Aug-11 21:34:24

Sounds familiar sleepless

We went to the supermarket this morning and I've bought some vitamin/iron enriched loops and some instant porrige oats thinking that maybe I might try mixing up breakfasts a bit. She generally has Weetabix every morning but she has been known to happily eat other things and maybe, if I vary breakfasts, she'll be more open to try other things at other meals too....maybe hmm

I think that psycologist was right Angel smile

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