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My 3yo DD's eating is driving me to tears

(10 Posts)
GetDownYouWillFall Tue 09-Aug-11 19:01:59

DH has just taken her out for a walk whilst I went and had a little cry in the loo sad

It is driving me mad.

I know there are tonnes of threads on this so apologies for the boring subject matter, but I just need to vent as it gets me so upset.

Every meal time is HARD. She is really really slow. Maddeningly slow. Every excuse under the sun - I need a wee, I want a cuddle, I'm tired, Ooo look at that birdie..... dawdling, messing around, getting up from her chair.

She will eat next to nothing, unless I physically put it on the fork for her. I know this is a really bad habit, so have stopped doing it. Which has resulted in her food intake dropping massively. So now, she is hungry most of the time, and really grumpy and stroppy as well probably because she is so hungry.

I've tried ignoring, I've tried staying calm. On occasion I've lost it and had to leave the room, almost shaking with anger (not proud).

Today DH said we should withhold pudding (not something I normally do, as at least if she has pudding she gets some calories). She had a massive meltdown complaining she was hungry, despite not eating any of her sausage, cheesy mash, spinach or asparagus that was put in front of her.

I ran to the loo in tears because I know she's not eaten all day and must be starving sad

The food issue is by far and away the hardest thing about being a mum sad

sleeplessinderbyshire Tue 09-Aug-11 19:04:11

many hugs. we have similar here with my DD aged almost 2. no wise words except my mother's ppoint that you don't meet many adults who throw tantrums at the table and only eat pudings so they must get the hang of it eventually!

HattiFattner Tue 09-Aug-11 19:14:02

hang in there! No child ever yet starved themselves - its a battle of wills over the chocolate pudding. Id carry on putting savory food in front of her, she will eat when she is hungry enough.

ALso, stop making a song and dance over food - if you are getting really stressed, then she will be picking up on that. Put the food in front of her, if she doesnt eat, remove it after 20 minutes and let her get down from the table. Do try, however, to put food in front of her that you know she likes. Let the battle be as easy as possible for her and you. Focus on the eating rather that the what-she-eats, within reason.

WRT how much she eats....get a plastic bag, put a small qty of food in it, - then hold it up to her tum. We can forget that their tummies are tiny, and the qty of food required is much less that you expect.

camdancer Tue 09-Aug-11 19:30:27

I know this may sound odd, but what about giving her pudding at the same time as her main? I started doing that with DS, who is a pretty poor eater. He will eat the pudding first, but then eats the main course.

Or have a picnic rather than sit at the table. Just anything to break the cycle of what sounds like very tense mealtimes. My sympathies. Food is hard.

Galena Tue 09-Aug-11 19:41:30

Does it matter if you put the food on the fork for her? On another thread there was discussion about a 2.5yr old child wanting mum/dad to feed her her dinner at the table - quite a few of us found our similar aged children were doing the same. If she eats when you do that, then do it for a while so she's not hungry and the hungry grumpiness goes away. Then, when she's in a better frame of mind you can start the 'Mummy will do one forkful, then it's your turn'. She won't be wanting you to fill her fork when she's 21, so does it matter if you do it at the moment? I'd say pick your battles, and don't pick this one!

SenoritaViva Tue 09-Aug-11 19:48:30

aaahhh I feel for you.

We don't eat with DD (now 4) because DH gets home too late but I sit with her (think it's terribly depressing to eat on your own). I get SO frustrated by sitting for 45 minutes when there have been 5 (sometimes less mouthfuls). I also did the feeding on a fork thing.

Lately I have got much tougher and you know what it is better (except that she's still slow). I know she doesn't need to be slow as she wolfs down breakfast!

So, what do I do? I've set a time limit on supper. 40 minutes. What you haven't eaten goes in the bin. It's hard to do but I do it. I show her the watch and she knows how much time she's got. If she doesn't want to eat or finish I shrug and say no problem and try not to make a big thing about it. She also feels somewhat in control because she will skip off and say it's OK I don't want pudding today. Also, on days when she isn't eating well I just don't give her any snacks inbetween meals. I know that can be tough but you know what she'll be fine. I make sure she has good vitamins every morning so I know she's getting some good stuff. I also make her portions really small, I've realised she doesn't have a big appetite and that's fine, nothing worse than them looking down at a huge mountain of food.

As with the fork thing, I've taken that gently and she's got SO much better. I figured that was the least of my worries. We've taken it in turns, loads of praise when she does it herself etc. And she IS much better. I don't think stress TOO much about it, just have it as a long term goal.

thisisyesterday Tue 09-Aug-11 19:49:45

i wouldn't withhold pudding, but i would make it something very small and not filling. just a small piece of fruit or a fromage frais.

then later, when she is complaining that she is hungry you re-heat her dinner and give it back to her.

both my older 2 however have gone through the phase of not eating unless I fill the fork for them. intensely annoying, but they did both grow out of it by themselves.... so if it works i would tend to go with it.

no praise for eating. she ought to eat, so don't go overboard with the "wow, you ate so well" or anything like that. don't turn it into something that is a big deal.

<hands OP some kleenex> wipe yer eyes. tomorrow is a brand new day. my top tip on food issues is try not to stress. hard i know, but the more laid-back you are over the whole eating thing, the more laid-back she will be. act like you just don't care

Gastonladybird Tue 09-Aug-11 19:53:20

Another one who has dd of same age with issues. Reading to dd and then making her take a fork of food before you turn page (or turning off tv or audio book). Picking your battles re what she eats (am focussing on getting her to eat something and ignoring the lengthy list of food hates for now but letting her see us eat them).

Also do agree that limiting pudding if really don't eat Much good as they don't need a lot.

girliefriend Tue 09-Aug-11 20:04:38

I was a v fussy eater as a child, my advice would be get her as involved with food as possible, if she can help cook the dinner let her, do you know anyone with an allotment where she can see food grow?

Keep portion sizes tiny so that she doesn't feel overwhelmed by too much food on her plate - if poss put a choice of a few different foods on her plate.

Don't make any comment about how much she does or doesn't eat - just take the plate away when she has finished (exceptionally difficult I know) Always offer a pudding.

Is she a grazer? And do you have set meal times? Does she go to nursery - sometimes the structure of mealtimes at nursery is helpful as there will be a set amount of time to eat and if they don't eat then they go hungry iyswim?!

For me in hindsite the issues were around control and attention, I'm never 100% comfortable when someone else cooks for me and my diet improved dramatically when I started cooking for myself. Also I got lots of negative attention for not eating at mealtimes.

GetDownYouWillFall Wed 10-Aug-11 18:10:45

Just wanted to say thank you everyone for your advice and sympathy yesterday - it really did help. Sorry for not replying <8 months pregnant and knackered> but your posts really did help. Thanks for the advice. Sometimes you just need to get it out don't you. Today she's actually been a bit better - went for a picnic and ate reasonably, then tonight she's had some pasta with bolognese sauce. So I am feeling a bit better about it all. Just keep plodding on! smile

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