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dinner with 2 yr old a nightmare- please help

(5 Posts)
krisskross Mon 26-Sep-11 21:00:18

my DD is 2 and since weaning has been a fairly fussy eater- reluctant to try new things and sometimes seeming to eat very little. Otherwise she is a normal, lovely, happy 2 year old.

She goes through ups and downs of how much she eats and we have a pattern of things she generally (though not always) will eat and i try hard to introduce new things. i dont allow much snacking to try to ensure she is hungry.

However, in the last 3 weeks it feels like meal times, but mainly dinner time, has become a total nightmare, sometimes with me having to leave the room in tears of frustration.

It started with a terrible cough 3 weeks ago (possibly a chest infection according to GP) and she was off her food, understandably. But thats gone now and she hasnt really gone back onto her food and her behaviour at the table is quite 'challenging'- sometimes throwing things around and literally screaming if i wont let her play with something she has noticed en route to the table.

I have tried disctracting her at meal times with a toy- but then she gets so engrossed in toy she wont eat anything. Then if i try dinner without a toy she gets so wound up to get down from the table that she screams. its been like this for a couple of weeks and its really getting me down. we also have a DS aged 4 who has always eaten brilliantly and i feel as if he gets very little attention from me at dinner time now, so feeling guilty about that too. Also- if she doesnt eat much she wakes in the night, so i feel quite stressed if she doesnt eat knwoing we will get a terrible nights sleep..

we've moved dinner forward in case she is tired but that doesnt seem to help. She only turned 2 in july,so she is beginning to articulate how she feels - alot of 'yuk' and 'i dont like it' but she is still too young to really reason with or even bribe.

Please can i have some advice on how to deal with it- mainly the food really but also the behaviour. And i know some people have the attitude that they would not put up with food refusal but in my opinion you cant force feed a 2 year old . Just saying that as i am feeling really upset about it and messages telling me not to put up with it will only make me feel worse. Hope i don't sound too cranky!

Iggly Tue 27-Sep-11 07:46:49

First thing that stood out is the lack of snacks. Toddlers don't have appetites like adults - snacks are just as important because they burn a lot more energy than we do so keep them going. A lot of DS's meltdowns happen when he's hungry or tired. Try giving healthy snacks regularly (DS has one mid morning and mid afternoon).

You don't want her to be starving for her meals because that will put her in a grumpy mood. When I'm very hungry I don't want like trying new food, I want something I know I like! Sounds counterintuitive but that's how I work. Come dinner time your toddler will be getting tired too if it's too late.

I try and involve DS or at the very least warn him before his meals and he usually comes running himself - can you do this? Give her a taste and also eat with her so she sees it's all normal.

Given that she has been ill, let her snack and that way you'll relax a bit more if she doesn't eat a meal. Stick to her favourites for now and don't react if she says "yuck" etc. Keep meal times short too and praise her for eating well (and your DS in case he realises he can get attention from behaving as your DD does).

Mobly Tue 27-Sep-11 08:23:49

I know it's difficult but you have to stop making mealtimes and food such a big issue. She will be picking up on the stress. Serve the food, encourage her to sit down and eat but if she doesn't then don't worry about it. She will not starve.

I found that DS1 had a great appetite until he hit 2 and then displayed similar sort of behaviours as you're describing. Part of it is just being 2, asserting independence etc. Now DS2, who is 2 at the end of October seems to be heading that way too. Before he would happily clear his plate and try anything- now he has preferences for certain foods and doesn't mind letting me know!

It's normal.

Agree with other poster about snacks too. Sometimes the more you eat, the more appetite increases and children do need healthy snacks. Mid morning and mid afternoon sounds about right. If, on occassion, mine don't don't eat much dinner, then I give fruit or bread and butter before bed and give them a cup of full fat milk (which they still drink alot of anyway).

krisskross Tue 27-Sep-11 17:09:07

thanks for advice. def need to relax ...gulp.....and will have dinner earlier and try more snacks. thinking about it, she did eat more when she snacked more.
i think the dreaded second molars are kicking in too.

kblu Tue 27-Sep-11 17:13:32

I agree with Mobly. Try and relax a little bit. It's pretty normal 2 year old behaviour (well it was with my ds anyway). He soon learnt.

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