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resistant eater support thread - come and join me.....

(278 Posts)
tricot39 Thu 08-Nov-12 19:32:20

I hate mealtimes and have done for 4 years now. DS is 4 and has issues with food (likely due to illness in his first year) since week 4. We finally sought help last year and have seen paediatricians, SALTs and dieticians. It hasn't stopped the number of acceptable foods declining. We are mow down to plain/dry carbs and soft desserts/smoothies and chocolate. We hide supplements in the smoothies!

Over the past year we have got so much better at keeping things calm at mealtimes and trying to avoid pressuring him to eat (i give myself 3 "eat ups" per meal). But all that means is that the stress gets bottled up.

Anyway having ruled out physical and social/communication issues it seems to come down to phobias. He is a cautious chap and doesn't like mess or lumps/bits. The last SALT i saw actually knew what she was talking about and said that if we did nothing else we should do desensitisation exercises. We plan to use the ones in Just Take A Bite [[ here]]. This thread is partly to record that process and keep us on track.

We dont know anyone else with a resistant eater and so have noone to let off steam with. I hope there are some of you out there in a similar situation who want to share? Particularly if you are further down this road - i want to hope that these execrises will work but hope faded a couple of years back if i am honest sad

If you have read this and and are thinking about posting about your dc who isnt that keen on veg or that "kids will not starve themselves" then please don't bother. You are way out of your depth and i get enough of this in rl! Sorry to sound rude but i am hoping to find some people who understand how utterly helpless i feel <sob>

Anyone out there?

tazmo Wed 16-Jan-13 19:09:53


Yes I totally understand. Daughter will only eat carbs, smoothies, milk based stuff and crap. I'm really trying to get her to start trying new foods - just basically asked for any tips on another thread. Dieticians say they are not worried as she is growing and developing normally - but I feel like there is no help out there!!


ConstantCraving Sun 20-Jan-13 20:45:16

Just wanted to post what for us is a huge step forward! As you know DD (3yrs) is highly resistant to anything but limited carbs. I have been eating her old favourite (from pre-resistant days, about 14 months old) of pasta and pesto with grated carrot for lunch in front of her at weekends after she has helped me mix it all up. We don't use a fork and she has been helping me eat it by picking it up and feeding me. A few weeks ago I suggested she lick her fingers as they were sticky and luckily she did - and liked it. Wouldn't eat it though. We carried on until last week she ate the grated carrot and said she liked it, then she gradually progressed to licking the pasta - but no more.
Well today we did the usual, her feeding me and licking her fingers and the pasta while i told her she used to eat it a long time ago and she said 'DD used to like it', and then put a bit in her mouth and ate it!!! Restrained myself - no comments,. no over the top praise, didn't even look at her and she proceeded to eat the lot - followed by 'DD likes pasta the best'!! I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am smile. So - it was long and torturous (especially watching her scrunch the pasta up in her fingers, lick it and then having to eat it!) but it worked!! Came at just the right time as she ate nothing but toast yesterday.

storynanny Mon 21-Jan-13 00:36:38

Constant, I could cry for you! I know how exciting it is when a mouthful is swallowed! Hope it all continues to improve

ConstantCraving Mon 21-Jan-13 20:28:57

Thanks story. I have tried to follow your and tolly's advice re: staying calm, not pushing foods, not doing rewards / sanctions etc and it really has worked!!! I know its still a long journey and DD may well need lots of help for years before she feels confident with food - but at least i can see that this approach (which i am much more comfortable with) can work. So thank you again thanks - and to everyone else on this thread smile.

wiltingfast Tue 22-Jan-13 16:21:31

Hi guys, I came across this and I thought it might be of interest. If you look down through the comments it has links to very picky eaters, problem feeders and different blogs iwth other perspectives.

I hope it helps.

mummy2benji Wed 23-Jan-13 01:33:32

I am so relieved to have found this thread I could cry! Ds is 4yo and as a baby he suffered severe reflux, to the point that he refused to drink milk and besides the 10 hours a day I spent trying to persuade him to take pitiful volumes while he screamed like I was torturing him, he had 10 hospital admissions before he was one and tube feeds on occasion. He didn't start weaning till he was 15 months and that was only after 5 months of 2 finger food meals a day where we just played with the food and he spat it all out. Eventually we had a breakthrough with meringue and trifle sponge fingers - which dissolve before they can be fully spat out - he swallowed a little, realised that it wasn't the complete disaster he'd been expecting, and started to try a few other things.

3 years on, he eats a few foods quite well - sausages, chicken nuggets, Munch Bunch yoghurts and limited plain carbs. He won't eat any fruit apart from 2 flavours of baby fruit puree (must be same brand, eaten from jar) and no veg whatsoever. He is reluctant to feed himself but recently I have managed to bribe him with a choc mousse to eat the yoghurts and jars himself. He does love chocolate.

He won't try anything new and seems actually scared of other foods. If I put 2 peas on his plate he'd cry and get anxious until they were removed. I have been trying to put something 'scary' on his plate which he doesn't have to try but has to tolerate it sitting there. We managed a segment of clementine on his plate and after days of this he agreed to give it a lick.

It's just so hard to know what to offer him. Anything I make specially goes to waste which is demoralising, and hard to find time when I have 12 week old dd too. Thank you for the tips and experiences I have been reading on this thread and hi to you all smile

storynanny Wed 23-Jan-13 11:16:13

Glad you have us to support you, your little one is still very young and probably will still be hating food for a while yet, but try not to let it overtake your life. Try your best to enjoy everything else about being a mum and just aim for getting enough in for growth and health.

JoandMax Wed 23-Jan-13 11:32:43

Glad o have found this thread!

I have DS2, 2.9 yo, who is a difficult eater. He was NG tube fed until 15 months due to severe hypotonia, reflux and a minor heart and kidney problem. He had a gastrostomy at 15 months which came out last summer so we've had a lot of feeding issues!

He eats ok now, a limited range of food but it does include carbs, protein, dairy, fruit and veg so we know he's getting everything he needs.

We go to a group feeding session run by our local dieticians and SALTs which has helped so so much. They do a lot of playing with food, chatting about why the body needs food, what happens when you swallow etc

He had certain textures he won't entertain (mashed potato!!) and doesn't like food to touch on his plate. He has also recently started eating a tiny bit at other people's houses and in cafes, for ages he would only eat at home.

I have found any progress is incredibly slow and each stage f weaning has taken so much longer than a normal child. Getting DS2 from purees to lumps took well over a year whereas DS1 it was a few weeks!

It can get disheartening and nobody really 'gets' how sensitive their issues can be and how you can't just 'leave him til he's hungry, he won't starve'!!

But things do improve - we've gone from 100% tube feeds to 3 meals a day and its been hard but so worth it. I still need to tackle the night feeds but I don't want to refuse him milk/food ever as I'm so careful not to cause issues!

mummy2benji Wed 23-Jan-13 15:21:47

Re: nobody really 'gets' how sensitive their issues can be and how you can't just 'leave him til he's hungry, he won't starve'!!

Oh my goodness those were the words that utterly incensed me when ds was a baby and kept getting admitted to hospital because he refused to drink milk. Uh no, he won't drink! He had learned that starving himself was better than the pain of feeding, so he just wouldn't feed. They just didn't understand in our local hospital (Chester) as they weren't used to babies just refusing to feed. They sent him to Alder Hey who were slightly more helpful but it was only when we moved down to Cardiff and saw a consultant paediatrician who specialises in feeding problems in babies that we finally found someone who understood and didn't think we were mad parents exaggerating things. It was such a huge relief to find someone who 'got it' - up until then we'd been made to feel like our baby was the only baby in the world who wouldn't drink milk.

I have to say that the dieticians we saw when ds was a bit older were useless - they kindly pointed out how poor his diet was and suggested lots of foods to give him which would give him a more balanced diet. Great, if they'd also given me a magic way of getting him to try anything new. Which unfortunately they didn't. Ds cried his way through our messy play sessions with Sure Start and making him play with cold spaghetti and tomato sauce appeared to be his own personal form of torture.

But, having read about some people on this thread who have had good advice and support from dieticians, we are going to give them another go and have a referral to our local hospital this time (different to previous). The problem is all behavioural and related to a phobia of food and eating, so I hope they can give us help with this. Anyone else any good experiences with dieticians for this kind of issue? x

cantmakecarrotcake Thu 24-Jan-13 19:51:28

Mummy2benji, interesting what you said about him hating messy play. In theory it's supposed to be good therapy for picky/resistant eaters but DD hates it too. I set up messy play with jelly and hid interesting things in it. She wouldn't go near it. She was happy to guide my hand so that I'd pick things out but there wasn't a chance of her doing it herself.

We had DD's diet analysed by a dietician but it only highlighted what she was deficient in (after supplements). I'm hoping to get to see a child psychologist eventually. There's nothing physically wrong so it's just a behavioural/psychological thing. I'm hoping it would help sort MY issues with her not eating well too!

driedapricots Fri 25-Jan-13 14:26:07

hi, can i join... not had a min to read entire thread to see if anyone has this prob, but my 2.5 yo DS simply refuses to eat meals at the childminders..he's not brill at home, but there it's become a serious issue. he'll eat snacks but when it comes to tea time he refuses, even food we know he likes, e.g boiled egg.. it's been going on for 4 months now - thought it was an initial problem when he started there but 4 months!!! any advice welcome ;-)

Hiddenbiscuits Fri 25-Jan-13 20:05:13

Im so happy there are other people out there with the same issues! DD has milk allergy and reflux as a baby, couldn't get her weight above 0.4th centile... This led to a fear of solid food and lumps. HV insisted i had to feed more, weigh ins at my house every 2-3 days and force feeding led to vomiting which led to weight loss- cycle repeated and repeated until she just stopped eating! We would both cry every meal time. Now at 2 she has finally been weaned but only for the last 6 months. Unfortunately the only foods are red meat, white bread, crackers, chips and houmous. That list is exhaustive, no pasta, cereal, baked beans, rice, fruit, veg, cheese, chicken... She makes herself vomit if anything different is offered. It may help some of you to know we use benefibre from asda; its a fibre supplement that has no taste or texture when mixed into drinks or soft food like yogurt its really good for preventing constipation. We are just muddling through with the rest of it xx

ConstantCraving Fri 25-Jan-13 20:49:37

Hi everyone! Glad you have found us - but sorry you are all having the same issues with food. Hidden thanks for the fibre supplement tip - DD suffers awful constipation and is on medication, but it has been particularly bad this week - mainly because we are trying to potty train and DD is as resistant to the potty as she is to food!!

mummy2benji Fri 25-Jan-13 21:47:51

Hidden your dd sounds just like my ds, although he is now 4. Same history of reflux and milk allergy as a baby, which led to a fear of eating. Yes, looking back now I can see that there were times when I tried to force him to eat, and that made the problem worse. He also makes himself vomit if a piece of food happens to be a tiny bit too big or if he is eating something he doesn't particularly like - not that he will usually eat anything he doesn't like, but with perseverence I have sometimes managed to get him to eat a bit of a fishcake. I will look for the benefibre - ds is on lots of meds for constipation too so anything which helps bowels is helpful.

Constant good luck with the potty training! Ds wasn't potty trained until quite late - he was almost 3 - but then he just suddenly got it. He never got on with a potty, but he took to using the toilet with a child seat on it.

Well attempts at feeding have gone particularly badly this week as ds, dd (12 weeks) and myself have all had norovirus and been puking our guts up! Ds is better now but all I managed to prepare for him for supper yesterday was chips. Next week is another week!

Hiddenbiscuits Sun 27-Jan-13 13:59:02

Oh i had a question, did anyone else's terrible eater take a long time to give up night feeds?

mummy2benji Mon 28-Jan-13 00:02:37

Not mine as ds refused to drink milk - he kept getting admitted to hospital and had tube feeds because he wouldn't drink anything. He decided that starving himself was better than the pain of the oesophagitis that the reflux caused him. I had to set alarms to wake up and try to feed him overnight as I was more likely to get some milk down him with 'dream feeds'. He never really responded to hunger until he was over 2. It sounds logical that if your dd is bad at eating during the day that she'd wake at night hungry though. And if she's not scared of milk she'll keep wanting that for longer. Ds eventually started to try milk voluntarily when he was about 18 months and still has a big bottle of formula morning and night. I haven't tried to change that as at least he's getting vitamins and calories from it.

cantmakecarrotcake Mon 28-Jan-13 13:15:31

I did a night feed with DD until 1yr. At that point I stopped breast feeding and refused to do nighttime bottles. Tbh, I don't think she really needed the milk, it was just a comfort thing and easy way for me to get her back off to sleep

Mimisrevenge Mon 28-Jan-13 20:43:29

You seem to be further down a road that I'm convinced we are on with our daughter. She will eat mainly crunchy things e.g toast, some chips as long as they aren't too big and anything with chocolate is great. Virtually no wet food in meal form e.g. Fish pie, pasta soup etc are all no no s.

She has vitamin drops in her milk and we have seen a dietician but that Was through the sure start centre not our gp who thinks its normal. Yeh right, this is not jus t a phase, she has been like it from at least 12 months and would even refuse feeds as a baby.

Like you the list of acceptable foods diminishes e.g. Pizza now is totally off. She has made herself sick rather than eat and will concoct all sorts of stories rather than sit at the table, e.g. I need the loo, I'm tired can I go to bed etc. she is a bright child with an extensive vocabulary and can negotiate well on top of being extremely strong willed, you can't trick her! To the health visitor that told us she would eat when she was hungry well that's rubbish. We got to day four when she hadn't eaten anything and then we cracked. I felt like I could get done for child abuse if it went on any longer-so I let her have toast.

She also had other issues, flatulence, constipation, sleepless nights, stomach pains no doubt caused by not eating enough. She will never come to me and say, I'm hungry mummy. I've lost count of the number of times her nursery called us in and said she hasn't eaten all day, we are worried.

But now we are turning the corner. We started playing a game called sniff and lick, basically to desensitise her and try to conquer what i am convinced is a fear of food. We have had some success and nursery as well as my mum do the same. MIL doesn't tow the line though but that's another story. Last week she ate a thumbnail of carrot. I nearly cried. If she is ill, it all goes out the window and we are virtually back to square one. She got chicken pox on Boxing Day and her appetite is just beginning to return to what is normal for her.

So, I sympathise massively, and if you have any tips pass them on!

FluffyKJ Mon 28-Jan-13 20:49:44

Hi All
Am v worried about my DD 3. She barely eats to say the least. Unfortunately she has an egg and nut allergy which rules quite a few things out. I have always tried to feed her a balanced diet and when she was weaning she ate brilliantly. Ever since the age of 2 it has took a lot of coaxing and over the course of the past 6 months things have got even worse. This weekend for example has had a cold and eaten 2 mouthfuls of bagel and 5 grapes. Thankfully today is drinking but I feel like crying I can't get her to eat anything and for a 3 year old who is small anyway she doesn't have weight to lose!! She is still in 18-24 month trousers!! Please help I don't know what to do. I am trying as of 2 days ago the "tell me when your hungry" tact but her intake is still pitiful. Have seen a doctor and done a food diary who advised I was doing the right thing by what I was putting in front of her, but it still clearly is not right! HELP!!!!

NessieNoo2 Mon 28-Jan-13 21:55:20

I can definitely relate to this thread! My dd is 5 and has always been a dreadful eater although I followed all the guide books for weaning when she was a baby. Her diet at the moment consists of toast, omelette, chocolate and ice cream. She will eat the same foods day in and day out for weeks on end then will suddenly decide she doesn't like them any more (usually after an illness) and will refuse to eat them. Her diet can sometimes include yoghurt, cheese, plain pasta (no sauce) and chips. She will sometimes eat a slice of apple.
All of her eating problems have got worse since starting school last September and she is now getting upset every day at going to school and the main issue seems to be that she hates lunch times.
I feel a complete failure (I'm a single Mum) and I worry endlessly about her health and her eating. I have no idea how, but bizarrely she is in the 91st centile for both height and weight! It is so nice to find others who can relate to this as most people do not understand and also nice to hear that it has improved for some!

Mimisrevenge Tue 29-Jan-13 03:02:27

One thing we were advised to do is put out one thing every meal you know they will eat. With my daughter that's toast or bread and butter. I thought it would mean she just filled up on that but it meant she ate every meal time, then I can sometimes convince her to sniff and lick something else ( see post above!)

mummy2benji Tue 29-Jan-13 09:31:28

Fluffy is there something she loves, like chocolate mousse for example? Or some kind of biscuit that she'll eat reliably? I am of the opinion that when they are sick all attempts at trying to get them to eat 'good' foods should be put on hold and anything you can get down is fine. Ds will eat cheddar biscuits - like mini cheddars, but bigger - despite not being too fussed about mini cheddars. We all had norovirus last week and he lived on those for a few days.

Mimis your dd sounds very much like my 4yo ds. We are also trying the "just give it a lick" route at the moment. That has been quite a breakthrough as previously he has cried and got upset and anxious just having something new put on the side of his plate. Two peas on his plate could reduce him to a state of anxiety and upset. Now he will tolerate their presence and occasionally can be persuaded to lick something - the latest was a clementine segment. It hasn't resulted in him actually tasting or biting into anything yet, but it's a start. Every supper consists of sausage or chicken nuggets with potato waffles. He doesn't eat any veg but I can get him to eat two flavours of fruit baby jar (has to be only those flavours, out of those jars).

Can I suggest a good book, 'Just Take a Bite', for help and ideas on how to understand resistant eaters and strategies to help them. I've not had it long and with 12 week old dd having been ill and in hospital I haven't had the chance to try to implement it yet, but I found it helpful and also good just to know ds wasn't the only child in the universe who won't eat.

leeanna75 Tue 29-Jan-13 21:45:06

My lg only eats about about 5 foods will only eat noodles egg whites and green veg is 2 years old under 2nd centile peidrietician dietician have tried alot but nothing helps she also has a portage worker who comes to the house once a week to try through play but won't try anything its hard to sit at table at mealtimes watching her brothers and sisters eat and she just plays with it won't try it unless its what she will eat

mummy2benji Fri 01-Feb-13 23:18:10

Ah that's hard leeanna. If they will only eat a few food items, all you can do is try to make sure they eat as much volume of them as possible. At least the noodles are carbs, from the point of view of calories. I don't mean to suggest in any way that such limited eating shouldn't be a worry to you - of course it will be, we all worry about our children's limited food intake and rubbish diets - but I would take a little heart in the fact that she is eating varied food groups - carbs from the noodles, protein from the egg and vitamins from the veg. Will she eat biscuits? Or chocolate? I don't think it matters if foods aren't healthy, you just want to get the calories in.

A Q for everyone - just wondering if anyone else's children have suffered with brittle nails that split longitudinally up into the quick? I cut ds's nails as short as possible but they are ridged and pitted and the ends are split up into the quick, so he frequently has a couple of plasters on each hand. He takes vitamin drops in his milk as he eats no veg whatsoever and limited fruit in the form of two flavours of Hipp fruit baby jars. He is on a trial of iron medicine which he has been on for two months now with no improvement as yet. Just wondered if anyone else had experience of similar? Thanks.

chocolateygoo Wed 06-Feb-13 15:52:12

Well the HV came round this afternoon with her "amazing" stickers. i.e. lots of stickers showing fruit and veg. Her idea was that DS had to choose one sticker each day and then eat what was on the sticker. Hahahahahahahaha.

She also said I should stop offering him alternatives as he would never eat a "proper" meal if he could whatever he wanted instead. Children would never starve themselves so he'd start eating proper food in the end.

I pointed out that the alternatives being offered were bread or crackers and butter, so not whatever he wanted and not a 'treat' of crisps / cake / chocolate whatever. I did not think starvation or forced feeding was an acceptable way of treating a child. I also value my and his sleep and his happy mood and good behaviour a lot more than I value him eating a good meal, and wasn't prepared to subject us all to an evening and night of crying hungry child until breakfast at 5 am.

She backtracked a bit and said that you should do whatever worked for your family. However I should atleast hide the crackers until he has had a taste of whatever the evening meal on offer was. I.e. food as a reward / bribe.

But, everything I have read so far suggests that food should not be a reward / bribe, and trying new food should be in a non-stressful, non-reward based situation, you should always provide something you know they will eat and always provide a pudding. Is that right? At the moment mealtimes are quite happy and calm, sometimes he'll lick something new, sometimes not, we don't make a big deal out of it anymore.

Anyway, she is coming back in a month to see how we are getting on, at which point I'm going to whip out my copy of 'just take a bite' and quote relevant sections at her!

Mummy2benji DS hasn't had any problems with nails, although I used to get it myself a lot from wearing too much nail varnish, suspect that's not your DS's problem though!

tricot39 just wondering how you were getting on?

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