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Toddler not eating much at all - when does it become a problem?

(7 Posts)
olgaoctopus Mon 19-Nov-12 14:25:14

My DS is 2.5 and has always been a bad eater. He was breastfed and took ages to wean to solids and ever since then mealtimes have been a nightmare in our family. He is not fussy as such as he will try/eat most things (so far pineapple is the only thing he has refused consistently) but generally he eats very, very little and some days not at all. In his latest check he was 2nd quartile for weight (75th for height) so is skinny though otherwise healthy, active etc. There are no 'safe' foods with him (he must be the only child who needs to be persuaded to eat ice cream), one day he will eat something and next day refuse it. Today so far (it's 2pm) he has eaten 5 raspberries, a piece of broccoli and half a cracker (refused: porridge, toast, cereal, yoghurt, spaghetti, ham, carrot, cheese, apple, bread, chocolate cake).

I try not to stress about it and keep mealtimes relaxed but often end up using bribery/gentle blackmail to get him to eat ('you can watch tv if you take a bite of your sandwich') which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Sometimes I nearly think its normal and 'just the way he is' and he will eat if he gets hungry until I see kids of similar age polishing off great big platefuls of food. My DS has never cleared his plate or eaten a whole piece of toast in one go. He goes to nursery full time and they, too, have commented on his seeming lack of appetite.

I do get worried over his lack of eating and have been wondering if I should try and get him referred to a doctor. I don't know of any other toddlers like him and whilst I don't want to be a hysterical mum I need to know if there is something wrong with him. Anyone else with similar experiences?

hattifattner Mon 19-Nov-12 14:32:24

does he still drink milk? That might be filling him up.

If its any consolation, mine was the same. He is still very tall and very skinny, but he now eats like a horse.

Beanbagz Mon 19-Nov-12 14:44:59

Five years ago i could have writtten your post!

I honestly thought that no-one had a child who could eat as little as mine. He had a tiny appetitie from birth, would throw up if he had too much milk and weaning meals consisted of a icecube sized portion of puree. But despite all this he had tonnes of energy and is one of the healthiest boys i know.

Have you tried offering him little and often? This worked with my DS who just couldn't cope with proper meals. In the short term it'll at least get some food into your son and you can work on the 3 meals a day when he's eating more.

I have to say my DS did get better over time but he still eats far less than his peers and is on the 1st centile for weight.

And it took a lot of patience on my part not to get stressed by his lack of eating!

olgaoctopus Mon 19-Nov-12 14:51:09

No, he doesn't drink milk apart from what he has in his cereal/porridge/other food (which he doesn't eat...). He never really took to the bottle so never got into the milk drinking habit. When he was breastfed he was very chubby, consistently 90th centile, but dropped straightaway after starting solids. Just don't know whether his behaviour with food is considered normal for a toddler as everyone says they can be erratic but I haver never seen anyone as bad as him. I have no idea where he gets the calories to sustain himself! Apart from his weight he is developmentally normal/average, sometimes in the more physical stuff a little bit ahead (e.g. walked very early).

olgaoctopus Mon 19-Nov-12 14:54:59

To add, he's never had a problem with textures/colours of food, he's just as likely to refuse purée as he is a biscuit. The only consistent thing is his tiny appetite.

choceyes Mon 19-Nov-12 15:32:24

Both my DCs have been/are like this to a certain degree. Tiny appetites while other of a similar age polish off plate fulls of food, it's frustrating isn't it.

I found that with DS, who's now 4, his appetite improved a lot after 3yrs, so now he does have a decent portion of meal, although he will eat a lot of one thing and a bit of something else, but atleast he it's a fair amount, although I suspect still less than his peers. I did BLW with him, no spoonfeeding at all so I trust him to regulate his own appetite and he does do so, although he is a snacker so he eats as much as a snack than he would do at his meal, so he prob has 5 mini meals a day really.

DD, now 2.3yrs, hardly ate anything at all until she was forced to go through the day at nursery without boobie at 12 months. Overnight she started eating! She was mainting her weight really well just by having breastmilk, so I wasn't particularly worried. She still BFs a fair bit, her appetite is OK, still eats only a few mouthfuls at meals, but eats the same amound in snacks too, so like her brother has 5 mini meals. She is on 9th percentile for weight and height, so perfectly in propertions. Other kids her age do eat much more than her, but I'm also small, so she is not destined to be a big person anyway.

Have you read "My child won't eat" by Carlos Gonzalez? I good read and really did ease the worried I had about their small appetites. I really recommend it.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Nov-12 15:45:39

While some children don't eat very much, the not eating very much combined with the drastic drop in centiles and the fact that he's quite tall so he's disproportionately skinny would probably warrant a trip to the doc just to check what they think. There might be some physical reason that makes eating solids uncomfortable, seeing as he did so well on milk.

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