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5 year old and eating issues.

(22 Posts)
SancerreMerlot Tue 18-Feb-14 07:02:30

I've posted before about my son and his fussiness when it comes to food. He is just 5 and weighs only 33lbs. he doesn't have a spare pound to lose. I am always trying to "fatten him up" to get him to a healthier weight.
But I think I may be responsible for his fussiness. Since he was weaned he has always been fussy and always been skinny and the doctors have suggested ways of cooking to increase his calorie intake.

So I have became a "short order cook" who cooks him what he wants and I have just realised that a) he is still not gaining weight and b) he is not trying new food.

I've completely cocked up and have decided to try and stop snacks and give him breakfast, lunch, tea and supper only, whilst giving him one thing on his plate he likes and two new things for him to try.

But my worry is that this resulted yesterday in one small pancake for breakfast, two fishfingers at lunch and 1 sausage for tea as he ignored the two new things on his plate. That coupled with no snacks (to make him hungry at meal times) means he had a grand total of about 400 calories.

I feel sick that he is going to lose so much weight that he could end up ill or in hospital if he doesn't eat more soon. Should I go back to the old way where he is having biscuits, cake for snack and short order cooking or continue? I feel that we are such a long way from all sitting down to eat a Sunday roast of a spag bol together that I don't know what to do.
Any advice would be so appreciated.

AwfulMaureen Tue 18-Feb-14 08:21:18

Firstly do you know if his weight makes him underweight? I have a very skinny 5 year old who refuses a lot of food and I dont worry much because she is happy and your son happy and energetic? How tall is he? One thing which has helped my dd is allowing her to cook with me....she loves cooking and although it means that it takes longer, she at least eats some of what we made....

NoIamAngelaHernandez Tue 18-Feb-14 08:24:45

What foods will he eat?

SancerreMerlot Tue 18-Feb-14 08:57:27

He has lots of energy and sleeps for 10 hours every night. He just had a school check up and they put him under the 9th percentile. I think the average weight for his age is between 30 and 45lbs so there is a vast range there.
He will eat any fruit, some green beans, penne pasta with homemade veggie sauce (pureed). fish fingers chicken dippers and sausages, cheese, ham, bread, hummus and that is about it really. Whenever I try macaroni cheese he says it is the wrong pasta, same with spag bol. He would refuse any normal meat that is not breaded e.g.
roast chicken, beef, pork chops etc. He refuses rice and potatoes in any form, even chips.
I know I have created this situation I just don't know what to do now.

MigGril Tue 18-Feb-14 09:06:12

Have you read my child won't eat, it's a very good book. So he's not underweight and has plenty of energy, you just need to tackle the fussyness. How about mixing things up would he try penne pasta with cheese source? Or a different pasta with the source he likes.

I think I would carry on with what you are doing, maybe add a few more things in he likes, as I think they recommend just putting one new thing on a plate at a time.

it'svery frustrating isn't it, we've got a.six year old who'sregressing the moment now refusing lotsof food she used to happly eat.

SancerreMerlot Tue 18-Feb-14 11:27:48

MigGril, I haven't read that book. Will order it from Amazon tonight. Hopefully it will be useful reading. Thanks for the info and help. x

mummyxtwo Tue 18-Feb-14 14:35:37

Hi there, my 5yo ds1 is also a very fussy eater, resulting from severe reflux as a baby and swallow issues. He won't eat any fruit or veg apart from a couple of raw carrot sticks (tiny nibbles at a time), a tiny bit of apple, and two flavours of fruit baby jars designed for 4-6mo babies, which have to be eaten out of the jar and must be the same jar, no variation in flavour or brand. He eats yoghurt (again, has to be Munch Bunch, same 2 flavours) but apart from that he eats dry textures only - chicken nuggets, fish fingers, waffles, chips, biscuits, crisps, cake, chocolate. He is on Dalivit vitamin drops. He weighs a little more than your son but is tall and skinny.

I have worried myself sick about his diet in the past and still do worry, but have had a lot of reassurance from his paediatrician and dietician. I'm also a GP and while it is far from ideal, a not insignificant number of children do grow up on a pretty poor diet, and seem to be largely unaffected by it. Looking at what your son eats, he does actually eat a reasonable variety of food groups. I appreciate it is a narrow selection in terms of what you can cook him, but his diet does contain fruit, veg, some meat, and carbs. I wouldn't make yourself unnecessarily stressed right now by feeling that you need to transform his eating. I would work with what you've got - try pasta sauces with hidden veg in and vary the veg a bit, make your own chicken nuggets with a variety of coatings - try polenta, breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan, crushed cornflakes (my ds1's fave). You can use beaten egg if doing crushed cornflakes or try dipping in sundried tomato pesto if you are coating in breadcrumbs. Get him to help you - ds1 likes bashing the cornflakes in a bag with a rolling pin. Ds1 will eat pizza so I have a large batch of frozen mini portions of pizza topping made from roasted veg and tomatoes so at least he is getting a small amount of goodness with it.

It can be very demoralising, particularly when you see other children eat, but see every tiny improvement (even a lick of a pea!) as encouraging. The biggest thing now is to not make him afraid of or stressed by eating. I would personally (and do with ds1) make allowances for the limited diet and offer foods that he will eat, with the occasional slightly new or altered food to consider trying or at least accept having on the plate. Definitely ask your GP for a dietician referral if he isn't under a dietician, they can't work miracles but can give some helpful suggestions and just offer reassurance and support. All the best x Ps we have a resistant eaters thread if you search for it under Talk.

SancerreMerlot Tue 18-Feb-14 17:57:28

mummyxtwo, thanks so much for writing. I will go and have a look at the resistant eaters thread now. Do you have more than one child? I just wonder because I only have the one so I don't know if it is something I am doing wrong (strongly suspect it is me and my "short order" cooking) or if sometimes it is the child and just the way they are? I have nothing to compare it to so just curious really to see if two children in one family are different types of eaters. I really like your idea of different coatings on chicken. Hadn't though of polenta or cornflakes but they sound good additions in the war over textures. Thanks again, Really appreciate it.

AwfulMaureen Tue 18-Feb-14 20:04:07

I sometimes think I must be lax...I just don't worry about DD aged 5 who is fussy and sometimes eats hardly at all...she's tall and skinny but energetic and I figure it will sort itself out.

I might buy her some of that vanilla flavoured fish oil...meant to be very good.

ianleeder Tue 18-Feb-14 21:04:18

I really feel for you, my son age 5 sound like yours. I must say his eating has approved but he still won't touch any fruit or veg except for apples, oranges, smoothies, sweet corns and potatoes. I often have to mash carrots and cauliflower in his mash to get some veg down him. However, he loves meat and carbs so rice, pasta and roast he can happily eat. He's quite particular with his food so I dread going on holiday or eating out. I simply ignore his fussiness and dish out our family meal. There's usually one thing he would eat on his plate so I get him to try other food (most of the time it's left untouched!). I gradually expanded his food choice, for example, he would only eat breaded nuggets and fish fingers, so I made my own coated in breadcrumbs, gradually plain without crumbs and now it's in sauce (homemade). He started off eating just chips so I made potatoes wedges then baked potatoes and now mash potatoes. My daughter age 3 is becoming fussy but I have learnt my lesson. I'm not going to dwell on it and let her eat a healthy balance diet. She is little and petite. Whether she eat her tea or not, she still have pudding as I don't want to make an issue with food.

SancerreMerlot Wed 19-Feb-14 06:48:01

Thanks Awfulmaureen, I like your attitude, my husband keeps saying to relax about it all as being stressed won't make any difference to what my son eats. Perhaps I need to take a leaf out of your book and just not worry. He has lots of energy. Vanilla fish oil, I wonder it if I could get it into him? Got to be worth a try. ianleeder, that's a good idea about gradually removing the breadcrumbs. You have done well if now your son will eat chicken in a sauce. I'm impressed. That is a big goal for me. Think we might try that approach.
I agree with still having pudding but my husband says that if he doesn't clean is plate (only a tiny portion) then he gets no pudding. I'm with you that if he has tried some thing on his plate he can have fruit salad and pudding. I don't see how else I would get some spare calories into him.
I just wish I had a time travel machine so I could glimpse him at 18 and see if he is eating lots of things!

WipsGlitter Wed 19-Feb-14 07:05:45

I basically survived childhood and a larger oration of teenage years on ham sandwiches, toast and marmalade, meat in a boil in the bag and mini pizzas.

I only tried cheddar cheese at about 18. I have never eaten tuna.

I'm not sure why I was so fussy. I know it drove my mum mad. Being forced to try new things or eat large portions was awful. And I could be v stubborn.

My DS1 is quite fussy - but I let him eat what he wants and occasionally make him try new things.

Probably not much help.

mummyxtwo Wed 19-Feb-14 09:59:13

To answer your Q, yes I have 2 dc's - ds1 5yo and dd2 16mo. Dd2 is an entirely different eater to ds1. She doesn't hoover up everything put in front of her like some babies do, but she eats a good variety of foods and doesn't have any issues with textures. She likes meals with plenty of flavour, like bolognese, mild curries and lamb stew. In hindsight I did so many things wrong with ds1's feeding that I could fill a book with my mistakes, from giving him the same things all the time because I knew he'd eat them and not trying new things, giving him sweet things like meringue and trifle sponge fingers because the speech and language specialist thought it might help him learn to swallow hmm what a daft idea and no wonder he didn't then want to eat veg and getting stressed and upset in front of him and trying to make him eat. I also seem to remember dh and I dancing about like loons to try to make him laugh, and then one of us shoving a spoon in when he opened his mouth. Goodness knows what we were thinking, I can only plead desperation and sleep deprivation.

With dd2 I have forced myself to be light-hearted about eating, given her lots of variety, and if she doesn't want to eat then I let her get down but don't offer her yoghurt or other things that she loves as an alternative. It is too late to start again with ds1, and probably also unfair to class a child as a fussy eater when they have genuine fears about food or issues about textures, but I go with the approach above that I talked about with him. I do try to offer him new foods, but along the lines of slightly adapted versions of things I know he will eat. There would simply be no point in me putting a plate of pasta in front of him, for example. But I might ask him to tolerate a couple of pieces of pasta on the edge of his plate, if that is what dd2 is having. I class tolerating it on the plate as the first step towards trying something - it's a long way from that but all baby steps - tolerate it on the plate, poke it, pick it up, give it a kiss or a lick, nibble it. I have tried a sticker chart (angry birds stickers as he loves angry birds!), a marble jar - when he got to 10 marbles we made a marble run - and now we are trying a reward of 3 new foods means that I will buy him a Bubbles angry birds soft toy. He has achieved one of the 3 so far, when he ate some roast beef from our roast! For snacks I try to give him cheddar biscuits, which aren't too unhealthy, and crackers with Nutella, although he does have biscuits too and cake for pudding after supper. Yoghurt raisins were a breakthrough too, as he eats a bag with lunch every day and at least is getting a bit of dried fruit.

I found a book called Just Take A Bite helpful too. All the best x

SancerreMerlot Wed 19-Feb-14 14:05:17

Thanks Wispglitter, good to know that nothing bad happens if you don't eat a variety of food growing up and thanks mummyxtwo. I think I am only just beginning to realise I have made lots of mistakes in feeding my son. Bless him it may be he struggles with different tastes and textures or it could be I have just given him what he likes and he know I will cook it for him.
I have ordered the book from Amazon along with a couple of others. Thanks again for help and advice. x

littone Wed 19-Feb-14 14:30:55

What about chicken dippers or fish fingers next to the pasta sauce he will eat, then poured on the top, then with plain chicken or fish in?

ianleeder Wed 19-Feb-14 23:07:00

I can relate to you both. I remember letting my son running around and play so I can feed him the extra spoon- how wrong was I! I made mistake with his eating, I cooked him separate meals and let him watch tv or play on my phone so I can feed him. Wish I could turn back time and be more relaxed with his eating too. He's very stubborn and won't eat fruit and veg. He had 2 grapes today and nearly gagged! I envy kids who can eat everything and anything. hmm

LatinForTelly Thu 20-Feb-14 11:21:26

Popping on quickly to say, as a mum of a resistant eater, it won't be anything you've done, please don't beat yourself up.

And also try

just take a bite

I'd heard this recommended on here and very recently bought it. A friend with a resistant eater has just borrowed it and said it had some great ideas, and ordered her own copy. I am sitting down to start reading mine soon.

Also, try to be relaxed and take the pressure off, give him some of what you'll know he'll eat, a little of what he might try.

Also, (and this might well be my DS only), he eats more when I give him little and often through the day, so don't beat yourself up about that either! It may be that consolidating into meals is the right thing for your DS, but maybe not.

My DS likes food to be completely separate - he still has a 'toddler' plate with sectioned compartments at nearly 7.

Sorry this is a bit of a quick braindump. Will come back later if I think of anything more. Just saw your thread and wanted to recommend the book!

SancerreMerlot Thu 20-Feb-14 19:26:31

Thanks littone, ianleeder and latinfortelly. I've so done what you did ianleeder and am now realising I have made the problem worse. Will buy just take a bite and have a read. I've ordered some others too so hopefully I will get a "lightbulb" moment!

FitzandtheFool Thu 20-Feb-14 22:51:01

I also have a resistant eater DS, age 5. Dont beat yourself up, its not your fault. My DS was fussy from the weaning stage. I have not known anything different.

I too worry about DS weight constantly and also try to fatten him up as he is all skin and bones. I sneak in extra olive oil and butter whenever I can. I let him eat what he likes so snacks and main meals. He also can't eat a lot at one sitting so by lunch time he has eaten 3 times! But after lunch, he tends to have just one snack before dinner and then he "cluster" feeds before bed. smile He has to eat so often because he has low blood sugar levels and gets very emotionally volatile if he doesn't eat.

I think your DS has all the main groups and is eating okay. I would carry on doing what you have been doing, relax, maybe offer him a teeny tiny portion of something new on his plate or another plate close by but don't mention it at all.

I am a short order cook to him, which sometimes fills me with despair, but he's healthy and happy with loads of energy. I have started putting spatone (apple juice flavour) every couple of days into his apple juice because I always worry about his iron level the most.

Sorry for the long post smile.

SancerreMerlot Sun 23-Feb-14 16:28:47

FitzandtheFool I sneak in butter and olive oil too! Every extra bit helps. That's interesting about the cluster eating before bedtime. I wonder if maybe that's just when he is the most hungry throughout the day? My son today has eaten half piece of toast, bowl of fruit salad and 1 sausage and 1 pitta bread. But this is about the same as any other day. But today I have tried to relax and not stress about it, so at least I feel calmer and less worried.
I give my son the vitamins for children from Holland and Barraret as they have all the vitamins and 7mg of iron in each chew. I think so long as he has one of those a day that covers most of the missing vitamins and iron. Ds loves the taste of them as they are chewable.
I'm sure (hoping) all the resistant eaters will sort themselves out when they are older. I know nothing I was doing was helping so perhaps I had better leave it up to DS to take control of his eating and I will just keep putting the food down on the table for him to try.

Davidhasselhoffstoecheese Sun 23-Feb-14 23:30:52

All 4 of mine weigh between the 9th and just under the very very bottom percentile. Just looking at them i can see they are bright, healthy etc. Never cooked to order and instead make one meal. The boys either choose to eat or not. Never fuss. They know that they need to make a good dint into their main course to get pudding. However we don't cajole or pester them. They all eat a really varied diet - lentil stews, tuna steaks, stuffed courgette etc. Occasionally they aren't hungry which is fine too. I've bought in fish fingers a couple of times over the years for guests but otherwise we don't bother. Fast foods tend to be other items like jackets, grilled fish etc

I think you are worrying too much about him not getting enough calories. What do you eat! Can you build up to serving that to him? I think he has a lot of control right now, what with you being so desperate that he has calories.

SancerreMerlot Mon 24-Feb-14 18:15:13

Davidhasselhoffstoecheese I think you have hit the nail on the head in that he has the control as I want to make sure he has enough calories. I eat anything and was never fussy as a child, although my husband was. We eat anything, curry, meat and two veg sort of dishes, salmon, stir fry etc. We always offer DS some but when he has refused I have done the short order thing. This weekend I stopped and I have felt more in control of the situation and I'm trying to worry less. I keep telling myself I'm not denying him food (there is the offer of lots) but he is being denied the food he wants, but I think that is me taking back a bit of control.
He is really active, happy boy who is on the go all day.

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