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Advice please: my 5 year old is completely uninterested in food

(11 Posts)
ApricotExpat Mon 03-Mar-14 16:04:02


Does anyone have any experiences with this, please...

From birth, DD have never been interested in food; it is quite simply not on her radar as something important. She weighs 34 pounds, is 5 1/2 years old and has always been on/around the 2nd percentile. She is looking particularly skinny at the moment - ribby iyswim. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on how best to encourage her to eat, without making food an issue.

Should I:
a. Make no comment whatsoever. Everybody stays at the table until everyone is finished, no matter how much has been consumed.
b. She can't get down until she has had a certain amount. This can result in a lot of tears.
c. Quiet discussions between her and I regarding how she needs to eat more to make sure she grows strong and healthy etc

We've tried all three to date. She will happily consume a couple of apples and a banana on an average day. In addition, we normally manage a small bit of pasta (eg, 4 /5 penne pasta tubes), a piece of toast and butter (probably a quarter), a quarter of a chicken breast (if she's in the mood). I try and 'top' her up on milk. Have even tried pushing nutella!

Any ideas? Should we just relax or should we pushing her to consume more than she'd like?

Thank you!!!

Artandco Mon 03-Mar-14 16:10:33

I would go relaxed. Everyone sits at table until everyone has finished what they want to eat. If that's 1 spoon then fine. Same at each meal.

Try and restrict snacks so she's Hungry at meals.

Mine eat anything but really aren't bothered with food. If I say it's dinner they come and eat what they want ( usually most), but if I didn't they wouldn't even ask for food ( haven't actually left them that long though)

BertieBotts Mon 03-Mar-14 16:12:36

There's a good book called "My Child Won't Eat" which is good for this kind of situation.

omama Mon 03-Mar-14 22:49:52

How much milk does she have? what about snacks? does she eat well at some mealtimes but not others?

We find ds eats like a horse at breakfast, loves his snacks but is never very interested in his tea. Most nights he goes to bed on an empty tummy & then is famished at breakfast again the next day & so it goes on. Whilst not ideal, I try not to worry about it these days as it just makes mealtimes really stressful.

We just go for the relaxed approach - serve the food in dishes in the centre & everyone helps themselves to whatever items they choose (often ds only eats grated cheese & nothing else) & we sit & talk about our day, but don't mention the food at all unless ds asks us a question specifically about it. We've now stopped making him sit at the table til everyone else has finished as it was another source of stress - so we agreed with him that when he has finished he will tell us & ask to leave the table & he is then allowed to get down.

I read 'My Child Won't Eat' - tbh I felt it was mostly relevant to parents of a very young toddler/baby, but the underlying principle is very sound advice that applies to older children too: it is your responsibility to provide healthy & nutritious food for your child to choose from, it is their responsibility to choose whether they eat it or not.

noblegiraffe Mon 03-Mar-14 22:57:37

Some children don't feel hunger and if she is not eating enough to maintain a reasonable weight, then a relaxed approach may not be appropriate.

I would take her to the doc, get her checked over in terms of weight and perhaps ask to see a dietician re getting more calories into her if there is cause for concern. A vitamin supplement is also probably a good idea.

ianleeder Mon 03-Mar-14 23:08:14

I've read my child won't eat, I agree it's mostly aimed for baby and toddlers as it discusses a lot on breast feeding and weaning. However, it's made me more relax with the whole eating thing as it says you shouldn't make meal time a battle and they will eat when they are hungry. I do find 'just take a bite' more relevant to the older kids as the book emphasise on resistant eaters and picky eaters. The book also has activities and exercises to encourage the child to experiment new food (which I will be trying). To be honest, I let my child have dinner first, if she doesn't eat it, she can have pudding such as apple crumble, fruits and yogurts, it's not ideal but I don't want to make an issue with food. The more pressure I put on the kids with food, the more likely they will reject and fuss.

Primrose123 Mon 03-Mar-14 23:14:11

Sounds like my DD. She has always been like this. She is 16 now, and still isn't very interested in food.

She eats very little, and always has, and is very fussy. She is tall and skinny. Even as a baby she didn't really want to eat, she just wanted to drink milk. I just accept it now, it's the way she is. She will eat some fruit and veg to keep me happy, and she understands about healthy eating.

On the plus side, as she is so fussy, she will only drink water - no fizzy drinks at all. smile

I used to think that I had done something wrong when weaning her, but my younger DD is a real foodie and loves trying new things!

ApricotExpat Tue 04-Mar-14 04:58:56

Thank you for your replies.

I will do my best to relax then! She the height/weight measuring health check at school this week so I'll see if I'm sent a follow up letter...

Thanks again.

anothernumberone Tue 04-Mar-14 05:17:47

My little one weighs 35 lbs at 5.5. She is a teeny skinny little thing. I second 'my child won't eat' it is brilliant. I read it because I met the man who wrote it and he was fantastic not because I was worried about the lo eating but I found it a generally reassuring book.

The other thing is that we went on holiday last year and I was genuinely surprised how slight quite a few of the European children were even compared to my own. Even my teeny one was bigger compared to some European similar aged children. I don't know whether the Europeans work off different charts but I was definitely reassured that mine were normal in that context whereas at home the lo particularly would be considered slight.

Artandco Tue 04-Mar-14 07:09:36

Another - I think your right. I asked our doctor if eldest (4) weight was ok as was slightly worried it was low as looks skinnier than friends, and when I looked at moving car seats he was way under the weight for a 4-11year old seat. She measured and he was bang on 50th percentile for weight so perfectly average. She said many are now overweight

atthestrokeoftwelve Tue 04-Mar-14 07:20:50

Does she get involved with cooking and preparing food?

I wouldn't suggest any of the options you have outlined, but focus on making food as fun and interesting as you can, whilst taking all the pressure off.
Let her make her own pizza, invite some of her friends around for tea, eat out so she can try new foods. have help yourself bowls at the table rather than putting things on her plate, or communual dishes to share.
Experiment eating with chopsticks or have a banana leaf meal eaten only with fingers.
I know it's hard- I had a poor eater son. but easing up the pressure is the best way to deal things.

I also gave Floradix Kindervital- available from health food shops, a delicious multi vitamin syrup which helped.

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