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I know this subject has been done to death, but I can't work out where I'm going wrong.

(13 Posts)
notmuchofaclue Wed 03-Dec-14 21:18:39

Dd is 2.5 and is a tricky one with eating. I know fussy toddlers are such a common problem but I am all out of ideas and could really use any advice.

She has always been a bit fussy, but used to have 6 or 7 decent main meals that she would happily eat. Over time, this list reduced down, and she would refuse to eat even our 'banker' meals. So, I read a book about it all and decided that we would all eat together in the evening, and that she would be given a little bit of whatever we were eating. If she didn't eat it, there would be no fuss. She's always offered a yoghurt (or other dairy based dessert like low fat custard) and fruit afterwards.
The problem is, in the few months that we've been doing this, she's literally not eaten one single meal. Most nights she literally doesn't eat a single mouthful, just pushes the plate away. A lot of the meals are things she would have eaten happily in the past, pasta/spag bol etc. so it's not like I'm dishing up crazy foods she won't touch. Most times she doesn't ask for dessert, I offer it to her and then she'll have it. Really all she wants to do is get out of her chair.
She doesn't wake up hungry in the night and she doesn't seem particularly hungry in the morning. But she will often eat lunch (maybe half a cheese sarnie) and then no tea at all.
She's average height and weight so is obviously getting what she needs overall, but her diet is limited to basic breakfast stuff and usually something cheese and bread based for lunch (her GPs look after her and apparently anything else gets ignored). I don't let her see that it bothers me but I just can't figure it out. Where am I going wrong?!

redrubyindigo Wed 03-Dec-14 21:38:03

She is regulating her diet to her needs. A lot of toddlers do.

Offer food, do not watch or try to tempt. If she eats then praise quietly or just take the dish away without any fuss after you have finished your meal.

I now have dc's and I feel your pain but I once worked as a nanny and the 18 month boy in my charge ate every other day. He had drinks and milk etc but I was removed from the worry as he wasn't my child but he was happy and thriving and that was his thing but his parents were frantic about it.

He is now 22 and 6' plus and loves his food

TheAuthoress Wed 03-Dec-14 21:41:45

My DS has just turned 4 and I think we are finally - touch wood - coming out of this phase after what has felt like an eternity.

For a very long time he pretty much are nothing at dinner time, we've always sat together to eat so we tried ignoring, getting angry and frustrated, putting down a plate with only a couple of forkfuls of food on it and making a big fuss if he ate it, putting down a plate with nothing on it and seeing if he'd want share of ours. Nothing worked.

Now he's a bit older he loves being told how clever he is, so I've been explaining how food helps our brains and bodies grow to do all the fabulous things he can do, don't know if that has done the trick or it's something else.

When he was younger he ate huge portions of everything and liked most foods, then the same happened where the meals he liked got smaller and smaller.

I became very worried about it as I felt I was inadvertently starving him but I spoke to the HV and she said not to worry about that.

If she eats ok at lunchtime would it be possible to give her a dinner then? What about letting her help make dinner or choose dinner, what does she say if you ask her what she wants to eat?

What are her snacks like? I wondered if my DS just simply wasn't hungry as he had a huge breakfast, pretty big lunch and two snacks a day.

I just tried to make sure that everything my DS did eat was packed full of as much nutrition as I could manage to make sure he wasn't lacking in anything.

Probably haven't been much help but just wanted to let you know you are definitely not alone!

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Wed 03-Dec-14 21:50:34

I have an enormous 7 year old son (13 cm tall, 30 kg - not over weight but healthy non skinny and exceptionally tall) who almost never eats after 2pm. He eats a huge bowl of porridge for breakfast, a second breakfast of sandwich and fruit at his first break at school (breakfast is 6.30am, first break 9.30am) a banana or similar about 11.45, most of his lunch at 1pm, then he's pretty much finished eating. He rarely eats more than the odd bit of dinner.

He never stops moving, plays football for the first team in the age band above the one heshould be in, is doing well academically. .. hHe doesn't need to eat after 2pm apparently.

If she's happy, active and full of life as well as healthy height and weight she's self regulating - kids do until we mess them up grin Let her get on with it unless she becomes underweight or lacking in energy, or overly grumpy...

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Wed 03-Dec-14 21:51:45

135 cm tall, not 13 cm - he isn't a Playmobil man...

notmuchofaclue Wed 03-Dec-14 22:13:23

Thanks everyone, it's very reassuring to hear it's not just my dd!
TheAuthoress, I had thought about trying to make her lunch her main meal, but it would be trickier to plan and most times when she's offered something other than a cheese sarnie she turns her nose up anyway. Oddly she often asks for 'something to eat' during the day, but if you ask her what she wants she often won't touch it even if you give her what she's asked for. She will also sometimes ask for 'something to eat' having pushed her plate of food away! There doesn't seem to be any correlation between her asking for food and her actually being hungry. She's always been a snacker, but not giving her a snack in the afternoon seems to have little effect on her interest in dinner. I've gotten her involved in choosing and preparing dinner...she'll even say things like 'ooh delicious soup!' before pushing the bowl away and refusing to eat it. Drives me bananas.
I'm really aware of not wanting to override her natural appetite regulation. Sometimes she won't even eat chips (the food item of choice!) - and was once even seen to push a bowl of ice cream away!! But I just feel like we're going backwards not forwards and feel a bit helpless.
MrTumbles I'm glad to hear your son's doing so well in spite of being a dinner dodger too (and isn't suffering from Playmobil sizing as a result!). Dd doesn't seem to lack energy so deep down I know she must be getting what she needs. It's my own (and my DH who stresses even more about this) worries rather than anything wrong with her that's the issue.
So would you just keep going with what we're doing? I am going to try to get the GPs to mix lunch up a bit, although they are creatures of habit too.

OutsSelf Wed 03-Dec-14 22:18:09

The no fuss approach is a good, long term strategy, OP, if she's fine then stick with it. We do mainly what you are doing with the added caveat that everything must be licked, just so they get a taste. No one has to eat anything though, and we don't go into, "I told you so!" if it turns out they do fancy some. We have about a 50% hit rate with new foods with this. We've also done quite well with joyfully serving ourselves with a new food and not the DC, then copiously enjoying it. For some reason, having a taste off someone else's plate seems a bit easier.

Also, we've had some phases of rejecting everything except pasta or something similarly beige, and although I've been worried, I never say anything in front of them except what good eaters they are and how they'll try anything. Sometimes this has meant that I've been sort of dishonest with the kind of person who loudly asks personal questions about children in front of the child but I think that such people don't necessarily deserve a straight answer anyway wink

Last thing - if the DC wail, "I don't like x food!" I always reflect back, "you don't want x food right now" because I want to avoid the whole I like/ I don't like shit. This admittedly is because my family are a bunch of neurotics who have virtually built their identity on what foods they will or won't eat, and I am now neurotic about not recreating that culture in my own family. But I also think it's worth remembering that people say to children, "would you like x?" meaning, "do you want some?" so it's possible that DC say "I don't like" and mean "I don't want".

MrTumblesBavarianFanbase Wed 03-Dec-14 22:22:50

I would just keep serving her a small portion of what your having - my mother projected her food and intertwined control issues onto her children and ended up with kids with eating disorders, one of whom at least is repeating the pattern with a vengeance... As you know your daughter is healthy as she is, the best thing you can do is protect her from her dad's well meant but unhelpful anxieties! Don't make an issue for her to satisfy the needs of the adults in her life!

WhatsGoingOnEh Wed 03-Dec-14 22:23:57

Is she drinking lots of milk/juice during the day?

NoSquirrels Wed 03-Dec-14 22:31:09

No fuss, no stress, offer what you have is all good. And if she's healthy and happy and growing, then it's OK.

I would just check on what she has for breakfast, however. A lot of small people who don't like many meals actually eat a lot of calories at breakfast - 2 bowls of cereal plus toast plus a cup of milk, say - often cos those foods aren't very challenging and come with added sweetners one way or another (jam on the toast, sugar in the cereal etc.) and the thing to do then is to try to mix that meal up a bit so they can't just repetitively eat the same thing every day at breakfast.

What does an average day look like overall? Are all the food groups covered, for instance?

poocatcherchampion Wed 03-Dec-14 22:51:36

my 2.5yo was eating like a horse a few weeks ago and now is barely eating. I don't worry about it it. just serve what I was going to serve and move on.
she asked for satsuma for pudding tonight and ate precisely one piece after possibly no roast chicken or sweet potatoes or veg.

she always eats a reasonable breakfast.
I just leave her to it; and also always say and believe she is a good eater. as she is on the whole.

notmuchofaclue Wed 03-Dec-14 23:13:14

I don't think that what she does eat is very balanced at all. It's a good point re. breakfast, as she always errs towards sweet rather than savoury (a common issue I'm sure). So breakfast is often half a cinnamon bagel with fruit juice mixed with water and sometimes a yoghurt. She always wants some of my cereal (Special K red berries) and would eat quite a lot if I feed it to her (I know, I know( but try giving her some cereal herself and she won't touch it. Can anyone suggest better breakfasts I could try? It is a struggle sometimes because my SH would always want her to eat 'something' rather than nothing, even if that something is 3 scotch pancakes.
She drinks enough fluids during the day but certainly not excessively so. She stopped drinking milk as soon as we stopped letting her have it out of a baby bottle. Hasn't touched it since. So the one thing I am hot on is making sure she gets a few portions of dairy (yoghurt, low fat custard, cheese - hence maybe my reluctance to really address the cheese sarnie lunch). Snacks might be a cereal bar, rice cakes, slice of Soreen or bread sticks and soft cheese. She's occasionally interested in fruit but never consistently. So all in all it's not a good diet. I give her a multivitamin on the off chance that it will in any way compensate!
Outself you are right re. 'I don't like' and I've tried to deal with that. The problem is she's replaced it with 'yuk!' - my only strategy with that is ignoring it. I'm not sure it's working!
MrsTumble my DH doesn't have a great relationship with good himself, has a terrible sweet tooth and struggles with portion sizes - but trying to get him to understand that he shouldn't project that on to dd is hard. He just sees it as wanting to make sure she eats. But as a result, he'll be bringing out the crisps and biscuits before she's touched her proper food.
Thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions, it's hugely helpful.

MillyMollyMama Thu 04-Dec-14 00:18:26

My DD2 are nothing until she was nearly 2yrs 6months. I was continually upset about it as my DD1 had eaten everything. I tried everything. Every strategy I could find. She was even referred to a child psychologist! One day I decided I needed to get help. Off she went to nursery. 2 half days a week. Stayed there for lunch. After about 6 weeks - she ate lunch. She sat down with all the other children and, not wanting to be different, she ate. Two months after that she had two helpings of Turkey and vegetables on Christmas Day. Such a relief and she never looked back. I know not everyone can afford this, but it really worked for us. I never cried over meal times again.

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