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At what point should I start worrying about how little toddler DD eats?

(27 Posts)
Emeraldgirl2 Tue 09-Dec-14 21:19:57

I'm worried, if this doesn't sound to weird, that I'm not worried ENOUGH... was at my mum's this w/e and she was constantly fretting about how little DD was eating, DH has worried about it too but I've been very live-andlet-live... until now!!

DD is 21m and though she does have days/sometimes a week or so where she eats loads and loads, she more often has phases where she can barely be convinced to eat a single meal a day.

We are in one of those phases now. So, for example, today she ate:

breakfast: peanut butter from the top of two crumpets but not the crumpets themselves. two strawberries.
Snack - a hot chocolate (freezing day and we had been in the park so hot choc felt right!!)
Lunch - the cheese from one large slice of cheese on toast. half a little pot of fromage frais
Snack - (best meal of the day as it happened!!) five wedges of sweet potato that were meant to be for her supper
Supper - two mouthfuls of pasta and one mouthful of corn, half a fromage frais.

Looking at this I guess it seems as if maybe I've given her snacks that are large and rich (hot choc and sweet potato) but the snacks were both in fact several hours before her proper meals ie the hot choc was at 8am (lunch at 11.30) and the sweet potato was at 1.30pm (supper at 4.15...)

Breakfast is ALWAYS a trial, no matter how late in the day I delay it to, she has maybe a maximum of four or five spoons of cereal or two mouthfuls of scrambled egg, even on a good day.

On a good day, in a good phase, she will eat a decent lunch and supper, maybe a large plate of pasta with tuna and fresh veggie tomato sauce for one meal, and then a yogurt, and an omelette with potato wedges for the other meal. Fruit and veg are usually a trial as she is v fussy but somehow I get some into her if I keep sneaking them in here and there...

But for the last 5-6 days, today's picking and no sign of real appetite has been the norm, she has been through long phases like this before, too.

As a baby, she was a HUGE eater, then toddlerdom hit and she got quite fussy but I thought that was just a phase and didn't worry about it.

The minute amount she actually eats sometimes, though, is obviosuly concerning to other people in her life and I'm a bit concerned I should be doing more!! But my instinct tells me NOT to make a fuss as she is very strong-willed and will just REFUSE to do anything if she thinks I'm making a big deal of it... gaining her independence IYSWIM.

So today, after she literally refused to eat a single bite of salmon for supper and picked at the pasta and the corn, I just said, "OK, no problem" and took it away.

Is there anything different I should be doing??

I do try to give her things I know she likes but that changes so much - last time I gave her salmon, for example, she ate vast amounts of it and today she was 'off' it, so I can't keep up!!

She did manage to eat a very chunky piece of choc from her advent calendar right after picking at supper, btw, so I don't think her lack of appetite is totally across the board smile

Anyway, sorry for epic post, but is there anything I can do and should I be be concerned? I guess I am getting a bit worried about how little protein she sometimes eats... but not sure how to combat it.

flipwit Tue 09-Dec-14 21:22:43

My third child was like this from 18m to about 3 - it was really hard work but I just went with it. He is ok now at 6, eats regular meals, still fussy but lots of veg and protein and unrecognisable from his toddler self. You sound like you are doing a great job smile

Artandco Tue 09-Dec-14 21:27:37

It sounds ok, but I don't quite understand the timings.

8am was hot choc snack after going outside and breakfast? How early is breakfast?

11.30am lunch and 4.15pm dinner seem super early. Plus a snack in between.

I think your trying to fit too many snacks and meals in a short time. 8am-4pm for x3 meals and x2 snacks?

Here mine are 3 and 4 now. But have had approx same routine since 9-10months old

Breakfast -8am ish
Lunch - 1 pm ish
Snack - 4pm ( often don't have one)
Dinner -7.30/8pm

turdfairynomore Tue 09-Dec-14 21:30:57

This could have been written by me about DS! He had long phases of eating precious little interspersed with the odd day when he had hollow legs and was impossible to fill!! We had a great childminder and she used to say if he looks ok and grows ok then he's probably ok since most kids don't set out to intentionally starve!! She was right! He's 17 now. Still fussy! But the hollow legs are a more permanent feature!

RigglinJigglin Tue 09-Dec-14 21:32:41

DD is like this. She's 18mo and I just go with it, she'll eat if hungry.

Today for example, she's had:

7am pre nursery breakfast:
Toast & banana - 1 bite of banana had, fed toast to the dog hmm

8.30am nursery breakfast:
Weetabix and toast - ate some weetabix

11.45 nursery lunch:
Beef, potatoes and veg - refused
Artic roll - scoffed apparently hmm

3.30 nursery high tea:
Rice cakes, cheese, fruit -
Ate some but left a lot

5pm dinner at home:
Chicken casserole - Couldnt eat quick enough
Yoghurt - refused

If she refuses something I don't make a fuss and just take it away. in picking my battles and food isn't one of them here.

SwivelHips Tue 09-Dec-14 21:33:28

My 2.5 yr old is the same. In nursery he eats like Henry VIII, here he lives on cheese and strawberries. Shame. As a baby he loved broccoli, carrots and all sorts, I was smug way back then. Try and look at her food intake over the course of a week. Our routine is
730 ish breakfast
1130is lunch
6 dinner
Plus couple of snacks....brewbrew

Emeraldgirl2 Tue 09-Dec-14 21:39:01

Art, ah, that's probably because you had normal toddlers who woke at normal hours ;) DD is a chronic early waker (completely separate issue from the eating one as she has always been this way re waking) and was up at 5am today... I never try to give her breakfast before about 6.30 as she just won't eat until then, or more likely 7, but today we were in a rush as we had to get out to an appointment so I gave her breakfast at 6.30 flat. Sorry I was misleading about the hot choc as were were GOING to park, not on our way back from park, at 8am...
Lunch HAS to be 11.30 as (given she has been up since 5am) she is too tired to eat otherwise, then nap no later than 12. Believe me I would rather ALL these timings were later and we are working on it but if she gets overtired she a) wont eat at all and b) the more overtired she gets the less she sleeps, so if I try to move eg her nap to 12.30 or 1 after a normal timed lunch, she WILL. NOT sleep and then she gets even more overtired and wakes even earlier... It's fun here, I tell you smile

Supper is early for the same reason, I usually try to give her a little snack at 6pm ish to counteract the early supper (slice of toast, a yogurt) but usually she refuses. In fairness usually supper is more like 4.45 (and in fact she usually refuses any afternoon snack, today's sweet potato was a one off) but I am trying a v v early bedtime at the mo as it has helped with the chronic early waking before, hence an earlier supper.

PickleMobile Tue 09-Dec-14 21:42:55

My 20mo dd is like this. Lately she has barely eaten any lunch. She can eat porridge or Weetabix like nobody's business though so generally if I think she's not eaten much during the day she has one of those for supper.

She will have breakfast around half 7/8am, lunch at 12 and tea at 5.30. Might give her a biscuit or a bit of fruit/fruit pouch inbetween and she has a cup of milk at breakfast and before bed.

Emeraldgirl2 Tue 09-Dec-14 21:45:26

Thanks everyone, v glad she isn't the only one. I agree with picking your battles!!!
I do think maybe my mum has a bizarre idea of how much toddlers eat as she offers HUGE servings of very adult type food and always a huge pudding, she just assumes children MUST eat and that not eating is a sign of naughtiness/bad parenting/child trying to control parent , not surprisinly I developed eating disorder in my late teens (food equals mothering to me, I guess, at least mothering the way my mum did it!!) so I've just assumed the absolute opposite with my DD, I haven't been bothered about 'feeding her up' as I just want her to enjoy whatever she has!!!

Goingintohibernation Tue 09-Dec-14 21:50:14

My DS has always been like that, having phases of eating loads, and at other times seeming to eat next to nothing. I've always assumed he was growing in spurts, and eats more when he is approaching a growth spurt. It hadn't occurred to me it was a problem. As long as your DD has plenty of energy, and is growing, then I think your attitude of not stressing about it is the way to go.

MakeMeWarmThisWinter Tue 09-Dec-14 21:51:26

I think you're doing the exact right thing! My DD is just the same and I never make her eat. She is getting over a nasty cold though and is being grumpy and I have resorted to spoon feeding her / bribing her with chocolate for afterwards, which I said I would never do and I must stop it. It's just been the last week while she's been getting over her cold, but I don't want to cause control issues. They won't starve themselves, that's always been my motto when my MiL frets about DD's skinny frame and bird like appetite.

geekaMaxima Tue 09-Dec-14 21:59:30

Is she sticking to her centile line in weight over the last several months (as in the chart in the red book)?

If yes, then she's eating exactly the right amount of food for her, regardless of how it compares to other kids of the same age or a DGM's dodgy memories of how much her own kids ate 30 years ago. There's huge variation in how much kids eat that's perfectly normal, which is why looking at an "average" toddler diet is often not very useful (and can make parents worry needlessly). Giving your DD the recommended vitamin/mineral supplement might help banish any lingering qualms about the balance of her diet.

If it happens that she has moved down to a lower centile, it's still no panic but it might suggest she could do with more calories, depending on her height, general health, and a few other things that need to be looked at together as part of the big picture. A good HV or GP could do that.

She's probably absolutely fine. But looking at her pattern of weight gain is the best way to gauge if she's eating enough for her. smile

gruber Tue 09-Dec-14 22:00:52

Don't stress, you sound like you have a great grasp on what works re timings etc. In all this I would remember 2 things.

1. A portion size is a closed handful. Toddler hands are pretty small!!

2. If she has enough energy to run around, walk to park, play at home etc then she is getting enough food. Simple.

Sounds complicated but keep persevering, sounds a good balanced diet and don't worry, they can't intentionally starve themselves yet.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 09-Dec-14 22:39:25

Is she teething? I had a 'quiet' teether, every so often she would just go off her food for a week and then it would be all systems go, scoff, scoff the next week. Has she got all her molars (for her age)? An aching jaw would put me right off my food.

Fingerbobs Wed 10-Dec-14 07:18:30

When I was 2 I stopped eating, according to my DM, and lived on air hmm. She took me to the dr who asked if I was lively, ran about etc. On receiving an exhausted affirmative, the dr said on that basis, I was fine. I started eating more when I was 8, btw, and now at 42 could wish I ate marginally less grin

LittleBlueHermit Wed 10-Dec-14 07:27:00

It's only an issue if she's tired and lacking in energy, or losing weight.

All the official advice these days is around letting children regulate their own appetite- our dietician says that its our job to decide when we offer DD food, and what to offer, and its up to her whether or how much she eats.

Definitely don't pressure her! (Or try to bribe her) She'll just eat even less. Sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing.

If you're worried, go see a dietician who's used to dealing with young children. They'll do an analysis of her diet- its really reassuring to see the range of nutrients they're actually eating. It's also useful to have official backing when it comes to well meaning grandparents. They'll ignore me telling them to leave DD alone at mealtimes, but 'the dietician said' wotks wonders wink

Goldmandra Wed 10-Dec-14 09:48:31

Unless she is losing weight, she is getting the right number of calories and she is being allowed to listen to her own appetite and take what is right for her.

You're setting her up for a much healthier relationship with food than you had/have. It's perfect so don't change it.

I, too, have some food issues as a result of being made to eat more than I needed/wanted as a child and I've had to work hard to prevent my DM from doing the same to my DD2 who can be a bit of a resistant eater if you give any hint of engaging.

I can't quite get my head round the fact that our society seems to work on the principle of cramming the maximum calories down the necks of babies and toddlers then spending the rest of their lives trying to get them to eat less confused

You're doing the right thing. Don't let anyone change that.

beachysandy75 Wed 10-Dec-14 09:58:48

There are a lot of colds and stuff going around so she may be more off her food than usual if she is a bit under the weather. I think it sounds pretty normal though. You have the right approach by remaining calm and not making too much of a big deal about it.

jaybirdsinginginthedeadofnight Wed 10-Dec-14 10:20:09

Haven't had time to read every post so apologies if I'm repeating. My DD (2.6) is wild some days she will eat her breakfast and a few breadsticks throughout the day and that's it, then some days she'll have one good meal, and then there are the days she will eat like she's never going to see food again grin I worried about her a lot, but I now look at what she eats over a week and generally she's not too bad. She is gaining weight and growing so I've just decided to go with the flow smile

Emeraldgirl2 Wed 10-Dec-14 13:25:05

thanks very much indeed everyone!!! Very reassuring indeed smile

But can I ask one (probably very stupid) question... it's just not occurred to me to have her weighed at any point (how dim is that????) and now I'm just wondering how I would go about it... Would the local children's clinic weigh her, like they do with babies, and if so how, now that she's too big for those baby scales...? I just have a vision of waiting at the clinic for 2 hours (the standard wait time) only to fail to persuade a screaming, high-maintenance toddler to get onto some scales...!!!

Please do forgive if it's a really stupid question, I just can't for the life of me think how to weigh her!! At home ourselves?? (because she will even refuse to do that, I'm fairly sure...)

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Wed 10-Dec-14 14:00:05

Electronic scales are a magnet in our house. Oh the fun you can have jumping on and off and seeing if you are heavier than dolly/big sister/Daddy.
Thank god my kids have no comprehension of body fat %'s or they'd join their father in gently hassling me to lose some weight !

If you visit your GP they'll put her on a standard scales. They'd need to to calculate meds for antibiotics for starters if she needed them.

If you weigh her you can plot her against the growth charts in the little red book. If she's broadly where she should be, I wouldn't worry at all. If there's been a significant change since she was weighed last then I'd probably keep an eye on her for a few weeks and keep a food diary before seeing a HV. If she is 21 months, she's due her 2yr old check soon I think? DD1 was done at 21 months, no sign of anyone turning up for DD2 yet at 25 months.

NickyEds Wed 10-Dec-14 16:20:30

Our clinic has a seat attachment thing for older children to be weighed on-I've definitely seen 2 year olds being weighed there. Speaking as someone who has just eaten half a box of Cadburys chocolate fingers I would say that it's good that your dd knows her appetite! If you'd said that she refuses all regular food but gorges on chocolate/crisps etc that would be different. I'd try to ignore your Mum's opinion on this. From listening to our parents generation you'd think we all ate everything on out plates, never misbehaved, slept through at 2 days old, never interfered with their plans etc-I could go on! I wish we were as good at parenting as they obviously were smile.

geekaMaxima Wed 10-Dec-14 16:54:31

Yes, local children's clinic or GP will do the weighing on high-spec scales but it's fine to weigh her at home also. Do use electronic scales, though - even the cheapie ones are more accurate than analog scales with a spinning dial. Most kids love seeing the numbers change when they hop on smile

geekaMaxima Wed 10-Dec-14 16:56:37

If she doesn't want to get on the scales at home, weigh yourself first, then pick her up and weight you both together, then subtract - the difference is her weight.

jaybirdsinginginthedeadofnight Wed 10-Dec-14 19:14:43

You would have noticed her loosing weight by her clothes. As others have said we just stand DD on scales at home smile

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