3 year old won't eat - advice please(19 Posts)
I have run out of ideas (and patience). When we started weaning DS ate everything for months and months then turned fussy overnight. This got increasingly worse so now we're on a very small loop of things he will eat - fishfingers, spaghetti hoops, toast. Occasionally shreddies and grated cheese. Apart from being fussy though he doesn't seem to get hungry, he'll never ask for a snack and never wants to sit down and eat. I've tried to avoid mealtimes becoming a battleground as don't want to make things even worse but it's hard! If we don't make him sit down he'll just play with his toys and not mind at all that he's missing a meal. If he sits on a normal chair he keeps getting down, running off, saying he needs a wee etc. The only way to keep him sitting down is to strap him in his booster seat and even then he often doesn't eat, just sits there and talks, until eventually I feed him because I can't bear to see him not eating again. Ive tried going out for picnics but that doesn't work because he just wants to play so is even less interested in eating. Cafes/restaurants don't work because he won't sit down and just wants to wander around. I've tried reward charts and bribery but they only worked very short term. If we didn't make him sit down he would probably just continue to play and come up to the table and take a few bits off his plate now and again. Usually I resort to strapping him in his booster seat and feeding him which I don't like doing at all but if I don't he doesn't eat then an hour or so later he has a screaming/crying meltdown because he's hungry but as much as I explain why we need to eat, he just does not seem to get that he's crying/tired because he's hungry. I don't know how he has the energy to run around when he eats so little. It matters to me that we have family mealtimes. I don't let him have lots of snacks so he's not filling up in between meals. He's not very interested in eating snacks either. He would eat crisps and biscuits if I let him but I don't want to give in and let him eat rubbish, but I don't know what to do. In contrast his sister (10 months) eats everything put in front of her, but seeing her eat, or friends doesn't seem to encourage him either. Please help!
Ds was same stopped eating a wide variety around 3 yo and he is nit the only one. Very frustrating... We win on pasta and sauce ...getting him involved in making stuff helps a bit....he is nearly 5 and diet is getting wider again but many if his reception friends are the same v fussy according to their parents.
Just an idea, but could he be constipated?
I have a similar DS. Just wanted to say you're not alone😃
How much does he eat on a typical day? Can you describe what he's eaten today? What does he drink?
If it's any reassurance this was the last 6 months of my dd being 2. And then she turned 3 and is hungry all the time. So it could well be 'just' another phase
Our DS (3) is very similar...we tend to just go with the flow. He eats his lunches at nursery but at home just wants to play. Recently he's started joining in during mealtimes at home, a few times a week...we don't make a fuss of it either way.
Our DD (1) eats anything and everything.
He's not constipated because he has lactulose twice a day, but otherwise he would be. Today was particularly bad, all he's eaten is half a slice of toast for breakfast, no am snack, tiny amount of spaghetti hoops and toast for lunch, a little bit of banana cake in the afternoon, spaghetti hoops in the evening, he refused to eat fishfingers and by then I'd run out of energy to try and persuade him to eat anymore. For drinks he'll have a smoothie but I don't let him have that until he's finished eating. He'll have some milk in between meals but not enough to fill him up and I don't let him have any close to mealtimes. I wish all this was just a phase but it's lasted at least 18 months....
24yr old Dd was like this at 3 till she was about 7 it is bloody stress ful. I used to let her eat what she liked i stopped feeding her on HV advice gave her smaller portions let her graze as in gave her a snack, i stopped making meal times a battle got her to help put her dinner out and let her eat what she wanted i had to keep reminding her to stop talking and put something in her mouth though also i took the focus away from her eating so it wasn't a huge deal and topped her up with kids vitamins and milkshakes. It is a constant worry but don't make it a fight. Oh every week or so i would pop something different on her plate asked her to try it
I'd stop the nice snacks completely and just give him his main meals. Let him eat or leave the meals (it's up to him!) but put the uneaten meal in a Tupperware just incase he's hungry later. That way he's getting the nutritional savoury meal still, even if it's at a different time.
also he mightn't be hungry. Unless he's fallen off the percentile charts, I wouldn't worry.
I would offer the biscuity crispy snacks - they will usefully promote appetite and interest in food. Work on things in this order 1. Regularity of snacks and mealtimes 2. Amounts and portion sizes gradually increasing 3. Encouraging variety. Kids don't all work the same, and 'feeding him well' in your case means feeding him enough of whatever you can get in him. I have heard this advice from paediatricians.
Other ideas you have prob tried - You could also play around with eating in different less formal situations eg sitting up at the counter while you are preparing food, watching tv, picnics in the garden. With peers around. Letting him choose a nice new bowl. Keep foods really seperate on the plate or in seperate little bowls. Minimise stress and pressure around food. Let him choose in the supermarket. Let him try stuff with no pressure to eat it or finish it. Dry crunchy foods are often preferred at this age by some kids who struggle with textures, but obvs go with the types of foods he seems more to like. And keep an eye on his weight in the red book, if its not dropping and he is growing and gaining weight appropriately and your doctor is happy, and doesn't think there is an eating issue requiring speech and language therapist or paediatrician then ok.
All the above advice is great and i was nodding along and yes to the textures thing Dd hated hot wet food she would eat beige breadcrumbed food or toast
Have you read getting the little blighters to eat
But don't put pressure as he will see it as control and a healthy child will not starve.
Mine eat at nursery but not as good at home ...
I work with young kids from birth to preschool and you can see the non eating setting in poor parents tear their hair out it is very frustrating
My 3 year old dd is very similar. Today she had nearly a whole slice of toast in the morning, a few slices of pear at lunch time and two fishfingers with a very small amount of potato wedges at dinner.
As well as I've what I've listed above, she will occasionally eat cheese, and pasta with pesto. She likes crisps and biscuits but I try and keep those limited.
I spoke to a nutritionist once who said just get her to keep trying different things, it takes about seven tastes for children to get used to things and start eating them. But dd won't taste anything once let alone seven times! I just keep telling myself she'll grow out if it.
Thank you for all your suggestions, some of which I've tried but will try again! Haven't tried asking him to help set the table which he would probably enjoy. I haven't read Getting the little blighters to eat but it sounds promising! I know I need to let go and stop worrying but I can't! - not yet anyway. Thank you again x
My DS1 is much the same.
My list of allowed foods is: toast, brioche, scotch pancakes, jacket potato middle (he has to have seen that it was cooked in the skin but no skin can be on the plate) with butter and cheese, fish fingers, sausages, nuggets.
And occasionally carrots, bakes beans, apple, banana and grapes but sometimes they're gobbled up daily for a week and sometimes they're rejected for months at a time.
My two younger ones are watching him and becoming very similar (but with different foods obvs). I'm beginning to think I need to follow the philosophy of it not being my job to make them eat, merely to offer appropriate foods.
I hear your pain. I have a 2 year old that is not that good fussy but has the lowest appetite ever - only wants low calorie fruit and veg and has ants in his pants and not interested in cake/sugar/carbs (is he my child?!)
We need to fatten him up as he gets chest problems in the winter and then the appetite completely goes and he will drop to 2nd percentile blah blah.
So I went to privately to a paediatrician about his chest and she amongst other things referred me to a great paediatric dietician (great Ormand street no less). I will share what I learnt:
*food is food and don't worry if it is junk/sugary too much just get them to eat as a priority. She said even crisps for breakfast if need be (like Pom bears that are low salt) as the lack of growth can affect height and resisting illnesses and sugar can be brushed off teeth.
* higher in protein foods: Real Greek yoghurt, peanut butter, almond butter, popadoms (as they are made from gram flour - protein)
*you can deal with the bad eating habits later, at the moment you just want to get the weight on them any way that you can.
*make your own ice creams with masses of cream. Strawberry etc and you can also limit the sugar. Give ice cream every day if need be.
•my son has 100 ml of cream in his evening milk with Wellbaby vitamins which she recommended as the best vitamins.
•she encouraged TV while eating to keep him sitting. This works well and you can spoon in more - i cover the screen if he refuses a spoonful as he understands the deal is TV must equal to eating . No eating then no TV.
•plod through not HW foods he likes but she said to introduce a new food or two every week consistently.
Good luck I know how difficult it is.
Thank you again for all the advice, and thank you for sharing all the advice from the Dietician which is really helpful. I think initially I wanted him to eat reasonably healthy but now it's a case of getting him to eat as many calories as possible, so will be adding cream to his milk and stocking up on chocolate icecream! I'd love to feel that it's just my job to offer the food and his job to eat it, but left to his own devices he seems to be completely disinterested in anything (except crisps) and would happily not eat. Thinking of getting an icecream maker, maybe if he helps to make it he'll be more inclined to eat it. I keep telling myself it's just a phase, and look forward to the day when he actually wants to eat. thank you again xx
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