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Help - my two year old has stopped eating her dinner!

(10 Posts)
Cooperoo Sat 26-Mar-05 16:48:46

Hi there,
DD was two on Thursday. She has not always been a good eater but I do think we have been luckier than most. She has always eaten vegetables and at least tried everything we have put in front of her. Fruit has always been well received too. Suddenly however she is refusing to eat anything apart from her breakfast (two weetabix that has to be served as soon as she gets up because she is so hungry from not eating dinner), or bread. She is asking for bread and toast throughout the day. We offer her a banana or other fruit mid morning which she has been refusing and then she has bread or toast and cheese/ham for lunch again with fruit offered but rejected. She has always eaten dinner with us but has stopped even trying her food. She is hungry though as she asks for bread or a yoghurt. Last night we said no and stuck to our guns and she sobbed and had a tantrum for over half an hour. I was beside myself crying too (preg hormones not helping) but we didn't give in as I thought this would be a slippery slope and she went to sleep after her milk an hour later. She was awake at 5 though and I am sure it was because she was hungry.
I am rambling now so I will stop but just want to ask has anyone else had this happen? Will it get better again? Should I just give her the bread she asks for? She wants nothing on the bread either. I put some butter on one piece for her lunch and she said NO and wanted it plain so I can't even try doing healthy fillings in sandwiches or stuff on toast as she won't eat it. We had pizza this evening as I thought at least it is bread based for her but she wouldn't even try it despite eating it before. It is really strange. I am sure my preg hormones are adding to my stress about it but even so I am concerned. How long should I let this go on for?

JanH Sat 26-Mar-05 17:11:55

I have 4 kids and the youngest did this, cooperoo - the eldest was a good eater from the start and didn't change, the other 2 were always a bit picky, but the 4th used to eat everything but then suddenly stopped as yours has.

It's not uncommon and I can't say if/when things will improve for you I'm afraid. I can't remember now what DS2's diet consisted of at this stage (he is nearly 12) but I seem to remember saying he lived on bread and air so sounds like yours. (He is a lot better now though still picky.)

Weetabix, milk, yogurt and cheese/ham sandwiches is quite a good diet apart from the lack of fruit/veg. Will she drink fruit juice? Smoothies? If you can get some fruit or veg into her somehow and supplement with vitamins it will tide you over for a while.

Try not to get emotionally involved with the situation (I know it's hard!) and just give her what she will eat for now. Good luck! HTH

KarenThirl Sat 26-Mar-05 17:13:09

hi Cooperoo.

She's discovered her independence and is using to the fullest! Sounds as though she's realised that parents can be easily manipulated.

Healthy children don't starve themselves but if they want to be in control they will decide when and what they eat. For that reason I'd be sure to only offer the healthiest of snacks at regular times, so that she knows what to expect and when, and it won't matter what she chooses as she'll always be getting something nutritional. If she doesn't eat it then take it away, no substitute. Give her her meal as usual and again, if she refuses give no alternatives. On no account give in to her or you'll be starting a very bad habit and she'll manipulate it for all she's worth.

Bear in mind also that at this age many children become bored with food as their independence has opened wider opportunities to have fun away from the table. It's possible she might just want to be playing with her toys instead, but she has to learn that mealtimes are for eating and that's just what people do.

If you think she's mature enough you could also try a star chart, with a point for every meal she eats (or even attempts if you're really desperate). Keep it in small chunks to ensure success, perhaps rewarding her at the end of each day if she's achieved her target.

Saker Sat 26-Mar-05 20:29:49

Can you compromise - e.g. she eats part of her meal and then can have some bread or a yoghurt? The other thing is to give you both the chance to give in gracefully sometimes - e.g. serve soup or stew with a slice of bread and yoghurt for pudding.

In theory, I think that sticking it out is probably the best approach but will be very stressful and you may just start to dread dinner time. When my ds1 was that age he could be difficult with food but would generally eat it if you played a game with it e.g. pretending to be a shark eating fish etc. Some people don't approve of this approach because they think it makes mealtimes a game but I have to say that at 5 he eats quite well and it hasn't been a big problem. The other thing he was always a real sucker for was novelty and would eat a meal because it was served in a different plate or he was allowed to use a big spoon, or it was called jungle pudding or something etc. It is hard when you have cooked a meal and they refuse to eat it, but I think if you can be fairly bored and calm about it all as well that your dd is less likely to continue.

mummylonglegs Sat 26-Mar-05 20:35:41

My dd's 2 1/2 and has always been a very fussy eater as well as only eating small quantities of the things she does like. Unlike yours she's never gone for breakfast even if she's skipped dinner the night before, she has a reasonable lunch (always the same thing when she's at home - Mexican bean burgers, broccolli, baby corn) and she used to have pasta-based things for dinner. BUT she's just lately also started refusing her dinner which is where the similarity with your dd comes in I think. I don't know why she's started to be so off her dinner. I hope someone else has a clue!

chipmonkey Sat 26-Mar-05 21:33:36

This is really really common. My ds1 did this for a long time from 16 months onwards till he was about 3. Interestingly though, although he refused to eat at home, he ate everything at his creche. The minders said it was the social aspect of things that worked. He was eating to fit in with his friends. its so frustrating and worrying at the time but its amazing how well they can survive on very little! I think also, at 2 their growth slows down to a certain extent and they don't need mountains of food to stay healthy. I would advise, stay calm, if you look at the healthy 7 year olds around, you can guarantee that about a third of them were like your dd at 2. don't make a fuss, offer food that you'd like her to eat but don't make a big deal if she doesn't. If it persists, give vitamin and iron drops, it'll put your mind at ease. Good luck!

MrsBigD Sat 26-Mar-05 21:50:38

am with KT dd wont starve herself. My dd has been a bad eater from day one and since 'finding her independence' about 1 year ago (she's 3 now)she was evn worse... she got a bit better though once I relaxed and didnt get stressed anymore. I was guilty though re offering substitutes as dd is an extreme lightweight, Saying that lately I;ve stopped giving in. We had a major tantrum tonight as dd wanted ice cream. I told her she can have some after dinner which resulted in screaming and 'I dont want food'. dh and I stuck to our guns and would you beieve it after 20 mins of sulking and moping she actually ate heaps! So she got her icecream. Actually it was rasperry cheesecake from the freezer but that's 'special icecream'

so chin up and TRY not to stress. at that age kids will try and push all the roght/wrong buttons. I knoe not easy when pg... I sometome nearly lost my rag with dd when I was pg with ds

Cooperoo Sun 27-Mar-05 06:33:11

Thank you so much for your responses. I find it really reassuring to know I am not alone and what you have all written makes alot of sense. What KT wrote really hit a chord regarding a 'stage' she is beginning to hit. I think a combination of factors is meaning I have not dealt with this well from the start. Number one dd has really started speaking much better and it has been very exciting for her to communicate with us and be understood and I was giving her what she asked for right away to show I had understood (not just food, anything so she has had me running around for her over the past weeks) and number two with being pregnant and due in June I am suffering from those common guilt feelings about having a new baby enter her life and us losing the precious time when it is just the two (or three including DH) of us. I know this will all feel better when the baby arrives but pregnancy hormones are having a big part to play in me essentially spoiling her a bit at the moment. Thanks for the advice. I will stand firm and see what happens. If there is no joy by the end of the week I will go to the HV and see if she suggests some vitamins. Arrghhh. Feeding your child healthy food is the one thing you can really try and control isn't it and it is so frustrating to see her just reject things out of hand especially when she used to eat them OK. The tip about making things a novelty is a good one and has worked a treat in the past (eating at her special small table if we are not eating with her, using grown up cutlery, eating from our plates, having a picnic etc) but are not working now. DD has just had breakfast and is asking for more and toast but after two weetabix I have offered her a banana instead. We have had a screaming fit for 15 mins, but guess what, she is now eating the banana and drinking her previously rejected milk!!! I will feel happier even if I just get one piece of fruit in her. Thanks again.

MrsBigD Sun 27-Mar-05 08:55:53

glad to hear you got a banana into dd

As for your worries re dd missing out on precious time when babe2 arrives... don't worry too much. First of she'll be very excited about the new baby, then the 'oh it's not going away' phase will start, but if you include her as much as possible and get her to fetch stuff for the baby etc she should be alright. Also she'll have little one to play with and to entertain.

My dd is 3 and ds is 7 months and dd is perfect with him. Though I do make sure she gets quality time/snuggles etc. when he has a nap during the day. If she can be bothered that is

You'll be just fine

Cooperoo Sun 27-Mar-05 16:32:42

Thanks MrsbigD. DD loves babies too so I know I am silly to be worried and when the baby arrives everything will fall into place. It is good to hear your experiences.
We went out for lunch today and took some bits for dd. She ate the bread rolls and cheese and one mouthful of rice from our plate. She was lovely through the meal though and sat really well. I am feeling things are a bit more in perspective now thanks to the support I have got through these posts. She hasn't had any dinner again but there were no tantrums this evening as I just left her to it and got her down from the table when she was obviously not interested. Hopefully it will be a short lived phase and if not the vitamin drops will come into play!!!
Thanks again.

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