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How do I keep my sanity whilst 2.5 DD refuses food?

(17 Posts)
LittleMissNorticiaAdams Fri 30-Oct-09 11:56:32

My DD is 2.5 and has always been a good eater. As she has got older she has started to eat less, but that's fine. I adapt to her appetite.

A typical day is large glass of milk on getting up, weetabix and banana for breakfast, huge nap till lunchtime then a sandwich lunch with cucumber / tomato few crisps and fruit afterwards. Snack mid-afternoon and dinner about 5.

She'll eat most things and we do relatively healthy dinners (spag bol, roasts / curry etc etc) and also the fish fingers and beans type dinners. Yoghurt after dinner is a treat if she finishes and on a really good day when she eats everything, some chocolate buttons after dinner.

Recently however, I sit her at the table - and with the exception of breakfast, she folds her arms and says "Don't want it" and then turns her face away, covering her eyes etc. It is SO frustrating.

I try not to make it a battle but I know that if I can get her started, she'll realise she quite likes it and eat it up!

I've tried everything. TV; no TV; pudding ; no pudding ; getting angry blush; being very calm; feeding her brother treats ; eating with her ; nothing works.

Yesterday was the worst. No lunch was eaten and at dinner time all the delaying tactics were employed; I need a wee ; want a bib; want a drink etc and her sum total of food intake was one mouthful of corned beef hash. After 10 minutes, I just calmly got her down from the table and said, nothing else. I did give her some milk before bed which she guzzled so she must have been hungry hmm, but she didn't ask for food.

Any ideas gratefully received....I am wasting so much food which I hate!


IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 30-Oct-09 11:59:02

How long has she been doing this for?

I think you're doing the right thing re getting her down from the table if she's not eating. I've started doing this with DS and it's slowly working (he's always been a picky eater)

It won't last forever.. just don't make a fuss when she's playing up or it'll go on and on.

will watch this thread though as am interested in other tactics.

cakeywakey Fri 30-Oct-09 12:13:55

It sounds like she could just be testing the boundaries, many toddlers I've known are very quick to pick up that we Mums are anxious that they eat well, so it's an area that's worth them testing.

If she is hale and hearty, it's might be worth continuing to offer her food in the normal times and ways but, if she doesn't eat it, to just take it away without comment and do the same at the next mealtime. Don't be tempted to top her up with snacks inbetween.

If she sees that you aren't bothered by what she's doing, she may come to the conculsion that all she's getting out of it is a hungry tummy and she might as well start tuckng back in.

Hope your DD gets back to eating normally soon smile

The other thing to check is if she has an errant tooth coming through, ulcers or something else wrong in her mouth. Perhaps eating is painful at the moment? Just a thought.

If your health visitor is friendly, it's worth giving her a call. My postnatal group friends and I often give our HV a call when we hit a new problem, and they're really helpful.

MrsBadger Fri 30-Oct-09 12:15:25

IMO you were spot on at dinner time - just say 'Ok no dinner then' and let her get down.

I am wary of routinely offering treats as a reward for finishing dinner - can't quite put my finger on why but I feel a bit like a nice meal (even if it's only fishfingers) should be the reward in itself, not something onerous or undesirable to be slogged through to get the chocolate. Esp if she is a 'good eater' anyway.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 30-Oct-09 12:18:45

WE just move the plate into the middle of the table and ignore it. He mostly( but not always) will stay at the table while everyone else is finishing, and often he will eventually quietly reach for his plate and carry on eating!

But the more you make a fuss, the fussier they become IME.

IMoveTheStarsForNoOne Fri 30-Oct-09 12:20:20

Oh... making a huge fuss when they do finish their meal too.

I try just praise with DS, but if he finishes his meal his insists that music is put on so we can dance to it hmm

and people say that toddlers aren't manipulative wink

LittleMissNorticiaAdams Fri 30-Oct-09 12:24:12

Thanks for all your replies.

TBH she has often refused to get going for a while.....its too hot etc, but once I get one mouthful inside her, she's ok. But that is almost impossible now as she is finding her independent side of her personality wink.

I need to be strong and just get on with it I suppose and let her get down and get hungry.

She doesn't always get chocolate, but I don't want a child that is never allowed to have chocolate / cakes etc and after dinner seems like the best time, but I do get your point MrsBadger. We have good girl stickers (as well as the poo and wee stickers wink) so perhaps I'll make more use of those!

MrsBadger Fri 30-Oct-09 12:38:28

Really I meant any reward, not chocolate specifically, as I don't think 'eating up all your dinner' is a reward-worthy thing to do, not like (eg) weeing on the potty.

If you are hungry then eating is good, if you are not hungry then eating is not good.
Eating just because Mummy says you should, regardless of your body's cues, makes me uneasy as I don't think it fosters a healthy relationship with food...

This is what I meant when I said I find it hard to put my finger on what exactly I mean!

thinkingaboutdrinking Fri 30-Oct-09 12:51:01

Try reading this thread -
it has some great tips!

JammyOLantern Fri 30-Oct-09 13:22:33

If it;s any consolation DD has just started saying she doesn't want to eat sometimes too. I'm also trying not to make a fuss, but it is hard. I am trying to take the "it's OK if you don't want your dinner, but there's nothing else" approach. I make her sit while we finish eating, and then provided she ate something she gets offered a piece of fruit because we take the approach that you don't have to have eaten everything to have pudding, but your pudding is in proportion to your dinner IYSWIM? And I try not to offer her snacks between meals (at least not more than she would have anyway) and if she's hungry I remind her that she could have eaten her dinner and then she wouldn't be hungry.

Good luck! COmpare notes in a couple of weeks?

LittleMissNorticiaAdams Fri 30-Oct-09 16:39:22

Thanks ladies smile

That is a really good thread thinkingaboutdrinking - have read some of it but will mark it so I can come back to it.

Glad its not just me!

So if she has eaten very little during the day, should I be giving her milk before bed - or just let her go hungry?

Right, dinner time....wish me luck grin

NanaNina Sat 31-Oct-09 16:26:10

I have vivid memories of my youngest son (over 30 years ago) going through a phase of hardly eating anything when he was about 2 and it seemed to go on for ever. I remember how worried I was and felt almost ashamed of what was happening (or rather what wasn't happening) and I know that some days he only ate half an apple and a couple of biscuits it was that bad. My grandson (child of my youngest son) is now going through the same thing at age 2.5 and his parents are tearing their hair out! Incidentally my son is now 6' tall and rarely had a day's illness in his life and can eat for England, so please try not to all phases with kids, it will pass. The main thing is not to let the child sense you are anxious as this just makes things worse. No child will starve themselves indefinitely.

ruddynorah Sat 31-Oct-09 16:36:28

i think just ditch the rewards and the punishments. you serve the food, she eats it, or doesn't. no need to create consequences, the consequence is she'll be hungry. you don't need to add to that.

you could maybe try involving her in the cooking if you don't already? me and dd are really enjoying working our way through the 'i can cook' recipes from cbeebies. and yes, we have to do the songs and rhymes in the right places! grin

missmapp Sat 31-Oct-09 17:16:09

Ds1 was like this and i made all the classic mistakes, turning it into a battle, bribery, letting it get to me and (yes, I will admit it) losing my rag, he is now 4.5 and is still not a brilliant eater. With ds2 ( now 2.2) I learned my lesson, when he refused food I just took it away, but gave nothing else, some days he ate very little, but survived! He is now ( touch wood) a fab eater, will eat most things and try new things. Continue doing what you are doing, dont draw attention, scream into a tea towel if you have to, but giving them no idea that it is driving you mad is the best course of action!!

GrendelsMum Sat 31-Oct-09 19:02:45

Apparently all over the world, in all societies, children go through a faddy eating phase at much the same time - some anthropologists have guessed that it's some kind of survival mechanism associated with getting old enough that they could be selecting their own food. So tell yourself it's a genetic survival trait, and nothing to do with what you're doing!

beesonmummyshead Sat 31-Oct-09 20:28:07

dd is going through a similar stage, so I feel your pain. However, I know that I am handing it all wrong, as my stress levels have been rising, and I get very anxious about her not eating (in my defence (wink) she was a sickly, allergic baby who has never thrived).

We nearly always eat together at the table in the kitchen. Since she has refused food however, I have started putting her on her own, on her own little table in front of the TV. Yes a terrible habit, but at least she is away from my nagging, which I know can be damaging to healthy thoughts about food.

Somedays she asks to sit with us, and of course I let her, I am striving to ensure she grows up liking and eating food, even if that means she has to eat in front of the tv, on her own until she is 15 hmm

A bit controversial, but it works for us, and dd often eats more when left in peace and her thoughts aren't solely on her food, or how much she is/isn't eating.

I gues it really depends how much you can back off the issue whilst she is refusing food at the table. I can't at all, hence removing her

LittleMissNorticiaAdams Sat 31-Oct-09 22:45:16

Thanks all....I'm liking the idea about the survival mechanism smile

I have to say its bloody difficult keeping calm blush....I've managed the no moaning and no bribing today.....but not the no cajoling blush. Even at breakfast she refused to eat anything until I spoon-fed her (like her baby brother). Arrrrggggghhhh.....unfortunately, it was a bit early to open the wine!

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