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4-year-old with food phobia

(18 Posts)
Octavia09 Tue 25-May-10 14:31:09

Do you have a kid with food phobia and how do you cope? My son will not try new food. We promise him presents, other things but it does not work. If we put it into his mouth he would scream and spit like we are abusing him. I am so tired and I want him to eat what we eat; I want him to try new food to see how tasty it can be but he will not. Other people told me not to worry as he might grow out of it; as long as he eats what he likes. And we are not abusing him, no; trying to offer hims new food sometimes only. It is just something in his mind. I imagine if my parents told me to eat I would eat because I was frighten of them. These days kids are different; they are not afraid of their parents anymore

samiryn Tue 25-May-10 18:02:49

I spent the majority of my 4yr old sons life being told 'not to worry' until after numerous phone calls, I ended up in tears down the phone to the HV (who had given up) begging for help. We eventually ended up with him seeing a psychologist of sorts from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health team at the hospital. They said the reflux he has as a baby, caused an aversion to foods (he didn't move onto lumpy solids so easy when weaning) and as he's got older, has manifested into a full on phobia.

Did your son have any throat trauma as a baby? Reflux for example? Did he eat well when weaning started and for the first year or two? What sort of things does he eat?

Octavia09 Sun 30-May-10 11:57:04

Samiryn, thank you for your answer and I am very sorry for my late response.
I think that the problem with my son that he is very stubborn. It looks like he is just afraid to try new things. I believe if he tried them he would not find them frightening anymore. But he does not want to try. He is getting better but very slowly. Also if I do not give him some food for long a time then he will not eat it again. That is so sad.

Chil1234 Sun 30-May-10 13:26:08

Food problems and the anxiety surrounding them can escalate quite easily. If he can see you're upset, he'll react accordingly. Frightening children into doing things is not a path you want to go down. There are a few ways to deal with the problem, some of which you may have tried already. You don't mention age.

1. Offer a plate of attractively presented, nice-tasting new foods in very small amounts... large amounts of a new food can be offputting.

2. After presenting a meal get on with your own meal, chatting to the other people around the table normally. It's important that you relax and ignore him completely... no urging to try, no 'how much have you eaten', just leave them to it. BUT if he even so much as sniffs a piece of the food or licks it then heap on huge praise. If he leaves the food, don't mention it or be unhappy - simply remove the plate and don't offer alternatives.

3. Invite friends his own age to tea. Present food in a buffet, 'help yourself' format. Children are very influenced by peers and if they can see other children enjoying something they are very likely to join in. Again, leave the children alone when eating and don't interfere.

4. Involve the child in the hands-on preparation of food encouraging them to lick spoons, taste and nibble raw ingredients. 'Mess' is good in this context.

5. Grow things in the garden or go to a pick-your-own farm. Children love seeing food growing and can be inspired to try new things that way.

Other than that the advice that he will probably grow out of it if you keep offering, stay very relaxed, try not to worry and praise any tiny step forward.

VerityBrulee Sun 30-May-10 22:09:23

My 9 year old had this problem, we took him to a psychologist and one year on his attitude to food has changed dramatically.

This is a thread a started after our experience.

Good luck, I know this can be a dreadful scenario to live with smile

citybranch Mon 31-May-10 10:14:39

My son is the same. He also had reflux. Really at the end of our tether with the situation so I know how you feel.

Octavia09 Mon 31-May-10 12:29:44

I have tried different tactics. If you think he will eat food because he is hungry then not; he is not going to try new food even if he is very hungry. Today I have roasted potatoes. He refused to eat them because they were not white colour unlike mash. sad

Chil, my son often tells me he does not want to wear that because other kids at the nursery do not wear that. But if I say that other kids love eating certain thing he will not follow them.

Chil1234 Mon 31-May-10 12:58:43

"if I say that other kids love eating certain thing he will not follow them. "

He has to be around other children all happily tucking into the food to be influenced by them enough to copy them. You telling him 'everyone else likes it' isn't the same thing.

Does he ever go to another child's house to play and have tea? Or to a birthday party? Many times parents find their child will happily eat all kinds of things when not in their own home.

Chandra Mon 31-May-10 13:11:51

How is he in the nursery? does he has the same problems there?

I understand that there are real cases where real phobias are involved, but these seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

DS seemed to be very sensitive to certain textures (he wouldn't dare to put his fingers on toast until he was 18m) so it was a bit of a constant work to get him familiar with things, first by touch (like making him put his hands in uncooked rice, and other things) and then by getting him to eat them. He is the only baby I have ever known who hated touching any kind of food).

The rule in the house has been for years "You don't have to eat it if you don't like it but you have to have at least two spoonfuls". The rule is not flexible, so he knows tantrums etc won't take him anywhere, however if after the two spoonfuls he says he can't have it, that's the end of the story. We will try again a few months afterwards. However most of the times he manages to do a bit more than the 2 spoonfuls, or even finish the plate.

Flavours are learned, think of them as beer or even chili, nobody likes them the first time they try them, you learn to like them. It is the same with new flavours.

DawnAS Tue 01-Jun-10 16:42:14

My SIL had the same problem with our DNephew who is coming up for 10. He refused to try anything new, until he came to stay with us for a couple of days with his family.

He loves my DH and really looks up to him and I get the feeling that he likes to act grown up in front of us, so we bought some party-type food and laid it out. We made him a cheese sandwich (because that's all he'll normally eat) but he suddenly starting picking up the most random bits of food! Spicy wedges, chicken wings, all the sorts of things that you would never imagine him wanting to try and he enjoyed all of it.

So I guess what I'm saying, is whether there is a special person in your DS's life that he looks up to and is really close to. Invite them round for a party-type thing with some nibbles and see what happens. It may not work at all and he may be a little too young, a bit different in age to DNephew, but anything's worth a shot!

Octavia09 Fri 11-Jun-10 13:47:03

Sorry for coming back so late. I am very thankful for all your thoughts and suggestions. I think that my son's diet might change for better once he attends the school as there is no lunches at his nursery. He likes saying what other children do and do not wear and I hope he will also notice what other children eat at school.

linkyloo Thu 25-Nov-10 18:52:03

Hi Octavia09 i dont know if u will see this message but i have a 5year old who only eats toast with just butter dairylea dunkers only cheese and onion or ready salted walkers microwave chips and yorkshire puddings. He obviously loves sweets and choc and will eat yogurts. what does ur son eat? i feel weve been pused away by doctors n hv's because we have tried everything they have told us. we need to see a dietician but no one will refer us. im worried as he now has red circles around his eyes

Sample Tue 26-Feb-13 03:25:58

Hello, I see that these posts are from a couple of years ago. I was wondering if any of you have found some answers. My son is six years old and is down to about 5 different foods. He use to have a small variety of food that he would at least eat such as: hamburger, pork chop, spaghetti, oatmeal. He is now down to crackers, bread, cereal and some times peanut butter. We have done OT, feeding teams, food allergy tests and nothing has worked. I am worried to death. His endurance level is very low and he looks bad. Pale skin dark circles around the eyes. He complains that he is hungry all the time and wants to eat but he can not put the food in his mouth. I have tried all the nice suggestion the other person listed. We leaned all those from the feeding team but nothing. Just talking about food make he nervous. I am running out of options and feel like we have hit a brick wall.

tangledupinpoo Tue 26-Feb-13 10:59:05

Hi Sample, There is a thread in behaviour and development at the moment I think for fussy eaters/food phobic children. I am not very proficient at linking and things - particularly to other threads but will try. My five year old has fairly extreme eating habits - but had very severe reflux as a baby and toddler (still on drugs), and has a growth condition which means his appetite is impaired. He is still half gastrostomy-tube fed. I'll see if I can find that thread and link, hold on . . . .

tangledupinpoo Tue 26-Feb-13 11:10:23

I hope this works. It looks like no-one's posted for a while but it was one that had older children on it as opposed to toddlers. There seem to be a few eating threats in b&d.

A couple of books which seem to keep coming up are 'My child won't eat' - although there seem to be some criticisms that this book effectively just tells the mother to relax. The other one I've heard about which sounds like it may be more useful for more resistant eaters is 'Just take a bite'. Must follow my own advice and buy this one soon!

Hope this helps.

tangledupinpoo Tue 26-Feb-13 11:11:07

Eating threads

sugarsnap Sun 10-Mar-13 12:07:27

Hi Sample
Have you had any success with anything yet? My son is 4 next month and also only eats a very restricted diet. No meat, fish, potatoes, cheese, fruit or veg. Just dry cereal, milk with nesquick, pasta tubes with shop bought tomato and mascarpone sauce, and sometimes baked beans. He will eat chocolate and cake but we try not to give to often as he eats so little savoury food. Though really most things he eats are sweet. Years of this are taking it's toll. Doctor says he is growing in height so not worried, though he is 1.5 kg underweight. Tried HV, food diary etc but he just won't try any new food at all. I hope you are managing to stay sane! It's very difficult and people just don't understand do they?

mgrazia Wed 02-Apr-14 23:06:48

I have the same problem. I am desperate! my son (4 year) eats just bread, cereals(but they have to be a certain shape), and 1 kind of chocolate bar and drinks milk.He was eating fish fingers but lately he refuses them too.No fruit or veg. We have been to doctor several times but no real help.

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