Force feeding toddlers??!!

(19 Posts)
nannyk Tue 20-Mar-07 11:45:45

Ok this is a toughie, please bear with me. My bosses, particularly BadBoss, think that if children don't eat they should be force fed as "thats good for them". This has only recently come to light as my charges, now 16 months, have days when they eat 3 peas, a chunk of cheese and seemingly then survive on fresh air. So along comes DB and says at the weekend he holds the childrens arms down and feeds them and apparently "they eat very well that way". he wants me to do the same thing. He's of the old fashioned ilk anyway and thinks his children should be eating a full adult size meal 3 times a day or they will fade away. Okay... deep breath...

The twins are gaining weight well, are low on the percentage scales (lil guy is 5% height 10% weight, lil gal is 50% height and weight). I think they are perfectly normal. They are meeting milestones, sleeping very well, happy, sociable, there is in my 10 year experience nowt wrong with the little blighters. Which is why I am somewhat outraged at DB suggesting I force feed them, and he is insinuating I am not doing my job if the lil blighters only eat 4 mouthfuls of food for one meal. They still have 12-14oz milk a day (in bottles...whole other story) and there are some days they choose to eat like horses. I am of the opinion you should NEVER force a child to eat, as this leads to all kinds of issues later on. Plus I have never known a toddler to starve themselves to death. Does anyone have any advice??? I am going to go mad if DB says one more time "hold their arms down, they eat more for me like that". It's wrong surely?!!!

Please someone give me some reassurance to stand my ground on this one!

Also if anyone knows any websites for toddler food and nutritional guidelines that would be fab. I am going to write the dad a report. Help!!!!

OP’s posts: |
deaconblue Tue 20-Mar-07 12:46:18

sorry don't know any proper evidence BUT that is soooooooooo wrong. He will make them so f*cked up about food if he carries on like that. I owuld absolutely refuse

Elasticwoman Tue 20-Mar-07 12:50:47

Am shocked, horrified and very glad I'm not in your position. Totally agree with you re force-feeding children: not necessary and counter productive. Your charges sound perfectly normal and healthy to me.

See Christopher Green's Toddler Taming (it'll be in the library if you don't have a copy) where as a doctor he says to a mother complaining little Johnny won't eat: don't come to me after 2 days. Come after 20 days!

Can you hide behind professional code of conduct: can't forcefeed your children or I'll lose my qualified nanny status?

WanderingTrolley Tue 20-Mar-07 12:54:49

If he advocates brutalising his children in this way I think there's heff all chance of his taking notice of any literature you may produce to support your argument.

What have you said to him so far?

Twiglett Tue 20-Mar-07 12:56:13

you need to point out to boss that

a 2 year old eats the equivalent of 11 tablespoons of food a day .. that's all food

that is averaged over a week to 10 days

the normal pattern of eating is for them to eat what we could consider to be 1 normal meal in 48 hours

this is normal and natural and what they need

their stomachs are the size of their fists

I would stand firm and say that force-feeding a child is counter-productive and will set up food issues in the long-terms and you refuse to do it

Rantum Tue 20-Mar-07 12:56:58

NHS Direct has this to say

Feeding Toddlers

WanderingTrolley Tue 20-Mar-07 12:59:40

Do what Twiglett says.

And hold his arms down while you do it.

Tell him it's good for him.

He'll listen very well that way.



Rantum Tue 20-Mar-07 13:01:27

Agree with Elasticwoman, Toddler Taming is a good book.

I would be inclined to use the professional code of conduct thing too - simply tell your employer that you are not allowed to force feed children.

(Old-fashioned? Old fashioned is making them sit at the table til they have finished, or sending them to bed without pudding. Force-feeding borders on child abuse IMO )

nannyk Tue 20-Mar-07 16:26:41

Thanks for your comments so far. I am glad I'm not alone in thinking this is ridiculous of the dad. I told him I felt it inappropriate to use force when feeding children, that they will eat when they are hungry, and that they have teeny stomachs and so don't need a vast amount of food. Then, in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, I said just wait til they are teens, you will be complaining that they eat too much then! this went down as well as the proverbial tonne of bricks. He said he doesn't want malnourished kids (wtf they are perfectly healthy, no concerns at all from the GP) and so will feed them as he sees fit. I don't know exactly where the mum stands on this issue as when I am working she lets me feed them as I see fit. I offer fresh, home made food at every meal, very little in the way of processed food. They eat loads some days then like sparrows for other days. Everyone else comments on how happy the babies are, and how well they eat (salmon and veg fish pie as an example for lunch today), and they eat plenty of fruit and cheese and yoghurt. They are just petite build. I hate feeling like I am not doing my job, and it is so hard standing up to parents who think they know best. Even though i know he means well, his attitude and method of feeding the babies is going to cause major issues. How do I explain this without having to hold his arms down and shove food down his neck til he gags/has a tantrum??

OP’s posts: |
sunnysideup Tue 20-Mar-07 17:19:57

nannyk I don't think there's any way round this other than the straightforward. You just have to tell him that you are not allowed to forcibly hold children still when you feed them. Tell him it wouldn't be good practice and you are not allowed to do it.

Be strong, it's by doing THIS that you will be 'doing your job' which I totally understand, you want to do well and be seen to be good at. Good luck, he sounds an absolute idiot!

Elasticwoman Tue 20-Mar-07 17:21:04

"He will feed as he sees fit". But you weren't telling him what to do. You were just saying what you were prepared to do. There is a difference. He sounds v aggressive.

I should say nothing and continue to do as you have been doing. What can he do - force you to force feed them?

It could be that he felt he had to win the argument verbally, but may in practice let you get on with it as you have done so long as you don't appear to be flouting his instructions too obviously. How often is he there to see how you supervise mealtimes?

Lio Tue 20-Mar-07 17:22:25

I find the idea of force-feeding horrific and am glad you are getting some sensible advice here with which to arm yourself.

sunnysideup Tue 20-Mar-07 17:23:31

maybe bring it up with the mum first? she sounds as if she is ok with your approach and it might be MUCH easier for her to sort her DH out!

Nemo2007 Tue 20-Mar-07 17:26:43

definetly stand your force feed will just create problems later. There are so many other ways to try to coax a child to eat but if they are insistent they are not hungry then fair enough. I have a 3yr old who is a picky eater but he obviously eats enough to maintain him as he doesnt snack etc. I also have a 15mth old who could eat anything and everything it is how their bodies work and I would never force food on them

nannyk Tue 20-Mar-07 17:34:34

He's hardly ever there to supervise me feeding them, thank God, or I would have clouted him by now!!! He's a very nice guy generally, so it shocks me he is this way about his chidrens eating. It's like an obsession with him. And you are right, he is very aggressive and doesn't seem to understand or appreciate my experience in this area. I mean I am not saying I am an expert but I have been doing this for 10 years and these are his first kids and quite honestly he has no clue about anything. He wants the typical stocky, chubby toddlers - which they are but they are short and small boned. His idea of a meal for them is probably about right for a 12 year old but for a 16 month old they haven't got a chance in hell of meeting his expectations so he is constantly "disappointed" by them, and so forces more food down them which upsets them and leads to meal times being a bit of a mare. Which then leads to me getting little comments regularly and "advice" (drives me mad) on how to feed them more. So I say time and time again they are fine. But no thats not enough so I am left feeling like a complete failure, and stressing out all the time to make sure they eat enough. When really I know they are fine as they are, they are perfectly healthy, there are no signs of malnutrition. I just wish he would lighten up, let his kids enjoy their food. Jeeez how is he going to be when they are 3 and refuse to eat anything but blueberries/cheese/jello for days on end??!!

I am thinking about printing out a weekly food diary so the parents can both see what the twins eat over 7 days, then adding the "guidelines" of recommended normal amounts toddlers eat, so they can see that actually everything is fine. I am professional enough to know that if I had any concerns I would have raised them long before now.

OP’s posts: |
hunkermunker Tue 20-Mar-07 17:48:31

It's abuse, IMO.

Forcing a child to eat will set up all SORTS of problems in later life.

He must have massive issues with food?

Nannyk, you're fab to be standing up for these children.

FrannyandZooey Tue 20-Mar-07 21:15:42

I think you should be reporting this, nannyk

I am sure it is abusive and I think it is your duty to do something about it

I am so sorry for you and how difficult this situation is for you - but if he was hitting the children you would do something about it, wouldn't you?

nannyk Wed 28-Mar-07 19:15:29

A little update-

I spoke to the parents expressing my concerns that the methods used to feed the twins are not only ill-advised (understatement) but also will not work and will only cause problems in the future. I also showed some printouts off typical toddler eating patterns etc. So we have now agreed not to force any food on the twins and also to relax and let them lead the way with amounts they want to eat. I think the dad is a little more informed now, and if I see any evidence he is forcing the twins to eat I will take further action. Thanks for all your advice, this job is so hard sometimes, and I really try to be the most professional nanny I can, so help from all you lovely mums is very much appreciated

OP’s posts: |
NannyL Wed 28-Mar-07 19:59:15

would never force feed a child either!

they can either eat it or be hungry until the next meal.... when they will normally eat loads due to being hungry.

while my stubborn 18 month often needs the 1st taste to be put in his mouth for him (while he resists) as soon as he realises it yummy he then eats the lot...

or (as in tonight) eats not a lot, gets no pudding and will ahve nothing else (except bedtime milk) until breakfast!

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