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DS (4.5) won't eat - what do I do?

(20 Posts)
Flocci Wed 15-Oct-08 21:04:02

DS has always been difficult ever since he was weaned off baby food and onto proper food, and quickly got into a routine of chicken dippers for lunch and fish fingers for tea and little else ....... after TWO AND A HALF YEARS of this things are terrible and I don't know what to do.

Breakfast is a glass of milk / chocolate milk and either bowl of dry cereal, one slice of bread and butter or 2 or 3 crackers and butter.

Lunch is chicken dippers, sometimes with a slice of garlic bread. Then 2 strawberry from frais. Then a treat of choclate or biscuits.

Afternoon snack ( if he ate his lunch ) biscuits.

Tea is fish fingers plus spaghetti hoops and Yorkshire pudding, followed by from frais and treat.

The point is, this list here is it, absolutely it, everything in the world he will eat. Occasionally he eats a banana, but otherwise there is literally nothing in the world he will eat. And recently he has decided he won't eat fish fingers anymore.

He has vitamin supplements and iron everyday, but I just can't get him to eat. His twin sister eats everything I put in front of her, and he always has a look and what she and me are eating and asks about it but then won't try it.

What can I do?

Dietician has told me to just keep offering him things and give lots of praise even if he just touches or licks, so he occasionally licks something, but no way will he actually eat.

BTW he is average height and weight so docs not really concerned, but I think this is ridiculous.

lucysmam Wed 15-Oct-08 22:53:23

Maybe just pop a bit of what you are eating on a plate separately to his meal, then he can either try it or not. Might be tempted if he and his sister sit together to eat & he sees her enjoying something he wouldn't normally eat.

Or leave something out for him to try "if he would like to". I often leave a little bit of something out for my lo to try (obviously not something that's going to be affected by being left out of fridge/packaging etc) & she will try it when she thinks no-one is watching her.

How about some stuff he can feel the texture of with his fingers first? Not sure what though. When I was weaning my lo & she got to about 10mths I gave her a bowl of beans, bowl of spag hoops, bowl of jelly, mash & some other bits and pieces; just to play with the different textures. Was messy but enjoyable at the same time (He may be a bit old for that but you never know)

Would he help you make something like pizza & pick his own toppings to try? Or bake some simple fairy cakes with both dc's for them to try?

I might just have waffled a load of totally useless stuff you'll find really unhelpful but it's what works for me with my dd. Hope you get some better ideas, although if he is eating, & is happy with what he eats (even if you think it is limited) and the dietician is not concerned then maybe just go with it for the time being. I'm sure he'll become more adventurous as he gets older


Flocci Thu 16-Oct-08 12:26:21

Thanks for the ideas Lucy - i quite like the idea of leaving food out for him to try when he thinks noone is not around. That might actually work, as his is definitely the type of child who doesn't like fuss and does things when he thinks he is not being seen!

Cooking is hopeless - the twins love to help me cook, all sorts of stuff, but he then refuses to touch the end resul while his sister and I get stuck in happily.

gemmiegoatlegs Thu 16-Oct-08 12:32:19

the first thing I would do is cut out the treats. A child who has two treats plus biscuits plus yogs as dessert won't have much motivation to fill up /try proper foods. i am not saying this to be judgey, my dcs both have periods of extreme fussiness now and then. But if they are getting a big chunk of their daily energy from sweets and biscuits they won't eat as much of anything else. And your ds is probably missing out on vital nutrients. Vitamin supplements, well, the clue is in the name - they are supplementary to a varied diet. If your ds is not really eating food, he will not be metabolising the vitamins that come from the tablets. You need to be firm now because the longer you leave things (as I think you suspect) the worse they will get

ProfYaffle Thu 16-Oct-08 12:45:28

dd1 is a reasonably fussy eater but I've recently realised her main problem is that she genuinely has a really small appetite. It's really easy to inadvertantly fill her up, a cup of milk, drink of juice and a biscuit during the morning will put her off her lunch. Could this be the case with your ds? I've had to cut right back on snacks, treats and drinks to see a marginal improvement.

Flocci Thu 16-Oct-08 20:32:20

Prof, you are right - I do think he genuinely has a small appetite, and he is just not really into food. It is just something he has to do each day to get energy and he has no real interest or pleasure in it.

I keep an eye on drinks because I agree even just water and OJ can fill him up, and I have cut out a mid morning snack and make sure brekkie is early or not at all. Afternoon snack is becoming a rarity too to make sure he is really hungry at tea-time.

Will try and cut back on end of meal treats too to keep him hungry and see if that has any effect.

ProfYaffle Thu 16-Oct-08 20:42:31

Dd1 has exactly the same attitude (and forgot to say is the same age too) The other day she came out of school complaining of tummy pains, naturally I thought she was ill. Back home she ate a sandwich, miraculously, tummy pains went. She didn't recognise the feeling in her tummy as hunger, really odd.

Much sympathy by the way, my dd's repertoire is wider than your ds's and that's frustrating enough!

Flocci Thu 16-Oct-08 20:51:20

My ds frequently tells me his tummy hurts, especially at bedtime when he hasn't eaten anything for maybe 5 or 6 hours so I know he is hungry but he won't accept that is the reason.

It is so hard to understand and reason with him, it's like banging my head against the wall. And of course I am trying not to make a big thing of it in case it is just a deliberate attention seeking issue, but I just feel so anxious every day 3 times a day thinking oh, here we go again.....

ProfYaffle Thu 16-Oct-08 21:11:21

"I know he is hungry but he won't accept that is the reason." Yes, dd1 was the same! Insistent it wasn't hunger, had big chats about health, vitamins, growing up big and strong, what would Sporticus say etc etc Makes no difference whatsoever. I've recently found myself nagging her to eat fruit and veg (which she does eventually) but I also worry about making an issue of it. She stays for dinner at school from January, I'm dreading it.

Flocci Sat 18-Oct-08 19:42:11

My ds starts school in January too and I am wondering what the hell I am supposed to put in his lunchbox. There is no point sending him for school dinners as he won't eat anything. Looks like he'll be having butter sandwiches and fromage frais every day. Today he has announced that he no longer likes chicken either so from now on he only wants to eat Yorkshire Pudding. He sounds a little bit too self-aware and deliberate - he seems to be doing it on purpose so I am trying to be relaxed and casual about it.

ProfYaffle Sun 19-Oct-08 20:45:29

It's so hard to know what to do isn't it? My tack this weekend has been to inject some fun back into food and try and relax about what she's actually eating.

Last night I told her we were having a 'proper grown up dinner party' set the table nicely, wine glasses (for juice!), set out plates of bread and butter and little dishes of some food she likes as well as other new things, and let her pick what she wanted to eat. She really loved it. Not sure she ate any more than normal but she enjoyed it.

We have a few cooking projects planned for the coming week, all new stuff, she's excited about it although whether she'll eat any of it is another thing!

My main aim is to break the tension at the moment as I'm not sure that's helping either of us.

Flocci Tue 21-Oct-08 21:11:13

Have just come back to this PY and smiled because I am thinking the same - have decided to go with the flow for a couple of weeks because the tension has become unbearable. So today's tea was 3 mini Yorkshire puddings and 2 yoghurts, and he looked at me quite surprised when I didn't make it into a drama ......... let's see how we go!

lucysmam Tue 21-Oct-08 21:29:57

Flocci, does he shop with you?

On the back of Prof's tea party idea, why not take him shopping to pick out things for tea & let him set it out with you?


Flocci Wed 22-Oct-08 10:35:12

Yes lucysmam he loves shopping for food with me. He asks about all new stuff that he sees, picks things up and often has a feel or a sniff ..... and then before I have even said anything he puts everything in the trolley / back on the shelf muttering " I wouldn't like to try that".

We normally come home with loads of extras because his twin is a total foodie like me and bellows "but I would like to try it" so I think Ok let's have a go - so we buy extra, i cook new random stuff, she loves it, and ds won't try it.

I have tried picnics, tea parties in the house and in his wendy house with his teddies, we go to restaurants quite often, we eat at a table together always ..... nothing will make him budge. He's a stubborn little fella.

QuintessentialShadow Wed 22-Oct-08 10:44:32

Dont make school dinners into an issue. If I were you I would sign him up for the dinners, not fret, not make a fuss, but talk to his teacher so the dinnerladies can descretely keen an eye on it. After a while, when he sees his friends eat, he might be tempted to have a try. After all, YOU are not there to comment....

I was locked in foodbattles with ds1 6 for a long time. I tried everything, as he was really fussy.

Have you tried scrambled eggs for supper? I have a dish that no child so far has resisted. I often make it before bedtime. It fills them up,and the go to sleep really happy. Try this:

1l milk - bring to the boil
2 1/2 dl Arborrio risotto rice
cook while stirring gently for 20 minutes.
Put onto the plate. Knob of butter/margarine (optional) in the middle. Sprinkle with sugar, and cinnamon. Totally yummy.

I think you may have to Ignore yourself for a while. Just give him what you guys eat, full stop. If he doesnt want it, just say "fine" and smile, and take the plate away.

I would just make platters of cubed fruit, with cubed cheese and put infront of him while he was watching tv. That way he was not too concerned about the eating. He just ate. Sometimes, he didnt.

I would also let him eat his meals infront of the tv. I know, it goes against everything people recommend, but it worked for us. He could eat, on his own, without pressure, while he was doing something else. Mostly he ate some.

MrLSG Wed 22-Oct-08 11:51:01

No sweets. No biscuits. Just the main course, and the same as you are having. No yoghurst/pudding unless he eat's the main course.

When he's hungry, he'll eat.

No need to vitamin supplements either.

He won't starve himself.

QuintessentialShadow Wed 22-Oct-08 11:54:02

I would keep up the vitamin supplements though. Especially seek out some with iron. Speaking from the experience of having had a boy with serious iron deficient aenemia, due to his refusal to eat properly. Getting a fuzzy eater's iron levels, and not to mention iron reserves up, is a really hard struggle I dont envy anyone. Could easily be avoided by taking some supplements.

jicky Wed 22-Oct-08 12:39:02

How long does each meal last ? When ds1 and 2 were 3 and 4 their eating became a nightmare and I spent a lot of time stressing about it and each meal dragged on for ages while I tired to persuade them to eat.

My tactic was cut out all snacks between meals, nothing to drink but water, serve them a suitable, healthy meal, set the big timer and then sit and talk with them until the timer went off 30 minutes later, then clear the table. Took about 4 days for them to get the idea. I decide I was responsible for providing suitable food, it was up to them to eat it.

I've seen somewhere that children need 40 calories per day per inch of height - how much of that is he getting - quite a lot I expect - the fromage frais are each about 100, the cereal and milk will add quite a lot, as will the biscuits. Then the things he does eat (bread/yorkshire puds) are quite stodgy too. If he has a small appetite he probably doesn't want anything else. If you want him to eat other things then you need to cut out the calories from somewhere.

Flocci Wed 22-Oct-08 19:35:21

Thanks for the comments ladies.

Q I love the risotto recipe - I will definitely try that, it sounds great.

I think cutting out all snacks and inbetweens is definitely the way forward so he is properly hungry by mealtimes.

Meals are quite quick for him becaue when he is hungry he hoovers up his chicken or bread or Yorkshires, and when i try something new and won't budge he just quickly excuses himself and that is the end of it. i don't make him sit there if he won't eat because he has mega tantrums and then upsets his sister so i let him get down and tell hims fine, you don't have to eat anything then.

I am sure he is getting the calories because he is growing and looks healthy, but yes i agree that ultimately I am going to have to stop the things he likes and let him get totally hungry if he is to give in and eat what i want him to eat. It's a battle of wills essentially, whether he gives in or I do, and I hate the idea of leaving him starving.

lucysmam Thu 23-Oct-08 11:00:39

Flocci, it sounds like you've got your work cut out with him! I am following this thread purely from an interest point of view.

I don't know what I'd do if my nearly 2yo started being fussy about food since I've started cooking! She gets what's put in front of her & if she doesn't eat it then she waits until the next meal time & gets the same thing offered again & munches it happily

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