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Nearly 2 ds refuses dinner - at wits end(22 Posts)
I'm really struggling with this situation and am hoping some more experienced parents can offer some advice. I'm not an experienced user of this board so please bare with me and I apologise in advance - I don't really know many of the abbreviations!
I have a 22mth old son who just refuses to eat any dinners, anywhere other than at nursery. He always used to be a good eater, we followed Baby led weaning and everything was fantastic, he would eat anything we offered, veg, fruit, meat etc. he quickly grasped using spoon and fork, we were spoilt!
When he was about 18mths old he was poorly and ended up in and out of hospital for a couple of months during this time his eating habits changed and he became a bit more fussy. During this time if he would eat anything it was an accomplishment so we were very lenient. Around Christmas he had to have his tonsils and adenoids out so that introduced yet another difficulty. His throat was sore so we were still just pleased to get him to eat!
Since he has been fully well his eating has been hit and miss. But now, over 2 months since he has been well we are just not making any progress.
He has 2 mornings at nursery a week.
On days he is with me, Breakfasts are usually one of: weetabix, ready brek, porridge or crumpets which are eaten well, he feeds himself with little mess and its a pleasant meal. He normally has a cup of milk with breakfast as well.
He might have a snack of fruit or a biscuit
Lunch is usually a (jam/ ham/ cheese/ etc) sandwich / pitta bread, that he eats well. I sometimes offer cucumber, celery & carrot, sticks with hummus and other dips, he does like to dip but eating the veg can have random success. He will always be offered fruit after lunch with me, and will eat this without fail, the boy LOVES fruit, orange, strawberries, banana, apple, grapes, blueberries, etc
Depending on how much he has eaten during the day determines if he has an afternoon snack. However, at the moment I'm avoiding anything because I want him to eat dinner.
Dinner can be anything from stew to fish fingers and chips and we never know how he will be, I can not see any pattern or reason.
Recently I have tried the following:
fish fingers, chips and beans (the meal he will normally eat no prob). I offer some cut up to use a fork and some still large as finger food one day he refused, the other he eat everything offered and asked for more fish - eating 5 fish fingers..?!?
Pasta and meatballs in a tomato sauce. Refused
Chicken, sweetcorn peas carrot in cheese sauce. Refused
Roast beef, & veg will eat potatoes but refuses to try anything else
I've also ried the anabel karmel ready meals - refused everyone offered
He sometimes eats macaroni cheese with ham, sweetcorn and peas. If he has this he will pick out the chicken and pass it to me, even out of his mouth and even if tiny pieces!
You get the idea......
When I say he refuses it, he won't even get the food to his mouth! He will tell me no and yuck, he also blows raspberry as a way if showing his dislike of it.
If I try to encourage him to eat the dinner he gets very distressed and it normally results in a mess if I push for too long (plate tipped on the floor, spoon pushed away etc)
I don't want dinner to be a horrible meal so don't push too much any more - my parents tell me I'm enabling him to win - I don't know which is right.
We eat at the table together, he has a high chair that it at the table like a big boy, we have tried special bowls/ plates and cutlery
I have tried swapping the meals, offering him a "dinner" meal at lunch time and sarnie at dinner time. He still refuses a "proper" dinner but eats the sarnie.
And now the clanger:
At nursery he will have a cooked lunch without fail and eat it all, even ask for more!
He still has a drink of formula milk before bed anything from about 4-8ozs & I don't know how long to keep offering this bit all the time he won't eat dinners I feel he needs this for the substance through the night.
He sleeps well, normally 8pm to 7am with no wakings and has about 1-1.5 hrs during the day.
So what are we doing wrong? Evening meals are often just the 2 of us as my husband works awkward shifts, but this makes no difference to his eating, I just get even more fed up when hubby is home as I feel his dad thinks its my fault (he's not said as such so might just be my insecurities)
In everything else he is a lovely little boy, happy and cheeky, he is talking well, can sign a lot of what he cant yet say, and developmentally doing well.
I've no idea of his weight, he's not skinny at all. I can't get to a health visitor clinic anymore due to work. We've not seen one since sept, but he's had lots of hospital and dr time so I wasn't worried about that. I'm probably going to try and make an appointment for one to see us soon to help with this.
Sorry this is so long! Thanks for any advice or comments
My son did this a lot too, though for variety sometimes it was lunch that he refused in which case he would eat dinner. Essentially he ate two meals out of the three, he was healthy and happy and always enjoyed breakfast. Don't go to much effort with his dinner then you won't mind so much if its wasted and don't react at all. Do not try to cajole or persuade, can you imagine someone doing that to you if you were really not hungry?
Do not listen to your parents talk of letting him win that just plain daft
I wouldn't worry, mine goes through periods like this. Will eat breakfast, lunch no problem then totally refuses dinner. I used to get worked up about it but then I realised he was happy, healthy, running about and actually still eating quite well even on those days he refused dinner.
Sounds like your son is eating quite well so I would just say 'ok' and take it away or cover it and give it to him the next night. Alternatively you could try giving him dinner at lunch time and vice versa.
He's probably just doing it 'cos he can!'. When he sees it doesn't bother you he might stop refusing it.
Offer dinner, eat with him, and if he doesn't want it let him have a banana and milk and don't fret about it.
Agree with above, offer things that you are eating and don't worry to much (easier said than done I know) If he's healthy and active then he is getting most of his needs met during the rest of the day.
The one thing I found with my fusspot is that she didn't/still doesn't like sauces. Gave her the food 'dry'
Thank you all so much for the advice! It really helps knowing that other children have been similar.
I try so hard to just let him eat if he chooses and if not to not show any disappointment / annoyance about it. But its so difficult when others make comments about it and I've even been told that our son will become even more fussy and we are allowing a problem to get worse.
I do sometimes offer a refused dinner again later, but he always says no thanks.
I will keep trying to be as relaxed as possible. Any idea if/ when this phase might end?!
Unless he's wasting away you're best off ignoring it.
He's probably tired by the end of the day. Leave him be of he doesn't want it - just put it down and get up and do something in the room. Or give finger food on a toddler table and let him get it as and when.
I don't think it is the food, it is a power thing and it is gaining him a lot of attention. He knows how important and worrying it is for you, from body language as much as anything else. Take the attention and emotion out of it. Serve it, he either eats it of doesn't eat it- take it away without comment. He clearly isn't starving. He probably eats it at nursery because it isn't a big issue. Babies are often good eaters and parents pat themselves on the back thinking it was their efforts whereas it is generally (with exceptions) that they eat what they are given- when they get to 2yrs the realise they have choice and a will of their own. They find that 'no' is a useful word!
I also totally agree with exoticfruits - he gets your attention by doing this. Just ignore, remove food and take him away from table without showing any emotion.
Your son sounds a lot like my dd!
A friend recommended "My child won't eat!" by Dr Carlos Gonzalez and I found it very reassuring.
Agree with the above, don't force the issue and carry on as you are
Mine is the same, he's a horror! Eats well at nursery but at home survives on Weetabix, milk, dried fruit, biscuits and (healthy home-made yogurty) smoothies - I still give him a full meal with the rest of the family in the hope he'll start to eat properly soon.
My 22mo eats at home but not at nursery and very little if we are a restaurant! I think it's just a toddler thing!
If he's healthy I would try to back off, keep offering foods but not making a big deal out of it.
Offer a cooked lunch, like nursery do.
Offer the same dinner as yours. Accept and ignore refusal.
(Offer something like cereal at suppertime if you suspect he is hungry then - but not an alternative at dinnertime).
Happens here too. Look at all the posters who it happens to. It's normal, try not to worry
He eats a cooked lunch at nursery, he eats a good lunch with you. It's not cooked food that's the problem, it's that he doesn't want a big evening meal.
I've read that children normally eat well two meals out of three. Children that eat very little at breakfast but eat a good dinner are seen as good eaters but ones that eat a good breakfast but are not hungry at dinner are labelled fussy eaters.
Honestly... Let it go - serve whatever you choose to serve, let him eat it or not, no reaction, clear up any leftovers (I leave on the side incase appetite magically returns) and no fuss at all. That is what nursery so and it works.
Your son is healthy, not skinny and eat two good meals a day (with some protein and some fruit and veg): he will neither starve or get malnourished...
Keep variety in what you serve, occassionally throw in new things, but just do not react. Do not make food a power struggle about control and emotions. It is a phase and when it gets no attention it will be boring and pass
Let it go - he may just be a front-loader (ie gets all the calories he needs from meals earlier in the day). My own DS is highly likely to refuse to eat anything in the evening and it doesn't affect his sleep or anything else. A refusal is fine by me (he's allowed a dry cracker or piece of toast if he wants one) and we just get on with it. It's not essential to eat a big meal in the evening by any means.
My DS (same age) does this and I think it's normal. Especially after he is ill (specifically stomach bugs) he goes off his food for way longer than it takes him to recover. I mean let's say it takes him 1 week to recover, but 2 months to go back to eating properly. It's dinner that suffers the most. Breakfast is always the easiest and lunch is a bit hit & miss. Often he'll go to bed without even having eaten one bite of dinner.
I know it's REALLY difficult, but try and be laid back about it. Just keep offering the food, focus on other things during dinner (just general talk, not focused on food), maybe enquire if he's not hungry or ask if he wants to try something but don't force it or cajole him. Don't make exceptions for him (DH often wants to give DS something else if he doesn't eat, but I think that's a slippery slope towards cooking separate meals). Take the food away at the end of the meal or earlier if he starts playing with it/throwing it.
Make sure he gets some healthy snacks during the day and if you're really worried about his nutrition maybe also go for a multi-vit. In the end I think the most difficult thing about this issue is trying to relax about it and let him get on with it. He will come back to food and become more adventurous as time goes on, as long as he feels free to do so and food hasn't become a battle of wills (written from the POV of someone who has food issues because food/eating was made into a huge issue when I was little).
What time does he have it? My dd is similar age. Will eat dinner at 4. Any later and she's not interested.
I also agree that they will eat two out of three meals usually.
Yup, totally agree - my DD aged 22 mo always eats a massive breakfast, can be fussy at lunchtime and if so eats a lot at teatime but if she's eaten a big lunch and afternoon snack might be fussy at teatime. I'm really glad to hear this is 'normal' as, until reading these posts, I hadn't realised there was a pattern to it. It is HARD not to get cross when food is flung on the floor or greeted with a look of horror / loud wailing. And days when she eats really well I feel so much more relaxed. But I rationalise it by thinking how awful it'd be if someone tried to force me to eat when I didn't want to (though frankly i'm a greedy pig and generally am). And my parents too get judgmental and think meals should be finished. Why should they, if the eater hasn't chosen to embark on them, or what they consist of, or how much is in a serving? Must be cp being a toddler sometimes. (and a Mum it goes without saying!)
My 2.3 year old is exactly the same, except she doesn't go to nursery. 9 times out of 10 her dinner is pushed away with "no like it" before it's even tasted. Doesn't matter if it's the same meal or different to me and DH or if she has an afternoon snack or not. The only evening meal that seems to be vaguely acceptable is turkey dinosaurs.
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