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My toddler will not eat! Please help.

(16 Posts)
BonesyBones Sun 18-Sep-16 09:33:12

DS2 is 2yrs and 2months old. He will not eat anything.

This has been going on for around 2 months now, been backwards and forwards to GP and health visitor who say they won't/can't do anything unless he loses a significant amount of weight. I have no idea how he isn't losing weight.

For example here's what he's eaten this week:

Monday: 2 blueberries, 1/4 of a slice of toast
Tuesday: 1/4 slice of toast, 1 spoonful of yogurt
Wednesday: 2 spoons dry cheerios, 4 pieces dry pasta, half a cracker
Thursday: half a bowl of dry cheerios
Friday: quarter slice of toast, strawberry and banana smoothie
Saturday: quarter of an omelette with cheese, three spoons of yogurt
Today: cereal and toast rejected without a bite.

He is currently being assessed for autism and developmental delays and seems to have issues with wet foods so he won't even look at cereal with milk/soup/pasta with sauce etc.

I've tried feeding him myself, with a spoon/fork, and leaving him to get on with it, tried TV on and off, tried highchair and big table. He can't speak yet to tell me what he wants and if I show him options he just walks away.

I've tried giving him my plate, as a friend said toddlers often find parents food more interesting. I've tried eating a spoonful of his to show him it's "yummy". Tried leaving him for ages to eat it, and tried taking it away at first refusal, hoping he'd want it back.

He weaned brilliantly, would eat anything and everything, and now, nothing at all. I've given him everything I can think of from beans and toast right up the the curry we were having as adults and he just won't eat it.

I've tried laying the table buffet style for him to choose, but nothing.

He doesn't get treats, we only have pudding on Sunday, and in desperation I baked some cheese muffins and tried to pass them off as cake but he wouldn't even take a bite.

I'm completely losing my mind over this. Why won't he eat? There have been 2 occasions where he's gone a whole 2 days with no food at all.

I've never had a fussy eater before, I don't even know for sure if that's what this is, but breakfast refusal this morning has tipped me over the edge, I just want him to eat something. At this point I wouldn't even care if it was nutritionally crap because at least he would be eating something.

BonesyBones Sun 18-Sep-16 11:52:56

Anyone at all? I haven't got a clue what I should or shouldn't be doing anymore.

blueskyinmarch Sun 18-Sep-16 11:58:28

Would he eat the things you might label crap like cake, biscuits or crisps? If it is a choice between those and nothing I would give him those. What about fruit?

Paintedhandprints Sun 18-Sep-16 12:11:30

Can you make some healthy-ish muffins to pass off as cakes? Hide grated carrot and courgette in.
Will he eat carrot sticks or sweetcorn?
I give mine a vitamin pill to supplement his crap diet.
Can you organise a lunch date with other children or picnic? Mine eats a lot more when other kids are eating.
Does he snack during the day?

reallyanotherone Sun 18-Sep-16 12:18:28

Is he really not losing weight?

If he isn't, then however it must seem he is eating enough to balance his calorie needs.

Does he go to nursery or other childcare?

Try not focussing on food so much but try to increase appetite. Mine are always starving after swimming or a couple of hours in the park. More toddler activities?

Personally I'd just keep doing whay you are doing. Going down the route of feeding him him crap just so he eats may stop him losing weight in the short term, but then the dr's won't intervene. In some ways it may be better if he does lose, then the medics will take you seriously and look at why he won't eat.

GiddyOnZackHunt Sun 18-Sep-16 12:21:02

If he's got autism then advice needs to be different to that given to children without.
You might find advice that works on the special needs boards here is more appropriate.
With dd she would starve rather than eat something she didn't want.
She would eat from a limited food range and as long as during the week she had a balance that is ok.
She had a patch where she'd not eat any meal except breakfast. That was ok. It passed.
I've no idea what will work with your ds but if you can get small amounts of food into him he'll be o.k.

Clankboing Sun 18-Sep-16 12:44:39

I would consider the following (and my advice is based on experience).
1) Fluids. If you ever suspect dehydration please go to a same day doctor or hospital. Dehydration can quickly become an emergency.
2) A community dietician. Get support. He may be prescribed a supplement.
3) If he cant eat much at one sitting, you need to develop a timetable of 4 meals and a mid morning and mid afternoon snack. Each meal or snack should be accompanied by fluids. If he cant manage fluids at same time, position them separately. But timetable a quiet alarm or buzz to go off on your phone. You will feel like you are trying to feed him always but it will pay off I promise. X
4) Keep buying new foods, especially ones you dislike. If it produces one food he likes this is better than nothing.
5) My autistic son likes white and circular spherical foods - milk loaf, cheerios, cous cous plain, round filled pasta, milky buttons. Try to work out the colour, shape and texture he likes and try different foods of the same theme.
Best wishes. Let us know how he gets on. And apologies if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs. X

BonesyBones Sun 18-Sep-16 13:04:03

Thanks for all the replies, just to address some things: I have tried things disguised as cake etc but the issue there is that he doesn't actually like cake all that much. Have tried crisps, the organix puff ones and quavers and skips and such. He will eat one or two sometimes but never any more.

I already offer 3 meals and 2 snacks each day, always try to give something familiar along side something new. Have tried to give things like chips/nuggets/fish fingers as a last resort but he wouldn't entertain those either.

He likes melted cheese on pasta etc but will just pick at the cheese and not eat the actual meal. Won't eat cheese on toast.

The worst part is that I know he likes or at least used to like almost everything I give him and just can't work out what the actual problem is.

He has milk in the morning and at bedtime. Morning milk has vitamin drops. Water is available in his slippy cup all day and refilled as finished. He has around 3 cups of water a day.

We do activities 3 mornings a week: swimming, soft play and toddler group at library. He starts nursery in 2 weeks. No other childcare.

The problem is that after these things he is so tired which seems to fuel his refusal to eat!

We have plenty of different foods available, and I do try to encourage him to pick his own most days but he's just not interested. DS1 is vegetarian and DP loves meat and spicy or full flavoured foods so there's usually quite a variety at the table.

CousinCharlotte Sun 18-Sep-16 13:09:11

I work with disabled dc's, some have asd and this is not uncommon.
I know children who survive on a very limited diet, and are never ill.
Have you had SALT involved? It might be a sensory thing, he might not like chewing. Does he drink ok? Can you blend things? Milkshakes/smoothies.
You say he doesn't have treats and only pudding on Sunday. If he'll eat treats then let him.
What have HCP's said?

BonesyBones Sun 18-Sep-16 13:32:03

First SALT appt is mid October, he's only just had his first appt of the referral 2 weeks ago. Paediatrician seemed to agree quite quickly that something isn't quite right, but also didn't offer advice on diet as he isn't losing weight and has loads of energy.

He drinks well, and will occasionally drink smoothies but much prefers plain milk or water. He likes apple juice but will only drink it at granny's house (from the same cup so not sure of the difference).

I said he doesn't have treats meaning he doesn't fill up on treats/snacks and that's why he won't eat. He's not really fussed with sweet stuff either. Even chocolate buttons he will only eat one or two of.

I've tried going back to mashed and pureed foods but he doesn't like the wet texture and won't eat them.

When he was one and a half he would happily eat scrambled eggs or lamb cous cous or macaroni cheese and loads of different fruits and vegetables.

Seems like he just doesn't like food. Which is fine I guess, but he needs to eat something.

DS1 is autistic, so we're fairly clued up, but DS1 always ate just about everything and he seems to have the opposite issue of not knowing when to stop eating. So this side is completely new to us.

BonesyBones Sun 18-Sep-16 13:36:44

I should add that he doesn't seem upset by food, will climb up to the chair or sit in highchair without a problem. It's after that he quickly decides that it's all gone and if we don't remove it, it gets thrown to the floor. I've also tried keeping the plate away from him and handing him one piece at a time but don't get much further with that.

Handluggageonly Sun 18-Sep-16 13:43:14

Sounds rough. When my dd back molars came thru we had the same for a while. Icecream was a saviour, often wanted to eat after a bowl of icecream, think it was numbing. Also an Ella's fruit sachet, a yoghurt and some milk shaken up in a fast flow baby bottle...good luck, hope it passes soon.

Bertieboo1 Sun 18-Sep-16 13:55:00

We have just had a massive regression in speech in our suspected asd two year old and I think regressions are really common with possible asd, hence the change in his eating habits. It must be so frustrating for you flowers We are finding the speech regression really difficult and emotional to deal with so I can only imagine how hard it is for you.

The starting nursery might help - seeing all the other kids eating? Both of mine (asd and not) massively improved eating and feeding habits after starting. Xxxxx

That1950sMum Sun 18-Sep-16 14:01:59

One of my children was a bit like this for a while. I found she would eat if distracted so I used to make her little snack and then put her in her buggy and go for a walk. She usually ate whatever I'd given her if I chatted away while we walked. Eggy bread was good one to eat on the go - but more than once we'd walk into town with a plate of toast on her knee!

It was a fairly short stage and then she started eating normally again. She's still a child who will only eat when hungry though and doesn't want treats unless she is hungry. She might still miss out lunch and never wants a pudding.

I hope you can find some answers. It is incredibly difficult when you're child doesn't eat well.

ThatsWotSheSaid Sun 18-Sep-16 14:19:42

Really you need a proper OT and SALT assessment but I know that's easy to say then NHS doesn't work that easily. I'm not an expert but if it's a sensory aversion doing some desensitisation activities may help. You could get jelly in a big bowl with spoons and cups and just play and then try and get him to touch then lick and so on. Same with chocolate mouse etc (could get messy). Also lolly pops, chewing gum, SALT type chew sticks and electric tooth brushes can all help desensitise the mouth. It's likely he feels anxiety even if he isn't showing it so maybe creating a visual food calendar so he knows what he going to be expected to eat each day may help.

BonesyBones Wed 19-Oct-16 11:41:35

I just wanted to come back and thank you all for the advice you gave. DS2 has seen a speech and language therapist and has been referred onto the main waiting list to learn pecs.

He starts nursery this afternoon and we're hoping the interaction with other same aged children will help.

Following some of the advice from posters here, we have identified that DS prefers dry crunchy plain tasting foods (so crackers, corn flakes, bread sticks etc) and that he will eat dried fruit like banana chips, which isn't the best food, but is far from the worst. He's been eating melted cheese on toast/pitta as long as it's toasted until crunchy.

As a comparison to my OP for breakfast today DS has had a small bowl of dry cheerios, a small yogurt and some dried apple and banana.

We're still offering lots of new foods too but for now he's sticking with what he knows!

He's learned the word "no" so can at least tell me what he doesn't want. We've also been using an array of chew toys which seem to have helped.

I was really at breaking point with this so thank you all so much for your support and advice! flowers

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