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2yr old will only eat 4 things so am trying to starve him into widening his repertoire - help!

(37 Posts)
bohemianbint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:10:26

"the parent chooses what and where the child eats, the child chooses whether to and how much..." according to the chap that wrote Toddler Taming, anyway.

Whilst there's quite a lot of what he says that I'm a bit hmm about, I think that makes quite good sense. In theory.

DS has gone from being a brilliant eater, to eating about 4 things:

rice cakes

Ok, slightly more than 4, but that is literally it. He's refusing rice, pasta, any vegetables unless you smash them up, make them look like a veggie burger and fry them. hmm

Am completely demoralised after spending ages thinking of healthy balanced meals, cooking them, and putting them straight in the bin. So have decided to offer him a balanced meal, and let him choose whether or not he eats it. They're not foods he doesn't like, as he used to eat them. And I've decided that if he doesn't eat them, then that's fine, but I'm not going to crack and give him a rice cake or toast every time he refuses a meal. Which is literally every time I give him anything that isn't on the list.

I feel like a complete cow though, as today all he's eaten is 1 banana. He's refused yogurt, which he ate yesterday, and wouldn't eat weetabix for breakfast, so am wondering if he just doesn't want to eat, which is fair enough. I'm just so sick of worrying about him getting scurvy, and putting the same few things in front of him. It's making me dread mealtimes as I just can't be arsed with stressing about what he should be eating, cooking it, and then binning it.

Is this fairly common? Do you think am doing the right thing in not caving and letting him live on toast? I'm not starving him really, am offering him fruit, rice, cheese, yogurt etc, and he's choosing not to eat.

callmeovercautious Thu 14-Aug-08 18:20:18

Will he eat any meat or fish?

Try baby bell cheese to start as it is fun. Once he gets a taste you can try ordinary hard cheese.

Corn on the cob - as he likes sweetcorn anyway.

Just try and relax and keep offerring the different things. Make sure he is getting enough Milk and vitamins.

My Sisters 5 year old would only eat "white" food. Bread, pasta, rice. Cheese, chicken etc. If you go near his crumpets with butter/jam/cheese he won't eat them!

I should add that she has another older DC that will eat anything so it is not clear why he is like this.

She has started putting one "new" thing on his plate every night. He has a special new plate with a little cup holder bit where the new thing goes. e.g 4 peas. He has to have one bite or one item. He ate one pea grin But it was progress. He does now eat some peas and some carotts. It is taking ages but they are getting there. In the meantime he is still gaining weight and growing normally so the GP is not worried.

harpsichordcarrier Thu 14-Aug-08 18:20:48

it's VERY common, and as someone who has come through it you have my sympathy


PLEASE don't try and "starve him into submission" - really, what can possibly be gained from turning the dinner tble into a battle ground.
either he genuinely does not want to eat what you put in front of him, in which case a gentler more encouraging approach OR this is attention seeling behaviour in which case your approach is, sorry, massively counter productive.

the approach I used was to give the child what you know he eats plus a different thing every meal and encourage, encourage, encourage him to try and NO PRESSURE

plus using all the tricks in the book to help him to try other things:

eating with friends
eating with him and letting him see you eat a variety of things
letting him help to cook and prepare
getting him to shop with you
doing PYO with him
lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement
NO getting cross
NO showing your frustation

it WILL get better if you don't make it worse by gettin over-stressed about it.

honestly, he really won't get scurvy on that diet (plus I am presuming he drinks milk, juice, butter) but you can always give him a vit supplement

AvenaLife Thu 14-Aug-08 18:22:07

Sorry. I don't think you are doing the right thing here. If it were a child that was refusing to eat a meal when they ate normally I would say that this was fine. I understand that this is really stresful for you to do and I know first hand how annoying it is to cook a meal for the little darling to not eat any of it.

Give him what he will eat and don't turn it into a battle. Don't give him a choice. If he eats peas and toast then give him peas and toast and don't try to encourage him to eat anything he's not use to as this can make things worse. Picky eaters become anxious and upset when a parent tries to encourage them to eat or are comstantly trying to offer them different foods as they often have a food phobia anyway. ds only eats cheese and ham on a sandwich, he's never tried jam or anything else (he eats other foods though). I've learned not to make it into a battle, he'll become more adventurous in time. He's 9 now though.

bohemianbint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:31:44

Cheers for the replies. It's hellish, isn't it? I just don't want to be forced into putting beans and toast/waffles in front of him every meal.

He's veggie so no fish or meat. He won't drink anything that isn't water. The only fruit he eats is banana; I used to be able to sneak a couple of strawberries past him if I pureed them and hid them in rice pudding, but he's got wise to that now. He won't drink smoothies, won't eat fruit. He only has milk on cereal, won't drink it. He does usually eat yogurt, and will occasionally eat cubes of cheddar.

I let him cook with me, we eat together, I've tried everything but he literally wants to live on beans and toast/waffles every meal and I feel like I'm being a crap parent if I don't make the effort to try and get him to eat a few other things.

The one thing I absolutely don't do is pressure him - as someone who was force fed as a child I'm determine my children can make their own choices and he has no idea that it stresses me as we always sit together and have a chat at mealtimes, even if there's not a lot of eating going on.

I'm guessing he'll grow out of it, because up until a few months ago he would eat absolutely anything.

luckylady74 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:32:19

Put the other food and the food he will eat on his plate (or on another plate if he refuses to have them on his plate) and then IGNORE the food/eating and talk about anything but it for the whole meal, repeat ad infinitum. My ds1 is autistic and this worked for him, but it took months and his range is still small (yet balanced which is all I hoped for).
It is awful, but as long as he's growing it's really not the end of the world. I'm all for having beans on toast/going to the chip shop to have a break.

llareggub Thu 14-Aug-08 18:34:44

MIL tells me that DH would only eat tomato soup and cheese sandwiches for about a year, even for breakfast!

harpsichordcarrier Thu 14-Aug-08 18:35:52

sweetheart, sorry but if you are thinking that you are trying to "starve him into widening his repertoire" and "not caving" and not giving anything to eat is pressure - in fact it is turning the while situation into a battle of wills in which you have more power (theoretically) but he has more energy and you can't make him eat
honestly, what good will come of it?
sorry if this seems a little hard but this is the voice of experience grin

bigTillyMint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:38:14

My DS went a bit like that, but not quite so severe. I bit my tongue BIG time and just asked him to have a spoonful / mouthful of whatever was on his plate if he didn't like it, and tried to ensure alwaus at least something he liked at each meal. He didn't get afters unless he tried things.

By 6 (gulp!) he was eating normally!

luckylady74 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:39:07

Ds1 didn't eat any fruit until we did PYO, then it was blackberries for a year and now it's all berries and some fruit juice/jelly made with juice/ice lollies made with puree.
It will get better smile

sarah293 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:39:14

Message withdrawn

AvenaLife Thu 14-Aug-08 18:40:05

Don't pure them or he'll never trust you or your cooking. He won't eat it because he'll think you've hidden something. Fruit is fine, there's nothing wrong with this, as is water. It's alot healthier then fruit juice. Beans are full of fibre and are healthy, waffles are potato so this is also fine. It can be boring cooking the same foods over and over again but it should change.

My ds was a good eater until he went to nursery. He saw alot of children who didn't know what a vegetable was and that was the end of that. sad

To be honest with you, it doesn't sound like him being a vegi is the best thing for him but others might not agree with me Is this because of a medical condition or through choice? A vegi diet needs to be balanced, protein, iron etc. It doesn't sound like he's eating a balance though. I really would consider rethinking his diet and see if he will try some meat or fish. I'd just put a small amount on a plate and see what happens. I know that this is more than likely going against your views but when he's older and has a more balanced diet he can make an informed choice.

sarah293 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:41:13

Message withdrawn

bohemianbint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:44:43

I suppose I've always just worried about him getting a wide range of foods. I'm the same about me and DH as well, to be honest, I think it comes from being a veggie and having a dietician for a mother! I just worry that untold damage might be done if I don't get enough omega oils/fresh veg/protein into his tiny little growing body nad he'll end up stunted, or getting osteoporosis or at the very least being constipated! The 5-a-day thing stresses me out as well, as I feel I really should be getting that into him, but I rarely get more than about 2.

Shoudl I just chill out and let him live on waffles and toast then? smile

AvenaLife Thu 14-Aug-08 18:47:20


They meake bread and marg with Omega oil in them now. Sweetcorn is veg, out of a can still has nutrients in them, as do peas etc.

Chill!!! Does he like milk/cheese/milkshake/yogurts?

bohemianbint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:51:39

grin Yeah, he'll eat all that stuff, in fact milkshake is the only other thing he'll drink (and I have started putting flax oil in it as a way of getting his omegas in!)

Right then. <breathes out> Will stop stressing. I really don't need it as it's knackering enough having to deal with two lots of meals per meal time for all of us, and am due to give birth any moment now and really could live without the aggro!

StealthPolarBear Thu 14-Aug-08 18:52:44

ds much younger but similar
every meal

and thats it apart from thing like rice cakes

used to eat chicken, turkey, cheese, carrots...

StealthPolarBear Thu 14-Aug-08 18:53:15

v worried about protein...any ideas? wont eat lentils (used to)

luckylady74 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:54:12

would you feel better if you gave him those vitamins/fish oils that are fruity sweets? They made me feel better when ds1 was down to 6 foods - he's still have a sweet!

bohemianbint Thu 14-Aug-08 18:55:41

StealthPolarBear - DS used to eat <ponce alert!!> marinated tofu pieces. They're expensive (and salty) but quite yummy, you could try that? Baked beans? Cheese?

StealthPolarBear Thu 14-Aug-08 18:58:10

ll i'll try those thanks, will also get tofu although he refuses quorn. no to beeans. no to cheese!
just remembered more: raisin wheats, porridge, oatibix and yoghurts! Knew it wasnt quite that bad!

luckylady74 Thu 14-Aug-08 18:59:38

any nut butter/ baked beans/ dairy products (ds1 started off with drinky yoghurts and now likes homemade icecream). Eggy. bread. Ds1 liked fish because he had it from the chip shop first (which lets face it is nicest) and will now eat steamed white fish and so on. They don't need that much protein in a day iirc.

AvenaLife Thu 14-Aug-08 19:01:32

'Beans beans good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you................'

Protein's in loads of things (cheese, milk, soya milk, pasta). Cheerios are good for iron, as is peas.

Jux Thu 14-Aug-08 19:03:26

Beans and peas contain protein. Bananas are a fantastic food as they contain all the nutrients you need, and if you were stuck somewhere where the only foodstuff was bananas you would be fine! Avocados are the same apparently. He's getting what he needs from what's on your list, except calcium. Relax. He'll grow out of it.

In the 70s there were all sorts of stories on the radio and TV about people who'd grown up on diets consisting entirely of, for example, bananas and chips (that's one I remember clearly!). There were plenty of them.

Kif Thu 14-Aug-08 19:07:38

with a new baby on the way, I'd step right back for a while.

You won't have energy to carry through any 'initiatives, and he might be anxious about new arrival making him even more obstinate.

I'd keep feeding him the frickin' peas on toast. Whenever you have the energy, do unpressured 'de-sensitisation' food activities, like cooking, or helping serve or shopping.

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