Fussy eating or more to it? (Toddler)(10 Posts)
Hi everyone, I hope I've posted in the OK section? Wasn't sure where to post this thread..
My son is 2 years + 4 months. He was born 2 months premature, but is otherwise healthy (thought I'd mention just in case). He has completely gone off of meals, and become a very fussy eater, since he had a year of constant reoccurring ear infections. He almost needed grommets, but has seemed to have grown out of it.
He will eat most of his breakfast in the morning, which is either: cheerios (with or without milk), peanut butter toast (1 slice), porridge. He will either eat most or half. He also has a milkshake, or smoothie (these are the only way to get milk or fruit in him).
For lunch he will eat: a few peanut butter crackers, or a handful of chips.
For dinner he (used to) eat: jacket potatoes (with butter only), spaghetti bol, cottage pie, chicken curry and rice. He has stopped eating dinner completely now, and will not even try any.
I will not give him any snacks after 3pm. Dinner is at 5pm, sometimes even a little later.
Snacks I offer: fruit bars (the breakfast type ones), breadsticks, rice cakes, yoghurts, 'healthy' style biscuits, cheese, toast, all fruit, all veg sticks. He refuses all snacks.
He is barely eating, and I've been reassured in the past by a nurse that it is just a fussy eating phase, but it seems to be getting worse. These are the only foods I can offer him with even a slight chance of him eating!
Due to him being premature, and having the constant ear infections, he has never caught up weight wise. He had always been underweight (the doctors have never been concerned and have said he will catch up), but things really aren't improving due to the lack of food.
I've tried sending him to bed hungry, making alternatives, introducing new foods along side existing foods, eating with him, leaving him to it, putting a film on, bribing with chocolate. At the moment he is literally living off crisps, or crackers, as I'm so worried about him starving himself.
He ate so well during weaning, he would eat everything, but with the ear infections he just stopped and never went back to eating well. He barely looks at the food, before refusing it without even trying.
Has anyone else had any problems like this? What did you do? Was there any medical reasons behind it? What should my next steps be? Is this the start of an eating disorder?
If you've read this far, thank you very much and I'd love your advice. I'm getting desperate now, and gp appointments are at a two week wait (this isn't seen as a priority, and I'm not sure if I should be demanding to see a doctor ASAP).
No, you don't need to seeing a GP as an emergency. You might want to speak with your health visitor for proper advice and support.
It sounds entirely behavioural. Which is good! He has learned through illness that he is allowed to refuse and mummy will fuss, persuade, cajole and let him have exactly what he wants. It's quite commonplace for sick children to regress and develop slight behaviour problems. I know it doesn't feel small but it is.
Breakfast sounds fine - a smoothie is probably better than a sugary milkshake. Not drinking milk isn't a huge issue - three of my six have never drunk milk since stopping breastfeeding - and still don't as adults.
His snacks are quite carbohydrate heavy so might be bulky and making him feel full quickly. Stop all snacks between meals except a drink of water and a few grapes or cucumber sticks. Lunch can be finger food - it gives him a choice. Put various things on his plate. Sit opposite and eat your lunch with comments about eating up or trying various things. Let him take control and just relax and allow him to eat what he wants.
Suggest finger foods like - pizza finger, vegetable sticks (try pepper, mange tout, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radish ) finger sandwiches or 'shape' sandwiches, prawns, ham or chicken, cheese pieces. Small tartlets or quiches and plain or tomato pasta swirls.
Evening meal should be what your having but with no nagging to eat up. If he eats it, he eats it if not remove plate without fuss. Do not then start offering lots of other things. Again finger foods or just accept he'll make a dreadful mess with cutlery at this stage. Puddings should be offered in the same way and not as a reward for eating supper. Yoghurt, fruit or occasional treats or proper pudding.
Avoid snacking completely- just three main meals. He'll get used to it and I'm sure if you stop fretting he'll start eating. Children often eat far more than you imagine they are doing.
Thanks for the reply Crumbs. Going to try a lot of your ideas. I do tend to just leave the plate of food around, in case he wants to eat it (but never does). I think perhaps it's a lot of pressure on him. Il also remove all 'goodies' from the kitchen, so he thinks there are no other options. Might be a tough few weeks, but hopefully we will get to the other side again. The food waste is driving me nuts! Thanks again x
So today didn't go great. He's not eaten anything at all. All he's had all day is a smoothie, and a small carton of apple juice. He isn't even drinking water now. Getting ready to throw the towel in.. again
I don't think this is 'fussy' eating that he's learned because you've been pandering to him whilst he's been poorly (there's always a hint of 'blame the mother' that creeps into fussy eating threads and it's totally unfair and un-called for. It is Not your fault!!!).
That isn't how food refusal works. I would be much more likely to suspect an ear, nose & throat issue, which is making it difficult/painful for him to swallow. It could be that through the time of his illness, eating was hurting him and it has caused an aversion, and he now fears food. He may also have a problem with his sense of taste/smell which affects the appetite.
Disagree but even if it's a taste thing you need to get him eating properly. Stand firm and stop fretting - tension passes from parent to child. No blame or criticism, it's what happens when children have been ill.
Just had a read about ARFID, so thank you for posting Yama. A lot of that sounds familiar. He used to be under the care of a paediatrician, prior to this eating phase, but I had to self-discharge him as I moved far from the doctor. The local doctor wasn't concerned (about his development) to refer to our local paediatrician. I may book an appointment with the doctor, and see if she suggests seeing a paediatrician again for this issue as it's defiantly something to consider.
I will still continue with all your advise in the meantime crumbs, and I really hope it works. I did really well sticking with it today, until just now when he polished off SIX peanut butter crackers (the favourite), but he then went on to drinking roughly 300mls of water (so maybe baby steps at a time and we will get there).
Thanks to both of you, really appreciate the response.
It's also quite normal for them to go for beige food that always tastes the same, ie things from packets, because of evolution. Things that always taste the same are safe. Vegetation is good for you but can also be fatal, when you're living wild, so there's been natural selection in favour of the ones who are reticent.
I had one who wasn't much better with the food than you describe. Also illness triggered. Unfortunately the tactic of not offering alternatives etc didn't work, because we did have one who would happily starve themself, then wake up crying with hunger in the night asking for milk. We just gave whatever would be eaten, tried not to worry at the time, and got through it. Annoying at the time, fine now. Eats healthily enough.
Sounds very familiar. Mine has gone through phases of being just like this (she's small, too) and it's soul-destroying. I think some kids just don't care about food! I can't say there was ever a magic solution but a constant effort to be relaxed around food, give her things we know she likes but slowly mix them up with new bits and make mealtimes fun. She's still tricky but very much better than she was this time last year. Stay strong...
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