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Sometimes I feel like sobbing with despair that my 2yo DS won't eat enough :-( LONG!!

(205 Posts)
Dalrymps Thu 01-Oct-09 11:58:51

This is LONG so appologies. I just feel I need to write it all down as I don't want to go over it with DH again as it upsets him just as much as me.

My ds has been difficult to feed both milk and food since he was born, I have posted about this before.

I had a period of depression which I recieved some couselling for and had antidepressants for a few months but decided against them.

It's really complicated and there are a lot of factors to consider. He is 9th centile for height which is fine, he was born 9th centile. His weight gain slowed down at 8 weeks old and went slowly off the bottom of the chart. We were referred to paediatrician and dietician (along with lots of other people who gave advice on feeding him, none of which worked).

The paediatrician believes he is perfectly healthy and there is no physical reason for his slow weight gain apart from the fact he doesn't take in enough calories generally.

The dietician's main aim is to get his weight to match his height (centile wise) so that if he were to become ill he would have some 'spare' to fall back on and wouldn't become to underweight.

The dietician prescribed him SMA high energy milk when he was under a year old and his weight picked up a bit but then slowed again. Once he was a year old she changed his milk to a higher calorie one called paediasure plus, this made him completely loose the tiny bit of interest he had in food and he would vomit on average one of his 4 bottles back up again each day, he also had very runnny poo's (all not usual for him). After 2 weeks of him hardly eating a scrap of food on this milk we decided to mix it half and half with his ols SMA and he stopped vomiting, poo's we ok again and he ate a little.

He was breast fed when younger and I had a lot of problems but he bascially ended up being mix fed till 5 months when he refused to bf anymore and went completely on to the aptamil.

He was late to sit unadied and has been quite late with getting his teeth. Hw will be 2 on 30th Oct and still only has 8 teeth (at the front) and one molar coming through.

It took ages to get him off smooth jars then ages to get him off lumpy jars. Feeding him has been the haerdest, most frustrating thing I have ever had to do. To feed him jars he required constant distractions (eg toys, books). He took ages to become interested in just eating bitd of our food and for ages would just chuck them on the floor or eat a tiny bit then leave it.

We are now at the stage where we give him fromage frais for breakfast (won't eat cereal or weetabix or readybrek), I have to distract him with a magazine or video's off my phone to get him to eat the fromage frais otherwise not one single spoon will be accepted.

Then he gets some sort of sandwich for lunch (philidelphia,tuna,cheese, egg etc) and some quavers and bits of cheese that he likes to eat. He usually takes about 2 bite of the sandwich at lunch if we're lucky then eats a bit of cheese and about half a bag of quavers. I then have to distract him (again!) to get him to eat a high cal pudding such as custard or more fomage frais or ice cream etc

Tea is bits of ours cut up which has varying success, sometimes he eats quite a bit (10 bites max) and sometimes hardly a scrap. Pudding is the same as lunchtime, high cal, spoon fed. DH usually does tea to give me a break from the feeding although I am there also as we all eat together.

He has 4 4oz bottles of milk a day as he won't take more than 4 oz a bottle ( I would love to be able to give him 2 8oz bottles or even 3 5 oz). He won't take the milk from a cup although he can drink prefectly well from a cup and he has his juice in one.

The dietician has recently also prescribed him some high calorie powder to add to his milk or food. He refused point blank to eat it in his food. I don't blame him as it was grainy and didn't dissolve very well. We therefor add it to his last two bottles of the day as to not affect his appetite during the day.

Recently we ran out of the higher energy milk temporarily (paediasure plus) and had to give him just the SMA for a week or so whilst we waited for the prescription. Ds's interest in food increased noticabily when he was on the SMA alone and he ate slightly more than when he has the paediasure mixed in. I have always believed from the begining that the paediasure didn't help matters. The dietician said to see how he is off it for a few more weeks and if still the same she will put him on a less calorie dense paediasure that is more suitable nutritionally for his age than the SMA.

I'm a little worried that changing him milk again will have some sort of affect on his eating, changing anything usually does. I'm also concerned that even though his appetite is better off the paediasure he still doesn't eat a whole lot more, just seems more willing to eat at all iyswim so he might not make up the calorie difference.

The main problem has always been the amounts he eats, he is quite good at trying a variety of foods if in the right mood but just looses interest very quickly. He just doesn't seem to get he has to eat a lot to grow, it's as if he's just not hungry.

When we saw the dietician the other day she made some 'helpful' suggestions on ways to encourage him to eat. She suggested reward charts/stickers for eating a bite of something or another page of his story for eating such and such. Thing is i'm pretty certian he is too young to understand this concept yet, we have tried over the last few days and he just doesn't seem to get what we're on about?!

I have watched many episodes of 'the house of tiny tearaways' to try and get answers on feeding problems. I have taken away from this that anxiety is the enemy. We spend each mealtime trying to be as relaxed as possible and basically just let him get on with playing with his food whilst we chat amongst ourselves and occaionally to him. We give him gentle praise when he eats something and clear his food away when he finally starts throwing it on the floor. We don't put too much on his tray and we always offer something we know he likes/somehthing familiar and something else for him to try. I don't know what more we can do?!

This is what has brought me to write this all down. I feel that everytime we see the dietician she makes suggestions on ways to get him to eat or things to feed him that are high calorie. I always come away from the appointments with renewed hope that we have new ideas to try and desperately hope that one of these ideas will work. Then wht happens is I get back to reality at home, try the suggestions and they don't work. This makes me sink even lower and makes me feel even more defeated and helpless than before sad. I always end up feeling so sad to the point that I just feel like going somewhere ds can't see me and sobbing my heart out.

We have tried so much, so many tactics and ideas over the months but the daily grind of having to feed him and progress being so painfully slow just gets me down. I try not to think about it most of the time and try to remain positive butif I stop to think about it then I just have massive feelings of hopelessness. I feel like i'm letting him down, I don't know why he won't eat more, I can't help him to eat more cause nothing works and nobody, not even the many professinals we have seen have any answers of ideas that can help us.

I don't want him to be on 2 types of high cal milk and high cal powder. I don't want to try to constantly feed him high calorie foods as deep down I feel it is unhealthy for him. I don't want to distract him whilst I spoon food in to him. I just want to be a relaxed mother who can let him discover food and feed himself. I can't be that mother though because the fact is, if I just leave him to it he will not gain enough weight and it'll be my fault. i'm crying writing this, I feel totally at a loss and I know my DH feels exaclty the same sad

I feel left alone to stuggle and wish someone could tell me why he is like this or at least give me something I can do about it that works. sad

differentnameforthis Thu 01-Oct-09 12:10:26

How does the distraction work? When you say you distract him to eat more?

differentnameforthis Thu 01-Oct-09 12:11:28

When does he have his milk in relation to his food?

cyteen Thu 01-Oct-09 12:13:30

I don't have any useful advice, I'm afraid, but didn't want this to go unanswered, you sound so down It is very wearing when they refuse/reject everything. Food is such a primal thing, it evokes an incredibly strong anxiety response in parents IME.

What is he like in himself? What do the dietician etc. think are the main problems with him being underweight? (Sorry for the ignorant question, it's not something I know much about blush)

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 01-Oct-09 12:16:45

I don't have much advice either except my DD at that age was on the 80th percentile for height and the 20th for weight, which was worrying, and I DID go down the high calorie route with lots of cheese etc and distraction, I have to admit.

Anyway she is about to turn 3, still doesn't seem to eat as much and is suddenly on the 75th for both, so it could improve, she doesn't seem to need as many calories these days!!!

NeedCoffee Thu 01-Oct-09 12:19:21

Dal-I really feel for you {big hugs}
not got any great advice but wondering if you have any friends with toddlers that you could meet and sit them all down together to eat? If I lived closer I would bring Miss Piggy round to show him who its done, she never stops! He may be picking up on your stress about it too, although I know its really hard for you to relax about it but is he eating enough to sustain him atm? Could you try giving him finger foods throught the day, would he be more likely to eat them?

drlove8 Thu 01-Oct-09 12:24:28

hi dalrymps ! your dc is very like my dd4 . the high cal powder, pro-cal?
there is a website for recipies to disguise it .... the best thing ive found is to chuck it in a batch ot the MN MICROWAVE CHOCOLATE CAKE . DD4 will eat that until it comes out her ears ...
i have gave up with dd4`s dietition , all she'd ever say was add an ounce of butter to her food,and double cream to her milk , here have some procal - dd4 can taste it and refuses to eat if its mixed in ,( cooked in there is a slim chance she`ll eat )
i too have tried everything .... nightly buffets and little snack dishes all over the house , is what we are trying to do at the moment ..... the rest of the kids are eating them.....aaaarrgh .
i dont know what to suggest, i just wanted you to know your not alone . its hard.sad
but if i crack the case with dd4 i'll let you know what we did .
i get what you mean about the high fat all the time . i worry that dd4 will end up with colestorol problems...

NeedCoffee Thu 01-Oct-09 12:32:30

actually, just had a thought Dal and Drlove, do your dcs seem to enjoy food? Just wondered if perhaps they can't really taste anything for some reason, hence enjoying it, it may be something to do with it, prob clutching at straws and already been ruled out..

Vamonos Thu 01-Oct-09 12:34:50

Does he suffer from eczema? Has he always been a 'sicky' baby? Just wondering as sometimes a milk allergy can cause slow weight gain, possibly because it causes discomfort and puts them off eating/drinking too much.

This is just an idea and I'd stress that I'm not an expert in any way, I just had a milk-allergic DD who had weight gain problems till about 18 months.

I think in any case the good news is that once he's over two it should get easier - he won't be so dependent on milk supplements and you can just let him eat foods that he likes, and be a bit more relaxed about hi-cal stuff like biscuits, cakes and chips (I was a real fascist about things like that until my DD was over 2!). Snacks like avocado and bananas are good if he likes those.

I wouldn't worry too much about 'mealtimes' as such, the finger foods idea is good - even picnics in front of the telly are worth trying. Also try not to get too hung up on the charts, they are not the be all and end all, it's much more important that he's healthy and active.

Dalrymps Thu 01-Oct-09 12:40:24

Adifferentname - The distraction works in the way that if I have a spoon and put it to his mouth he turns away, bats it away etc, completely refuses to entertain it. If I then give him my phone for example with a video of the dog playing he holds it and just watches the video happily and opens his mouth (most times) and accepts the food. Trouble is I have to keep giving him different distractions as he looses interest after a couple of mins.

He has his milk about 20 mins -half an hour after his food on advice from dietician so he's more 'hungry' when I feed him (yeah right!)

Cyteen - He is an absolute delight (most of the time) apart from normal toddler tantrums. Lots of energy, great at talking and moving about. Paediatrician just says he's one of those that are meant to be small and are difficult to feed.

The dietician just thinks the problem is that he doesn't take in enough calories, hence the constant struggle to get him to take more calories or give him high cal foods.

Neither of them can really say why.

Fanjo - That is reassuring to hear, I would be delighted if he could just eat mostly what he wanted (eve if not much) and was not constantly under 'survelance'.

NC - Sometimes he eats with his cousin, always eats with us. It doesn't make a massive difference. We try to give him afternoon snacks such as biscuits and crisps and fruit etc but he doesn't eat a whole lot of them, would rather just play...

DrLove - Sorry but it really does help to know someone else is in the same boat... Ds too can tell if the pro cal is in any food, he must have very sensitive taste buds.

How old is your DD4? I know what you mean about dietician, same ols advice but my problem is that they can suggest things to add to their food as much as they want but i'd like to try and see her get ds to eat it!

Sometimes I think i'd rather he be a bit skinny and on a healthier diet than full of animal fats. They don't agree though obviously.

colditz Thu 01-Oct-09 12:47:09

It honestly sounds like you have too much dietician interference - his low appetite has been medicalised to the point where hardly any of his calories are coming from food!

How much cheese (grams) does he eat in one sitting?Cheese is HUGELY calorific and very satisfying to children, my chubby three year old sometimes goes all day with 2 bites of cheese at lunch.

Maybe he isn't meant to be very big and heavy. I was that child, my mother was in your position, she kept me on SMA until I was three .... you'll now see me wandering around the Weight Watchers threads, as am rather too plump!

If I were you, I would try two weeks of No powder calorie adding things, just lots of butter, cheese and cream. You can add a LOT of calories to something with butter (as I'm sure you already know)

This isn't worth crying over. He's thin, that's all. He's not ill, he's not neglected, he just doesn't have much appetite. It's your responsibility to provide food, it's NOT your responsibility to eat it for him. I know you're scared in case he becomes ill, but the fact is, he's NOT ill. I never was, even when I was at the point of hospitalisation.

Pop him in the highchair with NO books, toys, magazines, tv, and just clean your kitchen or something.

I'm not saying it will work - you may have tried it and KNOW it doesn't work, but if not I think it's worth a shot because you sound dreadfully stressed about something that isn't disasterous.

drlove8 Thu 01-Oct-09 12:49:10

NeedCoffee - mine has SN , is suspected to be asd (somewhere on spectrum) with delvelopment delays.... have been told its made worse by not eating properly - no fuel for brain development ect .... which makes it a vicious circle tbh .. she wont eat becaue of sensory ishoos, and she wont develop as well as she could because of it.
Ive had fussy kids before , but this is something else .... if i could explain it i would use "anorexic-baby".... thats sounds horrible but its the only thing that fits sad . i believe because dd4 eats so little that she simply doesnt get hungry, but she's not lethargic so the docs wont take her in and drip feed her .shes 22lb and about 90cm tall .
i just want her to eat so very badly .

Bramshott Thu 01-Oct-09 12:49:27

This is soo difficult - my cousin's DD is like this. They give her quite a lot of things like almond butter which are very high calorie, and just try to avoid making a big deal out of it, which is so hard. My cousin's DD has recently been put on a dairy free diet (she's 4) which does seem to be helping. She drinks a lot of flavoured soya milk drinks.

gingertoo Thu 01-Oct-09 12:49:37

We have a group around here which is run by Health Visitors and dietitians called 'Baby Cafe'. The little ones all sit around together and eat a meal together while the mums can relax, chat, get feeding advice, swap recipes and speak to people who are in the same boat. I found it a great help when I was struggling with DS2's non weightgain a few years ago. I wonder whether there is something similar where you are?

It sounds as if you are doing all the right things so don't be hard on yourself

If I was to give advice, I would have said eat with your son, eat the same things, enjoy your food, don't stress when he doesn't eat, praise when he does eat but you're doing all of that already!

I think my son was about 3 when he finally started to eat more, enjoy food and gain weight and to this day I've no idea what changed - he just seemed to get better all of a sudden!! (and FWIW at 9 he's still skinny but eats loads - I think he's just built that way!)

I do remember though that he used to eat better if he'd had a part in the preparation. Not always possible, I know, but a 2 year old can enjoy putting some jam on some toast, cutting some banana with a plastic knife, putting veg on a pizza, putting salad in a sandwich etc. He also used to like it when I put the cooked meal in the middle of the table in serving dishes - he liked to 'help himself' It's time consuming but maybe worth a try?
Oh, and he hated being spoon fed. He ate much better when I let him do it himself.

I hope things improve soon - good luck

drlove8 Thu 01-Oct-09 12:52:20

DALRYMPS dd4 is is 4 .

RumourOfAHurricane Thu 01-Oct-09 12:57:13

Message withdrawn

drlove8 Thu 01-Oct-09 12:59:24

actually have you tried the procal dalrymps? it doesnt change the taste imo , but it does change the texture , mashed potato goes sort of sticky, eugh , no wonder our little ones wont eat it . its ok in custard , and i find if its put in milk based foods (custards, ricepuddings, even scrambled eggs) then its a bit more likely to go down... ive resorted to using half of whats recomended , too much and she spots it .
i had no luck with the peadasure - she had the ready made milksake cartons at first (300 cals ones) .dd4 drank half a stawberry one once and then refused to ever again.
where can i buy almond butter? dd4 like cherry bakewell cakes - she took her first steps tryong to reach one so im hopeing it might do the trick wink

drlove8 Thu 01-Oct-09 13:01:09

hello shiney ! smile

differentnameforthis Thu 01-Oct-09 13:05:12

I see (re distraction)

I am wondering if there is just too much attention going into this now. It sounds like every meal time is a 'circus' (no offence, just can't think if another word) focusing on his eating! He is 2, good age to know how to get maximum attention for little effect. I second Colditz too. No more milk powder for a while & just give him calorific food. In his chair, while you go off & potter in the kitchen, read a paper etc. I put my dd in the high chair, put the food in front of her & off she goes.

I am assuming he knows that he will get milk, so maybe hold it off for one bottle, one day. It's easier & quicker to have milk, could he be being lazy because he knows he will get milk?

How about getting him to feed himself? Is he spoon fed because he won't eat himself or is that just the habit you are in?

How worried are you re choking? Could it be he senses this?

One thing that I did learn through a parenting programme, is that their tummy is only as big as their fist. So don't be alarmed that he only eat small amounts. If the paed is that worried that he isn't getting cals from food, surely she can run tests to see if he has some medical problem that prevents it?

RumourOfAHurricane Thu 01-Oct-09 13:06:12

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RumourOfAHurricane Thu 01-Oct-09 13:08:00

Message withdrawn

Dalrymps Thu 01-Oct-09 13:14:57

Vamonos - He has sensitive skin, can onlt use certian wipes but no excema. I have excema so can spot it pretty well... Never been a sicky baby, that's why it was unusual when the paediasure made him vomit!

He has had blood tests through the paediatrician to check he is absorbing nutrients from his food ok ad to rule anything else obvious out...

I eould love nothing more than to ignore the charts but the dietician in particular seems obsessed with getting his weight on the 9th centile.

NC - I think it's the opposite acutally, I think he has very sentitive taste and therefore is very stubborn abuot what he will ane won't eat... One thing that is normal about his eating however is that he likes sweeties, strange that.

Marne Thu 01-Oct-09 13:18:25

Hi, i hav'nt got much advice but i do have a fussy eater, dd1 (now 5) always fed well on milk but struggled when we moved on to food, she would gag on lumps and her diet go more and more limited, up until 18 months she would only eat jars of chocolate pudding (small amounts) and some times some fruit puree, she didn't take lumps until she was 2 and sometimes she would still gag on them. Now she eats a lot more cold food but only a few hot foods, luckily she likes fruit so i feed her up on fruit (in her lunch box), she is still a lot smaller than her friends but she seem healthy. I let her eat what she likes when she likes (almost), she eats at a small table on her own which seems to help as no one is watching her and she can eat what ever she likes.

Dd1 seems to eat more when i am more relaxed, i don't try new foods if she doesn't want too, if she wants pizza 3 nights in a row she gets it. In a normal day she will eat:

Breakfast- 1 piece of toast.

Lunch- 1/2 a cheese sandwich (she leaves the crusts), small tub of blue berries and grapes (a handful), a small yoghurt.

Snack- A biscuit or fruit

Dinner- small piece of pizza, chips (around 8 chips), a small cake of fruit.

I also give her vitamins.

differentnameforthis Thu 01-Oct-09 13:20:28

How much does he weigh?

Dalrymps Thu 01-Oct-09 13:21:21

Back in a in, he's up from his nap...

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