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Fussy eating - 3 year old
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Corilee2806 · 12/06/2022 13:24

Hi, I’m at my wits end and looking for advice, apologies in advance if this is long.

I’ll start by saying I’ve always worried about my daughter’s weight and growth - she was very tiny when born and didn’t gain weight well for the first 6 months or so, wasn’t on the charts and referred to a paediatrician. Then when she started weaning and I stopped BF she was fine, ate well, pretty much anything we put in front of her, and started climbing up the charts especially for weight. She was signed off around 1 year, on the 25th centile for weight and around 9th for height where she has roughly stayed since.

I know that as long as they are tracking their line and not losing weight health professionals aren’t too concerned. But since the age of around 2 she has become fussier and fussier - this seemed to get worse when her brother was born when she was just over the age of 2. I’ve consulted a few resources and it seems it’s about control rather than any sensory issue. Although sometimes she doesn’t like to even be in the room with certain food smells and really freaks out until I remove it or her. But it’s gone on for a long time now, she’s 3.5 and things seem to be getting better rather than worse. When I spoke to a HV they said as long as she’s happy and healthy and meeting milestones I shouldn’t be too concerned and she is - she’s very bright for her age and a happy girl, this is the one problem area really! Lately she has been I’ll quite a lot and taken a while to bounce back - I know this can be normal with all the bugs going round but I worry her immune system isn’t great due to her poor diet. She has a vitamin every day.

So, her actual diet. She eats a decent range of breakfast - cereal, toast, porridge, and she tends to eat a lot as she wakes hungry after not eating much dinner. Lunch isn’t too bad, she only really eats a plain butter or jam sandwich but will have cucumber and tomatoes and she eats a good range of fruit. The issue is dinner - she just really doesn’t seem to enjoy this mealtime and only wants to eat sausages and pasta. If I make anything else she won’t come to the table. She will sometimes eat some carrot - no other veg. Nothing with a sauce, not nuggets or fish fingers or pizza anymore, spag Bol or other things she used to like which I could hide veg in. I feel like I’ve tried everything - we used a book and got advice from a lady called Claire potter who basically advised the whole ‘division of responsibility’ method which I try to stick to but it often means she won’t eat anything at all, if I give her what she likes and put a bit of what we’re having on her plate she just refuses it and takes it off or leaves the table. She then says she’s hungry at bedtime, sometimes I give her a dry cracker or piece of toast as a snack so she doesn’t go to bed starving. We’ve tried making mealtimes fun, serving family style meals in the middle of the table so we can help ourselves, letting her eat in the living room, everything! We try not to tell her to eat, make dessert a reward, put pressure on, I know all of the principles but it’s hard to be 100% consistent, the other issue is she is with her cousins for childcare a few days a week and they are older and fussy eaters so I think she’s picked up on that in the last few years - she uses words like disgusting for foods she doesn’t like. Sometimes she refuses to even sit up properly or use cutlery - like she wants to act up on purpose, at first I thought it was all a behavioural reaction to her new brother but he’s 16 months now!

I don’t know what else to do, I want to get a referral to a dietitian but I’m not sure if that will happen as she’s not really suffering as a result of the fussy eating. I really hate the idea that I just have to let her grow out of this - I really want my DS who is currently a good eater not to go the same way and it’s so annoying not being able to eat family meals together nicely. My husband and his family all are pretty blasé about it as they were all fussy eaters as kids and grew out of it later on - by teenage years - but I don’t want my daughter to eat sausages and pasta for the next decade or more! It really gets me down and occupies a lot of my headspace and I feel really alone with it, I dread play dates and eating out too as she rarely eats.

anything else I can do? If you’ve read this far thank you very much!

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Mattieandmummy · 12/06/2022 20:35

My DD went through a stage of being a fussy eater and we went down the route of family meals at the table and no pressure and definitely no making two dinners - yours and hers. She's very unlikely to starve herself, it's really hard and super stressful but i think you need to hold your nerve on this one. I read that it's the parents choice as to what is for dinner but it is the child's choice as to how much is eaten which really helped me.

If she's really hungry at breakfast, will she eat scrambled egg on toast? Lots of nutrition there. There's a lady on Instagram called Rebecca Wilson Food who has recipes for hiding vegetables in snacks, would that work at all?

Definitely let go of the worries around her not eating if you're out or at playdates. My DD has never really eaten in either situation and it's pretty normal tbh - there's too much going on and unfamiliar things. I think it's just all too much for some kids.

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Mattieandmummy · 12/06/2022 20:45

I forgot to say, on the sitting up and not using cutlery - I would just ignore it. I think you risk making it a really big deal for her, it will all come in time.

There's not much you can do about the cousins other than change your childcare arrangements which might not be possible depending on the situation. Keep modelling the behaviour you want to see from her and she should get there, albeit with silent screaming from you along the way.

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Corilee2806 · 13/06/2022 17:21

Thanks for your reply, it helps to know I’m not alone! Sadly she won’t touch anything egg related, although it’s been a while since I tried so could offer again. She used to eat eggy bread but not even that now. Yes I know of Rebecca Wilson, have her book and tried some her fussy eaters recipes!

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