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fussy eater getting worse


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#1 paddasmom

Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:00 PM

My DS is 26 months and is a fussy eater at the best of times. Its usually only about his dinner though so he is eating fairly well through the day. Although the latest thing for breakfast is  cereal with no milk which i let slide cos at least he's eating the cereal (well most of it anyway!)
I used to be able to get him to eat anything with mince (so bolognaise sauce, cottage pie or mini burgers) but lately even that is a challenge. So he's basically living on sausages, nuggets, fish fingers, frankfurts for dinner. no vegetables although i give them to him almost every night. I mix some veges in with the mince meat for piece of mind, which now doesn't work.
This evening was the 3rd night in a row he's refused dinner, and so now i'm starting to get worried. We all eat together as a family and he normally gets given what we are eating (unless its steak, chops or curry). We don't offer him anything else to eat, but he does get a bottle before bed still.
We are in the process of moving house and i am thinking that might be affecting him, also i am 25 weeks pregnant and am starting to really show so in some way he may have realised something is happening there too. Also here in NSW it is scorchingly hot at the moment so we have been eating in the lounge which is the only room with air con as opposed to eating in the kitchen.
I am thinking that these are probably all factors that have upset his routine.
My question is, do i start giving him sandwiches for dinner just so that i know he will eat? or do i ride it out and hope that it all goes back to normal once we are settled in the new house, which should take a week or 2.  unsure.gif
I am really starting to fret about this, anything new i give him to try he won't take, i'm starting to run out of options. What happens if he starts refusing dinner completely?  sad.gif

#2 IsolaBella

Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

Trust me they will not starve themselves.

I would perhaps stop the bedtime bottle so there is no filler before bed.



#3 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 05 January 2013 - 06:23 PM

I feel for you! My first developed extreme fussiness at around that age....as PP said, they won't starve.

Could you maybe move his main, vege meal to the middle of the day....when he's not so tired and grumpy....he may eat more then?

Edited by Lucretia Borgia, 05 January 2013 - 06:23 PM.


#4 Tesseract

Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:18 PM

It's normal. Most toddlers are fussy eaters, they're designed that way. They also have an aversion to new food. They are also mostly too tired to eat at dinner time.

If he's eating during the rest of the day he's getting enough. He won't stave himself.

It's your job to provide healthy meals. It's his job to eat it, or not.

My DD (21 months) often eats nothing at dinner. The sky hasn't fallen in yet. They don't starve themselves.

In your situation you could try a few things:

- Remove the battle of wills. Just put the food in front of him and let him get on with it. If he eats, fine. If he doesn't eat, fine. If he only eats one part, fine. Just get on with your own meal and the dinner conversation. No alternatives, no begging him to eat.

- If you're concerned about vegie intake then you could offer a fun 'taste plate' of vegie sticks for snacks. Even just having it somewhere accessible in the house so he can graze on vegies during the day.

- Toddlers are scared of new food because their primitive brain tells them that it may be poison. So just keep persisting with putting it on his plate, even if he doesn't eat it, it will eventually become familiar. I also find that giving DD a new food from my plate (or even better if she sees me take a bite of it) lets her know that it's safe to try.

- Finally, don't hold back on steak, chops and curry, DD can handle all these just fine! Steak she tears little bits off and sucks it, chops she loves waving around and gnoring on, and she has no qualms about chilli or spices in curry.

#5 TheChipAddict

Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:51 PM

Hi. I agree with some of the other posts. I've found that most kids are fussy eaters at some stage. I've learnt that they absolutely will not starve themselves. I've found with DS 27mths that if he has milk before he eats,  he often ignores his meal. He also tends to "forget" to eat if he's busy playing, especially with other kids/unfamiliar toys. I learnt with DD, who is now 12.5yr, that begging, pleading, forcing etc simply didn't work. It just ended up with mum/daughter stressed and unhappy. Maybe pick your battles. If you are satisfied that your toddler is eating enough throughout the day, then offer him dinner, but don't stress to much on what is eaten. But no alternative/replacement meals(we are mum's, not running restaurant kitchens!!!). If you are still concerned, maybe try keeping a food journal for a week or two, to track exactly what/how much he is eating, and then reassess.Hope this helps  rolleyes.gif

#6 IsolaBella

Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:02 PM

My eldest is still super fussy at 7yrs. We have been paed, psychologist etc. paed said we could starve him out but that usually took4-6wks and agents usually caved at 2wks as kids behaviour worsened due to hunger.

I have seen this happen by accident. We were overseas. DS1 decided he didn't even like the bread. Basically did not eat for 5-7 days... When suddenly something he would have previously declared inedible was totally eaten, not a crumb left. That was his meal of choice over the next 2wks.

Upon return home he went back to his normal eating ways and when presented with same meal he ate overseas it was once again not edible.



#7 Lokum

Posted 11 January 2013 - 09:34 PM

MIne's been, sort of fussy, since about 25 months, and is now 30 months.

I don't really regard it as 'fussy,' so much as choosy and toddlerish. Like yours, he would always eat things with mince, plus most kinds of chicken,  fish etc. Could always be relied on to eat carrots, cucumber, corn, pasta and rice.

Now he'll often eat one or two bites of dinner. No veg for days at a time. Then occasionally he'll have an epic dinner when he eats everything in sight. Will eat sausages, so we're having them more than I'd like, and I'm trying not to fall into the trap of offering the favourite foods all the time.

I now try to give 'dinner' food at lunchtime, and a peanut butter sandwich and yoghurt for dinner. Still doesn't necessarily eat much at dinner, but I feel better because he ate a decent lunch. Tiredness, distraction and the suspicion that something better will be on offer all make him eat less.

We are trying not to offer the usual fruit, as we suspect he's holding out for it (has always been a problem to restrict/control his massive fruit addiction.) Also trying not to worry too much. Like you, we keep offering the veg every day, try not to swerve to offering the things he'll more likely eat (rather than keeping a good healthy variety), and just accept he's a toddler, plenty of energy, sleeps well, still growing and won't starve!

#8 beabea

Posted 12 January 2013 - 02:51 AM

QUOTE
It's normal. Most toddlers are fussy eaters, they're designed that way. They also have an aversion to new food. They are also mostly too tired to eat at dinner time.

(Etc etc etc - all of it)


Well said.

Remember their growth slows dramatically once they stop being ickle babies. They don't need as much food once they're 2+.

Remember to look at a week-long period, not a particular meal, to assess the variety of food they eat and the balance in their diet.

Remember to look at their growth relative to their expected growth when assessing the quantity of food they should eat.

2yo's are starting to assert independence. Giving it elsewhere may soften them up for meal time. Ditto for their growing choosiness.

The new-foods-are-poison thing is so true. DD nearly-2yo will often ask me to taste her food for her, seemingly to demonstrate it's safe. She will put it on the fork and hold it out, saying, "Mum, eat this!" Then she will watch me very carefully. Sometimes I don't even get to bite it off - she will snatch it back as soon as my teeth touch it, satisfied it must be safe. Other times I have to chew and swallow before she will follow suit with an identical piece.

Sometimes one or both of mine go without dinner. They will usually eat it for brunch the next day without complaint. They are just not hungry by the end of the day, or they're too tired to eat, or between growth spurts.

The only thing I really argue about is saying they're not hungry and then demanding an alternative food twenty minutes later. This is not "not hungry" this is "I don't like it". I am very wary of subbing for something I've already cooked, although if it is a challenging meal (eg, unusual dressing, spicy, etc) I will relent and offer something like carrot sticks after they've tried at least a bite to ensure they're not just writing it off on looks alone, Green Eggs And Ham style.

#9 RunDMC

Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:47 AM

Hi OP, we also eat as a family and I have found if dinner prep slips and we get a bit later than he is used to then he just loses interest.

#10 Kay1

Posted 12 January 2013 - 07:54 AM

My 4 year old started doing that at that age and he still doesn't really eat dinner now.

I try to ignore it, the less fuss the better. I tell myself its my job to provide healthy food and his to eat it. He eats a lot all day but just refuses to eat dinner. He says he only 'likes' sausages but won't even eat those sometimes. I'm sorry I don't have any answers but I think all you can do it keep providing healthy meals and don't make it into a bit power struggle.

DS1 went through a phase like this and he did come out of it and now at 7 is a good eater. DS2 is holding out longer but I"m hoping he'll get there too.

#11 IsolaBella

Posted 12 January 2013 - 02:26 PM

Sassy girl I beg to differ on the parents giving into their every food whim.

I have not given in to DS (or DD now 36m showing independence). We have a meal prepared for the family, it is his choice to eat or not. We even limit the amount if food that I know he will eat (ie if we are having Fajitas for dinner he can only have 3 tortillas and small amount of cheese like the rest of the family. It is his choice not to add the  salad and meat like the rest of us. He gets nothing new offered. If he says he is still hungry he is deferred to the food on the table.) the message has been constant. Healthy food options provided child's choice to eat or not. There is no getting angry or pushing it is just a non issue, no anxiety.



#12 beabea

Posted 12 January 2013 - 03:58 PM

QUOTE
From what I have experienced fussy eaters have parents that give in to their every (food) whim.


There are parents like this, but the statement should come with a BIG disclaimer that there are genuinely fussy eaters out there.

At under 2yo, DS would eat anything. We hung out with a friend for a couple of days in a row (all day) whose child was a "fussy eater". At first I felt for her difficulties. In the end I concluded that she had created a fussy eater, and by that stage she had turned DS into one, too. Took a week of actively avoiding her to turn him back into a normal eater (she would not comply with requests to stop feeding him up to half a packet of biscuits before lunch time, which she thought of as the right way to feed a child - not the right way to feed a fussy child whose doctor is concerned about calorie intake, but the right way to feed any child).

After many repeated requests on many occasions I could not convince her to stop feeding DS biscuits (much less that kid's biscuits were not the foundation of a balanced diet, just a slightly healthier junk food alternative) and decided to limit our time together for the sake of his nutrition!

So yes, these parents exist, and I can see why you might give this advice if this has been your only experience. But parents with fussy eaters often either a) have genuinely sensitive kids or b) (more usually) have normal kids but need to adjust their expectations of normal eating patterns and how they change as they grow.

The OP has told us that this child is in the 2+ age category and that the overall diet is good, with great non-fussy eating earlier in the day, so I think it's a case of b). There has been a normal slowdown in the appetite which has taken the OP by surprise, as is common. Usually this slowdown affects the last meal of the day more than any other, and it is an unfortunate mismatch between normal toddlers and Australian culture that this is often the "main meal".

"Getting worse" here often just means each side is digging the heels in further and further, and advising people do dig their heels even deeper again is, of course, the very opposite of what should happen and has the potential to make the problem worse again. Of course, as I said above:

QUOTE
Remember to look at a week-long period, not a particular meal, to assess the variety of food they eat and the balance in their diet.

Remember to look at their growth relative to their expected growth when assessing the quantity of food they should eat.


... and I should add that, if in doubt, see a doctor or nutritionist.

So as usual, finding the real solution starts with correctly defining the problem. If the OP was feeding half a packet of biscuits a day before lunchtime, insisting that this is a stellar diet, and wondering why her kid won't eat vegies by dinner that is one thing - but it is not the story we've been given and therefore your solution doesn't seem to fit, and may even make matters worse.

Accepting that this is just normal feeding behaviour and shifting focus to ensuring that the earlier meals are nutritious and then not worrying about it after that seems better advice. Again, as long as the overall diet is balanced and calorie intake sufficient, which the OP suggests it is.

And if in doubt, or if your friend with a good eater who has suddenly turned fussy after spending too much time with you is trying to tell you otherwise, consult a nutritionist!




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