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Should I just let him starve?


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#1 nephthys

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 06:43 PM

I'm writing this after yet another frustratingly rejected meal. Every single meal, every single day it's a battle of wills just to get him to eat something. I've read so much advice and tried so many tips but it seems that nothing will work. We've just come to the conclusion that he's not interested in eating or food. He's always too busy wanting to be constructive and eating, or even worse, sitting down to eat, is just not in his scope.

I took him to a Paediatrician for it, who said there was nothing seemingly wrong with him but he did say DS's small stature was most likely a result of his fussiness. Unfortunately, he couldn't offer anything new to try.

My son has been fussy and stubborn about eating from day one, where his milk had to be a certain temperature or he'd refuse to drink. Once solids were introduced, it was clear it was going to be a fight because he'd only eat from a tiny range of foods. The only thing that goes down easily are Arnotts Shapes and Uncle Ben's Risotto. He doesn't even like cows milk! Every meal I offer several options with a main (usually what we ate for dinner the night before), wholemeal toast, fruit and sometimes yoghurt/stewed apple/dried fruit. He eats at his own little table, sometimes with the TV on, sometimes with it off, sometimes with us at the big table, sometimes by himself, I've left food for him so he can graze... it doesn't seem to matter.

The only way we sometimes get something down is if DH or I sit with him and feed him ourselves and it's within his very limited menu. He's 2.5 and we're still feeding him! If I let him go on his own, he'll just sit there with his meal in front of him totally ignoring it. I'm really careful not to make a fuss, not to show I'm frustrated with him but after two years of this, my patience is barely staying in check.

So herein lies my question, if he doesn't eat what's in front of him, should I just take it away and not offer anything more? Should I let him go hungry? I don't want to make four different meals every mealtime to tempt him to eat, but neither do I want him to go hungry because his sleeping is still crap and being hungry makes it worse.

Please help??
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#2 ~Emma~

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 06:56 PM

Im prob a little mean, and we don't have much food refusal here, we just have distraction issues.

If Sophie doesnt eat for whatever reason, I won't offer her anything else until next meal time (other than fruit).
I always stand by the theme, if they are hungry, they will eat, but like i daid above, ive never had a food refuser on my hands.

#3 Channy

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 06:59 PM

I can't speak from personal experience, but a friend of mine has had alot of issues with her nearly 3 year old. He wanted to fill up on milk, only ate crackers/biscuits and no fruit/vegies/meat. As a result he had severe constipation issues and it was horrible to watch sad.gif

What has helped her (still not 100% but getting better)

Offer meals at set time. Only offer what you want them to eat (fruit, vegies, sandwhich etc no biscuits/snacky foods). No other options, take the meal away after 10-15minutes if untouched. Wait until the next meal time and then offer it again. They will get hungry and eat eventually. Praise for trying the food, but nothing over the top. No attention for fussing, picking or playing around. Easier said then done....

I hope it improves soon. Could you visit a feeding clinic??

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#4 Woodland

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 07:01 PM

I can really sympathise with you Nep because my 2yrs 3mths old DS is a very fussy eater too.
My DS would happily live only on milk, yoghurt and cheese with nothing else. Ive finally let it go and thought to myself that I only cook mainstream food so he'll eventually eat it with us if its all that's offered as main meals over the years.
At the moment if he refuses the main meal I only offer fruit. He obviously isn't starving or he'd eat!
I find it extremely frustrating but I remember one Dr Phil show about this once that said kids can only control 2 things in their life... what goes in and what comes out, so they will exert their independence in those ways. He pretty much said not to push it an dmake it a big deal and if they're hungry they'll eventually eat.
I also feel that its my job as his mother to supply healthy food (veges etc) if he chooses not to eat them there is nothing I can do about it so I let it go and refuse to feel guilty about it.
I find it interesting that when DS goes to daycare he eats everything or most of it there but at home he plays up because I guess he knows there is a chance I'll give in?!
Its so annoying though! I think after sleep its the most common difficulty of child rearing.
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#5 Jaydee

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 07:57 PM

sad.gif How stressful for you.

Here's what works for us-

*Set meal times without grazing in between. They eat roughly every 2.5 hours so if they don't eat much at all at one meal, it's not like they're going to starve. If they don't eat one meal, I don't offer it again at the next meal as I don't want it to become a power thing- quite often things like cut-up fruit that doesn't get eaten at breakfast will be presented at afternoon tea when it's "new" again. I'm a big believer that MOST kids are pretty good at self-regulating and really wont starve themselves.

*If they don't eat it, and it's reasonable to expect that they will (so not things I know they genuinely dislike) then they don't get offered anything else. The exception is dinner time as I don't want them going to bed hungry, but they're only offered something 'boring' like a glass of milk, some toast, 4-bean mix, etc. I try to give minimal attention to what they're not eating so it doesn't become an attention thing.

*We all eat together, and often with shared plates in the middle of the table- bread, vegetables, cut-up fruit, etc. Ever since starting solids, they have ALWAYS eaten more when we're all taking things from the centre of the table.

*If they're genuinely not hungry, that's okay- if it's lunchtime and we're eating on the verandah they're allowed to get up and play when they're done, if it's dinnertime then they have to sit and wait until everyone is done (they're usually pretty mucky and it's bathtime straight afterwards so I don't want them wandering around anyway) and just join in the conversation.

*I get them as involved as possible and practical in food preparation. We grow stuff in the garden (raspberries and sugar snap peas are the biggest hit) and eat that, they make dough with me, they can wash vegetables, stir things, etc.

*Cutlery- particularly toddler knives- and those cute little cupcake flags, cute mini cookie cutters- they are your friend because they make eating fun rolleyes.gif

*I only cook things that I'll feel like eating. No such thing as "kids meals", here- no separate meals- and that's with a vego, through DH's phase of gluten-free, and the likes and dislikes of 4 people. It means I never have the frustration of spending ages preparing a meal that they don't touch because I'm feeding myself something I want to eat, too.

*Hidden veg- huge. Cauliflower in risotto, very finely chopped spinach on pizza, capsicum and carrot in tomato soup...they literally shove each other out of the way trying to get a turn at my green smoothies (handful of spinach, an orange, handful of frozen raspberries) because they know that juice is a huge treat they're not usually allowed. I generally have a bowl of cut-up fruit in the fridge along with a bowl of podded peas/chickpeas/whatever and they think they're being SO clever "sneaking" into the fridge wink.gif

#6 * MsSassy *

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:05 PM

I totally understand your deliemma. My almost three old is a very fussy eater. She is slowly getting better though. We have tried force feeding, disguising, removing the food etc all of which has lead to more frustration for us.

Her diet once only consisted of yogurt, some fruit and vegemite sandwiches.

Now she eats a bigger range of fruits, meat, cheese, yogurt, crackers, sandwiches (vegemite only), and all the bad stuff like chips, lollies and cakes.

She still refuses vegetables. The closest vegetable we can get her to eat is hot chips. We even resorted to disguising them in her yogurt. However we have been able to get her to at least put a carrot or brocolli in her mouth. She spat it back out though.

I've also been to the Dr and he simply said that she should eventually grow out of it. Still offer it to them but dont be too concerned as she still was healthy. He advised though to keep the meat intake up for the iron but if this didn't work then resort to the iron fortified cereal like Nutrigrain.

#7 CRose

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:06 PM

QUOTE(Channy @ Sep 4 2011, 06:59 PM) View Post


Offer meals at set time. Only offer what you want them to eat (fruit, vegies, sandwhich etc no biscuits/snacky foods). No other options, take the meal away after 10-15minutes if untouched. Wait until the next meal time and then offer it again. They will get hungry and eat eventually. Praise for trying the food, but nothing over the top. No attention for fussing, picking or playing around. Easier said then done....



We had a long few months when DD would eat nothing except sausages and fruit and a few bites of toast most days - there was nothing that she really liked. I used to ask her what she wanted and would get no, no, no, no to all options and if she didn't eat offer her something else. DH convinced me to take dinner away (no fuss, just "ok, you aren't hungry you can hop down now - she is still in a high chair so we can keep her in one place til she is finished). And then I stopped asking her what she wanted at meal times, I still don't and invariable she will eat what she is given whereas DH can't get her to eat breakfast because he always gives her a choice and she then refuses everything.

She was still picky for a while but we stopped worrying about it - literally we could count the number of bites she had all day. And then a month or so ago she got hungry again and eats almost everything on her plate - all the vegies, salad etc.. we were gobsmacked, we kept putting vegies on the plate but usually they ended up thrown on the floor wacko.gif

She also eats better if we feed her so if she isn't eating much I will sometimes feed her a bit but I leave her for a while, also if she starts to make a mess it all gets taken away. She didn't get offered "dessert" for months (fruit/yoghurt) as we only offer if she eats all her dinner - but don't believe in "if you eat all your dinner, you'll get dessert".

Hang in there, I am sure it is just a phase - if you have to feed him to get him to eat something to stop you worrying, don't worry too much - he won't let you feed him forever.

ETA: we would tend to offer things that she liked/ate occasionally most of the time, but still offered new things - usually when we could get organised to eat at the table together, now we can offer anything and she usually eats it!

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#8 ~steph~

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 08:44 PM

That is exactly what H was like at that age, I still shudder when I think of the hell it put us, especially me through. Unfortunately nothing we tried succeed at changing things then and it only got more and more frustrating. We ended up at a nutritionist when he was about 3 & 1/2 - 4 as he wasn't eating enough to get sustain him through the day. Best thing we ever did, even if the GP made me cry to get the name of a good one dry.gif

She taught me techniques I hadn't heard of before that totally went against most things I found on google, as the really strong techniques back fired on us as he would eat less and less.

The techniques she taught me were very much aimed at H's age, however she did mention that she had younger kids in who she had successfully gotten to eat as well. Might be worth a try? One that specialises in pediatrics? One hint if you do end up going, do a food diary of everything he ate, how much and when for the week before. Also do a full list of everything he will eat, sometime eat etc.

Good luck, I can't sympathise with you enough.
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#9 Rosita

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:06 PM

I just want to offer support. My Best friend has two of the pickiest eaters in the world. They have to take sandwiches out when they go out for tea to a lot of places as the kids won't eat the food on offer.

Kanga is currently going through a thing where at night he is ony eating a couple of mouthfuls. He has gone from eating plates of food to barely anything. He eats a lot through the day so just hoping it is something he will grow out of.

He will still eat everything at the moment if it is on a pizza, or a quesadilla (which he also calls pizza) these are both home made. He loves pasta too, luckily. Home brand chopped spinach in the frozen food section is so finely chopped it looks like herbs, I put this in almost everything I cook for his tea.
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#10 Daybreak

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:40 PM

My youngest niece (17months) has a dietary condition, and is also a fussy eater, as well as being naturally tiny, so her eating is a big concern ( she has a feeding tube).
Despite all this, one of her doctors told SIL not to let eating/food become a power struggle, because the child will always win - you can put food in their mouth, but can't force them to swallow.
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#11 aChocLover

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 11:13 PM


(((Hugs))) Nephthys, sorry to hear this is still a battle for you sad.gif

Agree with the others, I would simply offer one meal, and if they're not interested, let them step down. I've also on occasion served the same (uneaten) meal for breakfast, just to prove the power-struggle point ph34r.gif . However, yours doesn't seem to be a battle of the wills, it's more of a complete lack of interest.

I like Jaydee's suggestion of involving the kids in the cooking, get them interested in the preparation - maybe start with some things that are quick wins, don't require too much prep or baking time etc to keep DS interested.

Good luck smile.gif

#12 nephthys

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:24 AM

Thanks everyone for your tips and advice, I really appreciate the time you've taken to help us out.

After I wrote this frustrated vent, DH managed to get down 1/4 of a salada and 1/2 piece of toast so he didn't go to bed totally hungry. That's added to three bites of fish and a few grapes at lunch time and about six spoonfuls of porridge for breakfast. That's all he's eaten today. This isn't just a phase unfortunately, it's always been a fight getting him to take an interest in food that doesn't come from an Arnotts Shapes box - and yes, I've resorted to feeding him these on many occasions just so he gets some sustenance.

I've tried most of what's been said, but there are a few new things I can attempt. Next time I'm at the GP I'll ask for a referral to a nutritionist. Fun, fun, fun!

Thanks again! smile.gif
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#13 Puggie

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 07:18 AM

Is it only foods he has an aversion to? Not worried by noises / textures / bright lights etc.?

I ask because a girlfriend's son had problems with a lot of foods and a sensory profile ended up doing wonders for them. Just a different thought smile.gif

#14 Porthos

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 10:41 AM

Nep good luck with the referral and the whole process. It SUCKS having a fussy eater / food refuser.

Jaydee has given me great advice and suggestions in the past (she's amazing smile.gif ) but I have come to realise some things about myself through the process of having a fussy eater. One of those things is that I am not that into food myself. Sure, I love to eat and I eat lots, but I am not someone who likes cooking, shopping for food or even goes that nutty for eating out (sure, I like it, but food is just not that important to me). On top of that, I eat lots of crappy food and am a total sweet addict. I am also a grazer and have always been....my mum raised us this way as a revolt against her extremely strict 'three meals a day' upbringing. Without realising it I think a lot of my own personal relationship with food affected the way I was raising my daughter and impacted on HER relationship with food.

The result? A two year old with a crappy diet, major food refusal issues, very little fruit / vege / fibre in her diet and severe constipation issues sad.gif

Thank God my hubby is a food lover and he took over. He is way tougher than me when it comes to meal times, he sticks to his guns when she food refuses and waits until the next meal, he prepares fantastic meals that are fun and nutritious and he has introduced new and exciting healthy foods that she loves (she's a big fan of Vietnamese food biggrin.gif ). We also FINALLY cut back on her milk intake which made a huge difference to her appetite and we introduced a lot more fruit through the Wiggles and their cowboy characters who 'eat fresh fruit everyday'. She is sleeping better, has completely resolved the constipation issues and is just much happier and much nicer to be around.

I know your story is quite different because there is just a total lack of interest there (and my child has just developed shocking habits thanbks to her mother sleep.gif blush.gif ) but it still might be interesting to just have a look at how you feel about food and whether or not this is impacting on your son. I was quite shocked when I realised what was going on in our house - it was just the way I had always been around food, didn;t give it a second thought.

(Sorry for the novel blush.gif )

#15 ellemjaye

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 11:01 AM

I'm harsh but I don't have time for food battles. My kids are 4.5 and 2.5 and if they don't eat what's served, they don't eat. Even at dinner time. Sometimes they are fussy and sometimes they eat everything in sight.

They don't have any allergies/aversions etc they are just turds sometimes so I don't have any qualms about making them go hungry if they don't eat what I've prepared.




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