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Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 16:31
by pangib
Hi all and thanks for all of the great input throughout the forum.

I'm the father of a 15mo boy. Due to a recent injury/escape from death I'm currently the primary caregiver. Although I've always been more hands-on than most Dads the recent changes in Jonah's schedule has brought all sorts of new challenges which I'll admit I'm having a hard time meeting at present.

Background
He's a typically independent little man, happy to play independently, run around the apartment exploring, then interact on his terms when he's ready. As of late he has become attached to me like glue, follows me like a shadow and screams (even with Mum) when given to/held by other adults. He was BF until 6 months and has since then until recently been predominantly spoon-feed pureed foods from store-bought pouches with 2-3 6oz bottles in-between and many a snack such as cereal/cherrios. In the past (up until the past few weeks, he's tried a variety of foods here and there but not consistently. The key point is that he was willing to try them) After consulting various sources, from my Mum, Mom-in-Laws, to the internet I've reached the conclusion that we might have done things a bit back to front, I'm sure you'd all agree?

So, I've pretty much stopped giving him the pureed pouches and for the past week am cooking more and offering him that food. (Pasta, brown rice, toast, cheese, various fruits, meatballs, steak, chicken strips)
He's not at all interested in most of the food that I present to him, and won't even touch it other than to throw it on the floor. I'll confess that early on I expected way too much of him, put far too much pressure on him, and even attempted to force feed him. In my defense I guess I wanted to replace the pouches with real food thinking if I didn't then he'd fade away! Currently he'll pick up a few select things up, chew them before spitting them out or throwing them on the floor.

Questions
Ok, here come the thousand questions.....
Breakfast
This is his main "meal" of the day. He loves yoghurt, cottage cheese, cereal. We sppon feed him this although he is starting to want to pick up a spoon and mimic this action feeding himself a spoonful or two. Is it ok to continue to spoon feed him one meal?

Milk
Is the 16-20oz/475-590 mls of milk per day enough to sustain his growth granted he won't be eating much else until we can make this transition? (I'm not dreaming when I say I can actually feel his ribs where I couldn't before). I know it probably is but being a first time parent, and being new to this I would love some reinforcement! Anyone got any ideas on how to make this transition smoother rather just flicking the switch from one approach to another?

Not touching food
I think he's not touching the food (a) because he's recently become very picky (used to touch a try everything from lemon to garlic) (b) I've misguidedly put pressure on him to the point of force-feeding which of course has ended in tears and no doubt added to this new hesitancy, (c) his schedule and world has been turned upside-down with Mum going to work, Dad home all day, and finally (d) developmentally he's in a stage of separation anxiety which is a whole other story (would love some input on this too!) There is a question at the end of this! Is it once again just a matter of giving him the time and space, sharing meals with him, and trying to reconstruct a healthy attitude towards feeding himself?

Highchair
He’ll sit and eat cereal/a chosen food/snack, but when presented with non-preferred food he objects with screams and kicks within minutes (there has been some pressure and forced-feeding in the past). At this point, should I let him down then offer him the food as is mentioned elsewhere on the forums free-range? Finding it hard to find a balance between presenting him with a decent opportunity to sit and play with his food(keeping him in the chair), and making it a fun and enjoyable experience (letting him down when he objects).

Variety
Is there any method to offering new foods? I heard (somewhere?) that one should offer the food up to ten times even when (especially when) a child rejects it. If I offer him chicken and pasta during one meal, when should offer this again? At the next meal? At the same meal the next day?

Baby Lead Weaning
I guess I need some affirmation that this is the right way forward for me/him/us.....what are the main advantages of BLW? I currently understand that it allows the little one to lead the way, reduces the back and forth tug of war usually associated with feeding, allows them to explore, and fosters a positive attitude towards eating. Any further experiences/observations?

NB: This is all made harder by a mother in law that insists "you are starving my grandson, mash the food up and spoon-feed him, take it easy he's just a baby, give him a dummy and a bottle", and a mother that insists "he won't starve himself, stop giving him milk, he'll eat when he's ready, when he throws food discipline him!" Also, by the fact that I'm a Dad, Mum obviously knows best, but I'm doing my best to try and get us all on a happy and healthy path towards eating well!

Appreciate any/all input. Thanks in advance!
Pangi

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 17:27
by ches
First of all, back away from the guilt! You are doing the best you can for your child, and have done all along, even when you were trying to force-feed him. Mum does not by virtue of a missing y-chromosome know best. If anything, you're the primary care-giver, so your opinion counts at least 50%!

Milk: Offer as much as he wants. If he's not eating much food, it needs to be formula or breast milk, not cow's milk, which doesn't cover the range of nutrition he needs.

Mashed/spoon fed food is not going to kill him or ruin him. It sounds like mashing/spoon feeding was very stressful for you, so it's also okay to just abandon it. The aim is low-stress all around. Tell the mothers to shut it if they can't be supportive! (I recommend each parent handling their own mother, though.) Your son won't starve himself.

The packaged purees you were offering have a lot of water in them. They are fairly low-calorie (as is cottage cheese - remember, it's Diet Food #1), so he had to eat a LOT to get much nutrition/calories from them. He can get by on a lot less pasta or whole fruit by volume.

You clearly have a situation where the staged/formal meals are stressful for you both. But, the weather is turning, so head out into the sunshine with picnics, picnic on the floor, listen to Dr. Sears (attachment parenting guru from Canada) and have food available for him to graze on while he plays. (Personally, I wouldn't do this - children should be watched while they're eating because, as unlikely as it is, choke does happen and it's usually quiet.)

You can also do some messy food play like sit on a mat on the kitchen floor and do messy play with an entire box of cooked spaghetti. You can even put some sauce for him to play with/pour on, etc. Before you start, make sure the kitchen sink is empty so you can wash him down when he's done. Obviously you don't want to encourage this type of behaviour at the table, so you don't do this type of play at the table. There's the distinction.

Re: the feeling his ribs, there are some significant growth spurts early in the second year. My son had two huge ones at 11 and 12 months. Toddler growth is like a flight of stairs - outward, then upward, then outward, then upward. It sounds like he's a very busy boy, too, and burning up calories but developing just fine.

To my mind, the ONLY advantage of BLW is that it's less stressful. You will hear a wide gamut of answers to that, like young children recognising food in the supermarket, demanding "adult" food, not being fussy, having better fine motor skills, blah blah. Thing is, BLWed children are fussy too, BLW versus puree doesn't change a child's personality. It's just a style that fits with a parenting approach that's more laid-back.

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 17:31
by Eleanor
Hi,

I think the first thing I want to say is relax :) You sound like a really devoted caring dad, and to be honest I think you have answered most of your own questions when you say this:

Is it once again just a matter of giving him the time and space, sharing meals with him, and trying to reconstruct a healthy attitude towards feeding himself?


In a word, yes. I think at 15 months, trying to pressurise him is only going to be counter-productive especially when he has a lot else going on in his world. Trust him :) And maybe try and think more in terms of sharing your meals with him rather than thinking about his food in isolation. Like when you say "If I offer him chicken and pasta during one meal, when should offer this again? At the next meal? At the same meal the next day?" - well, when are you going to be eating chicken and pasta next?

Good luck and enjoy the food trip. (Incidentally my 1.5 year old is a total Daddy's boy too and cries whenever Daddy leaves the room...)



PS, just seen Ches's post - what she says about the ribs and the growth spurts!

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 17:33
by cloudcuckoo
Hi there! Wow, sounds like a bit of a roller coaster for you all at the moment, and it also sounds like you are rising to the challenge magnificently. You have already spotted that few round here bothered with any purees, so I don't feel qualified to comment on the transition, but if it helps I can confirm that 15 months is about right for the food throwing and sudden loss of 'will eat anything' attitude. In a way, you just have to bide your time. My eldest was a horror for throwing food and cutlery, there are fork prints in my table to prove it.

But you are worried about his weight and intake. You don't say where you are - which side of the Atlantic are you? If you are in the UK, have you spoken to your health visitor? And has your son had a growth spurt lately? That can lead to loss of appetite afterwards, and they can seem skinnier. Ditto if newly on the move.

Keep offering the finger foods, and if he's used to cereal being spoon fed, why not have one each and see if he'll do it himself? I assume from what you've said that you are eating together, and broadly the same thing? Oh, and I find that my youngest eats worst if over faced with too much on her plate.

I am sure someone else will be along who can help on the milk front - my memory is doing a blank on volumes.

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 17:46
by scotrail
At 15m, the taste window is closing and it is natural for children to reject unfamiliar foods,tastes and textures due to neophobia. So not your fault!

I would say offer him pre-loaded spoons or better, forks, to play with as he is ready motor skills wise in all likelyhood. And just play with the food, maybe together.. Though not at the table, hehe.

Read the blw book, it is full of handy tips / facts for fending off peer pressure.

And have fun!

Plus, YAY A DAD!!

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 18:51
by Flossie
Don't have much to add but my little one has always loved yoghurt and cereal especially porridge and weetabix. When she started on food at 6 months I happily helped her eat these things with a spoon. I didn't force her to eat but I helped her get it into her mouth without spilling it all! I always felt better if she'd had cereal, yog, banana and toast for breakfast and I didn't worry so much about the rest of the day! I know I could have made porridge pancakes...but I like and make sloppy porridge, so I just gave her what I like. I think there's a whole world of difference between offering loaded spoons and forcing food down them! Do what feels right to you and you won't go wrong. What ches says is true, there is nothing wrong (in my opinion) with full on purées or full on blw or something in between, it's a choice you make and it's what works for you. I reckon lots of kids get picky at around 15 months, so don't even think for a moment it's anything you have or haven't done. Sounds like you're doing a great job.

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 07 Apr 2012, 21:51
by Pics
I'm on my phone so brief but .....
Sounds like you are doing really well and I agree with all the above! You will find if you ask around that lots of them eat significantly less from about this age, then every so often they will eat a tonne of food in just a few days! Also, every tooth, snotty nose and general feeling of grottiness will lead to a loss of appetite that can last for days and days. And yes, the food throwing and stroppiness is normal. My 18 nth old has been able to throw plates food and cutlery a good few feet across the room for months now. It is getting better though!

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 21:07
by Louisianablue2000
scotrail wrote:At 15m, the taste window is closing and it is natural for children to reject unfamiliar foods,tastes and textures due to neophobia. So not your fault!


I can say from bitter experience that even familiar foods can get rejected at this stage. Between 12 and 18 months my DD1 went through a stage of refusing pretty much all veg and when she started eating those again she stopped eating pretty much all fruit. She is now, at 4, a very adventurous eater with a great attitude to food. You've just got to keep offering foods in different ways and eventually they will get interested again. DD1 knows that if she tastes something but doesn't like it then that is fine and that gives her the confidence to taste everything.

I'd say it's up to you to find the balance that suits your family between purees/mashed foods and normal table food. Because your LO has been mainly been having prepackaged foods he'll be used to a more homogeneous diet in comparison to if you'd been pureeing or mashing your homemade food. Keep giving formula on demand, keep giving a breakfast that consists mainly of food he'll eat (I'd try having some cut up fruit to share at breakfast then he'll see you enjoy the food which makes it more attractive), offer foods (probably a mix of what you know he'll take and something that is more unusual for him and maybe mash up some of your own food as a compromise between the pouches and the table food) in as relaxed a way as possible. If he doesn't want to sit at the table, let him down (I usually insist on sitting at the table or playing in another room which is enough to keep the girls sitting at the table but if not don't worry). I'd say the most important thing is to not keep offering different foods at any one meal until he accepts something. That teaches them that they can hold out for food X which is not what you want. What you make is what is on offer, if he doesn't want it that is fine and he can have as much milk as he wants to keep him healthy during this transition.

Just to say Ches's idea about having messy play with food is a great idea, the DDs nursery does it and they played with things like plum halves (DD1 ate them all which nursery thought was brilliant!) and jelly. Eating is about exploring the smells and textures as well as the tastes so giving him a chance to do that when there is no pressure to eat will help in the long run. Oh, get him involved in the cooking process as well and offer him the chance to smell and taste and touch all the ingredients. Try growing some food as well, even if it's just some herbs on a windowsill, that can help engage them with food.

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 21:22
by Nix
I don't really have my to add but I just wanted to say it sounds like you're doing a great job of primary care giver and we welcome you to the forum :-)

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 08 Apr 2012, 21:49
by MummaQ
Hi there, I think everyone has given wonderful advice, I hope you enjoy your BLW journey, because it's lovely when they start feeding themsleves. And although my LO is only 8 months old, i can only tell you what ive learnt from my experience of blw. He has days of not wanting to eat much... Usually where teeth hurt or due for a number2... Then he picks back up again. He also feeds himself with preloaded spoons, it just takes time and practise.

I agree with picnics and making everything more relaxed, don't worry too much if he doesn't want to eat, keep calm. The phrase I use with my hubby for just about everything is "monkey see, monkey do"... So if daddy calm, baby will be... In theory. I find I can offer a food several times and all he'll do is pull it apart, but then have guests over for dinner and he wants to join in, and tries the food previously ignored.

I try and keep baby in his seat even if he's not interested, just until I finish. So I'll give him a spoon or bowl or cutoff water or something to to do whilst I just finish my meal. He usually wants the spoon I'm eating with or the food on my plate!

Also there may be mess, so a mat or old towel under his Highchair, in the warmer maybe weather strip him down to his nappy. I use bibs but he can still get messy so usually take all his clothes off at the Highchair, get him washed and changed and go back and clear up the mess once he's clean. My LO throws stuff when he's not interested! If he's interested the bowl and food stay put on the tray.

You say your little one kicks and screams at some foods. Maybe put extra on your plate and offer it straight from yours. Or put a plate of food in the middle of the table and you and him have bits off it... Hold the plate up to him and let him take a piece. This is what I do. We have something for lunch, plus a few bits of fruit, I prepare, peel or chop fruit or food at the table so he can see what's happening then put it on a plate and we have that alongside our sandwiches or pasta etc.

Messy play is fun too... Sit him in an old baby bath or your big bath... Saves lots of cleaning up. We did it with a tub of orange jelly in an old baby bath... LO thought it was fun!

I really hope that you are able to get your little one to have a healthier relationship with food. I've not been on the boards long, but the women here are great and have such a wealth of knowledge. I'm sure you'll find the right answers here.

Take care.
Xxxx

Re: Dad needs help!

PostPosted: 10 Apr 2012, 15:25
by UnhappyRightFoot
Hi and welcome!!

You've already been given great advice already but thought I'd stick my oar in here too!

With regards well meaning grannies, step away! There are plenty of other things that you will do along the way that they disapprove of or don't understand! New fangled things never go down that well so I would say read and inwardly digest everything you can about whatever method of weaning you wish to continue and the two of you present a united front. Arm yourself with information and websites to refer others to so you don't constantly have to have the battles yourself. My MIL (who thankfully lives 200 miles away) was horrified when I said I was doing BLW so I just suggested that she have a look at this website. She's not said too much about it since!

Highchair - DD has to stay in her chair until we are all finished. (She and I have breakfast and lunch together, DH joins us for dinner) and we all sit at the table until everyone is finished. If yours is unhappy with new food, offer along side more familiar food so he can enjoy what he knows but the new stuff is also there - which will gradually become familiar.

Food throwing - Normal. We have a dog - highly recommended!!! We do tell Munchie "No" when she throws food and I usually take away what she has, and put it back in small amounts, which then gets eaten. I would say she was around 18/19 months old when she stopped doing it at every meal. She still occasionally does it, which always gets the same "No", take the food away reaction!

Purees and BLW - try offering loaded spoons and then let him feed himself. He's then in control of what he's eating, which is ultimately what we and what they want. Then introduce "adult" food around it. I found that eating the same thing at the same time helps as kids like to copy!

Not Touching Food - We have days when anything that is not cereal, beans on toast or pasta will not even be touched, let alone tried! So try not to worry. He's simply controlling his situation with the food.

With regards to LO's weight gain, we had a terrible time a few months in to weaning due to illness/holidays/teething etc. Munchie weighed exactly the same on her first birthday as she did at 7 months. I was so stressed, crying at every meal - it was a nightmare. Then some one here said - look at the baby, not the scales. Chill pill taken and we've never looked back! She's a skinny little bean and I think I will always be able to count her ribs, but she sleeps well, naps well, runs around like a lunatic and is a fab little girl. I no longer look at each meal and disect how much has been eaten. I no longer care. She's fine. She will not starve herself. And she eats good healthy, home cooked food. So much can affect the amount they eat (teeth, illness, distraction from others, stress from mummy (me!)) so try to take a long term view over it. Munchie ate so much pasta for lunch on Friday, I doubt she needed to eat anything for several days!!!!

Sounds like you're doing a great job anyways!