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How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 08:19
by UnhappyRightFoot
As munchie's diet is so limited, dh and I have decided to stop feeding her pasta 5 times a week and introduce her to new food (and food she has ignored before). No battles, no middle ground. Here is your dinner and that's it.

Almost without exception, she won't even try anything before announcing the she doesn't like it. So we leave it with her for a while then take it away, finish our dinner then offer her fruit or yogurt. Bribery (if you try this, you can have that) also doesn't work and neither does sitting there until you try it (I broke at 1 hour 45 minutes !!")

We've done this for a week now (not long, I know) but she's woken in the night 5 out of those 7 nights (she usually sleeps through) and last night I had to go in at 1.45 to settle her, then at 3.30, I found her and dh asleep on the sofa with a milk bottle beside them. :scream I am NOT going down that road - she hasn't had milk during the night since she was 4 weeks old!!!!!!

So, what do we do? Plough on regardless and deal with the night wakings as part on the getting through it stage (not helpful with a 3 week old in the house) or give her what she wants?? How do we introduce her new food when she won't try it? I always give her what she'll eat for breakfast and lunch so I know she's had 2 decent meals - but even lunch is a one in four choice!!!

What she does eat is healthy enough - cereals, beans on toast, pizza toast, eggy toast , crumpets, spaghetti bolognaise and tuna sandwiches. Grapes, strawberries, apples, oranges, cucumber, tomatoes, a bit of pepper and raisins. She doesn't have snacks in between meals and has 2 9oz milk feeds per day - each before sleep.

Any ideas??

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 09:14
by jvnt
To be honest, if I were you this wouldn't be a behaviour I'd be tackling with such a small baby in the house - I pretty much let all except the worst/dangerous behaviour slide for the last month of pgcy and first several months of Baby Dragon arriving, then when I felt up to it I gradually started tackling the undesirable stuff. How would you feel about letting it go for a month or two and revisiting then - it may well just be a phase? Or introducing a one bite rule so she gets what she wants but also has to have one bite of the other stuff on her plate?

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 10:27
by Nix
I always put at least one thing on Harvey's plate I know he will eat. We have those three section plates so I can seperate sloppy foods from dry foods and he can mix them as he wishes. Last night I put mashed potato in one section even though he never eats it and peas and sausage in the other sections (he does eat them). To my delight he ate the mash without any question and declared it was yummy! That's after about three years of turning his nose up at it!

Maybe ease up a little while the family is adjusting to having a new baby?

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 11:26
by meerkatsmum
I only have one baby and she's not a toddler so I have no advice because I don't know anything about it.

But when I read your post I thought "wow she's amazing to try and deal with something like this with such a new addition". I could barely feed myself when M was ickes pickles age! How would you feel about following jvnt's advice? Do you really have the energy to battle your toddler while looking after a newborn?

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 12:04
by robyn
I agree that I would leave it or only do very gentle things to deal with it at the moment. Her worlds been turned upside down, trying to sort out fussy eating is less urgent than keeping things peaceful and happy right now.

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 13:09
by cloudcuckoo
I believe that this is what we call a 'phase' :wink: My dd2 is the same age, and also loves beans on toast, spag bol, macaroni cheese, weetabix and not a lot else. She used to eat every vegetable I gave her - she now reliably eats only sweetcorn. She won't touch potatoes unless they are baked. With beans on top. I remember dd1 doing the same, and little by little being able to put food back in the diet. What your LO is eating is at least healthy enough, and like others I think I wouldn't push it at the moment, especially if she is waking up hungry in the night, you've got enough of that to contend with.

I get frustrated with my dd2 at the moment, and do give her what we are having when that's appropriate (we don't eat together most evenings as DH doesn't get home until 7pm, but the kids eat together). If she does refuse her dinner and I am concerned about her overall consumption during the day, I ask her to taste it, or make a game of it (we take turns to taste the food, or have spaghetti slurping competitions, or feed each other), and then maybe give her a weetabix afterwards.

Have you looked at what she is consuming between meals? I recall with DD1 that we realised she was drinking fruit squash or milk at about 3-ish, and then not having any appetite at teatime. We cut out the squash and it helped.

The other thing that helped was involveing DD1 in the cooking - if she had been involved in choosing/ making it, there was a higher chance of her eating it too!

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 13:37
by shye
It's a total phase.

E refused to eat potato for a year and a half. Now that his little brother will often only eat potato, E gives it a go. If we were eating potatoes, I would always put one/one spoonful (mash) on his plate. I'd ignore it if he didn't eat it, which he didn't for a long time. Then one day, he asked for more.

I too try to have at least one thing I know my kids will eat at every meal, and make sure once or twice a week we have pasta, which is reliable.

Have you read "Green Eggs and Ham" to her? We often talk about how he didn't think he'd like them, but when he finally tried them he loved them... E has been known to try new foods after this discussion.

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 17:13
by cloudcuckoo
We do the 'Green Eggs and Ham' think too.

Another, totally different book recommendation is 'meals without tears' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meals-without-Tears-Healthily-Happily/dp/0273712683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345050667&sr=8-1written by a child psychologist. I found it very helpful, and may just dig it back out.

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 18:39
by Aitch
i think it's a phase, but i also think that food variety is TOTALLY over-rated. I'm a bit of a Michael Pollan fan and my grandmother probably ate broth five times a week, with a roast on a sunday if she was lucky and some bread and dripping the following day. we simply aren't programmed to have this huge smorgasbord of food within reach all the time (it's probably why we're all getting so fat <pats stomach>), so i think some kids just go through a 'pre-plenty' thing for a while and eat in a limited fashion, and it does them no harm at all. i love food, sometimes too much, but it IS fuel at the end of the day and with a new baby in the house this would not be a battle i would pick.
actually, there is also some thinking that with a new child might come food limiting so that an older sib doesn't eat poison berries when they wander out of the cave (while their parents are bickering about who has had the least sleep). so you've got lots going on, why give yourself extra hassle if she's getting the vits she needs?

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 18:51
by AwayinaChive
I like what Aitch said. I have the same problem with dd2, she literally CRIES when I put something on her plate that she doesn't like, which is pretty much everything but a few dry foods, and peas. I hope it's a phase, but she's been this picky for 1.5 years now and slowly deciding she hates more and more things. Won't even try them, but I don't know if they can understand at this age, 'how do you know you don't like it if you don't try it?' which makes perfect sense to me but gets no reaction from her.

Tonight she had peas and water for dinner and I was happy because it's vegetables, and she needs water to help her go poo. So, yay! She also only gets healthy food, so I know she's ok, and I just hope she doesn't grow up to be some ridiculous picky person like my husband!!!!

Sorry, not helpful, but maybe the 'this is all you're getting' thing just doesn't work at that age, I have tried it and she just won't eat and doesn't care. So I sort of make sure there's one thing per meal that she will eat, even if it's just peas or plain rice.

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 18:56
by Aitch
have you seen 'brave', yet, ives? lots of sniggering from the kids in the audience at the 'how do you know you don't like it if you haven't tried it?' line...

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 19:06
by shellspark
Juddy - my DS is about the same age as your DD and we're having similar issues with a quite restricted diet at home, made trickier by needing to make sure that he eats things to keep him moving (he has terrible constipation/witholding issues). But he eats like a horse at the childminders (apparently!) so we try not to stress it too much. I'd rather he eats enough to sleep well than have the disrupted nights due to hunger and I don't have a new baby to deal with... yet!

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 19:23
by Jem
In my limited experience of just the one (that's currently eating), the only thing parental stubbornness achieves is pissed off parents. As long the she is not chowing down turkey twizzlers and fries every night, I would suggest letting it run its course.

And I do think phases can go on for a long time, fwiw. Isabel enjoyed mashed potatoes for the first 6 months of weaning. Then for 18 months she refused to eat them. I still put mash on her plate every time I made it, but it was left. This month she's eaten mash twice AND asked for seconds, completely out of the blue.

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 20:07
by UnhappyRightFoot
Thanks lovely ladies.

What a nightmare day - no food whatsoever (but I don't think she's well, so we'll let it slide!!!)

Aitch wrote:i think it's a phase, but i also think that food variety is TOTALLY over-rated.


I completely understand, but, as we all sit down together to eat, I don't want to be cooking 2 seperate dinners.

cloudcuckoo wrote:Have you looked at what she is consuming between meals? I recall with DD1 that we realised she was drinking fruit squash or milk at about 3-ish, and then not having any appetite at teatime. We cut out the squash and it helped.


She only has water and no snacks - apart from her 2 milk feeds.

Thank you for the suggestion of getting her involved in the cooking - we did this a while ago but it may be more effective now she is a bit older!

shye wrote:Have you read "Green Eggs and Ham" to her? We often talk about how he didn't think he'd like them, but when he finally tried them he loved them... E has been known to try new foods after this discussion.


We have this so will try!

Jem wrote:In my limited experience of just the one (that's currently eating), the only thing parental stubbornness achieves is pissed off parents.


PMSL!!!!! This is me COMPLETELY!!!!!


This phase has been going on for over a year - mostly my fault, I think. She had a terrible time eating from 8-12 months, then we discovered pasta. As I was so worried about her total lack of weight gain during these months (she weighed exactly the same in January 2011 as she did in May 2011!!) I just gave it to her most of the time so she'd put on weight.

Things that we have tried are:
Mummy/Daddy try it - "No - daddy eat it"
If you eat a pea, you can have yoghurt
Divided plate - eat something from each area
Give her something she does like along side new food - bit hit and miss, this one. If there is any "cross contamination", nothing will get eaten.

So, having got nowhere with a small spoonful of risotto this evening, DH and I have talked and will take a chill pill over it. I can appreciate it's bad timing but, we wanted to tackle it sooner rather than later as it's been going on too long and she starts school nursery in January where they provide her lunch (as opposed to me providing it at her current nursery - so I always send her with something I know she'll eat!) I can't do this come January so would rather she expanded her range a little by then! She also needs to be potty trained by January, and we thought this was the easier battle to do now!!!

But, as ever, with your wisdom, we will ease off. Keep offering new food and see how we go. I just need to not get wound up quite so much about it!!!

Re: How long can she starve herself for?

PostPosted: 15 Aug 2012, 20:25
by Aitch
ah, but do not for a second think that because she is one way with you it follows that she will be the same at nursery. quite the opposite, from what i understand. mine have always been fair eaters, but pals with annoying eaters reported through gritted teeth that their children were human buckets at nursery.

also, re cooking two dinners, i'm not suggesting that at all. i'm suggesting eating pasta, tbh, if that's what she wants, and expanding from there. sure, you'll eat more pasta than you want, but it's a more likely gateway to other eating if you can whack a pea on it. or... if she likes food separate (mine deffo went through that phase), you just serve it differently to her but it's essentially the same thing. we gave up on risotto/stews etc for a while, we just had to. wasn't worth the fuss. (it's another phase, tied to increased liberty. they need to see everything separately to identify it as poison or not blah blah blah)