Refusing to eat

Oh, we're done with all that vegetable-steaming and mess, our children are cutlery-wielding, spaghetti-chomping angels... at least some of the time.

Refusing to eat

Postby Spammers » 29 Sep 2015, 16:06

Hello all, I have a 13 month old, we've been BLWing from the beginning, was slow going, all the usual sides, but eventually started eating fairly well, although always quite fussy (will only eat fusilli pasta for eg, won't even put other shapes to his lips).

Recently he's been having loads of days where he barely eats. Odd meals where it much is eaten is normal, but it seems to be more than that now. And he's refusing food that he normally likes (like fusilli pasta, cream cheese and peas, his favourite!). He's just turned down rice and fish, which he normally eats. He loves fruit and will always eat it, but I worry that if that's all he eats it's too much sugar. He's having two bottles of formula and a cup of cows milk every day, we're looking at switching just to cows milk over the next few weeks, and I've started him in vitamin drops. He's 91st centile, so a lot to fill.

He's my first child, so no idea if it's normal to eat so little some days? Will he be ok? I've not been pushing it as I don't want to make meal times stressful for him, but I feel stressed!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby lisbeth » 29 Sep 2015, 17:24

It's quite disheartening when something that was a favourite is rejected, but I found that both of my two seemed to have a reduction in appetite a bit after a year. I generally assumedthat if they don't eat, they are not hungry, and both of them have followed their centile lines so far, so missing meals now and then doesn't seem to have been a problem. Lots of sympathy though, because it's not easy!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby mamapup » 29 Sep 2015, 19:26

It is his normal! I agree it's not easy to watch your child spurn things you thought they loved but that's kids for you!
Don't worry about it too much. He could be teething, coming down with a cold, not hungry, loving watching you worry - anything really.

And, oh, the days of children only eating one freaking shape of pasta, I remember them well.

I promise the stress abates, mostly! It does get a lot easier, especially with subsequent children when you're too busy to spend time fussing about what they are or aren't eating when: 'not eating, oh ok, less to clear up' is how I see it often!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby xebex » 14 Jan 2016, 01:01

I am having the same problem with my daughter who is 23 months. We did baby led weaning from 6 months and for about a year she was an amazing eater, she would eat anything and everything, we thought we had the perfect eater on our hands. Then from the age of 18 months she started to become fussy, even though we never forced her to eat anything, if she finished half a meal that was fine. But now, she will take one bite and then refuse to eat any more. Sometimes we have to go through a crazy rigmarole of dancing and eating or playing a game and taking 3 bites to get her to eat, other times even silly games don't work.

Now I am an advocate for toddler led weaning, if she doesn't want to eat she can't be hungry, so let her be? Wrong, she goes to bed about 1.5 hours after dinner time and instantly complains of being hungry, we offer her her dinner, but she will not eat her dinner, she only wants to eat crackers.

Sometimes she will go to sleep ok but wake up screaming for food. If we say no she will literally scream and scream till we give her food, but she won't eat anything healthy only crackers or raisins.

If for some reason she does eat her dinner she won't wake up hungry and will sleep through the night.

It is driving crazy, to the point that I shouted at her to eat her dinner this evening, and now i've put myself in time out because I hate that my frustrations have lead to me shouting.

I wouldn't mind her not eating if she didn't need the food, but she obviously is hungry so why won't she eat?
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby StJuniper » 14 Jan 2016, 12:32

It's frustrating but pretty normal for previously champion eaters to go through a fussy toddler phase. Both my two had them, but my four-year-old is now back to eating most foods, sometimes with prodding on our part. The two-year-old will still reject many foods. Some things to consider:
-Making a big deal out of it will probably not help. Toddlers are contrary little souls and if they get a lot of attention for a negative behaviour, they'll probably increase it.
-Instead, we went with a matter-of-fact encouragement to try new things (we called it brave tasting), talked about how it takes a while to get used to new flavours, and praised any effort in that direction.
-Try to make sure there's a least one thing at every dinner she'll reliably eat (even if it's crackers!) so she doesn't get in the habit of thinking late night snacks are an alternative to dinner. Mine have also always been allowed to have dessert if we're having it, but if they're choosing not to eat, they still have to sit at the table and wait with the rest of us. Only recently as they've gotten older we've started requiring them to have x amount of dinner before dessert.
-Many kids front-load their day, eating tons at breakfast and small dinners. Nothing wrong with that.
-One thing I've heard people here say is, you choose what and when the meal is, they choose whether and how much to eat. There's no need to dance/sing/cajole her to eat, let her choose to eat/not eat without comment. Equally I would try to ride out the storm if she wakes asking for food, so she gets used to the idea that mealtimes are mealtimes and that's when she can eat.

Hope some of that is helpful! Remember, this is normal and a phase!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby Treeb » 14 Jan 2016, 12:40

That sounds very stressful xebex! Does she eat well for breakfast/lunch and just have a problem with dinner, or is it all meals she's refusing to eat? If she has a favorite breakfast or lunch food you think she would eat in the evening you could switch things up and try doing "breakfast for dinner" for a few nights just to break her cycle of refusal.

Otherwise there are three tactics that come to mind:

1) I think someone here had success with boring their child to death with their favored food. Basically you would just serve her a plate of crackers every night and not dish up any of the regular food for her. The hope would be that she would eventually get tired of eating crackers or get curious about what you're having and ask for something else. This also takes away any aspect of a power struggle of her feeling like she is controlling the situation by being able to refuse dinner and get crackers afterwards.

2) Serve crackers alongside her regular dinner. Don't comment on their being there, just put them on her plate as if it is a regular post of the meal. Again, this removes the power struggle aspect. Kids are also sometimes more adventurous to try new things once they've eaten some of their more preferred food. Once the situation has diffused a bit after a few nights of this you could start using the crackers as a reward - only put two or three on her plate and when she asks for more require her to take a small taste of her other food first, and of course praise her efforts when she does.

3) Stop buying crackers. Sit down with her before dinner and explain that there are no more crackers in the house and that the dinner food is all she will get that evening. Then during the meal when she is refusing to eat give her a gentle reminder that the crackers are gone and if she is hungry later she will only have her leftover dinner as an option. Stay firm (but gentle. Matter-of-fact rather than angry) Do not offer her anything else later on even in the face of crying. Continue this for a few nights and hopefully she will soon get the picture and realize you mean business!

X-posted with StJ
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby xebex » 15 Jan 2016, 00:05

It is very stressful! Thanks everyone for your feedback and comments. She eats well during the day, it's just dinner time that is difficult. Like i said i wouldn't mind if she didn't eat dinner if she wasn't hungry afterwards. I like all the ideas, maybe serving her crackers will make her see what we have and want to eat that instead. Hopefully!

Thanks again!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby ChristmasGift » 16 Jan 2016, 20:13

Just been reading this and had a thought. Could it be that she is really tired at dinner time? If she eats well during the day could it just be that she's just too tired to deal with food (beyond crackers and raisins) at dinner time? Is there any way you could bring dinner forward a bit and see if that helps?
Also agree with serving crackers alongside dinner. We don't generally do pudding unless our LO is still hungry after dinner is all gone but if I am serving something new or something I think she won't be that keen on I bring desert out with dinner so I know she'll be eating something.

Whatever, it is just a phase and it will pass!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby xebex » 18 Jan 2016, 04:11

Yes this is a good thought, thanks! I did bring dinner forward an hour from 6 -5, it helped, but not enough. I think she gets hungry at 4 and it frustrates me because if she eats at 4 then its disrupts family meal time and id probably end up making two meals. Maybe i'll just give her a big snack with lots of variety and not worry too much about dinner, this is what i actually did today, and then i gave her some breakfast cereal just before bed. It worked better, i just don't like the idea that she's living off crackers, cereal, raisins and tangerines! I guess it could be worse! I also find that if i give her variety she just eats the things she likes, so a big snack would be cheese, crackers, rasins and sugar snaps, she will only eat the raisins and crackers. But sometimes if i only give her sugar snaps and nothing else she will eat them sometimes not. It's all a bit hit and miss! But thanks everyone for following and offering advice!
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Re: Refusing to eat

Postby Lily » 18 Jan 2016, 09:48

What if you gave her a smaller snack at 3 or 3.30, so she doesn't get hungry at 4? Then maybe she'd be hungry again by 5pm?
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