6 Year Old Weight Concerns

Updated on June 19, 2011
J.W. asks from Largo, FL
11 answers

Oh where to start, sorry if I ramble but I am really stuggling with this and don't know what to do for the best. My 6 year old son who has sensory processing issues suddenly gained weight at around 3 years old right as the SPD started funny enough. He lost some of his motor skills around the same time, prior to that he could run and jump way better than he does now. But I digress. So around 3 he started to fill out, right away the Pedi expressed concern and tried to put him on a diet. He current;y has OT and PT at All Childrens and we have also been seeing a nutrition/exercise specialist there too. He is a very active child, can't sit still for too minutes, loves to swim, run and play, watches some TV but doesn't play video games etc. Eating is the problem, he eats a very limited selection of foods mainly bread, cheese, waffles, pancakes, hot dogs, pizza, yogurt, juice, milk, hot dogs, banana's, apple sauce, fruit bars, raisens to name a few. Dad is also a very picky eater, his diet is more restricted than even my sons but he is slim, low cholesteral very healthy. I am a healthy eater and eat a variety of foods meat, vegatables, fruits etc. however I am heavy and have battled by weight by whole life same as the rest of my family. My husband wants to force our son to eat meat, vegs, fruit etc and not allow him any of the things he likes. I don't feel this is fair when my husband won't eat the things he is going to make him eat. Plus my mother did this to me and I hated it and don't want to do it to my son. I agree to not have bad choices in the house and stock up on healthy ones but I think we have to set a good example ourselves. My husband is worried that my son will be come over weight and develop diabetes (this is what the Doc said), I'm worried we are making food and issue and creating more of a problem than we are fixing and will create food obessions. I just don't know what the right appraoch is. I am sure some of my problem is guilt that I am heavy and he's got my wgenes not his Dad's. Anyone else dealt with this issue, what worked for you, what is the best way to go? I should add that he is a big boy, he's the size of a 12 year old and I mean in height as well as width, he doesn't look obese just solid. He's a very healthy, happy little boy and I don't want to ruin that with this weight/food issue.

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So What Happened?

Goodness me, call the police and have me arrested for child abuse right away!!!
Thank you to those of you who offered constructive advise it is much appreciated. We are seeing severals therapists at All Childrens Hospital, one helps with diet & exercise, another works on helping him try different textures/foods etc. I loved some of the ideas u offered and will be trying them out. Thanks again;)

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answers from Miami on

Buy the book Disconnected Kids and follow the plan for smelling certain scents in the right or left nostril. The problem with SPD kids is their senses are not clear to them. When you open up the side of the brain that needs to be stimulated you will be helping the child to taste food for the first time. He doesn't need a diet, he needs a sensory diet!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

I too agree, it's time for the whole family to go on a lifestyle change. My son has SPD and we are blessed with it not limiting his food choices, however he too is a large kiddo, his doctor has never been concerned about his weight, but I consistantly monitor what he eats. I allow him to have foods that are not the best in moderation. I too am overweight so are all the women in my family except for one sister who has found her "formula" for staying with in her "goal weight" by 20lbs on average - she fluctuates still but has the best grip on her weight. My mom had gastric, my other sister had lap band and I am working on getting rid of it w/out going those routes like my thinner sister but it calls for EVERYONE to be on board. I worry all the time that my son got my "fat genes" however I can also help control that by teaching him how to eat in healthy ways and creating a healthy household and not making food a priority or an "issue." I would talk to the OT about plans for introducing new/diff foods - our OT had tons of food related activities when we were determining if there were food issues related to SPD. I would also read if you have not already The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun ... in the second they talk about eating strategies too! Sometimes when you cook foods differently you can help change their texture to make them easier to eat as well, my son likes smashed beans better, he will eat them either way but if I want black beans to dissapear off his plate I sautee some EVOO with minced garlic; drain/rinse a can of black beans; add a touch of warshchshire (sp) sauce and a dollop (1tsp) of dark bbq sauce allow them to heat up well then smash them with a potatoe smasher while on the sautee pan. My son also likes a small sprinkle of 2% mexican blend cheese melted on top. He has this as an actual meal with some veggies (he likes steam carrots best when they are cut like coins with a touch of cumin). When you do this you can also be busy making yourself and daddy Fish Taco Wraps! Use the black beans (I like em whole daddy likes em mashed!) grill some Tilapia or Mahi Mahi, make a mango salsa (I like it better pulsed than diced) and layer it all nicely in a heart of romain lettuce leaf sprinkle with 2% cheese if desired. I have brown rice with cilantro and lime juice as a side. There are TONS of things you can do and daddy just has to choose to eat with the family when he is with the family.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

To be honest I think your ENTIRE family needs to go on a diet. You and your son to lose and your husband to get healthy. Because somebody that can eat as much as he wants and not gain weight is not healthy unless the majority of his choices are good-and it doesn't sound like they are. Seriously-making this lifestyle change is the least he could do for your son in solidarity to his situation. the same goes for you. If this is something that you ALL do your son will be hopefully more motivated. And I would just say that as a family you are going to start a healthy lifestyle and not mention it is to lose weight. Plan fun family exercise as well.

Also-looking at your son's choices some easy ones to start with is limited milk and only skim and no juice. Juice is not a good choice at all-especially for a heavy person. The same with fruit bars. Mom-you should really educate yourself on how a diabetic eats and why. You will learn so much on the effects of sugar on the body and why it is just so harmful to any weight loss plan. The chemistry of how sugar and simple carbs work in your body is why the majority of people cannot lose weight. You will find that even certain fruits (bananas) are not the greatest-esp for heavy people.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My son is Autistic and has oral sensory issues. We got a prescription for Feeding Therapy. It is usually a Pediatric Speech Therapist you can find to do this, or an OT. Make sure, whoever they are, that they have experience with oral sensory aversions.

Contrary to what some other posters may have mentioned, a child with sensory processing issues WILL NOT eat anything presented to them if they are hungry enough! Even a five-year-old could venture into the realm of Failure to Thrive if they reject all the foods presented to them. Your child's pediatrician should give you a referral for therapy. A feeding therapist can walk you through Food Chaining, which is how I have managed to increase my son's diet. It's still quite a battle, but it is improving.

Also, variety of food is great, but portion control is a larger issue. Hand in hand with controlling portions is being wary of "food jags." If your son overindulges in any one currently accepted food, he could get tired of it and start to reject it. You certainly don't need him further limiting his diet at this stage.

Contact your pediatrician about feeding therapy. If you have difficulties or want more information, PM me and I will try to walk you through some of the tactics that have worked for us.

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answers from Miami on

Your whole family will benefit from getting away from processed foods, also dairy and wheat at least temporarily. There is a strong relationship between the digestive system and the nervous system and kids with developmental disorders mostly have disturbances in their digestive system that are causing toxins to accumulate in the body and disrupting absorption of key nutrients. Those problems are often triggered by environmental toxins, including excessive exposure to vaccines. A majority of kids with neurodevelopmental issues have a sensitivity to either wheat or milk, often both. You may want to see a functional medicine doctor and holistic nutrition specialist to see what can help your child and your family. Probiotics and enzymes may be very helpful in improving metabolism and digestion, which could allow him to better handle a wider range of food. His current diet looks pretty unhealthy, especially for a kid with an apparent disturbance in metabolic function. Genes are reprogrammed by our conscious and our interaction with our environment (epigenetics), so genetic patterns aren't set in stone, their expression depends on our environment and our psychological development. I suggest you read books by pediatric neurologist Dr. David Pearlmutter, who's in Southwest Florida.

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answers from Biloxi on

What about buying healthier, lower calorie versions of the food that your son will eat?
for example, I buy a Nature's Own bread that is 40 calories per slice
Light yogurt
Chicken or soy hotdogs
Low fat cheeses
Make pizza at home using low calorie ingredients, etc.

From what I know of SPD you cannot force your son to eat a food he is literally unable to eat. You can keep introducing healthier choices, more veggies and lean proteins, in hopes that he learns to accept and tolerate those foods.

Can you get a referral to a nutritionist that understands SPD? It may help both you and your hubby understand your son's food preferences.

Good Luck
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Try making your own pizza with him, it would be a fun project and maybe you could find some low calorie recipes online, he may even agree to try putting a vegetable on it if he makes it himself. Also, stick with turkey dogs instead of regular hot dogs. Mix a packet of oatmeal into your waffle and pancake mix, and only use fat free milk.
When you put a vegetable or fruit on his plate, only put ONE on there. As in, one apple slice, one little mandarin orange slice, one pea, one cherry tomato (not all at once, one at each meal). See if he's receptive to even trying it.
Even my six year old without SPD asks all day long for stuff like waffles, bread, pizza, and corndogs. This is totally age appropriate, the difference is that when I put a bowl of grapes in front of my son instead of what he wants, he actually eats it because he's not worried about it being slimey ;) Maybe ask your son what bothers him about the specific foods he refuses and see if you can find healthy alternatives?
I'm not really sure here, just going out on a limb and trying to give you some ideas. My son really likes things plain, maybe your son would too? Dry toast (no butter, jam, nothing.), plain noodles, just turkey on bread (no mayo or mustard), plain burger patty on a bun, plain rice... you get the idea. I buy whole grain breads and pasta, brown rice, and lean meats. Mix the brown rice in with white so it's not such a shock, same with the wheat pasta with white.
Remember to count his snacks in his daily intake too, will he eat two apple slices and then a few crackers? One cucumber slice dipped in ranch and then a bowl of applesauce? See if you can compromise, and don't freak out and get too strict or you're right, this will turn into a battle of epic proportions!


answers from Dallas on

Can thyroid be an issue?


answers from Providence on

My son was considered heavy when I had taken him for his 5 year old check up. He is also a very picky eater. First off, have you tested his blood sugar levels? If they seem to be in the norm, then I would advice you to consider eating lots of whole grains, fiber enriched foods. Whole wheat breads, pastas, cereals,etc. Also, find at least one or two vegetables that he will eat, and serve them with every dinner. Make sure that their is no trans fat, saturated fat, or high fructose in his diet, as well as cholesterol( these are all on the labels, and easy to read). Skim milk , very watered down juices. I started this diet with me, and my son, and at his 7 year old check up, his doctor said he was very healthy, and in the highest percentile for weight. I've also lost weight and my cholesterol is normal. My son has more energy, and looks healthier. I would recommend also to see a dietician. They can help you select appropriate foods for your son, and what he should be eating in terms of proteins, fats, calories.


answers from Rochester on

You didn't actually say how tall/heavy he is, so it's hard to tell if you are just biased or not. My six year old (girl) is four feet tall and weighs 55 pounds...which comes out "heavy" on the charts but she is so skinny! It's more about proportion, muscle mass, etc.

I think you need to just buy different food. He's six. He can't eat what you don't buy, right? :) So buy different foods. There are really healthier alternatives for a lot of what you mentioned...and since you mentioned hot dogs twice, he must eat them a lot. It's okay...mine would too, if I let them, but I don't. I buy one package a month, and she gets two of them. One hot dog, without a bun, and I usually serve it with a string cheese, apple slices, milk, etc. Juice only once a day, watered down. I really don't think your menu sounds terrible...but maybe just a few adjustments? French toast instead of pancakes and waffles (he'll get an egg, good protein) and season with cinammon to eliminate the need for syrup. Fruit bars, applesauce, and raisins really aren't the best fruit choices...maybe try apple slices or berries served with a graham cracker instead of the fruit bars, make your own applesauce (will be healthier) and season with cinammon instead of sugar, and maybe prunes, if he likes raisins?

I wouldn't make ANY issue about it, however...just start shopping different, bit by bit, and serve him his meals. One thing I don't do is "ask" what my daughter wants to eat...it'd be junk all the time. I make her meals, and she has to eat what she wants off the plate. I always just offer a nice balance of food...if she eats, great, if not, whatever, but I don't make second meals. Also, we've pretty much had to eliminate "snacking" in our house...if she snacks, she won't eat a great meal, and then it's ruined. We snack AFTER meals...as in, if she eats a good meal, she can have a snack about half an hour after. It's worked for us, I guess.

I don't think there's a concern about "fair"...as an adult, you get to make your own choices. A good rule is that each time you serve a food, he ought to take one bite. If he doesn't want any more, fine, but don't offer a different course to replace what he doesn't like. That's what we do, and it's worked...eventually, our daughter begins to like food she didn't used to. Also, you can really fancy up vegetables in yummy ways with olive oil, seasoning, low fat cheese, etc.

I have two really awesome casserole recipes that are FULL of veggies but don't taste like it, and my children (six and one) LOVE them. If you want to try them, send me a note!

Good luck...but it sounds like you know what you need to do. Just take it slow...small changes can make a big difference.



answers from Dallas on

I haven't had this problem, but forcing food and forbidding food are going to create more issues. I would ask the doctor for help - either to refer you to someone who can help with meal and food planning, etc. or to give you directions himself. Setting the example is better. Keep a lot of the healthy things he likes, and keep a lot of the healthy things YOU like. It's pretty bad modeling for hubby to want son to eat veggies that hubby won't eat himself. That sends a lopsided message.

Your son isn't stupid, and he has sensory issues, so I'd involve him in food choices/decisions and what's going on. Tell him what you want to do to help him be healthy and enjoy food. Ask him to help you find new things he likes. Some kids really like to be involved in the choices that affect them so why not?

Good luck!

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