AHHHHH!!!! My Toddler Still Won't Eat!!!

Updated on June 22, 2008
A.M. asks from Bellevue, WA
39 answers

So... This is the second time I have asked for help on this. Last time I got some really great advice and tried EVERYTHING. But my then 17 month old, now 20 1/2 month old still won't eat. He will be 21 months on July 5th, and he weighs less than 26 lbs, and is tall for is age.

He really won't eat and now I think his immune system is being affected. He has been getting cold after cold and when he does, his fever spikes up to 103.

He likes milk and water, bananas, yogurt, cheerios, crackers, sometimes applesauce, and other fresh fruits like pears, and apples. He will occasionally eat chicken nuggets, actually I should say ONE chicken nugget if he even finishes it and sometimes I can get him to eat french fries. All the foods mentioned above, he will only eat a few bites of and then is all done.

I run a home daycare and offer him the same healthy meals that the other kids devour. He sees them eat and enjoy them but wont touch them himself.

We have tried offering only what he is "allowed" to eat for that meal and letting him go hungry if he refuses, we have tried not pushing it by simply putting the other foods next to what we know he'll eat and seeing if he'll try them, we have tried giving "dinner for breakfast", we've tried sneaking foods into others but he always finds them and discards them, you name it we've tried it.

I have brought it up repeadedly with the pediatrician but they always say he'll start to eat later on and that he is in the 50th percentile for his weight and I shouldn't worry, but I keep in mind that he's in the 90th percentile for his height so he's pretty thin when you combine the two.

My husband and I are at the end of our rope and are really worried about him. He recently became ill again over the last few days and refused everything and lost some weight I think.

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So What Happened?

Well, we went back to the pediatrician and were told that he actually is sick less often than most kids seen in that office. He is drinking pediasure and I got a powdered protien to mix in with his milk. We read about herbal supplements that are supposed to help increase appetite and are thinking of trying those. Thank you to everyone for the support and kind words. It really helps to here others opinions who are looking at the situation calmly from the outside. My son IS growing, off air I guess, and plays very activly all day every day, so that in itself in encouraging. We will continue to try each of the various ideas for offering food that we have been given and I guess sooner or later, he will eat more than yogurt. THANKS TO EVERYONE!

More Answers

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K.W.

answers from Portland on

A. my dear, believe me, I really do feel your pain. I worry a great deal about my child's lack of eating as well, but at the moment from what you describe, the stress around eating may easily be doing more damage than what he actually does/doesn't eat. We have definitely seen this happen with friends, neighbors, and relatives.

I think you're way better off assuming this is a temporary problem that will straighten out, than creating a permanent problem by waging a battle that is exhausting all 3 of you. If the pediatrician isn't worried, and your son isn't missing any milestones, let it go for awhile. Don't create a second (lasting and very damaging) syndrome on top of the current one. Better to have a temporary plateau or dip than a lifelong issue.

Sending some e-hugs your way!

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C.R.

answers from Seattle on

If I may, I will offer a slightly different perspective.

Perhaps he really is eating enough. What if for a short period of time, you trialled a surrender? What if you trusted his judgment at his level of satiety? Although he is eating a limited variety of food for now (based on what you have listed) it is healthy and some kids can be notoriously restrictive in what they will choose to eat. At least he isn't filling up on junk food!

The fact that you are caring for other kids might be tricking you: some kids will eat better for other people. So you might be looking at them thinking they are eating enormously, but at home, they don't.

Has his weight remained in the same percentile over time? My youngest daughter has been at the fifth percentile since around 6 mths. (Yet she was 8.5 pounds born!). She has been tall and thin but she eats a variety of food and so I have not worried about her. However, I have friends who joke about her being so petite and telling me she is malnourished! My pediatrician was never concerned because I knew that with nearly every mouthful I gave her, I maximised its nutritional density.

What I would suggest you avoid doing, is making his food intake become such an issue, it turns into a battle of wills. I'd do all the usual, get him involved in prep where possible, let him help himself, let him finish when he is done. maybe, keep a food diary for a short time. Don't control what he is doing during this period, but keep a record of every bite he eats. Sometimes, they are eating more food than we realize. One dried apricot here and there for instance doesn't seem much, but it is for a little toddler.

Hope this helps. If nothing else, it might let you have a break for a little bit where you set aside your worrying. You deserve that!!

Good luck!

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E.M.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A., my son who is 11 yrs old now had some similar problems. His ended up being that he had a swalling disorder and had some issuses with some textures. Have you gone to the pediatrician? We ended up at Children's Hospital for some thereapy treatments. Those helped. We had to use Pediasure the drink that is very nutritional and there are serveral flavors.Sometimes you can get them from the pediatrician for free. I ended up calling the company for coupons which they gave me. Daniel is now eating just fine but it was very frustating and I totally feel your pain. I used to leave food out for him just to get him to eat whenever. He too would only eat maybe a bite or two. Please go to the doctor and check it out with them.
Good luck!
E.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

You could be talking about my 2 1/2 year old son! He eats so little, he is pale, and has dark circles under his eyes! He is low iron, and gets sick so often, he even got sent to a specialist to check for autoimmune disorders. Some things that I can sometimes get him to eat that are full of the good stuff, Peanut butter with apples slices and crackers for dipping. That is one of the best ways I have found to get some protein rich food in him. He likes chocolate milk, so we use whole milk. We use vitamins and supplements. Pedisure is good if your child will drink it (mine will not). Yogurt when he is in the mood. Just keep trying, everyone says they won't let them selves starve!

Best of luck.

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M.B.

answers from Seattle on

A.,

At this point I would seek another opinion. If you are concerned and worried, and your pediatrician is blowing/shrugging you off, saying that it's nothing to worry about, I'd go somewhere else.

Even though the doctors have the education, the only person that knows your son best is you and your husband. The docs only see him for a few minutes occasionally. It's not enough time. It seems like more and more doctors are forgetting that they don't know it all, that the parents are a vital resource to tap into when trying to diagnose what is ailing a child.

Hope this helps,
Melissa

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M.F.

answers from Seattle on

A., Sounds frustrating! My husband and I have been working with a wonderful company now for about 4 years that manufactures nutritional shakes that are safe, good tasting and effective. My children have been using them and my youngest was 3 when he started. They used to get seasonal allergies and no longer show any signs of them for which we are very thankful. These products have been used in preemie babies bottles and so are very safe. We know some people with a child with failure to thrive that has gotten great results as has my niece who was small for her age. There is also a wonderful support network with this company and we help parents that need ideas and encouragement to get their children consistently taking their shakes. Let me know if you would like more information. (The products also have a 30 day money back guarantee)

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M.M.

answers from Portland on

Hey A.!

Hugs, hugs, hugs. You sound like a great mom and a great daycare provider!

As many of the pp noted below, I would definitely check for allergies, particularly milk allergies. This is not because of his low weight, but because of his frequent colds, fevers, etc. Unless your child were seriously emaciated - no energy, lethargic, etc. - your child's frequent colds would not be due to being small.

Have you checked his tonsils? I've known of two moms whose children were very picky eaters - they later found out that their tonsils were larger than normal and that swallowing was uncomfortable for them. In both cases, the pediatricians did not catch this.

Because you are so worried about this, I would highly recommend getting another opinion. This is more to ease your mind than anything else.

The big questions are:

Is he meeting his milestones?

Is he generally happy (children's temperments vary, of course, but does he laugh and play with the other children, is he curious about his world and what's going on, does he engage with you and others)?

Is his sleep generally good (at least when he's not sick)?

If you can answer yes to the above, I honestly think you have nothing to worry about. But get that second opion (or even third opinion) and try to give yourself a vacation from this.

Sending you lots of e-hugs and blessings!!

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E.K.

answers from Seattle on

I would suggest making meal time a very pleasant experience for him. Don't pressure him, or expect him to eat or not to eat. Just have fun and have a conversation with him and make the meal a happy one.

Skip snacks. Snacks can be appetite killers. Both my boys were done with all-day snacks by 2 years old. They get one healthy snack in the afternoon and 3 meals. The less you offer, the less of an issue it is, I think. The less he has to say no to you. But if he perceives it to be a negative thing, hard thing or something that he does (or doesn't do) that makes you upset, he'll sense that negativity and eating will become an unpleasant experience for him. Be patient, and consistent. Eventually, he'll get it.

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K.C.

answers from Medford on

A.,

Really, 50th percentile for weight and 90th percentile for height is very healthy and normal. If you want to boost his immune system and give him extra calories, try making yogurt smoothies with fruit that he likes + a children's vitamin supplement + some flax oil. Since it's summer now, you can freeze those into popsicles, and I've never met a child that will turn down a popsicle!

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M.B.

answers from Richland on

I have been fighting a very similar issue with my middle son for almost 10 years now. He started out as my biggest baby but at 9 mo had dropped to the 5th percentile and stayed there ever since. The pediatrician and WIC nurses all kept spouting stuff about forcing him to eat, my mom said to withhold foods he likes, etc. He would go 2 days with out food when we followed this, something a child this under weight can't handle. As he got older my husband would try to scare him into eating by showing him pictures of starving kids in Africa (yes, I got pretty upset when I found that out).
I have discovered 2 things through all this: we did a blood drawn food allergy test that showed he's allergic to milk, one of the few foods he will eat. We've also discovered the world of sensory integration deficit. When we do manage to keep milk out of his diet he doesn't have the constant stomach aches and sinus infections. We've been trying also (mostly unsuccessfully so far) to get him occupational therapy to retrain his brain to accept the textures of certain foods.
Granted, his list of healthy foods he will eat is short, probably less than 12. But we let him eat as much of them as he wants. He won't eat any combination foods such as pizza or casseroles so there's no sneaking in other things. Apples, pretzels, jelly sandwiches, cereal bars, dry cereal, and tomato soup with noodles in it. Before we realized the milk allergy he also ate a lot of yogurt and cheese sticks.
Talk to a therapist at your local hospital and see if they can offer any advice. Your son is still young enough that you may be able to reverse this before it becomes an OCD/anxiety issue like it did with my son.
Best of luck!
M.

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J.O.

answers from Seattle on

you may consider checking into food allergies. they dont have to be severe for the kids to realize he dosent feel good when he eats them. My sister in law used to hate tomatoes and her mom would tell her to stop being so picky and just eat them. Turns out as she got older she ended up with a sever allergy to them and was able to eat them only when cooked. Now she cant even have ketchup. My youngest has food allergies and when he was little he would not eat certain things just play with them. Turned out he is severly allergic to some of those foods so I am pretty lucky he used his instincts. Just be patient. Something will work out.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

If you think your pediatrician is not listing, it might be time for a different pediatrician or perhaps a referral to a allergist for young children.

Also ask yourself is he running around with the other children?

Your answer to that should tell you if he is getting enouugh.

My own story is that I was a picky eater and thin as a rail all through elementary school. Even in High School you could count my ribs and I got brushes on my hips when I laid on the floor. My mother did not force me to eat. I was fine. My mother was the same. My grandmother always was concerned that she was going to be sick and forced her to eat everything on her plate. My mother was very resentful of that. Just some information to consider.

Good luck. W.

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M.H.

answers from Seattle on

There are occupational therapists at Children's hospital who specialize in eating issues. Tell your doctor that you feel like your son's reaction to food is abnormal and ask for a referral to Children's

I just had an appointment there for my 9 month old, and it was informative, helpful, and reassuring.

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T.W.

answers from Portland on

My son eats like a bird. He is three and only weighs 28 pounds. Thats about the 10th percentile. When he goes through a growth spurt he eats more otherwise he eats like a bird. My daughter was the same way and now at 6 she's eating me out of house and home!! Check with your doctor about giving him a vitamin supplement. Kids his age are picky feed him what he likes and offer one thing he doesn't. But don't force him and don't stress about it. He knows how much his body needs. just make sure no junk food!! He will grow out of it. It just takes time. My daughter did at about 4 1/2.

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H.C.

answers from Seattle on

Just to calm your fears a little, my daughter eats like a horse and has still been getting sick a lot. Its the time of year combined with exposure to other children combined with the age. I asked our pediatrician about her constantly being sick and she said that its normal and that its good that she is overcoming the colds, etc. It means her immune system is getting stronger. She also said that its only bad when kids get sick if they AREN'T getting over it.

About the eating, I have also been told that all kids have different eating patterns but they do have the will to survive, so they wont let themselves starve or become ill, if they can help it. It could be a myriad of different things, from just simply not having a big appetite to wanting attention. This age is so hard because they cant tell you whats wrong and their understanding of the world is so different... just hang in there and continue to praise him when he eats good food.

Have you tried sneaking pureed veggies into food? I put either pureed yellow squash or cauliflower in macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes, squash and/or carrots in spaghetti sauce, etc. If he is a picky eater, this may be a way to get veggies in him. I also buy the morningstar farms veggie patties and drench them in the "secret" spaghetti sauce with a little cheese on top... delicious. My husband will even eat it!

Lastly, get a second opinion from a another pediatrician. I only say this because I think that it may help put your mind at ease, and with three boys you need that! :) It might make you feel better if a nonrelated third party examines him and finds that there is nothing wrong. Good luck to you, I hope all goes well!

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J.R.

answers from Seattle on

I think that you are overreacting...he is 20 months and 26 pounds - my son who is 33 months weighs 27.4 pounds...and i have never been worried about his weight, nor has anyone ever suggested to me that he is underweight. He is little - he doesnt need to eat 4 nuggets like an older child might. Just keep giving him foods that he does like, fruits and veggies are good, and keep experimenting with new things. Have you tried tofu, edemame, soynut butter sandwiches? I of course and no expert, but I would just stop worrying about it.

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M.B.

answers from Portland on

RELAX!! I have an almost 3 year old that was like that and she eats fine now even "little trees" And she is only 28lbs. Just keep overing him food and relax he can feel your stress!

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

Wow! I can sense that you are seriously worried. That in itself will make your son feel that something is wrong; perhaps he's not good enough, etc. He can sense your tension even when you think that you've hidden it.

I wonder why you don't trust his doctor. I'd recommend getting a second opinion so that you can stop worrying.

If your son is meeting developmental goals I feel strongly that he is OK. I've seen many failure to thrive babies and that description does not fit what you have told me about your son. Failure to thrive is a medical term meaning that the baby weighs near the bottom or even off the chart. Your's is at the 50th percentile. That's good. Failure to thrive also means that the baby is not learning at an average pace when combined with being extremely low in weight. Have you looked at the developmental charts? Since his doctor says that he's Ok I think that he is maturing as he should.

Your baby is in the 90th percentile in height. The only thing this means is that he is tall and when his weight is in the 50th percentile he'll be thin. These numbers describe a healthy kid weight wise.

Next visit the numbers may be different. My grandson was in the 97th percentile for height and the 90th for weight when he was born. At his 6 month visit the numbers were further apart. At his vist when he was 27 months old the numbers were nearly as far apart as your son's. Something like 90/40. He was and is healthy although he was and still is thin.

My granddaughter grew the same way. She's still thin, a "long drink of water" or "skinny as a bean pole" as my parent's would say. The babies in our family have mostly been plump until they started walking. Then they gradually grew thinner. A cousin had a baby that was thin since birth. The aunts would speculate on whether or not she was getting enough to eat. As they saw that she did all the things that babies are expected to do they relaxed. This cousin's baby is still thin as an adult but like the rest of us tends to put on weight as she ages.

Thin babies have an advantage over us plump ones. They are less likely to be obese as children and adults. We're seeing the newest generation have a high percentage of obese children. This is not healthy.

My uncle was tall and thin all of his life. Yet he was healthy. Tall and thin is OK. In fact we are deemed healthier if we stay on the slim side as we grow and then age.

The percentile chart is based on the weight and height of many children. It's a mathematical chart and in itself tells you very little about your child's health. Your son's numbers only mean that 50% of the kids who are weighed weigh less than he does and 50% weigh less; 90% of the kids are shorter than him and 10% taller. The chart is only used as a comparison. Frequently kids' percentiles are as widely spaced as your son's. Babies and children grow up and then out. Or perhaps out and then up. They do not do both at the same time. 50/90 is a good measurement.

A another child may be in the 50th percentile for height and 30th percentile for weight. This is still OK. The numbers by themselves have little meaning. They do have meaning if the numbers over time change their pattern. The doctor is also checking how he is developing in other ways. He combines all the information that he gathers to determine if a baby is healthy.

There have been numerous studies done that show that babies will eat what they need when they need it. I remember one during which food was put out for toddlers. Frequently they would chose to eat the same food for days before they switched to another food. Their diet was balanced as they chose their food. We are born with an inate ability to know what our body needs. We lose that ability as we become socialized.

We also are able to sense our parents feelings much better than we do adults. A baby "knows" that he is totally dependent on his parents. If they don't take care of him he will die. He lets us know what he needs by crying. Another study determined that babies cry differently to express different needs.

So trust your son's ability to eat what he needs. It's your role to provide the food for him. From what you've said you do provide him with healthy food. His height and weight are healthy heights and weights. His pediatrician says he's healthy. If you can verbalize why you're so concerned perhaps his doctor will be able to run further tests, tho I can't think what they would be.

My grandchildren have always had times when they ate really well while at other times they hardly eat anything. I frequently feed them dinner and I've noticed that my grandson, who is now 4, tall and thin, is eating very little at dinner time. Even when we have McDonald's Kids meal which he's always eaten well until the last 2-3 weeks. My mother would say he's reached a plateau in growth; therefore doesn't need as many calories as he does when he's growing. This pattern is usual and healthy.

So, if you're still worried talk with the pediatrician. If you don't trust him see a different one. But beware of becoming one who shops for doctors until they find one who will agree with you.

Relax and enjoy your son. Before you know it he'll be taller than you and if he's lucky also thin. If you keep worrying about food he may develop problems with food and become skinny in an unhealthy way or fat in an unhealthy way. Food is just one small part of our daily life. If we focus just on food, food becomes an emotional part of our life when it should just be what we eat every day. Some days more, some days less.

Here are 2 web sites that explain the use of growth charts as well as eating. These sites have articles that provide more information.

growth chart explaination

http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/growth/growth/_charts...

about eating and power struggles

http://wwwbabycenter.com/o-how-to-avoid-making- meals-a-power-struggle-###-###-####.bc

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B.M.

answers from Eugene on

my daughter is in the 90th percentile for height and the 20th percentile for weight. SHe is tall and totally tiny. She is 4 1/2 and just tiny. Like your son, she would not eat much at all for long periods of time, but then starts to eat finally and then stops. I would try everything. SHe had food sensory issues and it makes it hard to figure out what she will hate. I have resorted to giving her the foods she will eat and try to get her to try other foods, but when she wants to eat something new she does it at her own will and it surprises me sometimes. IT has helped that her little brother eats a lot more than she does and when she sees him eating things she sometimes trys it too. Try not to worry too much. I know how you feel though. I totally worry over my children too. I only wish my children would eat too! Kids eat when they are hungry. Good luck.

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N.W.

answers from Eugene on

Your child is eating much more than my children did at that age. My oldest didn't even weigh twenty pounds until she was two years old so at least your not having to deal with constant weight checks. She was 50th percentile for height and 7th percentile for weight. She just ate a handful of things and nibbled at them. After going in for weight checks several months in a row the doctyor decided that she seemed to be doing well. She wasn't gaining weight but she wasn't losing either so they stopped the monthly checks. By the time she turned 3 she was eating much better and although her weight remains between the 7th and 10th percentile, neither us nor the doctor are concerned any longer.

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N.F.

answers from Anchorage on

You've received a lot of great advice, and I know it's hard not to worry as a parent, but I'll just chime in to agree with the folks who say please, please relax! Kids are so in tune with control and stress issues. Don't make eating a battle! Your child has clearly been eating enough, one way or another. My pediatrician assured me that it's actually better for kids to be slightly skinnier than the average, because sadly enough the average American child is already too fat, even as a toddler. One of my 24-month twins is in the 50% percentile for height and only the 15% for weight, and the other is 75% for height and 35% for weight, and both are perfectly healthy. They weigh less than your child at 21 months. Hang in there!

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T.S.

answers from Yakima on

A.

I thought you were talking about my 3 year old daughter in your request! LOL. Anyway, my 3 year old has eaten like that since she was probably 18 months or so....we just had her check up and like you we've tried everything to get her to eat. I even had a shelf in the frig of snack bags for her to go get if she were to be hungry....unsuccessful. Our pediatrician said to offer her meals and snacks if she ate them great...if not to make sure that she had at least 1-2 bites at every meal. It's not much but he said that they won't starve themself. She like you son is tall and skinny. She's 72% for height and 45% for weight. I'll tell you what we've been doing just as a suggestion.
First because breakfast is really hard to get anything down her. I make her a shake...plain or vanilla yogurt, fresh fruit and milk and blend it all together. She'll usually drink at least 1/2 of a glass.
Lunch I vary between cheeseburgers and fries (homemade), peanutbutter sandwiches, cheese sandwiches and fruit or some veggie. Usually it's my lunch too...I try to eat with her to encourage her to eat at the same time.
Dinner, she gets whatever we are having.
Snacks, fresh fruit or veggies with dip...most of the time it is the dip that is eaten and nothing else though.....so I only give her a little bit of that.
In the frig I have cheese in slices for her to grab if she wants, yogurt in the single serve tubes if she wants, milk in a glass, along with water. Those items she knows that she can get at anytime before dinner.
I'll tell you we have days were she's probalby eaten maybe 6 bites of food all day long...and she is very active. She doesn't just sit and watch TV. She swims, rides bike, plays outside tag, soccer, plays dolls...etc. So it's not like she's not using her energy supply because she is....but she is still considered to be healthy and thriving. So hopefully some day she will eat balanced meals, as they are available for her to eat. Hope you find your niche for your son!!!!
T. S.

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R.S.

answers from Seattle on

I'm by no means an expert, but my gut tells me that the more you try to push your little guy to eat, the more he will resist. It really sounds like a control issue. My son is three, and until he was two, he was in the 75th percentile for height and the 15th percentile for weight. My pediatrician was never worried. He's now in the 50th percentile for height and between the 15th and 25th percentile for weight, and he's totally healthy.

I know you're concerned, but listen to your child's doctor. Your son IS eating, just not what you think is enough. The 50th percentile for weight is perfectly normal - it means 50 percent of kids weigh more and 50 percent weigh less.

As for getting sick, your son is around other kids whose environments you can't control, so he may get sick a bit more often (my son did when he was in daycare). I know it's hard, but until your pediatrician becomes concerned, try to relax a bit about this.

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I really wouldn't worry so much. He's getting plenty of protein from milk (whole milk, I assume), and really, the animals of our food supply make plenty of protein without eating it themselves (cows, chickens, pigs, etc.) It's ok to be lean. You might give him pediasure once a day or add half and half to his milk or put it on his cereal, but really I wouldn't lose sleep over it, especially with all the quality foods he is eating. What kids his age need a lot of is fat, as this is when they are laying down brain/nervous tissue, which requires lots of fat.

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J.B.

answers from Seattle on

Does he complain of not feeling well when he eats certain things? I don't know how much he talks, but can he tell you why he doesn't want to eat? I am wondering if he has food allergies and they make him not feel well, or possibly acid reflux which can make eating certian foods problematic.

Since he likes bananas, yogurt and fruit, you could make him smoothies with added protein powder. That would be a good breakfast, at least.

Does he say he's hungry and then only eats a little, or would he go the whole day without food if you didn't offer.

Must be frustrating. I wish I had a clear answer for you!

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M.J.

answers from Portland on

Ah yes, my little girl was a failure to thrive for a while. I even had to take her in just for weight checks. I felt awful about it, but what can you do?
Add cream to his milk. Try smoothies with his yogurt and add cream to that too.
Have you tried peanut butter? Mine ate hers out of a snack cup with a spoon!
I tried kraft cheese slices, the ones with 5 grams of fat in each slice.
Or try velveeta in slices or dip for his crackers, etc. Have you tried butter or cream cheese on his crackers?
How about cookies, the butter ones.
Does he like mashed potatoes yet? Load those up with butter.
How about a dip for his fruit? half marshmallow half cream cheese, or just cool whip.
Desperate times call for desperate measures! My Dr. said that poor eating habits don't get instilled into them until about age 2 or 3. So you have time to fatten him up on tha bad foods!
Don't worry, just keep trying. My Dr. also said that it's not uncommon for a child to have as much as 3 colds a month (to be sick three weeks out of four in a month). Good luck, just keep trying, and try to relax a little, he knows and needs to be relaxed too. Not pressured.

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J.C.

answers from Eugene on

I agree with your son's doctor. As hard as it is, please try to relax about your son's eating habits. He's still getting protein through his milk, yogurt, and chicken nuggets and isn't underweight. If anything the issue may be intensified with your anxiety and stress. Check out books written by Ellyn Satter..an amazing author who you may find helpful on this subject {"Feeding the Fussy Eater" is just one of her great many}. She really emphasizes and clearly defines the role of parent and child. You provide the food and he decides if and how much. It can take up to fifteen exposures of a food before your son may even decide to try it. I found this transcript from webmd interesting and helpful. http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey...

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C.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A.,

Be patient with your son. My son was exactly the same way with regard to height and weight percentiles when he was little and he is the same now, even though he is 13. Your son is eating good food and may need to "graze" more over the course of the day. That is what my son did, and it actually is a healthier way of eating- smaller meals and lots of snacks in between. My son's biggest meal of the day is lunch, which he eats at school, and then he has a good snack when he gets home from school, a small dinner and then a snack before he goes to bed. He has a small breakfast and a snack during the school's reading break in the morning. The pediatrician said that we all should eat like that, as it is healthier for us and it is easier on our bodies if we digest smaller amounts of food over longer periods of time. That way there are no large dips in the amount of glucose going to the brain and it can help your son's brain develop better as well. (I have a Master's in Child Brain Development from ages 0-3).

Your child will eat when he is hungry, and you may notice that he eats more right before he grows taller-again! When my son doesn't eat much, I know that he has just finished a growth spurt and his body is working to accommodate the new height- at 13, he is now 5'8" tall and weighs just over 109 lbs!

Give him time and keep providing healthy food for him to eat, available whenever he wants it, within reason. Our son's favorite vacation was when we stayed at a resort when food was available 24 hours a day and he could go and eat when he wanted to! BTW, we do eat dinner as a family and even if he is finished eating before the rest of the family, he stays at the table until everyone is done.

Good luck!
C.

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M.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hi A.. I understand being worried and I know how frustrating it can be to have people tell you NOT to worry over and over again! You're his mom....of course you're going to worry! =)

My 6 year old daughter didn't want to eat when she was 1 1/2 to 2 years old. I did worry and talked to her doctor about it. What he told me is that at that age, children are not going to let themselves starve. I kept her favorite foods on hand and always put her in her high chair and gave her food everytime my husband and I gave her a plate/bowl of food. Once our meal time was over, we'd take her out of her high chair and let her run.

I am not a fan of withholding food with the thought that eventually she will be hungry enough to eat what I wanted her to eat. Especially if your biggest concern is that your son is not eating.

I'm not a professional, but that's my take on the issue. I wish you the best!

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S.M.

answers from Portland on

If you want him just to have calories, why not try yogurt and the fruit he likes in a smoothie form? Through in some quality protein powder to give him the protein he needs.

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D.P.

answers from Seattle on

My son lagged behind in eating as well and dropped below the zero percentile around 5 months (he was born at 7 lbs 11 oz so he was a normal size baby). We had eating issues until about 2.5 years of age. He wouldn't do baby food as soon as he should and he didn't do much of any table food until after 2. He's now 33 months old and is the healthiest eater out there. There's not a single fruit or vegetable he won't eat and is willing to try just about anything. He still struggles to sit still for some meals and will occasionally eat the smallest of amounts at some meals, but he eats better than every other toddler I know and he always has at least one meal a day where he makes up for his unwillingness to eat much of anything at another meal. So, what happened? First off, after spending months and months of stressing over his eating and crying because nothing worked, I calmed down and let him set the pace. My son did get the evaluation he needed though and it turned out that his problem with eating was due to oral sensory issues. I worked with an occupational therapist and tried every trick in the book with him. In hindsight, the trick that worked best was just accepting his eating issues and not stressing about it. He's still a little guy for his age (in the 25th percentile -- weighing what your son weighs at 20 months and he's about a year older than your son -- and his dad is a big guy). However, my son is off the charts on his cognitive and motor skills so his eating issues never hurt him. More importantly, he enjoys all kinds of foods because when we struggled with his eating we tried every food out there and exposed him to everything without forcing anything.

If you are worried, I would suggest that you have an occupational therapist evaluate him for sensory issues. You could also check to make sure he doesn't have a reflux issue making eating painful for him (that was part of my son's problems when he was younger too). If his eating is sensory related, which most are if it's actually something other than not needing the calories, they'll be able to direct you on how to help him eat better. For my son, he needed strong flavors to motivated him to eat and we'd have to have him suck on a lemon between bites of baby food to stimulate him to want to keep eating or give him something salty like a black olive or put curry in some of his baby food. We also had to accept the fact that certain textures were going to take a long time for him to accept and to not push the issues (he wouldn't eat meat until about 2.5 and we nearly cried out of excitement when he ate a whole chicken nugget around 2 years of age). We found that playing classical music and the baby einstein DVDs got him to eat (for everyone that has knocked down the baby einstein DVDs they saved us since it was the only want to get him to eat for nearly a year because of his sensory issues).

Push to have him evaluated if it will help you to worry less. However, I wouldn't recommend pushing to get your son to eat. I wasted several months of my life being worked up over my son's eating issues and his weight when the thing that helped him develop great eating habits and bring back my sanity was being patient and accepting that he needed to set the pace for eating. I have relatives who stressed so much over their son not eating when he was about 20 months old that they caused their child to throw up over the stress of eating and had to take him to a psychiatrist to help him and them. Their son didn't have an eating issue before they pushed to hard...he was just a child that was going to have a delayed growth spurt and didn't need the calories at the time. The parents pushed, according to their story, because he wasn't eating much of anything and he wasn't gaining weight relative to his height. So, as they tell it, they stressed about his eating and constantly got angry at him for not eating and pushed too hard for too long. They told me their story when I was stressed about my son's eating and said "even though it's very clear that your son does have serious issues our son never had related to eating, pushing and stressing about it doesn't ever help."

In sum, push to get the help you need to understand why your toddler doesn't eat like you think he should, but try not to stress about the situation. What you are feeling is normal and understandable, but you probably have a child that is eating the amount his body needs. Additionally, it's normal for a child to lose interest in eating and drop significant weight when the are ill. My son did that as well and that was always extremely stessful to me since we struggled to keep him on his growth curve when he was healthy.

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K.O.

answers from Portland on

I'm sorry. I don't have any great advice. Just moral support, my kids don't eat either. I have a 4 yr. old and a 15 month old. Pickiest kids I've ever seen. Recently talked to the doctor about the 4 yr. olds eating habits, he had only gained 1lb since his 3 yr. checkup! That's right, one pound in a year! Doctor said to give him what we eat for dinner, and make sure it includes at least one thing that he likes, but to stop fixing him special meals. So that's what we've been trying. It's kind of working. Another thing we've been trying is telling him that if he is not going to eat his dinner, and be a part of the family meal, then he can wait in his room on his bed until the meal is over. We've only had to send him to his room once, but that seems to have been deterrent enough. He has gotten better about trying the food we offer. I don't want him to have to eat food he doesn't like, but he does need to try new things.

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R.W.

answers from Eugene on

Hey mama~ I understand your frustration. my 10 mo old is on a food strike. So you may think Im am crazy but thats ok. We are now witnessing the evolution of the human species. Our children are being born with ultra sensitvites! This means they can not handle chemicals. ( bath products, laundry detergdent, medicines ect.) So try to use earth friendly,organic stuff (even sheets)7th generation is our favorite even for toilet paper! And some of these children ( also called indigo children,google it if you want) are self made vegaterians.(if they do eat meat make it organic!) Some will only drink fresh ORGANIC Fruit smoothies!! So I would try the smoothies. ( banana,strawberry with organic milk or juice...YUM!) or juice your own carrot,apple celery. all kinds of options. this will also boost the immune system. I also use young living essential oils the blend theives kills bacteria,germs, virus.(put on the bottom of kids feet) and I diffuse in the air to clean up the air in the home. I hope some of this info. helps you on your mother hood journey. Love and Light to you, [email protected]____.com (I dont really read mamasource but did the day you wrote)

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C.N.

answers from Seattle on

If you've spoken to your pediatrician and they've said he's healthy, then there is no reason to put yourself through the stress of it all. All children, mine included, have periods of time when they eat all the time and others where they seem to eat nothing at all. No child is going to allow him/herself to starve, they trust their bodies far better than adults trust their own (we'd all be a lot healthier if we ate when our bodies told us to rather than by a schedule). Keep putting the meals in front of him and if it is food that can be kept, put it out again for the next meal. It doesn't seem that he is being defiant and just wanting something different, which is a whole other problem. You seem to make it sounds as if he just has better things to do than eat. C'est la vie!

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A.S.

answers from Eugene on

I can completely sympathize with you. I know this is hard to hear, but if you pediatrician isn't worried about his weight, try not to worry too much. My daughter is 20 1/2 months as well, and she's only 22lbs. She is also tall and this puts her in the 15th percentile for weight. She is very thin and it is very hard to find clothes that fit her waist and are long enough for her arms and legs. I am beginning to discover that a lot of the problem is distraction.. not that she doesn't like the food. The dog has to go outside while she eats, no tv, no radio, no talking on the phone. Try to catch him at times in between activities.. so that you are not interrupting when he is focusing on anything else. Sitting with my daughter and eating something myself has also helped. I wish you the best of luck and good health. I'm sorry I don't know about the immune system issues. Does your son take vitamins at all?

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

I am in the same place with my son, who will be 21 months on June 29th. He is in the 90th percentile for height, and the 30th for weight (up, actually, from 20th.) So, tall and thin is his physical description too. He also will basically only eat fresh fruit and yogurt, can't handle meat, vegetables went out with the puree'd Gerber foods. He does, however, appreciate chips, cheetos and any kind of cracker. Horrible. He can't stand milk.

His doc said to try and include things like french onion dip and other kinds of dip to his diet. Especially peanut butter (he does like peanut butter). She said that he really will start eating someday, but right now, it is important just to try to bulk him up. I actually don't agree with that, because he is built like his dad's family, who are all very tall and thin. But, one thing that he will eat is eggs, in almost any form (very fortunate for us). My mom suggested pudding with extra calcium in it. He loves his snack foods, so we are just trying to sneak in the peanut butter, dip with calcium, etc. My husband also makes smoothies with frozen fruit, lots of yogurt and milk added. That's all I got...

Good luck and if you find any miracle cures, let me know!

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L.R.

answers from Seattle on

My daughter sounds similar. She doesn't eat much, although I still breastfeed her. She seems to go in spurts.. she'll eat a lot one or two days and then not much for three to four days.

Have you tried letting him run around and come "through the drive through" for bites to eat? Sometimes if they are able to stay mobile, they'll eat a bit more. I've also found that stroller rides with big snacks and sometimes car rides with snacks work.

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K.D.

answers from Portland on

I have no magic bullets, just a few ideas. Make certain the milk and yogurt are whole milk varieties. Try adding some dried fruit into the mix-- whole-fruit leathers (Trader JOe's)are a big deal at our house.Will he eat cheese? He may be a grazer; just let him nibble a string cheese/slice of cheese/nugget every so often. NO JUICE!! Only Water or milk. And then there's the need for lots of vitamins. The gummy ones at Trader Joe's have no artificial anything and we also get the echineaca and vitamin C ones.

Some kids have super texture sensitivity and can't eat many foods because of teh way they feel in their mouths. Is your son also super picky about clothes, surfaces, socks??

Finally, if you don't trust your pediatrician's advice see someone else, NOW.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

A.,
you sound very frustrated and I can relate. Our youngest has gone through this hotdog stage for about 2yrs now but recently has moved on to taquitos. our oldest was a picky eater too and never wants to eat anything nutritious.
When I think about my boys and what we have gone through and then I read your story, I can't help but wonder if your son is stressed out and overwhelmed. With five of you in your family and then your daycare kids, that's a lot of people he is exposed to each day. On top of that he has two parents who are wanting him to eat things that don't taste good. When people are under stress, the body responds to that stress. People have different symptoms. Some feel sick, some vomit, run fevers, have anxiety and panic attacks, some don't eat, etc.
I agree that it is upsetting for a mother to watch her child push away food. Our oldest started eating better this past fall when I stopped sending him with a bag lunch to school and had him eat what the school provided. For the past 4yrs i struggled to get him to eat without success. Now I feel the success. One difference though is that my son never gets sick, that's why I think your son is under stress.
Two things for you. Make sure he stays hydrated (Gatorade, water, juice, popsicles, juice bars, otter pops) Second, try not to treat him any differently than the other children and get him outside in the sun. The sun helps boost your mood, wards off stress and depression. (It will help you too.)
Best wishes to you.

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