Can Toddlers Have Low Blood Sugar?

Updated on July 23, 2010
E.H. asks from Lehi, UT
17 answers

My son is 2.5 yrs old. I think he has something wrong, but am not sure what. When he doesn't eat, he becomes completely unhinged, screaming, throwing fits, hitting, etc. It is next to impossible to calm him down at this point. However, if he eats, then there is a complete turn around, it's like a night and day difference about 5 minutes after he eats, as long as it has a little substance to it. I usually mix baby food cereal with baby food fruit and that seems to work. However, things like Cheerios, Corn Chex, and fruit don't really work to keep him happy, and sugar is awful! He can have a very little bit if he has eaten a meal and be okay, but if he has it before a meal it makes things 10 times worse, thus have have been severely limiting his sugar intake. I am wondering if he could have low blood sugar or something like that. My sister has the exact same symptoms and has been to an endocrinologist who said he couldn't do anything for her because her tests didn't show any problems. My problem is we are barely making it financially. Our copay for a regular visit is $25 and for a specialist is $40. There is no way we can afford to start going to a bunch of different doctors appointments right now because we aren't sure when we will get paychecks. Also, I really don't want to pay a doctor to tell me that there is nothing wrong with my son. Do any of you have experience with anything like this?

As a side note, I have tried numerous other items to feed him to try to help with this, but unfortunately, he is beyond picky. He will eat fruit/veggie smoothies each morning, and I mix them with baby food cereal, and he is good for about 3 hours. The rest of the day is a challenge. He won't eat anything but the smoothies on a consistent basis. One day, he will eat grapes and then he won't eat them for a week. He won't eat any kind of meat, bread or anything that I make for dinner. He will sometimes taste it, but won't eat more than a bite or two. I have had to start putting him in his room if he won't eat because I can't handle the fits, but I know this is not developing healthy eating habits and it is not his fault that he is having these issues, so I feel so bad for him. He is a very normal toddler when he eats and is such a sweetheart. Please help!

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answers from Charlotte on

E., it sounds like perhaps he has hypoglycemia. It's a real trial to deal with this when you have the terrible two eating pickiness to deal with.

Keep offering regular food. If he eats a few bites, that's something. Don't cater to his every whim, because that will just make his pickiness and control issue work against both of you for the long term. If he isn't eating meat, you MUST find an alternative for the protein, even if you are putting protein in his smoothies. Peanut butter has protein in it, so you could try that.

Good luck,

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answers from Los Angeles on

You shouldn't hesitate in taking him to the doctor. If you have tried to keep him on a steady eating schedule and this still happens, something isnt right. Perhaps diabetes? I know symptoms of autism are similar...just a thought. My 2 step sons both have autism and this is something we deal with regularly along with other behaviors. Good luck

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answers from New York on

It sounds like he is very sensitive to what he eats and that as well as being a picky eater is hard to manage. Some children with sensory processing issues are picky about food textures. If you suspect that is part of the problem try callin Early Intervention before he turns 3. If you think it is because he is sensitive to low blood sugar try to include protein and whole grains in each snack/meal since they take longer to digest. (Look up the glycemic index and try for higher glycemic index, slower to digest foods). Do as best you can to get him at least a snack every 2-3 hours to head off meltdowns (my son is a horror if gets too hungry or overtired and it is so hard to get back on track). My kids are not that fond of meat but will happily eat cheese, yogurt, nuts, and beans.

If you think the picky eating is the main problem then explain he needs to eat different kinds of foods for his body to grow and be healthy. Tell him the basic food groups and explain he needs to eat a little bit from all of them. help him make a list of a few things he likes in each group. If you want to get fancy use a piece of colored paper for each group and glue cut out pictures of different foods on. I have been talking to my son about this since he was around 2 and now at 4 he knows he has to eat his food groups at meals (not that he doesn't argue and beg for junk food!). Bread and butter, a pickle and a handful of nuts may not seem like a great meal but it covers the bases at least. There are also Sneaky Chef type cookbooks for hiding more nutritious/less popular foods in kid friendly things. Another stratagy for improving the diet of a picky eater is trying to add foods similar in texture and flavor to ones he will eat.

I know what you mean about the health insurance expenses...but a basic visit to the pediatrician is really a good idea as soon as you can manage.

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answers from Tulsa on

Children can have juvenile diabetes. He needs more food, baby food has little nutritional value since it is to teach babies to chew and swallow while they are transitioning from formula to table food and milk. This baby is in desperate need of protein and nutritional food. If he doesn't start getting the nutrition he needs you may end up having to feed him through a feeding tube, he may have some digestive issues so take him to the doc. Call your insurance provider and ask them about taking him to a stomach doc and a nutritionist.

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answers from Denver on

All three of my kids go through the weird eating/not eating stage that drives me crazy!!! They all freak out when they are hungry then won't eat anything at dinner. My youngest is the worst! She just turned 2 a month ago and is being a nightmare just like the other two, and yes, the only thing any of them wanted to eat or would eat is sweet tasting stuff. I am a very healthy eater and have not been big on anything sugary but do have fruit and such around. The bad news is, smoothies, fruit, pasta, rice, cereal, etc. are all heavy in sugar and too much of that too can create crabby kids.

What I started to do with my first was feed him as much as I could that was not sugar rich, like eggs for breakfast, lunch meat and veggies at lunch, and well rounded meals for dinner that did not entail pasta or rice but once or twice a week. I also know that kids do need fruits and carbs, just not in the mass quantities we normally tend to do, so for snacks I do the fruit and fun stuff then but still kept it to a minimum. Just so you know, they only ever ate 2 to 3 bites at their meals. I kept wondering how thy sustained life. I just stuck with it, let them throw their fits, did not alter the eating plan because it was for their own good.

Although I am in my eating torture with my daughter right now, my two boys outgrew this stage by around 3 and they both eat what is in front of them and typically lean towards the veggies and healthier choices. I also to this day never pressure them to clean their plates or hound them to eat. They know that what is in front of them is their meal, take it or leave it. Kids have a way of eating what their bodies need.

In short, this is short lived so not to worry. Your son will come around and quit torturing you but only if you do not play into it.

If around 3 1/2 if you are still having excessive problems check into it further. You can also check it out at the 3 year check up.

Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

just another nut butter idea - make smoothies with frozen banana, nut butter of any kind and milk (of any kind). very refreshing and nutritious. another snack idea could be oatmeal pancakes - i have a recipe with just a little sugar, lots of oats (soaked overnight in buttermilk), just a touch of flour, eggs, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and oil. they are great cold with a little jam (or nut butter again:) and you can bake and freeze them.

as for juvenile diabetes, the signs of that are not so much low blood sugar reactions, but actually becoming sick with fever, vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, weight loss - this is all because a low functioning pancreas will mean there is too much sugar in the blood, not too little. (My brother was diagnosed at age 10 in this way).

I think of myself as someone who is prone to low blood sugar as well - it's not necessarily something that needs to be addressed medically; regular nutritious meals usually do the trick for me. also eating before i get shaky, because then it takes too long to recover. i do notice that when i am anxious/stressed my blood sugar drops more maybe this is a factor with your son if he is other wise a sensitive guy?

okay good luck!!!

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answers from Provo on

Definitely take him to the doctor. Sounds like he's possibly hypoglycemic. My son was only 18 months old when he was diagnosed with diabetes. I thought it was impossible, but I took him in anyway and sure enough his blood sugar was over 800. (He should be under 200.) The doctor was amazed he hadn't had seizures or gone into a coma. My point is, your kid's health and life are worth the financial sacrifice. Believe me, I hate paying so much money to doctors and I know how hard it is to come up with the money, but your child is worth it - always. Better safe than sorry! Good luck and let us know how it turns out. :)

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answers from New York on

i guess i don't understand. doe she eat normal food? for his age he should be off baby food. i think hunger makes them behave like that. my 6 year old to this day does not understand hunger. when she gets hungry she is beyond calming down. i am always on time with 3 meals, and snacks in between. he could be hungry. actually i even had to have a sit down with her teacher at the beginning of the school year to explain to her if my daughter doesn't eat lunch she will be miserable, and pitch a fit. the teacher didn't take me seriously until the day it happened. she even pulled me aside that day and apologized, because she saw it happening. what she dide is give my daughter extra 15 min to finish her food. she eats slowly and gets distracted easily, that's why she wasn't finishing her food. so i say he needs food in his system. i know you said he is very picky and eats certain things, if yes, then you have to take those things away and offer him only the food you want him to eat. it will take a few weeks to break down his habit, but it's better to do it now than later. kids will eat when they get hungry. they just shouldn't have access to the things they want to eat instead to the things they should eat.



answers from Boise on

E., I just read the other posts and felt a need to let you know that while it is possible that there are other issues at work here your son sounds perfectly normal to me. I say this because the way you described him sounds very much like my kids, none of whom have any diagnosable health issues. All four of my children have had this issue to one degree or another (as do I). If we don't keep our blood-sugar steady we sometimes get hot, shaky, dizzy, but most of all mean and grouchy.
The best thing I've found is to keep ahead of it by making sure he is eating small healthy snacks throughout the day. When they do have a breakdown it is very difficult to get them back to normal because they are so irrational about everything. Sometimes I would set my child down somewhere with a piece of food nearby and then leave them alone because the more I coaxed the more they refused to eat even though I knew that was what they needed. The less of a battle you can make of it the better off you will be in the long run, and the more sanity you will preserve.
As far as what foods to give them, you need to make sure he is getting some protein as well as some carbs. Yogurt (maybe go-gurts would be appealing), peanut butter, cheese cubes, beans, tuna, scrambled eggs - anything with protein - so it lasts and doesn't just put him on another sugar high. You will have to get something in him quickly, but as you've already discovered, if it is just refined flour and sugar it doesn't work for very long and makes it worse in the end.
With my fourth (she is now 6 yrs old) I have told her over and over whenever she is out of control mean, grouchy, sad, whatever, that she needs to eat something healthy and she can now sometimes identify the problem and says to me, "Mom, I need to eat something healthy." Unfortunately it took me to number four to finally deal with this effectively, but maybe you can learn from my experience.
One other thought on the picky eating. My sister often fed her kids what she called a 'snack lunch' which was basically just a whole bunch of little things, i.e. orange slices, crackers, cucumbers, cut-up hot dogs, peas, etc. She would just put it all on the table and let them decide which things they would like to fill up on. This sometimes prevents a battle because they have a lot of options and they feel like they are in control. Good luck with the food thing. It is an aspect of parenting that I have always struggled with.



answers from St. Cloud on

Toddlers can absolutely have low blood sugar. My friend's son was diagnosed with ketonic hypoglycemia (low blood sugar accompanied by excessive protein in urine) at age 2.
My daughter was diagnosed with diabetes (high blood sugar) at 19 months. Your son does NOT seem to have diabetes symptoms so don't worry about that.

This is what you can do. Give your son a carbohydrate paired with a protein at each sitting. I know you said he doesn't like meat but does he like cheese or nut butters? The combination of carbs and protein will keep his blood sugar stable for a few hours.
Also - Go to your regular doctor and explain your son's symptoms. If you are able to bring your son in when he is having a *fit* they can test his blood sugar to see if it's low and you can go from there.

I know it's frustrating! Low blood sugars are scary! Both of my kids have diabetes and my son, who is 7, is able to tell me what low blood sugars feel like. He says that he feels shaky, like he is falling. He cries and gets scared when his sugar is low and is desparate to eat and sometimes feels too sick to his stomach to even take a bite. He is picky too! Yikes!

I know that money is tight, but I strongly suggest going to the doctor if different food combinations don't work. You have gotten some great advice here by the other posters!

Also, look up low glycemic index foods. They are a huge help for stablizing blood sugars!

Good luck, mom! Even though it's frustrating to not know what's going on you are doing a good job! Hugs for you and your little one!



answers from Denver on

Definitely low blood sugar but probably not "disease" related. he could also just be flat out hungry. start getting some higher calorie foods into him. Since money is tight, try your own experiment.
Start with getting him onto REAL food. if he won't take the texture, put his dinner through the blender.
the other thing is you've got to get more fat and protein into him. Fat is important for growth and brain development. Plus both fat and protein stabilize blood sugar levels. my youngest needed healthy oils (olive, canola) poured into almost everything to keep her weight on because she wouldn't eat enough.
After a week of real food, no baby food (other than what you put through the blender), see how his moods are. My guess is they will have stabilized a lot.
My oldest is VERY sensitive to what he eats in the morning. By 18 months we figured out he has to have protein, fat, and fiber in the morning or it's dinner time before his personality is normal again. The Dr said its just his system, although we did check for diabetes. He's now almost 9, and its still the routine. funny story - my m-i-l was insistent that it was her right to spoil him w/sugared cereals. I finally caved one day when he was 2 1/2, but left before she fed him Captain Crunch for breakfast. I came home about 2 pm - she has NEVER again asked to do that. she believes me now about his need for protein, fat, and fiber first thing in the morning!
if after a week or two of loading him up on real food, things haven't improved, then take him in to the doctor.
good luck.



answers from Denver on

From an alternative medicine standpoint it sounds like it could be his pancreas/spleen part of digestion. It definitely sounds like low blood sugar, and that combined with only wanting to eat sweet things is usually related to an imbalance in the spleen. Go to Vitamin Cottage and get him chewable food enzymes for children--they are called Buddy Bear. Give him one with each meal and see if that helps. Also make sure that he is getting plenty of protein (which is still only a small amount for a toddler) so that his food digests more slowly. If he can have cows milk you can try adding whey powder like the person below suggests. If , however, he seems to have an issue with milk try rice protein to add into milk, cereal, smoothies, etc.
Good luck!



answers from Denver on

It's hard to say from your post if your son has low blood sugar. It could be high blood sugar. It could be that he has ADHD or other mood issues with food and/or artificial additives in processed food. The first thing you absolutely need to do is to address his picky eating. Not much will change until he eats whole foods, including veggies.

I would also put him on a couple of supplements: cod liver oil (lemon flavored), vitamin D (have his level checked on your next should be above 50), a multi-vitamin without artificial colors or flavors and a child's probiotic purchased at a whole foods store in the refrigerator section. For more family health info and how to transform your picky eater, to to



answers from Boise on

One of my kids is like this and so is my husband. It is low blood sugar and it is kind of the opposite of diabetes. It is called fasting hypoglycemia, I think. If I wait to long to feed my daughter, she starts refusing to eat, saying she is not hungry, gets reallllllyyyyy moody and cranky. This is not her personality, or your son's but the low blood sugar.

Right now, at his age, I think just give him whatever he wants to eat, regularly. I don't think that even if you had the money, you would need to take him to the doctor. I took my hubby to the doctor about it and the doctor just told him to eat a lot of snacks through the day.

Does your boy like cheese sticks, hot dogs, lunch meat? Milk? My daughter seems to do a lot better after I give her some milk. These are usually the foods that she craves, so maybe your kid would like them too? She also likes apples with cheese or peanut butter helps a lot, too. I think you should feed him a little bit of food say every few hours, or a drink of milk or apple juice or something and see if he is okay. If he is still having problems, then maybe go to a doctor.


answers from Los Angeles on

I give my son vitamin drops to supplement his diet. You could try this to help fill in the nutrition gaps during the day. Some one also mentioned peanut butter which is a great idea. I supplement PB a lot for my son because i can't stand red meat and he loves PB so much he'll eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner if he could.



answers from Boston on

Im a mother of 4, with the ages 8 1/2, 6, 3 1/2 and 19 months. And I also have "picky eaters". FYI, what I was told by my drs with my children by 13 months, they should be already eating solid foods so they can get the jar and musles working. ( it can cause issues down the ride too) They are many of websites that can get you recipes for "pinky eaters". I always got told that your child won't go hungry when there hungry they'll eat. Which always made me so nervous but my children all like different things to eat. I also go to Toys R US and get my 19 mouth old, organic food such as mini sammies and etc. Im pretty sure that they have recipes for smothies and etc, Try it out. And always offer more than once.... Let me know if I can help with anything else. GOOD LUCK. Take one day at a time....



answers from Boise on

Powdered whey can be put into pancakes and drinks and it is a great source of protien. Get a good quality one. it makes all the difference.
Beans can be mashed and put into sauces and stews and even fudge if you can beleive it. Chia seeds are powerhouses of good stuff and are also a source of protien.They dissapear in drinks and pancakes and stuff. They are easy to incorporate. Look them up online.

Youve GOT to reduce those carbs and sugars, even fruit sugars. If he won't eat it as a whole food (the whole berry, the apple or banana slice, cubed pear, etc) and not juiced or pureed, it is contributing to the problem.The body needs to digest the fiber, skin, and membranes of fruit to keep the body from absorbing too much of the fructose , too fast.

The baby food items you listed have absolutely no fiber in them. They will go straight to the blood stream. This could be your biggest problem. You've got to get LESS glucose in him and MORE PROTIEN FOR THE MORNING MEAL . It makes a difference in the whole day. In fact if you could cut out almost all the sugars in the morning you might see a drastic improvement.

Youve probably got major nutritional deficiences going on. Magnesium is one I would not wait to incorporate. You can get magneisum chloride and rub it on his skin and let it dry. Babycalm is a product that I would reccommend also. It is drinkable magnesium, dosed for little ones.
Magnesium calms nerves and is a calcium gate blocker- it keeps calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and exciting it. ADHD, aggitation, compulsion, innatention, hyperexcitability, anxiety, poor blood sugar levels , lack of appetite, tantrums and chronic fatigue are all symptoms of magnesium deficiency.
Other possible side affects (depending on the chemical makeup of the individual) are sniffling, skin problems, red ears, recurrent ear and sinus infections, hiccups, constipation, headaches, bad teeth, highly sensitive to light or sound or noise, jumpyness, tourettes, hysteria, choking on food, soft bones, frequent sighing, nausia , finger and toe cramps, asthma and COPD. Low magneisum = increased adrenaline = irritability of the central nervous system.

Vit A is another problem. Children need to get their vit A in the form of retinol from animal meats/fats because they cannot make the conversion from carotienes (the type in in fruits /veggies.) Vit A deficiency will contribute to anorexic tendencies and poor feeding. Organ meats are highly desirable.
LIVER of animals has over 8 times the vit A of the highest vit A vegetable-(carrot). We can put ground liver and other organ meats in with hamburger or make a pate- find ways to get this into your family's diet.

I have been doing medical/vitamin research for 10 years. As far as adding a multi vitamin to you child's intake, I do not agree with that poster. Although there are benefits to adding a very few select vitamins to our diets (magnesium especially)... most multi vitamins are very low in the very ones we need most, and add others that we shouldn't be taking at all. Vit D can be highly toxic- I would never give it to anyone, unless they NEVER see the light of day or ingest dairy products. Children get thier vit D in plenty of quantity from these two sources alone. Typically, there is no need to add calcium to our diet either, unless the person has had thier thyroid removed or other reasons.

Hypoglycemia is a common side effect of decreased adrenal gland function.
Essensial fatty acids (EFA'S)are needed to make the precursor to progesterone. This in turn makes hormones for the adrenal gland and thyroid.
EFA's are : Raw virgin coconut oil/olive oil/raw almonds/seeds/wild caught fish. The nuts and seeds in the store have been irradiated. need to find someone with a tree. Olive oil can go rancid, and most fish in the store are farm raised. ( extremely high in mercury/toxins)
I suggest the raw- virgin coconut oil. You can get it online if you cant find it local at a halth food store. You can give a teaspoon of coconut oil 2 x a day- find a way- either off the end of a spoon directly into his mouth, or mix it in a food, put it on toast or pancakes, etc.

Vit b complex liquid drops , under the tounge, (for absorption) are the only other vitamin I would suggest. Vit B also supports the central nervous system and helping to make hormones.


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