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Is this typical picky toddler behavior or something else - advice/reassurance needed!


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Aug 8, 2012, 9:16am   #1
jenniletv's Avatar
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Hi everyone. Here is my backstory....my son is 2.5 and has for most of his life been a a great eater. He pretty much ate whatever was put in front of him, up until a few months ago.

First the veggies were becoming an issue (I assume most toddlers go through no eating veggies so I chalked that up to him being a toddler). Ok no big deal I thought.

A few months ago he would have sporadic eating days where he would eat really good for breakfast and lunch but maybe not so good for dinner or vice versa. Meaning that he would eat what was given to him but at that other meal he ate half or less and did not want anymore but would ask for like fruit or something like that.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago - its getting worse. At this point all meals were getting to be an issue and he would eat less then half of most of meals throughout the day. Or he would request something and then not want it and eat something else.

Fast forward to this past weekend - At this point he's starting to not want to eat what we are giving at all and requests something else, and if we fix that for him he would maybe eat half or less or take a few bites and say "no more". Mostly he's requesting stuff and not eating any of it or taking a bite and spitting it out.

Yesterday was my breaking point.....He ate no breakfast, after three tries for lunch the sitter finally got him to eat a handful of french fries and then he had fruit gummy snacks after he got up from his nap. I could not get him to eat anything for dinner. Nothing. I am to the point where maybe he should learn that if he does not eat his dinner he will go to bed hungry but then in turn I don't want him to starve or be hungry. And my sitter does not want him to go hungry there either so she offers him several options all the time.

He's been drinking juices, water and milk fine all this time. No issues there. He has been playing and everything fine and napping and sleeping fine. He is cutting a 2 year molar (first one we have seen so far) so I am not sure if that is playing a role.

I am just completely stressed out and I literally cried for 45 minutes last night. I keep hearing "he'll eat when he gets hungry" but I am struggling with this. The child can not live on french fries or snacks, he needs to eat meals.

Please tell me that this is typical toddler behavior.
Aug 8, 2012, 9:51am   #2
sarahloveslouis's Avatar
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I have no personal experience here, but I do have to say I'd imagine the cutting of the molars is playing a role.

I know the last thing I would feel like doing is eating on sore gums.

You say he's drinking just fine, so I think that might prove the sore mouth thing. I'd maybe do some of those toddler nutritional drinks when he won't eat?

Hopefully mamas with older kids can chime in and share their experience.
Aug 8, 2012, 10:38am   #3
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Originally Posted by sarahloveslouis
I have no personal experience here, but I do have to say I'd imagine the cutting of the molars is playing a role.

I know the last thing I would feel like doing is eating on sore gums.

You say he's drinking just fine, so I think that might prove the sore mouth thing. I'd maybe do some of those toddler nutritional drinks when he won't eat?

Hopefully mamas with older kids can chime in and share their experience.
I appreciate your response. I do have pedisure in the house, LOL.

I too wonder about the molars but the thing is if he refuses to eat something, I can turn around and give him a crunchy chip or cracker and he eats that up. So I am not sure if that's adding to the problem or not.
Aug 8, 2012, 10:41am   #4
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*pediasure
Aug 8, 2012, 11:39am   #5
carvedwords's Avatar
Don't feed him snacks because then he knows he can refuse meals because you'll just give him what he wants. He won't starve himself. Try giving him more mushy meals if you think it's a molar. My first son went through this phase. Don't worry.
Aug 8, 2012, 12:24pm   #6
rainrowan's Avatar
where's my bag?!
It's typical toddler behavior, at least in my house it is. I used to work myself up so bad over DS1's eating habits, I realized it became unhealthy for him to associate eating with a struggle. I just let things be and lo and behold, DS1 is turning 13 and he's eating everything in sight.

Don't worry too much, if your toddler even nibbles on a few tablespoons worth at each meal, it's enough to get thru the day. If they are hungry, they will really go at it.

Have you tried to take him out to a deli or farmer's market and let him choose from the pre-packaged things like greek yogurt, hummus or bean salad, etc? My then toddler loved to pick out tuna salad. I think he had some sensory issues so didn't care much for meats either. He wasn't ever offered sweets as any kind of bribe and the worse thing he had were probably chocolate covered cookies now and then.

Oh and don't let anyone else criticize how your child eats. They're not raising your child for you and don't know what's going on dynamically in your home. None of their beeswax.
Aug 8, 2012, 12:54pm   #7
jenniletv's Avatar
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Originally Posted by carvedwords
Don't feed him snacks because then he knows he can refuse meals because you'll just give him what he wants. He won't starve himself. Try giving him more mushy meals if you think it's a molar. My first son went through this phase. Don't worry.
Thanks for this advice. I think that I need to definitely not offer something else when he decides to not eat.
Aug 8, 2012, 12:59pm   #8
etk123's Avatar
Call me Kiki
Typical for sure. I would sometimes offer one alternate, before we sat down to eat, in hopes that my kids would just eat something, but that's it. It's a phase, don't worry.
Aug 8, 2012, 1:01pm   #9
jenniletv's Avatar
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Originally Posted by rainrowan
It's typical toddler behavior, at least in my house it is. I used to work myself up so bad over DS1's eating habits, I realized it became unhealthy for him to associate eating with a struggle. I just let things be and lo and behold, DS1 is turning 13 and he's eating everything in sight.

Don't worry too much, if your toddler even nibbles on a few tablespoons worth at each meal, it's enough to get thru the day. If they are hungry, they will really go at it.

Have you tried to take him out to a deli or farmer's market and let him choose from the pre-packaged things like greek yogurt, hummus or bean salad, etc? My then toddler loved to pick out tuna salad. I think he had some sensory issues so didn't care much for meats either. He wasn't ever offered sweets as any kind of bribe and the worse thing he had were probably chocolate covered cookies now and then.

Oh and don't let anyone else criticize how your child eats. They're not raising your child for you and don't know what's going on dynamically in your home. None of their beeswax.

No I have not tried that...but he does go to the grocery store with me and likes to pick out some things there. Oh I think my son does have those sensory issues too. He will not eat burger of any kind unless its really hidden in a dish. Yeah I am trying to NOT make it a struggle but lately its getting to me....I need to just let him get down and play and see what happens. No bribery in my house either.
Aug 8, 2012, 2:16pm   #10
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from 3 months to 3 years my son was the worst eater... i just fed him bananas and stuff while he was playing so he wouldn't notice. eventually they outgrow it and you can go back to the proper sit down meal routine. my kids are still not majorly into food but they will eat because they are hungry (they are 6 and 4).
Aug 8, 2012, 3:31pm   #11
E
Member
This sounds just like my almost-3-yr-old. Some days she eats everything, but a lot of the time she eats 2 bites of something, or nothing at all. We keep several varieties of Plum Organics squeeze foods in the house because they're the only thing she'll reliably eat (well, that and cheese). And at least then we know she's getting fruit/veggies. Last night for dinner she had 2 cups of milk and 2 squeeze foods. But she ate yogurt and cereal for breakfast, no problem. Lunch was a single bite of hotdog with a cup of milk, and that was it.
Aug 8, 2012, 3:46pm   #12
jenniletv's Avatar
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Originally Posted by Elara
This sounds just like my almost-3-yr-old. Some days she eats everything, but a lot of the time she eats 2 bites of something, or nothing at all. We keep several varieties of Plum Organics squeeze foods in the house because they're the only thing she'll reliably eat (well, that and cheese). And at least then we know she's getting fruit/veggies. Last night for dinner she had 2 cups of milk and 2 squeeze foods. But she ate yogurt and cereal for breakfast, no problem. Lunch was a single bite of hotdog with a cup of milk, and that was it.
Wow this does sounds like my son, LOL. We tried those squeeze things a while back (when he WAS eating) and they were hit or miss. Maybe I will pick a couple up and try them again.


Wonder if he's too young for multivitamin like one of the chewable ones??
Aug 8, 2012, 4:06pm   #13
v
Member
Yes, it sounds fairly normal, but you've got to stop offering him junk food (I consider french friend and fruit snacks to be junk food). Obviously, he's going to want to eat the junky stuff - he knows that you will offer it to him if he holds out. You've got to try to get him into a routine of no snacks (or limited healthy ones) and he will be more inclined to eat at meal times. Find something semi-healthy that he will eat and go with that (all the time if need be). My DD would only eat peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, and vanilla yogurt. We ate it for every, flippin' meal for what seemed like years, but you know what? It was wheat bread, there was protein in the peanut butter, the banana was a raw fruit, and the yogurt was organic. It seemed awful to me that she was living off the same foods, but it worked for us. After a while, she would eat hot dogs, so I purchased the organic, nitrate-free ones and felt better about serving them to her on a daily basis.
Also, they make multivitamins in liquid form (in a dropper bottle, that you can add to milk, juice, or water).
Aug 8, 2012, 7:47pm   #14
qudz104's Avatar
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You can give him the gummy vitamins too if he likes fruit snacks.
Aug 9, 2012, 10:08am   #15
rainrowan's Avatar
where's my bag?!
^yes to the gummy vitamins, they are so helpful, especially the ones with Omega-3. My kids stayed pretty focused and alert with them.

As for the sensory issues.... it's probably best not to push food they can't handle on them and try to find foods that are compatible in texture to their needs. My DS unfortunately gagged a lot of the times growing up and I did worry a lot on his missing out on certain textures to build up his swallowing reflexes but I notice in time he took on more and more textures. When he was 10, he finally had his tongue clipped and I *think* that helped with the swallowing too.

Of course for special needs kids like my DS2, he refused everything not only re texture but the look/color/smell was way too threatening for him. He'd push them away and I figure why stress him out any more than he already is. The vitamins worked well, plus going to see a nutritionist and pediatrician/practitioner regularly helped ease worries by me, his teachers, etc to show that he was on track. They always told me he was fine.

I always reminded myself, as long as they are happy and alert (not floppy and listless), they are taking in enough. I think it will get much easier for you over time. Kids are pretty good with knowing when they are hungry/thirsty :)
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