Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Toddler refusing food

Questioner: Amanda

Subject: toddler food refusal

Question: QUESTION: My son (17mths) used to be a very good eater and had whatever I gave him by spoon. Table foods he ate were toast, breakfast & potato waffles, smiley faces, pom bears, pears but no protein, cheese, meat etc. I have been giving sliced veggies ie cucumber, tomatoes to name a few for what seems like an eternity and he ignores them all. He has also started to refuse any food via spoon now which is a big worry as that was the major source of the 'good food' for him. I am not sure what to do.
I have tried to ignore it and also on other occasions tried to feed him also. Sometimes once he gets a taste he will take a few more mouthfuls, but he never seems to eat enough. How can I get him to eat more than just a potato waffle? He seems to also have a thing about wanting to eat nothing but bread sticks as well. I'm not sure where to go with this. Will he try new things if hungry enough? I am concerned because if I ignore it, he may just grow up being completely selective and never even tasting new things.

ANSWER: Dear Amanda:

Some of the foods you describe above that he has eaten in the past are rather tasteless. I suspect the new thing you want him to eat maybe overwhelming his pallet.

If all he will eat is the potato waffle, please do quit buying them. He cannot eat them if you are not giving them to him or purchasing them for him.

Also, look at his hand. When he makes a fist how big is his fist? His fist is the approximate size of his stomach. Sometimes parents expect children to eat too much or they don't think they need to eat so quickly from the last time they ate.

Because he is 17 months old I would suggest you take him grocery shopping with you. Let him touch the produce....see what he gravitates towards (no guarantee he will eat what he touches) as food is more than an edible experience....touching the food smelling the food is all part of eating.

As for him growing up being completely selective and never even tasting new things...not likely. Sooner or later he will get curious IF he is exposed to different items, however, realize that even adults have preferences...there are some vegetables I do not like and others I crave. I suspect you do to. Don't expect more from your little one than you are able to be yourself.

Do include him in the food prep and the cleanup and be selective in what you bring home for him. He will eat.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

--------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for coming back to me. I have not given him any waffle or smiles today and he has eaten nothing this evening (he has been with my mother today). However I know he is hungry as he was very interested in what I was eating and was moody and also ravenous for his evening milk. He seemed very angry there were none of his usual on the plate! How long can he physically go on refusing the food? I gave him tonight some quartered tomato, cheese cubes, cucumber slices, quartered fish nugget, quartered grapes and a potato wedge - I thought it looked quite nice!

ANSWER: Dear Amanda:

It really depends upon his personality. Some children are more persistent than others. Do not give out of panic. If you give in just once it will increase his persistence.

Do keep tabs on his water and milk intake so he doesn't get dehydrated. My bet would be he won't last 24 hours however if he does go on a food strike (most children do not) and it looks like he won't eat by the end of the second or third day I would take him to your doctor for medical advice as there maybe something else going on here besides food preferences.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller
--------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello - am sorry to ask yet another question but why would he accept food from a spoon from my mother and not me? Have I lost his trust somewhere along the way - this evening yet again he has touched no food but has had two meals today at my mums with apparently no issues.

Answer: Amanda:

Without being there to observe. Why don't you observe your mom feeding him. She is the grandma I suspect there are "grandma smiles and other grandma tricks" you may see!

Remember although she is your mother, she has 20+ years of experience doing this and you need not feel less than because she does. How fortunate you are to have a mentor or a coach in your mom!

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