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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Is there a Mother in the house?

We've got a situation going on here, so I am asking for suggestions.

Theo doesn't like to eat. We have a pretty tight budget, so its difficult to branch out and buy new things for him to try, for fear he will throw it away. He is suffering! He is obviously hungry, but often doesn't want to eat what we offer. So we totally freak out and make him pizza or chicken nuggets or breast, noodles, yogurt, sometimes cheese, bagels with butter, if he hasn't eaten much throughout the day. Where are the fruits and veggies! That's right, he eats less per week than what he ought to have in a day. I am worried, Habtamu is worried, about his nutrition. And we are tired, too. Theo is 21 months now, very active, but gets so crabby and irritable due to the lack of food. Its stressful. Meanwhile, he looks so sad after a few days of very little intake.


He wasn't a good eater before, otherwise I might just attribute it to attention seeking since Suvi entered on his turf. He does get a little jealous now (this is very recent) and doesn't even want Mom and Dad to talk to each other somtimes! But these behaviours seem typical for his age. However they are greatly exaggerated when he is hungry.


Any ideas?

15 comments:

Elizabeth said...

ok .. you can take any advice from me with a grain of salt (or maybe an entire shaker), but I have this book called Feeding the Whole Family (I didn't realize what Whole Family also meant until I was at the checkout and the girl told me it had just been reviewed in a baby magazine, LOL, but by then I was excited to start trying the recipes). She has a few suggestions for presenting food so that it appeals to young children that I thought you might enjoy:

a) decorate food - cookie cutters, ice cream scoops to make mountains, using vegetables/etc to make faces ..

b) fun dinnerware - always use the same fun dish/spoon that is specific to that child, fun crazy straws ..

c) tell a story about the food - turning a plate of spaghetti into a pail of hay for a pretend lamb, turning a bowl of yellow split pea soup into a bowl of melted gold for a pirate ..

Poor Theo - and you. Hopefully the mothers out there have good ideas for you ..

Jan said...

Here are my thoughts, whatever they are worth:

first, don't worry! Kids this size don't really need that much food to live- like a few tablespoons. In my experience, when they are going through a growth spurt, they will eat. Make sure he is getting fluids. I give my girls water bottles when they go for naps and bedtime- extra fluid and it rinses their teeth.

Does he have adversion to textures? some kids really have problems with certain textures, for example they like raw veggies, but not cooked, etc. Could you try changing the texture (pureeing food or something)?

Is he getting a lot of attention around this food issue? If he is, he will milk it for all it's worth. They are smart little buggers. Offer him food, let him eat, don't make a big deal if he doesn't eat- just offer him food again in a couple of hours. Don't put out much for him, in case he won't eat- just bits. I like to encourage independence in my kids, so I don't sit and feed them as soon as they are able to get hand to mouth- they can feed themselves. I figure they learn to self-regulate eating (instead of us cramming food in them) early that way. Plus I really don't have the patience to sit and feed them- I'd rather clean up a mess after they are done.

Don't give him all kinds of options, especially at meal time- he can eat what you are eating. If he won't, offer a healthy snack later. This is the only way they learn to eat veggies, etc. My older kids have to try a few bites of whatever it is they don't like- eventually they learn to eat it. I don't offer options. (except when Ted asked for lettuce salad instead of chili a few days ago- I obliged, just because I am so happy that he likes salad.)

The true test of there being a problem is if he is losing weight. I am sure you can bring him to the clinic and have him weighed periodically for no charge, if you are worried. If he is losing weight, then consult his doctor to see if there is other issues going on.

Good luck!

Jan said...

One other thought-
you mentioned he is suffering- are his diapers runny and really smelly, does he have belly pain?

Could he have food allergies? The common allergies are milk and wheat (gluten), also under 2 years they can be sensitive to eggs, peanuts, and fish.
If you think it is allergies or sensitivities, try eliminating foods- or take him off most things, and week by week try putting things back.

If you really think it might be allergies, talk to Joanna M. I bet she would have some good ideas.

MarcsMess said...

Oh Jen,

What a stress huh?
Here is my 2 cents....and it ain't worth much more than that.
I heard somewhere that food is the ONLY thing that a child this age can use to "control" you. And the advise I heard is similar to Jan's. Don't make an issue of food. Put it there. And let him decide if he's hungry enough for it. Children need very small amounts to survive. They have a very strong survival insinct. He will eat enough to sustain himself.
As far as crabbiness, I think it's the age. We are having similar issues with our Bugaboo.
Good Luck (and call my Motherhood Survival Hotline, $2.95/per minute for the GOOD advise and only $5.95/minute for the optimal words of wisdom.) heh.
Hang in there Mama.
Bette

Laura said...

As you know, I don't have kids but I'm very close to many as they grew up.

First - Can he have a multivitamin yet?

Second - Max lived on mac and cheese and PB & J for about two years. From when he was about 2 - 4. Of course, we don't want Theo to turn out like Max... DID I SAY THAT???

Third - What about Pedialite (sp?) or something similar?

Fourth - puree veggies or fruits and mix it in with food.

I dunno, I hope it's just a little phase and he'll start eating again. :(

Laura said...

Here shuga-pie, I found some articles that may help...

http://www.parentingideas.org/articles/eating/what-to-do-when-your-toddler-won%e2%80%99t-eat/

http://www.parentingideas.org/articles/health/what-causes-picky-eating/

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002455.htm

MindiJo said...

First time reader of your blog, but a mother of four. Jan has really good advice. But also, relax. Kids go through that. You know, when kids eat things like spaghetti and pizza, they still get the tomato sauce. And tomato sauce is good for them...

ethiopifinn said...

Oh my word, ladies, thanks! I feel so much better already. he did have a good eating day today, a few cranberries, even! Turns out his molars are coming in. I kept thinking this, but he wouldn't let me look. They must have been really bad yesterday, because he let Habtamu rub them. A big man finger in his tiny mouth was funny to see, but at least we know it actually hurts.
I do know he is liking the backwards attention...he is so tuned in to our conversation, too. Little turkey. I'm going to remove my emotions from meal time. My food will probably taste better that way, too.
Love all y'all.
P.S. Mindijo, I've seen your comments on other blogs, and I can't figure out who you are... I'll investigate further:)

Jen H. said...

I played a game with Kali one time to get her to keep from starving. She played along great and ate the whole plate....then she puked it all up! Lesson learned...never force a kid to eat again!

Joni said...

Hey (I know you might have found your solution w/the teething...but) I have Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook on hold for me at the library because I guess there's good ways to hide veggies in food. Also I agree 100% with offering the food, if it's not eaten w/in a reasonable time, put it in the fridge and offer it again an hour later. No snacking on other treats or "better" meals if what's offered is rejected. And kids do need very little, M. goes through many periods of not eating/drinking well and then bang, she's eating me out of the house.

Jan said...

About the veggies- I figure don't hide them. Just keep offering them at a young age- even if they don't eat them. (or just lick the ranch dressing off of them.) Eventually they get used to seeing them and figure they're edible.

Now for the older kids, I often cut up veggies and put them on the table before the meal with some ranch dressing and they gobble them up.

Okay, okay, my kids eat junk food too. : )

~ Junkyard Jennifer said...

Great advice here! I don't have anything to add, other than to agree with the 'he'll eat when he's hungry, and only worry if he's losing weight' advice. That was what my two cents would've been. And, that's what I was told when I'd been worried about my kids not eating.

Hope it's just the teeth and everything will be fine. :)

MindiJo said...

I am actually from the same town as Leanne is from. You know her, right? I've seen you many times before. Although, we have never actually met. I am a younger sister to Tara, Greg, Brad and Glenn K*lp***. Does that help?

ethiopifinn said...

mindijo...don't know if you're checking back. I was wondering if you were THAT Tara's sister, because you mentioned her. Okay. Thanks for the clarification! :)

And thanks again, all for the support!

MindiJo said...

Did check back in. FYI.