Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

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Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby pld0804 » Sat Apr 24, 2010 07:54 am

You guys have helped me so much in the past with respect to the slow weight gain of my first little one, Holly, who is now 3 and still very tiny at 23lbs, but a great eater in terms of what she will eat, if not how much!

My son Ryan is where we need help. He will be two in June and is eating less & less things all of the time. His weight is fine, I'm just not happy how he's not progressing and I'm not sure his nutritional needs are being met. I have spoken with his doctor at every well-baby check up and he isn't worried because of Ryan's weight and says to just keep offering him things. We have another appointment next week, because it's just not getting better.

This is what Ryan will eat in a day: baby cereal (iron fortified) with prunes, pureed pears, toddler cereal bars, toast with butter and yogurt. That's it, we're down to 5 things for his meals. For drinks, he will have about 20oz homo milk in a day and juice if we're outside, but not before meals. For snacks, he will also eat toddler cheesies and some crackers/cookies. He loves chips, but that's something he sees only at parties. He won't eat meat nor any fruit & vegetables whole and never has.

Since Holly eats a really good variety of foods, Ryan gets offered two of the things she's getting on his plate at every meal. When he sees those items, sometimes he cries, sometimes he'll touch or pick them up, but most of the time he just ignores them. And he has never tried to put them in his mouth.

I believe the root of this problem is that during the stage where toddlers experiment with trying foods, Ryan had a very bad gag reflex. Anything he tried resulted in projectile vomit of everything in his stomach. And back then, if his cereal was too thick or thin, the same thing would result. He was probably doing that at least a couple of times a day at its peak.

I'm guessing we didn't manage the issue as well as we could have back then, because now we have an almost two year old eating what a one year old would be eating.

Because he's been following the 50th percentile for height and weight since he caught up, and is in fact bigger than his older sister, I don't think he gets the attention that he needs at the doctor.

I would truly welcome your advice! Thanks in advance.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby mnmom » Sat Apr 24, 2010 08:45 am

Honestly, two year olds can be the pickiest eaters on the planet. We joke that my second daughter went an entire week refusing to eat anything other than the coating of a chicken nugget. It is funny now that she is 20 yrs old and perfectly healthy (and would not even think about eating something as unhealthy as a chicken nugget!) It wasn't so funny at the time though. You are doing all of the right things, and since he is gaining weight I would just keep doing it.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby heather j » Sat Apr 24, 2010 02:44 pm

Patti, Ryan sounds like he shares a diet with my almost 6 year old. He was a good eater until we stopped pureed food, then his appetite dropped to nothing. He also had a strong gag reflex, and he still does. Our doc has never been concerned because he's always been a little guy so his curve is consistent. Until *very* recently, Nicolas' diet (since he's been eating table foods) has consisted of bananas, toddler cereal bars, yogurt, and applesauce - he's also mad about any type of bread product, but since he's such a poor eater, those are very limited). He has, however, always drank milk to the exclusion of other liquids. Just recently, he's started eating grilled cheese sandwiches, more fruits, bare pasta, and attempting to *taste* new foods. He'll be six in June and weighs 38 pounds directly following a meal.

A few months ago, we(I) were insistent that he eat at least ONE pea from his portion at dinner. After much coaxing, he proceeded to place one pea in his mouth, chew it, and throw up all over the table.

I continue to offer him what everyone else is eating. He's seen vegetables on his plate for years now, and he will for years to come - even if he does refuse to eat them. The best I can do is make sure that what he *does* put in his body is healthy because there's no room for error, IMO. My daughter, OTOH, is an exceptional eater. She eats beans, hummus, salsa, any vegetable, any fruit, any pasta/sauce, etc, and we did absolutely nothing different with her than we did/do with Nicolas. FWIW, I lived on peanut butter sandwiches and milk for several years in my own childhood (but I LOVE food now, LOL). As frustrated as I get with Nicolas, I can also identify with it. Just keep offering good choices like you're doing now; I know what a concern/frustration/pain it is to deal with when you feel like there's something you should be able to do to "fix" it.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby milesymommy » Sat Apr 24, 2010 05:34 pm

Miles went through phases where he didn't each much either. Docotrs always told me not to worry, its normal... but of course, I worried. He's three now and will go a few weeks eating almost anything and everything, and then weeks will go by where he doesn't eat much. What Ryan's doing sounds fairly typical.
I expect your doctor will say don't worry... but that's what mothers do.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby veronica44 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 06:54 am

Hi, I don't have much experience yet with feeding toddlers - but I did have an idea to try to sneak some more protein into your son's diet since he refuses to eat meat. What if you blended some *silken tofu* in with the cereal or the pureed fruit? It is an excellent meat substitute. It has no flavor of its own really so it blends in very well. Worth a try??
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby paige_va » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:11 pm

OK, I totally don't want this to scare you, but your description of Ryan's eating habits sent chills up my spine. We had our DS, Collin, evaluated when he was 13 months old because he wasn't learning to eat solids. Anything with more texture than applesauce would send him into choking, gagging, and vomiting. He was MUCH bigger than the 50%, probably around 90% for weight at the time. Nevertheless, the pediatrician sent us to have him evaluated by a speech pathologist (they apparently also deal with eating and feeding issues). The speech pathologist said that he had the feeding skills of a 6-9 month old and recommended feeding therapy. She diagnosed him as having a feeding aversion, likely related to his reflux as a small infant. Regardless of the cause, children with feeding aversions do not gain pleasure from eating. Generally, eating causes them pain or other discomfort (such as gagging), and thus is an unpleasant experience for them. They then begin to change their eating habits to accommodate (or avoid) the unpleasantness. For our son, it was sticking only to purees, because anything thicker than that caused his gagging, etc. The therapist went on to say that if we went forward without therapy, he would begin to eat fewer and fewer things, and would likely eventually cease eating at all, and would likely end up on a feeding tube in the hospital. Four months of therapy later, he was eating age appropriate foods and hasn't turned back. Don't get me wrong, he's a typical picky-eating toddler, but he doesn't have PROBLEMS eating anymore.

None of this is to say that this is what is going on with Ryan, but it could be. The therapist also said that kids who have predisposition to eating aversion sometimes also have some sort of sensory integration issues as well. Collin doesn't really like loud noises, but we haven't observed anything more than that. According to her, then, it would be a really good sign if Ryan likes to get dirty when he eats, or if he used to as a baby. Babies who get upset about having food on them are more likely to have eating issues.

Hope this helps.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby aggie95mom » Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:21 am

Hi Patti,

Your experience sounds very similar to mine with my oldest (26 weeker now 6). Like the other ladies have said with their kids and you described with Ryan, Jacob had a very limited diet regardless of what the other kids were eating around him. I'll actually admit I used to offer him unhealthy things when we were out just to try get some fat/calories in to him, but he never took it.

I second Paige, though, and might suggest that you get an evaluation for feeding therapy just to put your mind at ease about whether or not there's something to worry about. Our pediatrician recommended this to us when Jacob was around 2, but like Heather's son, he's always been small for his age (good height, but very thin) and lives on his own growth curve, but it had hit a plateau and we were worried about that.

While we didn't go through the in-patient feeding therapy program (though it was recommended to us), we decided to do out patient and it made a world of difference for us. Jacob is still a selective eater and he's still thin, but he's healthy and has a good relationship with food. I actually needed the advice/help to restructure our meals/snack times to help Jacob succeed. For me, I had spent so long having it drilled in to me (in the NICU and after he came home) that he needed all the calories he could get so I was constantly offering him food throughout the day. Some kids do really well with grazing, Jacob did not.

I would also highly recommend the book by Ellen Satler, Feeding with Love. My biggest take away from the book (and from my ped and feeding therapist) was that it was my job to offer a healthy, well rounded meal/snack to Jacob and it was his job to eat it. I couldn't do that job for him and there was no point in forcing him to do it on the days he didn't want to. To this day, it's still hard on some days to see how little Jacob is eating, but I know it's quality food (he'd happily eat an entire bag of Pirate's Booty if I'd let him). We do have "fun" snacks available, but they aren't something he can have unlimited quantities of throughout the day.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby pld0804 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 09:52 pm

Thank you ladies so much for your input. I posted this last week because my husband and I sensed something was changing with Ryan and it was worrying us. At that time, he was starting to be difficult even with the 5 things that he did like.

Paige, it seems he is doing exactly what you were advised could happen to Collin. Over the last week, he has gradually stopped eating everything except the cereal bars and he is losing weight.

Regardless, he sees the doctor on Thursday. Ryan's recent weight loss and dramatic decrease in what he is eating is a change from what I have reported to the doctor previously. He may be getting his canines and the doctor can evaluate him for other causes. But my gut tells me it's a food aversion because of his eating history and how he's following the exact path of some of your kids.

I can't thank you enough for sharing your stories.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby season » Sun May 02, 2010 08:24 pm

I hope the doctor is bale to help you or at least refer you to someone who can. While toddlers are discriminating eaters - he sounds extreme and the weight loss is a red flag.
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Re : Food issues with my almost 2 yr old

Postby paige_va » Fri May 07, 2010 09:16 pm

Patti,
Was wondering how Ryan is doing?
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