Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Every Bite is a Victory

In the last month or so, it seems that my Doll has absolutely rejected all forms of foods, at all hours.  She will take maybe a bite of something new, then immediately spit it out.  This has led to many hours of distracting her with toys, which hasn't worked.  Her left hand is always up and ready to push away any spoon or fork of food, and she has learned to swing her body from side to side as far as it will go in her high chair just so she does not have to eat.

When my husband is home, together we are able to get a few bites of food in her mouth--eggs, crackers, cheese, fruits, what have you.  Whenever she takes a bite (that she actually chews and swallows), I often feel relieved and frequently say, "Every bite is a victory."

One day, hubby was post-call and tired, but because of nanny drama, had to watch her all day while I was at work.  As a result, he did not fight with her to eat, he just put food in front of her and as a result, she didn't eat anything all day.  By the time I got home, she was hungry and ate an ENTIRE dinner!  I was so ecstatic, I told him he should babysit her more often when he's post-call.

This leads me to think:  am I just overfeeding her, so she doesn't want to eat?  I don't know, doesn't feel like she eats anything ever!  Is she just being a normal toddler who is refusing food?  Don't know, she's my first toddler!

The past week especially, I've been growing so frustrated with all of this, that this past weekend, I vowed to not care if she doesn't eat.  I'll just keep putting food in front of her, and if she doesn't eat, must mean she's not hungry.  (Right? I don't know...)

She started daycare this morning after a few months of nanny-ing... so we will see if this changes her eating habits at all.  I know they won't baby her the way I do at home, so it shall be interesting to see!

Does/has anyone else struggle/d with toddler mealtime?  I know it's not just me!


  1. The fact that she ate when she was hungry says a lot. Sounds like a normal development stage. I would offer what you have. Not feed and then when she is hungry she will eat.

  2. Read Hungry Monkey. It has all the science about feeding babies and toddlers, will make you relax about this stuff, and it's funny.

  3. It's really hard to chill about the food intake, but it helps so much -- both with the eating and with your sanity. She's just testing boundaries, and as you observed, she will eat if she is hungry.

  4. We do Ellyn Satter. It's our job to put food in front of the kid and to decide what to put there. She decides whether, how much and which of the options to eat. If she doesn't want to eat, it's a choice the toddler is allowed to make.

  5. I lived by the addage that kids will eat when they are hungry, and all I have to do is make sure I put healthy food in front of them at reasonable intervals. However - my current toddler put this method to the test, because he refused to eat until he lost weight, which resulting in a huge work up and referrals and such (turns out he has celiac.)

    As long as your child is growing and meeting milestones, don't stress it.

  6. As long as she's meeting growth/development milestones, place the food and ignore. No begging to eat. By toddler stage she can already figure out this is important to you, so she's asserting herself.

  7. Not all kids will eat when their hungry - kids with significant sensory issues can have so much anxiety about food that they simply *can't*. Doesn't sounds like yours fall into that category. Toddlers are all about trying new skills. She's found something she can do very well: tie you in knots. I'd back off completely. Put food in front of her, give her a reasonable about of time to eat it, then tell her mealtime is over and take the food away. Be very businesslike and as non-emotional as possible.

    Think about it this way: you want her to learn her body's signals and to respect them, right? You want her to stop eating when she's had enough? In order to do that, you have to help her learn how. For us, that meant not only respecting the "not hungry" but also (repeatedly, for years) pointing out the connection between mood and hunger. "You're very cranky. It's 4:30. Bet you're hungry". The day my daughter walked out of daycare, started to fuss and then stopped and said "I think I'm very hungry", I almost cheered. She was six, so it was four years of providing that consistent feedback...

    The power struggle is much more dangerous than a day without food. Let it go.

    1. Amen to this. We have a kid who quit eating and I worry that our attempts to get her to eat as a toddler contributed (although probably only a tiny bit given her other issues). Don't panic, keep offering all sorts of foods that you adults eat on a regular basis, and maybe eventually there will be eating. If there isn't enough eating, you will discover it quickly enough.

  8. Also: something new? Why offer something new? Feed her what she likes.

  9. One of our kids will always at least try a new food, while our younger son (now 2 1/2) is stubborn to the point that some nights he refuses to eat. We stressed about it for awhile and now we put food there, if he doesn't eat it we clear the table after mealtime, and that's that. We were worried he would wake up starving in the middle of the night but so far he has been surviving just fine - I think a lot of toddlers will eat when they're hungry (although obviously some have other reasons that people above mentioned). Good luck, you are definitely not the only one dealing with this!!

  10. We had to be creative with our toddler. She was picky as can be and would be refusing food at mealtime even before being served! I took advantage of the "everything is mine" stage. I would serve myself food on one of her kids plates, and use a funny straw and utensils that looked like toys. I even arranged the food like a kid would to build structures or a funny face. I'd set it down at the table and wouldn't serve her. My husband would play a game while feeding me my food and she naturally felt left out of the fun but interested enough that she wanted to be included and eventually wanted her own fun plate of food. We also centered eating around music. We'd freestyle hip-hop and change words to be about her and the food we were (trying to) feed her. This made it fun but worked because it took the focus off of eating. When she barely ate anything we'd coerce her to have at least a few bites by making up random funny cheers with her name so she felt special. I know it sounds like a lot but it was actually somewhat therapeutic for me to be artistic and out of my "analytical mind" after leaving the hospital.


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