Thursday, June 19, 2014

Picky or problem?

I visited a friend with a newborn the other day and we discussed the feeling of isolation that can come when you are home with a baby. The demands, the worries, the sleep deprivation, and the lack of social contact are intense on those first months, and I was lending support with as much listening (okay, and some advice) as I could. What I didn't want to tell her is that there are still moments when you have that overwhelming alone feeling.

I have some friends who know this feeling well. For whatever reason, your child may have an issue that puts them outside of the norm in one way or another. For some children, this is a more substantial challenge (like an obvious medical or developmental issue) and for others it may be something more subtle. Although the subtle issues with children may not be life threatening, they can still throw us newbie parents for a loop.

Lately, the issue that is making me feel alone and worried is LF's picky eating.

I should say first that LF has an incredibly stubborn (I mean independent! Assertive! Intelligent!) personality and this finickiness affects not only his food choices but also his choices about which room he plays in, which books he reads, whether he wants to go inside or outside, which direction we walk on the street, etc. The boy has an opinion about nearly everything. You also may remember that the beginning of his eating career did not go smoothly (breastfeeding disasters, medicated reflux until 9 months, and an unenthusiastic transition to solid foods).

Since we started solids, he has never been a kid to dive in head first with foods. He is very cautious about new foods in general. However, he used to eventually try something and add to his repertoire, even if it wasn't kale and quinoa. More like meatballs and chicken nuggets. I even have photographic evidence of him enjoying messy foods like pasta bolognese, which he currently won't touch. Now, it is rare for us to get him to try and like a new food, and even more rare for him to like something multiple times, and not just once. But, what has me most concerned is that over time, the number of foods he will eat has actually decreased. Foods he used to enjoy he is now refusing and the number of foods consumed overall is quite small. When I Google "toddler food ideas" I know instantly that he will refuse almost all of them. I am beginning to think his picky eating is now morphong into "problem eating."

But, it is really hard for me to tell what is a real issue with food, and what is he taking as an opportunity to assert his independence. I admit it - I get upset when he lets food fall out of his mouth or throws it on the floor. I get mad when he refuses things I know he likes, even when he is so hungry that he is going nuts. Sometimes I am more successful at being casual about all of that, and sometimes I lose it. But, he doesn't just do this with me. He also is difficult with his grandparents (who are his main caregivers during the school year) and his father. He can sometimes surprise us in social situations, but at home it seems to be the worst.

Then there is that alone part. It comes in when I see other mothers able to easily hand their child a sandwich, which is then quickly devoured. Or, when I talk about this issue with someone who responds with, "My child will eat anything!! I can't keep enough food in the house!" I know every child has *some* issue they are dealing with - sleep, behavior, whatever. This just happens to be LF's.

But, I just feel like there is something I am doing wrong with LF that is making him so difficult at meal times. All I know is that something needs to change.

Am I creating a monster and having my emotion feed into his control issues? Or is there a real issue to push with my pediatrician? (We've discussed his pickiness before and they never seem very concerned.)

What parenting issue made you feel alone?


  1. I follow the Feeding Doctor on FB. She has great posts!

    I don't think there is a magic key for this one, just keep offering. Dylan seems to do best when we eat with him (which is definitely not the most common way we do it). He likes to try bites of our foods. But if he doesn't want something, even if he lived it yesterday, there is ok getting him to eat it. Most of what I've read is just to keep meals as positive as possible and not force the issue, but keep offering.

    What will he eat?

    D's go to foods are cottage cheese, peas, and watermelon (random I know), so I always offer those later in the meal. He kind of eats in courses. If I would out one of those out at the beginning, he wouldn't touch anything else.

    1. He eats crackers, cheerios, bagel, chicken nuggets, fish nuggets, mac and cheese, pasta (pinwheels, with cheese), rice, peas/carrots/corn (sometimes), mango (sometimes), bananas (sometimes), mandarin oranges (sometimes), cheese sticks (sometimes), animal crackers (sometimes), and beans (sometimes). He used to eat eggs constantly (scrambled) and french toast with yogurt until about a week or 2 ago. Yogurt used to be a staple a couple of months ago. Sometimes I can sneak eggs in with rice or pasta now. My mom has gotten him to eat cheese sandwiches with more luck than I have. Absolutely no PB despite multiple attempts. Sometimes he will eat a bite of something new, seem to like it, and then never accept it again.

  2. Seriously hating Feedly because it's eating comments.

    Anyway, first and foremost, thank you for this post. I know it was hard to write and I know how scary it is to talk about your child falling outside the norm. I have a similar post brewing about She-Beat and hatred of tummy time impacting her desire to crawl. It's incredibly stressful and is so isolating to be dealing with this. So thank you for talking about stuff like this.

    I have zero advice or suggestions. But I do know this: if you feel something is up and your pediatrician is not addressing it, lean on them or get another opinion. Like with infertility, you are LF's best advocate. And you should not be suffering in silence for a doctor who isn't willing to work with you.

    Hang in there, hon. And please let me know if I can help in anyway.

  3. We talk about this so I know what you're dealing with. I know it can be SO frustrating. I have similar issues with Cooper, but it is SO random. One meal he will eat things without any fight, the next he is refusing things he has always liked and eaten for no apparent reason. I have lost my temper and asked hubby to take over (or vice-versa). Cooper will try new foods and be really cautious about it - almost always immediately spitting it out. I will give him the same bite over and over and he will accept it and let it fall from his mouth. There are a few things he doesn't ever reject, but he can't only eat cheese and berries! With things he sees to like the taste of, but won't eat I will just try try again. Veggies? Forget about it. ;(
    You aren't alone. LF may be a bit on the super picky end, but I think someday things can change. My nephew barely eats anything because of his pickyness. He used to eat everything, but over the last 6 months (he's a little over 2 now) he refuses more and more foods he used to like. I personally think it has most to do with power struggle. They want so badly to make their own decisions and that is somewhere they can assert their opinion.
    It sucks and it's horribly frustrating. I sometimes take it personally even though I know it has more to do with him. I'm sorry.

  4. Thank you for writing this. Toddlers are very frustrating creatures. Daniel will eat something voraciously one day and then spit it out/throw it to the dog the next. I get SO frustrated during meal times. He eats for everyone else...but ME. My mom, my MIL, my husband, just not ME. But what you commented that LF likes--mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, yeah those are my go to. And I'll say I'm so guilty of giving in :( That's hard for me to write because I fear people judging me. I'd rather D eat fish sticks than not eat at all.

    I take it personally as well, especially after I cook a meal he won't eat. He loved blueberries for a week, and now he won't even taste one. For a week, I'm pretty sure he ate only Greek yogurt with honey.

    D is a very stubborn--I mean independent ;-)--boy as well. He wants what HE wants when HE wants it. I look at my nice, calm, niece and wonder...what did I do wrong or what am I doing wrong? Right now, he will scream bloody murder until he has someone's car keys in his hand. Really?

    You are SO not alone. You're just the brave one who posted on something that all of us are thinking.

    My pedi says it's "just toddlers," so I'm hoping that's the case. I feel like I chalk everything up to "being a toddler" these days.

  5. From my understanding, as long as he is growing well don't really sweat the food issues. Our pedi once said when they are 1 you should feel pleased getting one good meal a day in, 2 at 2 and when they are around 3 they will start to move towards 3 a day. Don't give him the power if it is a power struggle. Also remember, that other child may be more compliant but your strong willed child may be the one to rule the world some day :)

  6. Read Ellyn Satter's "Child of Mine - Feeding with Love and Good Sense". I just finished it and it's changed my perspective on feeding my 19 month old toddler. She speaks of the "division of responsibility" where parents are responsible for the what, when , and where of feeding and children are responsible for the how much and whether of eating. It's a really interesting perspective and totally speaks to the power struggle of feeding and how you really just need to let you kid do their own thing. It takes so much pressure off of me now that I'm no longer trying to get her to eat and it's working so well for us. Check out to see if your library has it and if it seems like too long of a book (I know time is limited!) at least read the toddler section (about 70 very manageable pages). Good luck!

  7. I have no clue why, but my 13 month old piggy has decided that he will only eat with a utensil. Yes, and that utensil has to be a silver fork. So he uses it with my help and eats everything. If it is not there? He tosses everything on the floor.

    Experiment with utensils and putting food in bowls/containers on his chair. Maybe this might work?

    Oh, and my 2 1/2 year old--ugh! I have just begun to ignore him completely--put food on his plate and ignore him. It takes 45 minutes, but he eats it.


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