Monday, January 4, 2010

best advice from a pediatrician

Picture this: Texas in 2005. I cart my, then, 18 month old into the pediatrician's office...

Me: I just don't know what to do. He won't eat anything! We sit down to eat and he plays with his food, or throws it or ignores it. This happens at every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner. How can he possibly grow?

Dr: (after general questions about #1 and #2 and sleep, behavior changes, etc.) Do you make him special things and does he eat that?

Me: Well, yes. Usually by the end of the day he asks for chocolate milk, sometimes oatmeal and I'll make it for him. How else can he sustain himself? I don't want him to starve to death.

Dr: (gives stern look over the rim of her glass) Mrs. Grigg, you are NOT a short order cook. You are his MOTHER. You make the meals for your family that you feel are appropriate. He may only be 18 months old but he already knows how to manipulate you. Don't give in to him. Let him go hungry for a day. This is not a third world country, food is readily available to him. He will not starve to death. When he is hungry enough he will eat what you serve, when you serve it. There might be tears, you must hold your ground.

Me: (meekly) ok.

I took her advice. There were tears. There were tantrums. There were fights between my husband and I over the stress of it all. (So I guess we were all crying and having tantrums) My mom, God bless her, listened to me whine on the phone endlessly about this. My MIL, God bless her, took him from time to time (which is a big deal since she lived 3 hours away in 2005) and made food he would eat. There's something about Nana's lasagna that is irresistible children.

Here we are in 2010. The child is 5 years old and totally healthy and guess what? Tonight we made grilled chicken, fresh steamed green beans and salad. Both of my kids happily ate them without quarreling and even went back for more!

By the time his little brother came around I didn't even mess with worrying about it, nor did I mess with preparing him oatmeal with the ovaltine in it. Most moms I talk to - ranging from close friends to friendly acquaintances to random strangers I talk to at, say, Super Target or an elevator or.... you get the idea - say that one or more of their kids go through the hunger strike rigmarole too.

I'm pretty sure I got really lucky with that. Not all parents have it this easy. Some parents have tried the tough love approach to no avail. And truthfully, he has, at times, decided not to eat entire meals. But this is no longer a daily battle.

What are your war stories and triumphant moments with your kids eating habits?


Sprite's Keeper said...

Oh heavens, we are still going through this. Sprite will eat everything they put in front of her at daycare, ravioli or whatever pasta, casseroles, various sandwiches, etc. When I get her home for dinner, she will eat the veggies, the meat if it's turkey sausage or chicken nuggets, and whatever fruit. I can't get her to eat baked chicken anymore, stew, pot roast, meatloaf. I am developing some mad kitchen skills and it's going to waste on her!
I serve the meal, she eats what she wants, and she gets nothing else. If she goes to bed hungry, I try not to fret about it, especially when I see her daily sheet lunch advising she took seconds..

Bex said...

SK! you are quick as a whip! i just posted thing!

good for you to stand firm. there must be some maternal instinct that, even though our kids are eating enough to sustain themselves, we have the uncontrollable need to shove food down their throats.

i can already hear myself when Gabriel is 55 years old and I'm saying, "you're too skinny. let me make you some oatmeal."

Lisa said...

interesting that a ped would actually say that! i've only heard people say that their mom told them that.

when i tried it with stephen, he had dizzy spells and would fall down. so i didn't feel comfortable withholding food completely. maybe when he's a little older ...

but he does a pretty good job eating most things so it hasn't been too big of a deal.

for a different kind of girl said...

My kids, at 12 and nearly 8, are still, sadly, far, far too picky for their own good. I quote from my oldest - "When you say we're having chicken, Mom, what exactly do you mean by 'chicken'?"


I go in waves where I freak out and bargain and stress or I either say nothing and remind them that if they don't eat what I've made, then it's a long time until breakfast. Of course, they're both incredibly healthy and definitely not worse for the wear of missing a meal, but I wish this wasn't even a blip on our radar!

Rhiannon said...

I truly think my child has mastered the art of regurgitating his food on cue. The food that he finds repulsive (toasted ravioli comes to mind) is pointless. My tried and true formula is serving what he doesn't care for first followed by something he does like. This results in mac n' cheese, yogurt and fruit ending most meals. It's not an effective long term strategy, however. So now I'm trying to shift toward him assisting with planning our weekly dinner menu and then helping me make dinner. This would probably be alot harder to do with more than one kid.

kyooty said...

For 2 of my 3 boys this worked wonderfully, I've even done "replays" of meals. "oh you aren't hungry now? well I'll save it for supper" or lunch tomorrow? Breakfast is always a big winner here. I do make them what they want for Breakfast, butttt within the choices I like for them to eat. My middle child, oh yes I said middle, he's the fighter. He's a manipulator like no ones business, and stubborn? Oh my! you would think he was me. Tonight I'll fire up the BBQ :P

Mrsbear said...

My six year old is still super finicky, but I do try to stand firm. He has on occasion pitched a quite dramatic fit over pasta with Italian sausage. He's a bean pole though, I think I'll always worry he's not eating enough.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I got the same advice and for the most part I tried to stick to it. My son was so stubborn though. He really would go all night without eating. Sometimes he still does it and sometimes I find myself slipping back into old habits and begging him to eat something ANYTHING! As if I really think he won't eat at all. He was just a horrible eater for so long, then he started eating very well, now he's kind of in between. It's something I never really expected before I was a mother. I'd heard "toddlers are picky" but I had no idea to what extent that phrase would go in our house!

Casey said...

Food wars are the bane of our existence. Graham threw food for hmm, almost two years and now Elliot does it too. They do it for the reaction, look in your eyes and make sure they've got your attention and then chuck the food on the floor. I try so hard not to react.

We're finally getting Graham to eat salad and veggies, Elliot will only eat a few veggies but I'm holding out hope. We waste more food in this house than anyone I know though, I hate it.