Please help me with my skinny picky eater — The Bump

Please help me with my skinny picky eater

DD has always been small, but she grows consistently along the 3% curve.  She has never been a good eater, but in the last couple of months she's gone to the extreme.  She will only eat Cheerios and Pirate's Booty. 

Since she's cut out all other foods, we've decided to be more strict in hopes of snapping her out of it.  We only offer her what we are eating and if she doesn't eat she doesn't eat.  We started this 3 days ago.  She has only eaten a blueberry waffle and a nutrigrain bar in the last 3 days.  She's still drinking plenty of fluids, so at least that's not a concern.

I'm starting to think that maybe she's too young for this.  I offer her lots of yummy, kid friendly foods, but she just won't eat.  It might just be a battle of wills, but I worry about her health and well being.  She doesn't cry about it and seems okay, but she must be hungry.

She does have a molar coming in, but I assume that if she wants cheerios then she's not hurting bad enough to refuse food.

Advice, suggestions?  I'm at a loss.

imageimageimageimage m/c at 8w4d - 10/2/09 baby girl Ruth Elise

Re: Please help me with my skinny picky eater

  • My daughter is so picky also and for some reason just doesn't like to eat She's 2. Then again, H and I were both skinny stcks when we were her age. In the morning i put sugar free carnation instant breakfast in her milk to give her some filling with nutrients in the morn and still give the vitamin with iron drops. She does eat in school though but i guess cause the other kids are eating but let's say the weekends, forget about it. the molars could have a big impact also on her appetite. The doc says that if she is hungry she will eat. She is not starving lol?
  • Hopefully Howleyshell will reply to this, because she usually has excellent suggestions about kids and food.

    I am a two-time veteran of the "I survived the preschool years with a picky eater" club.  Here are some things I think really help:

    --eating only at scheduled times.  In my house we did breakfast, morning snack at 10, lunch at 11:30, afternoon snack at 3:30, and dinner.  The only time food was consumed was at these times.

    --offering only about 5 bite sized pieces of the healthiest food you can offer at a time.  If the child eats all 5 pieces, put another 3 on the plate and so on.  My kids were both easily overwhelmed by large portions.  My son has fine motor issues, and he needed his food cut into small pieces or he would just give up on eating.

    --serve veggie and meat portions before the carb portions.  If my kids' plates had 3 peas, 4 bites of chicken, and 3 noodles, the noodles would be eaten and my child would declare him/herself "full" and never touch the other stuff.

    --similarly, don't offer seconds of any item before all the first helping is eaten.

    --keep putting good food out on her plate.  If she eats it -- great.  If not, give her a 5 minute warning and take away the plate when the time is up.  Offer no more food until the next scheduled time for a meal or snack.

    --right now when she's hardly eating, don't ever offer snacks that aren't healthy.  Stick with fresh and dried fruit, cheerios, and whole grain crackers, or cheese.  Later, when she's become more willing to eat at mealtimes (she will, don't worry!) offer a choice between a tiny portion of junky food or a generous portion of healthy food for snack. 

    --I found that my kids actually got more picky as they got closer to age 4, but that once they were past age 5, things gradually eased up to the point where my kids will now eat a good variety of healthy foods, including lots of veggies -- even raw!



    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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  • Both my kids are skinny (FTT, Under the 3%)

    All the nutritionists and dietitians and doctors have told me 1 good meal in 3 days is fairly normal for kids this age.  If you're concerned try offering her pediasure shakes.  Snacks like cheese and crackers if she likes cheerios.

    Keep trying. Eventually you'll find something she likes!

  • These are all great suggestions. Thank you.  I was starting to doubt our tactics and go back to cheerios 3 times a day.  We'll keep on and hopefully she'll start trying new things sooner or later.  Last night was a big couscous fail. LOL
    imageimageimageimage m/c at 8w4d - 10/2/09 baby girl Ruth Elise
  • Age has nothing to do with this. We have never catered our food to the kids (other than for safety of course).  Since my kids have been on table food, they have always eaten what we are eating.  WE always make sure there is 1 thing we know that they each like with the meal.  My older DD is an awesome eater, has always been.  Most of the time she will try everything (we tell the girls they at least need to take 1 bite of each item unless its something we know they have tried many times before and don't like).  My younger DD is a whole different story, more times than not, she will eat bread and drink milk and not much else.  Every so often she goes through good eating phases but more often not.  We don't make a big deal about it.  We don't do snacks after dinner so if they don't eat, they don't eat.  They get a small glass of milk before we brush teeth and go to bed.  Kids will eat when they are hungry, they have tiny tummies and most will outgrow the not eating.  KIds can control what they eat so forcing them to eat will not work.  Try and make it fun (we are having mock sushi tonight and last night made apple faces as a side to dinner).  We have the kids help with the menu planning and dinner prep which gets them excited about it.  We take them grocery shopping with us on occasion so they can see all the food and help us find the items we need. 

    My niece is another story - she has always had food texture issues, is totally tiny and barely eats.  She has been in food therapy to help her with her texture issues.  She has always been like this.  She nursed well, refused a bottle and always hated baby food.  My sister still struggles with this and she used to make separate meals but the therapist told her not to do this, that it won't help.  It can take a child up to 20 times of trying something to start to like it.  She was also told to not make a big deal about it, as long as your child is not dehydrated, if she refuses some meals, so be it. 

    In our house, you sit at the table while everyone is eating and if you want to get up, you need to leave the kitchen so the others can eat in peace.  No TV or computer or phone during meals.  Dinner is family time.  (Breakfast and lunch are at school during the week and weekends, we are typically together for all or most meals as well).

    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • When Monkey was 2, he's only eat chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, fried eggs mixed with hotdogs (barf) and chips/junkfood.

    We'd give him whatever he wanted (not the chips/candy) but we would go ON AND ON about how SIMPLY AMAZING our food was and YUM YUM YUM.

    He got curious, started trying our foods, and now eats almost everything we do.?

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  • Lots of great ideas. Neverblush, it sounds like you and I are the same sort of waitresses, or not!

    We are lucky to have an amazing eater, he eats more than I do.... and yet I am still always trying new things. Lately he loves almonds. Who knew? Dry unsalted, and not roasted. 

    Smoothies are also a big hit in our house. Throw in frozen fruit of choice, yogurt, and a splash of milk or juice. Yum! 

    We also serve veggies first and then the rest of his meal. If he has garlic bread with a pasta dish and eats it first he wont eat anything else.

    Also, does your LO drink a lot of milk? If so I might cut that back. DS gets 1/2 of a sippy in the AM, about an hour before breakfast. If he has more than that he wont eat breakfast.

    Have you also tried getting her to help you cook? DS LOVES to help out. Lately we buy salad stuff in bulk and I take an afternoon to wash it all and prep salads for the week. DS loves to help with this (I wash and cut and he puts things into tupperware). He eats a whole salad while doing it and then requests one for dinner. It's great!

    I will also do fun things like recently we made a rainbow out of red peppers, oranges, pinapple, fresh green peas, blueberries, and plums. He loved it. It was so much fun. There are lots of great "bento" sites out there with super fun ideas on how to create fun looking food (and some great posters on here too!).

    GL! Hope that we get a positive update soon! :)

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    I love these two beautiful children!
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  • Great advice and ideas ladies!! Thanks
  • jlw2505-  My DD sounds just like you described your niece.  She was a great nurser, but never liked baby foods or regular food.  I have wondered if I need to talk to the pedi more about this, but she's always grown consistently and I don't want to overreact.

    VTbride- She doesn't drink too much milk.  She gets about 12 oz a day of whole milk.  I'm hesitant to add anything to the milk (like carnation) because I like that she wants it plain.  She's always been a constipated kid, so I give her about 1/4 apple juice to 3/4 water in her cup.  She drinks a lot of fluids.  Probably around 24 oz a day.  I have also considered letting her help me cook.  She's just so petite that I hadn't done it before now.  It's a great idea.  I'll try it this weekend.

    So, I used some of your suggestions last night at dinner.  I know she just had to be starving because she's barely eaten in days.  I put 5 very small pieces of chicken on her plate.  She gobbled them up.  After picking my jaw up from the floor, I gave her a few more pieces.  Again, she ate them right up and said "all done".  I gave her a cup of mandarin oranges after that and she ate them quickly too.  Then she was REALLY all done.  I know it's not a typical or the healthiest dinner, but it's a start.  I'll keep using your tips and hopefully it will just keep improving with time. :)  Thanks!

    imageimageimageimage m/c at 8w4d - 10/2/09 baby girl Ruth Elise
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