Why is my 2 year old dependent on milk?

Kara - posted on 06/08/2011 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My 2 year old son is kind of a picky eater.. He doesnt like veggies, I have a hard time getting him to eat meat.. He mostly seems like he wants food like oatmeal & cream of wheat, easy mac, etc. He doesnt really like cold stuff, so he eats pudding @ room temp. I dont know what to do. It seems that he relies on milk. He has been off his bottle since he was 1 exactly, but before nap & bedtime he wants like 2 or 3 5oz cups of milk. And he doesnt always sleep thru the night. Most nights I can just rock him back to sleep, others he wants 1 or 2 more cups of milk. I just dont know what to do anymore. He is healthy I know that. He is growing right & is in the right weight & height for his age. He wears 2T or 3T clothes, so he is not small. I just want him to sleep normally & eat right. Help.

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Neva - posted on 06/10/2011

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The problem with allowing your child to drink all of his calories is that even though he is growing in height and weight, he might still be anemic. Milk does not contain iron and if he is filling up on milk he is also not eating the iron containing foods that he needs. Offer your child solid foods for meals and then milk after the solids, in a cup. He should be getting about 16-24 ounces of milk/day. Keep offering him a variety of foods, but don't be too quick to offer the milk if he doesn't eat because he knows he can hold out for it and you'll give in. He might have a slight problem with different textures, which is common and why he doesn't like cold stuff, that's okay. But the more food he's exposed to, the more he'll start to like different things. Don't worry that he isn't getting enough. If you offer healthy foods and don't offer milk instead because you worry he's not getting enough, he'll learn to eat more variety. I would not be giving him milk during the night period. He has just gotten into the habit of waking up and then not knowing how to put himself back to sleep without being rocked or having milk. The sleeping is going to be the hardest on you. What you need to do is have a regular bedtime routine with snack, bath, brush teeth, potty (if he's trained) and then a story. Tuck him in and kiss him good night. If he wakes up in the middle of the night, don't go to him at the first that you hear him. If he is fully awake and screaming, then go to him and simply say "its time to sleep, " put his covers over him and leave. If he keeps calling or getting out of bed, after that, then the next time you go to him you don't talk to him or even make eye contact, just simply tuck him in. The first night is going to be rough, so be prepared and don't give in with the milk or the rocking or it will take twice as long the next time you try. It usually takes about a week for him to get the idea that its time to sleep, but both of you should be sleeping better after that. You aren't being mean, or depriving him, you are simply helping him adjust to a healthy sleeping pattern.

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Breastfed babies can do this at bedtime...it's called 'tanking up'
You are exactly right...he has not eaten well during the day, so he is trying to stuff himself on milk at bedtime.
I am noticing something about your list of foods he WILL eat...the textures he likes are all soft and mushy, where vegetables are crisp, and meat is tougher.
Maybe if you tried shredding his meat really well, so it's in tiny flakes...you could 'hide' some in his mashed potatoes...or whatever else is on the table that has the texture he loves. I think what I mean here is...offer him vegetables and meat...but serve it in the soft texture of oatmeal/pudding that he seems to prefer.
I would try some crumbled broccoli in his mac n cheese...or a piece of chicken crumbled to nothing and then blended with some mac n cheese...or mashed potatoes. Have you tried him on sweet potatoes?

Melissa - posted on 06/10/2011

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I feel your pain! My 2 yo daughter counts on her milk especially before bed. My pediatrician said I was supposed to cut her down to 16-20oz of milk a day. Honestly I think she could drink twice that. Dr. said milk is very filling and easy to get down. Daughter is just being lazy about getting full by drinking milk. Sometimes after an active day, she has a hard time going to sleep without extra milk. Why? because she hasn't eaten enough and is trying to make up for it by drinking extra milk to feel full and dose off to sleep.

The solution my doctor said is to switch to skim milk. I had been giving her whole milk still and I thought at age 2 you should switch to 2%. But the doctor said they should be getting enough fat from food now. There would be a period of transition where the fat content may lag but once my daughter recognized she had to eat because the milk wasn't as filling, things should get better. Also, I've added water to the milk so she thinks it's the same quantity, but I know it's not filling her up. We're still working on it...good luck to you.

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