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Giving up on meal times

Anne - posted on 04/20/2010 ( 27 moms have responded )

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At first my baby loved food and enjoyed eating with us at the table. Now she seems to have tired of it and won't stay in the highchair for more than a few seconds. She sometimes takes no food, other times it's one bite and she's off, climbing out and refuses to go back in. We've tried making elaborately intersting meals, old favourites, toys at the table, adjusting meal times and snacks, even plonking her in front of the TV (which worked for a little while but then she grew tired of that). Now I have to follow her around with her bowl offering her food as she wanders around playing. So I'm thinking of just skipping the formal meal times all together and leaving out plates of healthy snacks (fruit, veggies, pasta etc) so she can help herself when she wants. The old way wasn't working anymore and she was going hungry. Any thoughts? Does anyone else not have a formal meal time?



Oh, she's 13 months old.

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Taralee - posted on 04/20/2010

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They all (for the most part) go through this. As my nana said "they'll eat when their hungry....they definately won't starve....that is why they have that little beer belly...they can live for days on the adorable fat in that belly!!". I offer what we are eating and Kennedy eats what she eats...after that she is offered yogurt...if not we are done with dinner. I found this neat cook book.....just for the future called DECEPTIVELY DELICIOUS by Jessica Seinfeld. She has neat reciepes kids love and she hides veggies in all the reciepes, every the banana loaf...I made it and the chicken nuggets all with hidden veggies.....Kennedy loved them and my husband was none the wiser :)

Aleks - posted on 04/26/2010

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I have got to let you all know what I have just discovered at playgroup TODAY with my LO. During snack time I ( for the 1st time) sat her down next to her older (4.5yo) brother at the table (pre-schooler/kinder size), where all the other children also were sitting (aged 12mths to 4.5yo) and she stayed there!!!!!!! Eating her snack!!!! She didn't get up, just kept on sitting down eating her snack ( rice cracker, sultanas and slice of apple-which she didn't eat)! Noticing this, I tried similar at lunch. Placed her at the kiddie table next to her brother (usually he eats at our big table), and she stayed and was trying to eat on her own!!! Did not get up to run off! Though she was having soup for lunch I let her have a spoon, while I actually was feeding her. She ate everything and started to get at her brothers soup!!!
I hope this lasts and I have struck at toddler gold LOL :-)
I though I would share in case you ladies may wish to try and hopefully it may work with your little one :-)

Good luck, and wish me luck :-)

Aleks - posted on 04/25/2010

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AnnMarie, no she is not a good sleeper. Though, with her sleeping right next to me it helps... snuggle her in, pop in the boob, and..... next thing I hear is her again! She has moved on from me, somewhere else, usually her cot (which is next to my bed with a side off, ie. side car ), is either too hot or too cold and complaining again. She has may be slept thru the night once in her life ( ie, 6hrs straight). Typical for her is to grizzle 2-4 times a night. In saying that however, she has had problems with food allergies/intollerances ( diary and now soy - so, looks like bf will stay with us for a while yet longer, as no available subsitute if we wanted one! ) which have played havoc with her stomach/bowles and at night too! Not to mention teething. At 14mths she has 14 teeth! 6 more to go! And if she is anything like her brother re teething (she actually is about the same) she will have all of them in the next 6mths!!! LOL Now, if anything plays havoc with sleeping, that is teething... so, I guess I will see how things go once she has all teeth :-) Hoping like mad things start slowing down at night LOL...

Aleks - posted on 04/25/2010

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my little missy never really liked to be in the high chair for longer than 3-5minutes. From when she first was able to sit in it... say 5 or 6 mths. Feeding her is a nightmare!!! I basically chaise her around the house, though couple spots tend to work best - in front of the tv and during bath time (small enough space- not much chasing lol).

She has always been too busy and interested in the world to be bothered with such timewaster as eating (LOL) - I was unable to bf her anywhere except in a quiet room with no one around except me and her from about 3mths of age!!! Otherwise, she just wasn't interested in feeding! oh, and sitting her at the table didn't work for us either, was novel enough for her the 1st time to stay seated for probably around 10mins or so, but then it didn't make a difference, and now we dont do it - she just wants to climb the table..lol

So yes, I definitively do know all about not wanting to eat or sit in the high chair!!! Its so hard to as I was so used to feeding my 1st born in it without problems. He ate just about anything and was very happy to stay in the high chair for almost any length of time.

Marcy - posted on 04/20/2010

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I think we used to have buffets in every room of our house. I bouhgt a bunch of those cheapo bowls and put nutritious snacks in them and when my son was hungry he would just help himself to whatever. Even now we have a snack drawer in the cabinet with healthy snacks. he goes in there whenever he is hungry and gets a snack. I'm not big on the 3 meal a day thing...he tends to eat 6-8 mini meals. However, he will sit down and have a picnic in the living room nightly for dinner. I usually put his food on a tray and bring it over to him and he loks at it and says "This looks delicious." Sometimes he eats a ton (like the other night he had a big piece of chicken, brown rice and green beans) and then other nights he makes roads in his sauce and barely touches his pasta. I don;t worry about it, he happy, healthy and when we go out to eat he sits with us and is a great kid.

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Breanne - posted on 05/29/2010

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Don't worry about it. It's stage and when she's older she'll sit and eat with you. Toddlers start to change their eating habits and don't need as much, they're better grazers then meal eaters. My son was really good too then decided he would have nothing to do with his chair. It took about 3 months and he'll sit in his chair now and eat a little bit but still gets out when he wants no matter if mommy or daddy is done. I don't mind, I let him out because I don't want him to hate meal time or his chair. He lets me know when he's all done. Sometimes when my son won't eat I make him a shake with green's powder so at least I know he's getting some nutrition. It'll get better, don't worry.

Katherine - posted on 05/29/2010

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From about 13 months to about 18 months, we had a grazing plate. It was the only way to actually get food in my son. Now that he's 21 months, we do insist that he sit at the table for family dinner, but he gets songs and stories while he's there to keep him sitting down. :)

Julia - posted on 05/26/2010

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I would totally be struggling to stay cool if my son wasn't eating for so long. wow. but i still believe it's all we can do plus make sure they are within the growth chart and not showing signs of deficiencies.

yeah, dr. sears is so cool, i totally love to read through his site, though lately I haven't found the time really, mr. whirlwind is keeping me busy and visiting grandmas, oh yes, hard to decide which one is better at it, heehee.... but I must say she did great regarding that everything we do is the total opposite of how she did it back in the ol' days.... :-D

Anne - posted on 05/26/2010

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Thanks Julia. I had more or less come to the same conclusion. I posted again on similar topic - 'Not eating' just a few days ago because for the longest time my little girl has been having zero food and only having breastmilk. Her poop had turned back into sticky yellow newborn poop. I was worried because she is now 15 months old and I thought she may need food. After hearing from other moms that they have these phases even as toddlers I relaxed about it. We try not to put pressure on meal times. She will only sit with us for a few seconds and often won't eat anything - at any time of day but I'm not going to win her over by pushing it too much. I hope she will take more of an interest in food again sometime soon.

That link was excellent btw. It amazes me just how sensible Dr. Sears is on every matter. He really understands children.

Sounds like your little man is doing great! LOL -always funny to shock the grandparents :-)

Julia - posted on 05/25/2010

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Probably all your problems are solved by now, I just flipped through some older posts, but anyway, here is something I found very helpful: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/3/T030800...
Anything he writes is great really.
Also in this area I just stick to my trust that he knows what he needs and when he needs it and that he eventually will be ready to be a part of our game. They see us and how we do things and if eating is not becoming a thread to them and we show them it's a nice time when the family comes together they will eventually join in.
It just makes total sense to me that those little guys with their little tummies live after their own little inner clock and they eat when they are hungry and they also sense when we are getting anxious about stuff and try push them ... it never helped to try and make food attractive to him (airplanes, cars, bees, hmm, mommy will have it all then, yummy!) when he just didn't want to eat. The "always-have-food-available-solution" which I think is a great idea worked just fine.
When we eat we always include him and have him on our lap when we start eating. If he wants to get down, he gets down, if he wants to come up, he comes up, now the times at the table become longer (he's 18months) and he even wants to sit in his own chair (an adult chair though, haven't got around to buy him a booster yet :-/). My grandma who came all the way from germany to visit was "a little shocked" heehee..... that was just one thing that made her shake her head in disbelief :D

So I think as in many other areas it's just our task to relax and trust that they won't starve. They won't.

Anne - posted on 05/02/2010

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Well it was good while it lasted but the buffet thing has died a death. She no longer touches any of the food left out and it's back to chasing her around to get her to eat anything. Some things work but only temporarily.

Anne - posted on 04/27/2010

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Thanks for sharing and good luck! It makes sense that when they see others doing that they would want to copy. I sort of noticed a smiliar thing when I was taking my baby to playgroup. It was one of the rare occasions when she happily drank a full bottle of expressed milk while she was watching the others having their snacks. I hope it lasts! Let us know how it goes :-)

Anne - posted on 04/26/2010

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I was just thinking the same thing! I didn't know others were having exactly the same issues. I just saw your post about sleeping April and I totally sympathise. My LO has always fought sleep. Difficult to settle at night and until last week up every hour for feeding. With the nursing difficulties and a total nursing strike at 6 months old and me not realising it might be temporary I ended up moving to exclusively expressing. Regret that now because it means preparing bottles all night long. Just couldn't manage without the family support I've got. I'm lucky my mom helps out overnight but I still feel whacked all the time. We have a side car too but I mostly end up holding her. I asked about the sleeping because I wondered if it's the busy distractable ones that are busy all night long too! Sounds like your LO is going through a lot right now Aleksandra, I hope the teething settles soon. Not sure about the number of teeth April, My baby is 14 months old today and has 6. It was funny to hear about the 'bye bye' to every car athough I feel your frustration. Mine waves at all the traffic and drops everything to run to the window if a bus, lorry etc goes past. In fact it's such an obsession that she makes me go down to the end of the road first thing every morning and stand there with her so she can watch the cars go past. People must think I'm a loon.

April - posted on 04/26/2010

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@ aleksandra. and annemarie..it is so encouraging to know i'm not alone!!

at 16 mo. zachary only has 6 teeth. anyone know if that is ok?

April - posted on 04/25/2010

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omg...my son is distracted by every sound when breastfeeding! we cannot nurse in public, he will keep turning his head to see what's going on and will never latch. so we must nurse at home in a bedroom, in the nursing chair and there cannot be shadows or noises!



**last night he kept on de-latching to say "bye bye" to every car that he heard driving by!!



good idea about feeding in the bath...I will try that!!!!



my son doesn't STTN, never has, nurses all night. probably no one else is up, so very little chance of being distracted by noise and whatnot!

Anne - posted on 04/25/2010

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Aleksandra that all sounds very familiar! When my baby was just a few weeks old she became problematic to breastfeed. It got worse as she got older. Like you at about 3 months even a shadow in the room would be enough to distract her and she'd turn her head to look at it. Or a distant noise. If I gave her a bottle of expressed milk she'd refuse it until she was starving and then jiggle and flail around and end up upside down while drinking. Now she's walking she's busy as a crazy hyped up bee all day. Feeding is too boring. Have been following her around with food all day for a while. New things tend to work until the novelty wears off. I'm really hoping this buffet thing doesn't go the same way. We feed her in the bath too! Good to know it's not just us! :-)

Out of curiosity does she sleep well at night?

April - posted on 04/24/2010

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that's how i started with my son. he came with me to the bathroom one day while i was brushing my teeth. he was so interested that i let him finish brushing my teeth. after a few times of helping me brush my own teeth...i bought him a toothbrush and he's been brushing on his own ever since!

Anne - posted on 04/24/2010

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A brand new rug - that is brave lol :-) One drawback to this new buffet thing we are doing is that everything is in much more of a mess than before! Mine does the squishing the food in her hand too! She has started bringing me her chewed up tomato skins though instead of depositing them around the room and recently has even started getting the baby wipes out and mopping up her own spills! She does of course then spill her sippy cup on purpose just so she can mop it up. Know what you mean about offering the food several times. Whatever it is, it always gets refused with a face of disgust the first time here too. Think you are right about the chair-hatred. I think my little girl finds it too restrictive and also only stays in for a minute or two. Good to know about the toothbrushing. We also give water throughout the day. She's not too hot on the formal brushing. She sucks the water off the brush and that's it. Tried to show her how I brush my teeth today but then she just tried to brush mine with her little brush.

April - posted on 04/24/2010

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As for toothbrushing...i give him water throughout the day. at his age, water is sufficient. we do formal toothbrushing at night before bed (he knows how to do it himself with a real toothbrush!)

April - posted on 04/24/2010

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AnneMarie...I do the same! When he has had it with his high chair, i put a blanket down on the floor in the living room and let him feed himself (we have a brand new rug!)

i really think most of his refusal to eat has to do with the fact that he really doesn't like to be in his high chair. he's ok for 3 minutes and then he wants out!

Buffet system seems to overwhelm my son. He goes crazy over too many choices and ends up squishing all the food in his hand.

For us it is better to try offering the same thing, just at a later time. if he doesn't accept the food after two times of offering it, we go to something else.

When he truly refuses everything and i know it is going to be one of those days where he doesn't eat solids, then it's ok because he is nursing quite a bit ( all night long, every 2 hours and for naptime, as well

Anne - posted on 04/23/2010

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ha ha April yes super annoying describes it perfectly. :-) We are finding the new system much better. She is eating more in the day. I still offer her meals in the high chair and when she starts climbing out I just bring it all in to the living room where she can play and help herself. She is even sleeping a little better at night - she used to be so hungry she would feed every hour but now she goes for 2 hours at a time. I daren't hope it's a long term change. She will probably go right back any day now but for the moment it's working. Has the buffet system not worked for you April?
I do have a question for you moms who buffet - what do you do about teeth brushing?

April - posted on 04/21/2010

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i do the same thing. my son hates his high chair and feeding him in my lap only worked for a little while. he also can hear the kids outside playing and wants to join. so far he doesn't seem to mind me following him around with food. it is just super annoying on my end. just wish i could lay food out in front of him and he would just eat it. simple. i wish!

Anne - posted on 04/21/2010

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Thanks everyone. Taralee, good to know it's a stage they all go through. Will look for that book. Brenda and Marcy, helpful to know you are having sucess with a mixture of meal times and grazing. We are trying that at the moment and it seems to be working much better (fingers crossed). It's much less frustrating when all the pressure isn't heaped on to one set time. This way I can be more relaxed when she refuses everything at the table and runs off. I can just set it out for her buffet style and she has been helping herself and eating more than before.

Brenda - posted on 04/20/2010

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We have no real mealtimes. Nick eats whenever I get around to fixing it...which with my schedule isn't on a schedule! And sometimes he doesn't want anything. It is just a baby thing. Sometimes my nearly five year old just grazes all day still, while sometimes he eats four full meals a day. Kids eat exactly what they need, so I'd just offer at mealtime, but realize sometimes they won't eat, and sometimes they will. :)

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