Need help with 6 year old who won't eat

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Need help with 6 year old who won't eat
Mon, 08-20-2012 - 4:36pm

Hi everyone. I'm new to this board and hoping someone can offer some sage advice to a nervous mom. My DD is 6 years old and has a complicated medical history. She was born premature at 30 weeks old, has history of early oral motor eating issues due to enlarged tonsils and andenoids (removed at age 3), sensory and texture eating issues and limited diet due to food allergies to dairy protein, eggs and peanuts. Since age 1, I've been on top of her to eat which has resulted in major food issues and anxiety related to eating. So now, she barely eats. She consumes about 1000 calories a day but most of it is liquid based with about 48 oz for juice and non dairy milk. I'm now recognizing that my approach has created a mess. The more pressure and punishment I apply for not eating, the more nervous she is and the lss she eats. When I lay off and let nature take its course, she doesn't eat. She eats a limited breakfast, does not eat lunch at school (maybe a thermos of milk and a small container of carrots) and a modest dinner (usually meat with soy sauce, rice and veggies). Dinner is tolerable. Breakfast is horrendous. She insists on eating in front of the tv because she is more relaxed. But with the tv, she is sidetracked and eats a few bites over 45 minutes. When I do not pressure her, she does not initiate eating and seems disinterested in food. When we bring her to the table, it results in nervous behavior; i,e. playing with her hair, grabbing things on the table, talking non-stop to divert attention from food and finding any excuse ot leave the table (I have to use the bathroom). While at the table, she does not initate eating on her own. She eats a small non-nutritious snack at school, followed by a minimal lunch. She says eating in front of her friends makes her nervous. So lunch is eaten in front of the tv after school. Dinner is at the table and she will eat some then ask if she can leave the table. We offer snack (the remainder of dinner) at 8PM, which she nibbles on, followed by desert, if she has made an attempt at dinner. So, how do we break thois awful cycle. She does not seem to eat enough to maintain her energy for the day. She gets tired easily. Still needs a nap in the day. Doctor says weight is fine and she is still growing so not concerned. We've tried getting her involved in meal prep and choosing her meals to no avail. She could go most of the day without food and not tell us she's hungry until about 4pm. Then often when we put food down after she asks, it's bird bites. Any suggestions on how to reverse this problem??

Avatar for cmlisab
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2011
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:35pm

Hi and Welcome!

My youngest son is more of a "grazer"- eating small amounts throughout the day instead of the traditional 3 meals. Drives me batty but I'm trying to remind myself that my oldest son went through this too and it was a phase that eventually passed. I found an older thread from this board with someone who was dealing with the same thing :

Best of luck to you!! I know how frustrating it is and how hard it is now to worry!! Please feel free to come back and vent anytime!


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-08-2011
Wed, 08-22-2012 - 12:39pm
I can only imagine how frustrating this must be. I have a (now 9 yr old) son who is quite picky, has dietary restrictions, and takes a medication that nearly eliminates his appetite. It can be so frustrating, not to mention worrisome.

I really got to the point where I made no big deal out of it. I didn't comment, didn't act concerned, and just let it all go. Believe it or not, it really helped. Once I gave up control over it, he realized it was no big deal and started eating on his own. His appetite doesn't kick in until the afternoons, but when it does, he eats enough to keep him going. He's even gained weight and went through a big growth spurt so something must have worked.

Have you tried giving her Pediasure with her meals to make sure she's getting enough of the nutrients she needs?

Try not to stress, mama. It's a good sign that she's growing and her weight isn't an issue.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.~ Dr Seuss