Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Eat! Eat!

Will is going through the picky toddler stage where he will eat NOTHING all day and then consume the amount of a teenaged boy in one meal the next day. Then, he will eat nothing again for a few meals. Since he is by no means underweight and I know from fellow moms that this is not unusual, I don't let it stress me too much. I offer him meals and snacks often, and if he tells me that he is hungry, I offer him healthy things. I figure it's up to him to do what he would like based on his needs.

The only problem is that, occasionally, his hunger will strike at bed or naptime. For example, this afternoon he threw his lunch to the ground. I made him help me pick it up and it was then time for a nap. He settled in easily (as usual), but fifteen minutes later, he started screaming (not usual). I went in to make sure he was okay and was welcomed by a frantic, "Eat! Eat!" This is what he says when he is hungry. I tried to soothe him, but he just got more upset and frantic. So, I took him downstairs, quickly fed him a yogurt and two graham crackers, which he gobbled up. Then he went back upstairs and took a two and a half hour nap without a squeak of protest. So, I do think he was genuinely hungry. He has done this on a couple of other occasions and responded similarly (eats with gusto and then goes to bed without protest and sleeps like a champ).

I was telling a mom friend about this, and she cautioned me against allowing him the snack, because she has found that is one of her two kids' prime ways of avoiding bedtime or going back to bed and also promotes not eating at meal times.

I have mixed feelings about this. I know when he is older, I can try to reason with him at mealtimes that he is going to be hungry later if he doesn't eat, but I just don't think he has the ability to think like that right now. And I can't, in all good conscience, let him cry it out when he is hungry. What would you do/do you do?

12 comments:

La La said...

Hmmm, we are having similar struggles over here. Except Lennon IS underweight. What we've been doing is offering her a Pedisure if she refuses her meals and we do not offer a substitute because we've found that if we allow it she will live on toast, crackers, fruit and yogurt. ;)

But, she also has major sensory issues so our situation is a bit different I guess. And Evey is the opposite, she is a great eater (thank gawd I have one, lol).

Hope this phase passes soon, I know it's hard when they won't eat.

Rebecca said...

Hmmm...maybe that's why Hailey is having such a hard time going to sleep for the past 24 hours! She hasn't been eating as much (although she's still been eating)...maybe she's hungry.

I would go with your friend...they are testing and trying to figure out what they can get away with (even at such a young age). As hard as it can be, I'm trying to stick to meal times as a time to eat...bedtime as a time to sleep. It's so hard, isn't it?????

Anonymous said...

he is still a baby. feed him when he wants to eat. you have plenty of time to fight that battle. end of story.

Amy said...

annonymous nailed it on the head, feed him when he wants to eat. Offer him stuff at mealtimes, and if he dosen't eat it (for now) feed him a snack before bedtimes if he wants it. My kids are old enough now to know that if they don't eat dinner or lunch with us, they are SOL later. He is still too little to know the difference so keep doing wwhat you are doing lady!

Intrepidgirl said...

As soon as we get used to something it changes! Gah! We went through a "picky eater" phase and now we're at the "eating all the time" phase. (I think it goes back and forth)

How we survived the "eating less" stage was by pushing back lunch to 1. By then he was hungry and ate. Also we delayed dinner too and skipped the afternoon snack. If he communicates (like our son) he will tell you when he's hungry.

We offer a snack before bedtime and that works great. That's what I suggest. I wouldn't make him cry it out hungry. He's too little.

Now tell me more about this "2.5 hour" nap you speak of!?! We have a great eater but a bad sleeper, especially naps.

Mel said...

Awww, I would TOTALLY feed him! I don't think he's manipulating you in order to keep from sleeping. Especially if he goes right down just fine after you give him his snack. Being hungry is the worst and I know how awful it makes ME feel, much less a poor, sweet little baby whose metabolism is twice as fast as mine.

HereWeGoAJen said...

I'd feed him. I mean, if it seems like it is becoming a bad habit, you can re-evaluate, but he's little, he doesn't really understand hunger yet.

Tracy said...

If it were a once or twice occurance, I would feed him. We've had the same issue with Evan. You've heard my rule of threes, though, right? If they do something three times, it starts to become a habit. I'd nip it in the bud before then...

I tend to disagree with anon. I think at 18-months they understand more than people give them credit for. We explain to E&R that it is dinner time, and this is the last time we will eat for the night. I then ask them, "do you understand?" They nod or say yes. I believe they DO understand. This is also the age where they're testing the boundaries and trying to see what they can "get away with." I know it, because I've seen the looks they give me AS THEY TEST!!! You know the look I mean.

So, I'd probably do exactly what you've done, but keep an eye on it and try to head it off at the pass if at all possible. During those fussy stages, we have fed Evan extra bread with his supper, the one thing he will almost always eat, to try to keep him from crying hungry a couple hours later.

Tracy said...

p.s. I'm also not a "do it this way now and fix it later" type of mom. I go the way I mean to stay...meaning, I am not going to set up a pattern that I don't mean to live with long term. But I have pretty high expectations of my toddlers...funny thing is they always seem to live up to them.

Anonymous said...

For me, this is approaching the age when I hardline it. I offer 3 meals a day, I even offer 1-2 snack times a day, but this is not a restaurant. Bedtime and naptime are not for eating. It's one thing if he's sick or something but routinely, I wouldn't go for it. With that said, you're his mom so YOU get to decide what's best for him :)

Also, I try to make sure at least one item in each meal has something healthy my kids LIKE a lot so that there is something good in their system.

Roadblocks and Roller Coasters said...

I would maybe try pushing the mealtime back a little bit and see if he's hungry. Maybe try a 15-20 min interval. We keep L on a tight meal schedule, but we still give her milk before her nap and bed, so if she doesn't eat she at least has that.

Anonymous said...

Feed him when he's hungry. I have a background in child development, and at his age he is asking to eat because he's actually hungry. Now, my four year old does ask to eat when he doesn't want to go to sleep...but that's a different story. Kids at around 18 months don't ask to eat to be manipulative or not go to sleep. Especially because once he eats, he does go to sleep. And kids at this age don't adhere to the rigid three meals a day and two snacks rule. Sometimes they're less hungry, sometimes they're more hungry. I completely disagree with cutting kids off at dinner and saying no more food.