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Pregnancy & Parenting
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5 year old that won't eat....

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My daughter is such a picky eater and even the foods she likes are hard to get down her. We struggle every morning. It's to the point the our mornings are usually full of tention,  I have tried several different foods, I have to make her take a bite, then she'll hold it in her mouth and not chew it,  if the foods in her mouth too long she gags on it, after battling her to chew, taking the next bite is another battle, it takes about 45 minute to eat even just a protein bar. I am against sending her off to school loaded with sugar, but it seems to be less of a battle (of corse). I have been told to let her go hungry, but, when I pick her up from school she seems hypoglycemic, she's on the floor lathargic and this a power struggle, am I creating an eating disorder in my child.....I forgot to mention this is not just breakfast it is every meal.

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It may very well be a way of getting attention.  It takes everyones attention away from eating their own food...and they are forced to spend 45 min or more to get her to eat. 

My 3 year old daughter goes through days or a week sometimes where she will fight me about every  bite.  I used to fight with her about it.  Then my doctor told me to stop.  She wont let herself starve.  So now if she wants to act like that I she isnt allowed to have any of the treats she likes, or juice, or chocolate milk.  After a day or 2 she is ready to eat really good again and everything is good for a few more weeks. 

If you think it may be something more physcially based rather than just her wanting to fight about it then I would take her to see the dr.    My younger sister used to have mealtime wars.....then they found out she was lactose intollerant and that she wasnt eating because she was always so sick to her stomach.

It sounds like she has sensory issues. Have you talked to your doctor?

My stepson did this kind of thing when he was about 5. I think it was a control thing with him - exerting control over the things in his little world that he felt he could control, at a time when his life seemed scary, with new school/daycare situations, etc.

We dealt with it much like jennmary001 - I didn't make him different food from others, and he wasn't allowed to snack on treats between meals. We always had one or two go-to healthy snacks that he could have if he was really hungry, but I made sure they were never "treats". For him, they were baby carrots, quarter bagel with jam, or whole wheat crackers. And milk. Those were the snack options if he wasn't eating meals, that's it. Fun treat snacks were reserved for days he ate well.

We also had success not letting it turn into a long drama. When everyone else was done eating, he could wait by himself at the table while I cleared up, and then I'd ask if he was "full", we'd talk once about it being important to eat his food, I'd ask if he wanted to finish in the kitchen with me while I worked in there. If not, carrots and crackers in the school bag, and he's off.

It lasted a cople of months at the most, and he just seemed to grow out of it. You know your child best, though. If you think it might be a medical issue, I agree with others that you should definitely see the pediatrician.


 My son did this at 7, and it hasn't stop. I went on a diet , and that did it for him. He was always watching me, and he saw that the foods I use to eat.. I didn't eat.. Somewhere down the line, he thought he could do the same thing too..  I said, I don't like pork anymore so no more pork, I can never find lean cuts of it that wasn't costly.. I fixed his plate one day.. Green beans, and Mac and Cheese, Fried fish..  I had fixed my plate of food different from everyone else. My fish was even different from his.. I had grilled fish.. He said to me.. NO! I don't want that.. It's all fat.. I talked about my diet around my kids so much that he put his-self on a diet..  Just by watching me. I had to give him what I had, and fix my plate all over again.. Grilled fish, and a small salad... I had to sit my son down, and tell him it's okay to have some mac and cheese, and it's okay to have a little fried fish.. He said, why don't you eat it. I had to tell him.. MOMMY don't know when to stop eating these foods. That's why I choose to have something else. My question to you is.. You look like you are in great shape.. Did you talk about diet, and fat around your child. Or do she just want the fun treats.

Not only that.. This went into another bad habit.. Of mines, now his.. I hate the way fat feels in my mouth.. You know know the feeling.. It's nasty.. I had gotten a fork full of fat, and I had spit it out in a napkin.. He started to taste foods.. Like green beans and say.. YUK, and spit them out.. Push them to the side, and then start to eat the rest of his food.. I did that to my son.. Now, he does the same with fat.. That YUK feeling.. He spits it out, and then ask me.. Mom is this fat.. I didn't know this could happen in your children.. All this diet talk until a year later. Watching the TODAY SHOW, and this 5 year old girl has a yogurt, and don't like MC-D's because it has fat in there somewhere.

I'm not saying this is the problem, but think about it.. Maybe she just want the yummy sweet treats... My 13 year old would eat the katup and not the fries. She would dip the fry into the katup, and suck it off.. NEVER eating the burger or fries, just the katup.. This is when she was 3. So, it could be a number of things..

Thank you all for your support and suggestions. As for now I have tried setting a limit to the amount of time she has to eat and thankfully she has realized (at least for now) that she will feel sick if she does not eat, and that she does not get any of my attention while she is eating, I do not tell her to eat any more, I just tell her how much time is left.  She has been eating well.

Thanks again!!!!

5 Replies