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3 yr old not eating, not hungry at all. Could it be physcological

(22 Posts)
wallers5 Tue 12-Feb-13 12:48:47

My grand daughter has just started at Nursery school 3 days a week & seems to have no appetitie at all. She is thin as it is, so can't really afford not to eat. Any suggestions? ie. a tonic, a battle to get it down, or just ignore it.

JessM Tue 12-Feb-13 12:55:50

Certainly not a battle! and i think tonics have gone out of fashion these days.
My GS who is quite small for his age does not eat much and he is very active.
I wonder does she have snacks? Things like biscuits, crisps and sweets provide a lot of calories and can dull a small appetite.

Roseyk Tue 12-Feb-13 12:58:36

When my children were little and going through a no eating phase I always opened up their appetite with juicy fruits, eg water melon, grapes oranges etc, it never failed.

However if I were you I would try and rule out any problems there may be with the new school.

Any problems I had with the childen when they were little, I used to get their favourite Teddy and pretend he was speaking to them and ask questions such as...have you had a nice day today... and then take it from there, it was always quite effective.

whenim64 Tue 12-Feb-13 13:17:29

Like Roseyk my daughter would use 'Mister Ted' to ask about anything my little grandson was reticent about discussing. The teddy would also give him advice about his soup, sandwiches, dinner or whatever helping to make him big and strong. Always worked when mums, dads and nanas were having no influence.

Any problems with eating most of their meals, and all snacks were stopped.

Movedalot Tue 12-Feb-13 13:33:46

My GS doesn't eat much at home but does at nursery. He is a canny little chap and knows a fuss will be made if he doesn't eat at home and that he may well be allowed something shortly afterwards. I'm not too bothered as that something will generally be fruit. He is very physical and probably runs it all off and his father was clinically underweight for years but it didn't do him any harm.

Anne58 Tue 12-Feb-13 13:45:56

I remember a book called "Toddler Taming" that had quite a good section on this. It was recommended that you keep a not of everything that they do eat, right down to the last grape or biscuit. Sometime it can be surprising how much does actually go down the little red lane in the course of a day.

It's also around toddler age that little ones realise how much power they can wield over food! Lets face it it is a natural thing to want to provide nourishment for your child, and the one thing that they can fairly easily try to take control over.

How is her energy level, does she seem her usual self in that way?

Nelliemoser Tue 12-Feb-13 14:02:11

wallers There are many possible things that could be going on here!

Is she making a show of refusing to eat or just never been a big eater.

How long has the "not eating" been going on for? Has GD always been small?

What size are her parents and how much do they eat?
What does your son or daughter think about this? I would suggest you speak to the parents to see if they have have any concerns and if they have had her weight and growth checked regularly.

wallers5 Tue 12-Feb-13 14:59:19

Thank you all so much for your help. I have printed it out & will hand it to my daughter.

nanapug Tue 12-Feb-13 15:36:24

I think we forget that their stomach is the size of their little fist and we expect them to eat far more than they need, hence the obesity epidemic. As long as Mum offers her a balanced diet and completely holds back on sweets etc (it's tempting to try to get any thing in to them, I know from experience!!) she will be fine. No child starves itself.
I agree with the idea of writing down every thing. We have found with the GC that if they have a day where they eat a lot of one food type they will eat more of another food type the next day to compensate.
Personally, I would all sit down to meals together and totally ignore what she eats, and just chat about other things. Sometimes they feel the pressure and react to it. It's hard to do but it works xx

Riverwalk Tue 12-Feb-13 16:12:14

Assuming that your GD is in good health and within normal limits for her age, although on the lower end of the scale, I wouldn't worry at this stage.

Children are so very different with their eating habits.

My GS, a hail and hearty 7 year-old doesn't eat breakfast before he goes to school - I was shocked when he told me this! He just has no appetite before school, no matter what DS1 and DiL attempt.

However, at school he eats a substantial lunch and evenings and weekends he tucks in with gusto. smile

FlicketyB Tue 12-Feb-13 17:20:01

Ignore it. But cook food that smell good, DS would tell me cheerfully that the meals I served looked lovely, but he didnt want to eat them.

The breakthrough came when we visited Grandparents and Grandma decided to cook a real English breakfast, bacon, sausages etc etc. The smell wafting through the house suddenly wakened his appetite and in one day he ate as much as he had eaten the previous week

And for parents (and child) I recommend the story book 'Bread and Jam for Frances' by Russell Hoban, and all the other Frances books as well.

susieb755 Tue 12-Feb-13 22:09:30

Good idea to note what she does eat, but I am great believer in if someone is hungry they'll eat, and if too much fuss is made to try and get a child to eat, they actually get worse as they like the attention.

Mine soon learnt if they weren't hungry for dinner, they couldn't be hungry for pudding or snacks smile

gillybob Tue 12-Feb-13 22:22:21

wallers5 I can totally understand your concern as we have had similar with our just recently turned 3 grandson. It is important that you actually keep check on what she actually "is" eating and drinking. Is she eating a good breakfast and not ready for lunch? Is she snacking on crisps or a banana in the afternoon and not ready for dinner/tea? What about milky drinks? Does the little one have plenty of time to eat or is she feeling rushed and therefore stressed? We found our grandson eats so much better when we put the food in serving dishes for him to serve himself rather than piling food onto his plate. He puts a tiny bit on his plate and keeps helping himself to a little bit more and amazingly he does end up eating a fair bit, it works really well. Good luck. smile

susieb755 Tue 12-Feb-13 22:26:45

Thats a good idea gillybob

FlicketyB Wed 13-Feb-13 10:05:49

I always believed that if a child was hungry sooner or later they would eat but in my case I found the less my son ate the less he wanted to eat. This went on over several years and he became very thin and pale and lacking in energy.

I can remember watching him walk across the playground when he was about 8. He had very fair hair and the skin on his face looked translucence and I suddenly realised that he looked just like a friend who had been diagnosed, and died of leukeamia, in her late teens. My heart and stomach turned over.

Fortunately, as I said in my previous post, we went to visit Grandparents that weekend and for whatever reason the smell of the cooked breakfast my MiL cooked that weekend broke the dam, why that weekend I do not know because whenever we visited she would do a cooked breakfast.

When we got home I began to insist that he ate more and it worked and of course a few years later he hit the teenage growth spurt and I began to long for the days that if he and food were in the house at the same time the food would still be there when I got home from work

vampirequeen Wed 13-Feb-13 16:21:49

Our four year old son eats well here including vegetables. We have two rules for everyone including adults..if you don't eat your savoury then you can't be hungry enough to need your sweet and if you don't eat your meal you can't have anything else until the next meal.

Fairs fair you can have one rule for the children and another for the adults.

Our son also eats well at nursery and willingly tries new foods in taste testings.

However our son does not eat well when he's at his mother's. Basically he whinges and whines until he gets the cr*p that most children/adults prefer to eat. He gets his own way every time. I've been there enough to know the pattern. Mum says no a maximum of four times then gives in. Usually takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Grannyknot Wed 13-Feb-13 16:43:42

I remember taking my son to the doctor at about the same age (3 - 4 years old) because I was worried that he 'wasn't eating'. The doc drily replied 'No one in the Western world has died of starvation in quite some time, I bet you he does eat'. So I went home and ignored it and that boy is now a strapping 36 year old smile who has to keep an eye on his weight.

granjura Wed 13-Feb-13 17:04:11

Food can so easily become a fighting ground - if you can, try to avoid confrontation. Bonne chance.

annodomini Wed 13-Feb-13 17:45:34

There is, I believe, evidence, that making an issue of food when children are small can lead to eating disorders later in life. There's an example of this in my extended family which I won't go into in case someone recognises the persons involved.

Nelliemoser Wed 13-Feb-13 18:45:58

VQ I get your assessment of that totally. I had a regime like that. I have seen a family where neither the under 4yr old children or the dog would eat without demanding attention, but were then offered alternatives between meals. If a child already has a small appetite they will never eat proper meals.

My two ate almost everything they were given and were allowed the odd dislike. I still remember my two yr old DD eating a good size xmas dinner and then very plaintively complaining she had eaten "all it up!"
Which earned her a portion off her nans plate.

vampirequeen Wed 13-Feb-13 19:05:56

I don't serve him anything I know he doesn't like and if it's something new I give him the chance to taste a small amount first. Nine times out of ten he likes it.

positivepam Wed 13-Feb-13 19:43:19

My 3yr old grandson is going through a similar thing, He eats well and I think healthily throughout the day, ie he has porridge or cereal for breakfast and has a sandwich, grapes and yogurt for lunch. But, he doesn't very often eat his evening meal. I have said not to worry because most psychologists will say that a child will eat when hungry and no matter what the reason, I don't think he will starve. His mummy has not long gone back to work after taking maternity leave following the birth of another son and nursery hours have changed. I think there are lots of mixed reasons and of course it is one of the things they can control and we cannot make them do. I would say unless your granddaughter is drastically losing weight and is becoming poorly, try not to worry, hopefully it will sort itself out. Easier said than done I know sometimes. smile