Some background: my DD was average at birth, shot up to really chuncky during early infancy, but slimmed way down once she started walking around 10 months. She had trippled her birth weight by one year, barely... but since then has gained very little weight and TONS of height. Over the summer she grew 5 inches in 2 months. When we took her to her 2 yr visit with a new FNP she was just under 85% for height, but had fallen off the weight curve completely - FNP estimated probably around 0-3% if the lines went down that far. DH is tall and very skinny & has been his whole life. I am tall and can be skinny, but I tend to eat too much. Since this was her first visit to a doc (I'd done the wt/ht charting myself during her first year), the FNP said she was probably just going to be skinny like her family, but we're supposed to come back in a few more months to make sure she hasn't fallen off any more - I weighed her the other day and I think she's gained *maybe* a pound since October.
My DD is a very picky eater. I assume that's normal to some extent for toddlers. However, we think she's eaten a "ton" when she eats more than 3 bites of something for a meal. There are days where literally she will only eat a total of 10 or so bites of various meals throughout the day. This will go on for a few days and then there will be one day where she will eat, still small portions but at least she's eaten. Then back to hardly anything.
We've done a Child-led eating approach all along since introducing solids at 6 months. We've never fed her except occasionally in the beginning or when we're trying to convince her to eat, just made the food available to her in ways she could feed herself and let her decide how much to eat. She can use a spoon and fork really well. She just won't eat.
If we try to push it she will either flat out refuse or hold a bite of whatever in her mouth for an hour until it's dissolved and then spits it out. Sometimes we can get her to eat more than usual if she's watching a video while she eats, but I'm hesitant to make the mindless-eating-in-front-of-a-screen connection for her.
I'm of a mindset to trust a toddler to eat when they're hungry and how much they'd like, except that I think her mood seriously suffers on the days she doesn't eat. I know I'd be really cranky & emotionally fragile if I didn't eat, too. Her sleep suffers as well. The rare days where she actually fills her belly she's happy & cooperative and sleeps so much better. She has always been extremely active (again, what I'd think normal for toddlerhood) and never, ever, ever, stops moving during the day. It's one of the ways I know she's finally asleep at night - she's finally still.
I guess my question is, is there a way to convince a toddler to eat more food? Should I just stop worrying?