My 3 yo ds has recently taken to not eating at all. I know, intellectually and from experience, that 90% of kids won't starve themselves. I'm probably just being worked over by my very smart and mischievious little darling. I'm just looking for opinions because I'm not sure how firm to be. We are not a family who can afford to waste food. I try very hard to provide a balanced and nutritious diet that is also tasty and appealing to a family where everyone craves sweets and junk food. We have a limited food budget and I do my best to get healthy things with our money.
Lately ds will drink 3 or 4 cups of whatever (water, juice, milk, smoothie etc) without eating anything on his plate. I tend to be a big drinker myself and I clearly remember being miserable as a kid ebcause my parents witheld drinks from me until I ate all my food, and I remember being really thristy and not allowed to drink anything. So I really hesitate to withold his drinks. Also, we season our food well and also eat a lot of spicy foods, so it seems kind of mean not to let him have water at least. But he doesn't eat!
As an example, up until recently a typical breakfast for him could be: 2 eggs over easy, a slice of toast with butter and jelly, 2 glasses of milk, a whole clementine (sometimes 2) and a piece or 2 of bacon. Lunch could be a pb&j sandwich, a piece of fruit or some canned pineapple or peaches (usually he would eat half a can), a couple glasses of juice (1/2 juice 1/2 seltzer water) and some cheese. Usually about 2 decently thick slices. Dinner is always a meat, a veggie, and a starch of some kind, and he usually would eat seconds of something. Again 2 or 3 glasses of drink. We also offer dessert if he ate a decent amount of dinner and that can vary from straight up junk food (cake and ice cream) to fresh fruit salad, depending on what's on hand and what we're in the mood for. He also eats a morning snack (usually fruit and crackers with spread--hummus or cream cheese or nutella) an afternoon snack (Annie's cheese bunnies or fruit snacks) and an evening, before-bed snack (almost always bread and peanut butter.)
I've never really pushed the food issue because I've never had to. Both of my chidlren have always been good eaters and if they weren't a couple days of sticking mroe closely to our schedule and cutting down on grazing (which in our house inevitably leads to bad nutrition as I dole out handfuls of cheese crackers all day) would fix it. now it seems like ds just drinks nonstop and doesn't eat. About Thanksgiving time he started saying that his tummy hurt. At the time we thought it was just to get out of bed because he would say x made his tummy hurt but then turn around and ask for y or z. Lately though he complains of stomachaches mroe frequently and has also all but stopped eating. Today he ate half a banana, a frruit snack thingy, and about half a bbq pork sandwich. Oh and a few bites each of potato salad and coleslaw. Now he is eating a piece of candy that I had promised him that he just now conveniently remembered. I don't think he is getting enough nutrition eating like this. He and his sister each have an 8 oz straw cup which was intended to be only for the car (both kids drink fine from a regular cup). Somehow they have migrated into the hose and are carry-me-around-and-fill-me-up-all-day-mommy cups. While I may only fill dd's cup every other day (and then only because I feel it needs rinsing and fresh water or juice, not because it's empty) I refill ds's cup with juice and seltzer water or milk at least 4 times a day, not to mention the times he refills it himself with tap water. I cut the milk out, thinking that it was filing him up. No change. I give him only ONE cup of actual juice a day and the rest of the time put only a splash of juice in with his water or seltzer water. So what do I do? I would be only with letting him not eat but he is cranky and overtired. Since this has started he has taken to sleeping 16-18 hrs in a single day. Going to bed at 9 PM, sleeping until 10 th next morning and still taking a three hour nap. His little sister sleeps less than he does! I am beginning to be concerned taht something else is going on here.
We have had some stress lately and he has anxiety and sensory issues which are exacerbated by anxiety, so I thought of the possibility that he is seeking the oral stimulation from sucking on his straw cup all day. He also chews it (and everything else) constantly. We are trying to get him in with an OT and into play therapy, both on advice of the pediatrician, but that is still several weeks out. He tells me 3 bites into his meal that his stomach hurts. I'm wondering if he has a gluten allergy or something, i
don't know??? We laready know that red 40 makes him poop on himself and just generally go crazy.
Today I bought some naked protein smoothies and i've been putting those in his cup all day. I figured at least he'll be getting some protein.
How would you or have you handled this?