You mentioned that you have an open pantry policy. Since that doesn't seem to be working, I might go in the opposite direction with her and establish a "You get food when it's meal/snacktime" policy. Set times for meals and one snack and post it on the fridge. At those times, sit at the table and eat with her, feed the baby. Make her sit down with you, whether she eats or not and don't allow play at mealtime. Give it a couple of weeks, even a month and see if she gets on a routine.
Second problem: My daughter will not eat - Page 2
I suggest offering less choices on snacks actually. If she stares at everything in the fridge but can't choose something, maybe there are too many options when she's too hungry?
When my youngest weaned, we started having granola bars in the house to ward off morning grumpy and "too hungry to eat or figure out what to eat" phenomena. If he is up before me (usually is), he eats a granola bar when he gets up. This isn't breakfast, it's just to get his blood sugar up so he can even answer the question of what he'd like for breakfast.
I also carry snacks around, because both my kids will play through a meal and then say they're starving on the train. [eyeroll] I gave up and just carry decently healthy stuff I can hand them easily--cashews, whole fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, crackers. It's all non-perishable, so it just stays in my bag.
If you cater to them, they will become picky.
I would gently suggest you look at your family eating pattern as a whole and start making changes there. You mentioned your dd eats separately and your dh comes and fixes himself something to eat whenever he wants. Do you eat with your dd?
She also knows she can get whatever she wants, whenever she wants it if she claims she's hungry. You are teaching her that.
When I wanted my dk to improve their eating habits, I started looking at what I was modelling for them. We started having meals together, at set times, and we put aside any distractions and focused on our food and conversation at the table. I would strongly recommend against bringing toys at the table; it might work in the moment, but I doubt it will work a couple of months later. Dh couldn't waltz around eating chips. If we wanted a special treat or dessert or whatever, we had to share; you can't honestly expect to eat something in front of a kid and her not asking for it.
Also, I put everything on the table and they can eat as much or as little of anything. I put the ingredients separately, so they can't claim they can't eat their food because it has too much meat / olives / not enough sauce on their pasta etc. And I sit down and eat with them, otherwise they get up saying they're full in 2 min.
I offer three meals and two snacks a day, so they get something to eat at 2-3 hours intervals. If your dd claims she is hungry after a meal, you can tell her: sure honey, you can have a snack soon, at snack time!
It takes an effort from the whole family to implement some structure in eating habits, but it's worth it.
I disagree in this instance. When a child is refusing food to the point that they wake up screaming because their bellies are entirely empty, that is beyond the realm of pickiness because they are catered to. I might agree if the child is limiting variety, not eating as much as they would otherwise. If a picky eater is so picky they will ignore clear hunger signals and even bypassing favorite foods, then catering to their desires is not the main problem, IMO.
My sister's kids might have eaten nothing but hot dogs, mac and cheese and Cap'n Crunch, but they ate it and they filled up. This is an
Someone suggested Ellyn Satter, and I do recommend you get one of her books, as it seems like it might help you. Satter's thing is basically that the parent's job is to offer the food at regular meal and snack times (breakfast - snack - lunch - snack - dinner), basically putting the food on the table every 2-3 hours, and sitting down with them to eat together as a family is important too. Sounds like you would probably have difficulty getting your daughter to the table at all, and I think she does address that in her book Child of Mine, but that basically it's a house rule - come to the table at mealtime. The child's job, then, is to choose what to eat (from what's offered at the table), how much of it to eat, or whether to eat at all. Satter does say to avoid allowing "panhandling" for food or drink other than water between meals and snacks. Also, her idea on dessert is to put it on the table with the dinner (a child-sized serving) and let the child decide when to eat it (ie, let them eat it first if they want). There is some good advice about how to have a conversation with your child when it's clear that feeding & eating have gone awry, and to clear up what the approach is going to be going forward, and that might help you, so that your daughter will understand what's going on and why you're changing the rules, so to speak.
I hope that things get better for you. It sounds like meals are such a stressor for you.
Your dd sounds a lot like my son. One question for you, are either your or dh like this or were like this as a kid? I was like this as a kid and have distinct memories of being forced to sit at the table for HOURS because I wouldn't eat. I swore I would never do that to my kid and that we would never have power struggles over food, blah blah blah...we did baby led feeding with him - where no one was allowed to spoon feed him, etc. Until he turned 2-ish and stopped eating. And then I realized what my mom must've gone through with me. He will not eat because he's too busy or it's not what he feels like or whatever. I am still like this to this day, where I am just not hungry first thing in the morning, and sometimes not even for meals. I don't have any super good suggestions for you...because honestly, my kid, although healthy, does wake up sometimes so lacking an energy that I get scared that he has something serious. And usually that's after a day when I'm not following him around feeding him. He's 5 btw, and it has gotten a bit better in the past year maybe. But seriously, what I did is stop caring what dh's relatives would say to me (or dh) as far as feeding him. In my culture and a lot of others, little kids (and yes that includes 5,6,7,8) are often fed by their parents...not the entire meal..but if the child is too distracted, then the parent will feed them something from their fork/spoon. We sometimes negotiate what he will eat. He really just likes salad for all meals (only lettuce). So I will give him lettuce, and sneak pieces of pancakes into his mouth if he lets me (if it's breakfast). Btw, I am the most adventurous person I know (except the guy on TV who travels and tries things like anteater intestines or whatever) as far as trying different foods (not just different preparations of one food)...so being a distracted eater hasn't hurt my desire to try new foods...in fact my mom often said that I would eat anything except her cooking.
I've read about Satter, trying to see if it would work for us...but I can't imagine eating every day at the same time...seems too constrained for how we live. And the only person who I know IRL who is a big proponent of eating at the same time, etc, is overweight and has been as long as I've known him. And he usually eats meals alone, because even as an adult, he HAS to eat at a specific time. But whatever works for you...who knows?
Now, my other son, 2, who was spoon fed as a baby, is completely different. He wakes up saying "feed me". He will come and get you and make you give him food when he's hungry. He feeds himself 100% and is very good with a spoon and fork, etc. He does not get distracted from his food. So, just like dh :) And you know what, he is on the exact same growth curve as ds1. They weighed the same when they were born, and at every health visit, he's been the same in height and weight as ds1. So their eating patterns have no influence at all that I've seen. Except ds2 is easy because I just set food in front of him, and ds1 is hard.
--- Here is the advice I would give myself (so I can be more objective, it's so hard to step outside yourself sometimes):
- don't stress out. that doesn't help. don't yell, cajole, plead, threaten, punish, bribe, etc for food.
- ask / work together to see what ds will eat and then try to feed him other things in the meantime or later if what he's chosen isn't sufficient - if that's possible....sometimes our days are busy, and I cannot spend all day just to feed him
- offer cheeses, olives, yougurt other things he likes that have good fat in them
- don't worry about what anyone else is telling you about how you will be feeding him when he's in college, like so many things in life (potty training, co-sleeping, bf, etc), this is baloney. Yes, your kid will remember the fights you had over food - so don't have those. But the fact that you gave her a bite of your peanut butter sandwich, nah.
- make sure there's plenty of outdoors crazy running around playing time - that helps with the appetite.
- talk about why we eat certain foods, and how they're good for us. Not in a preachy way, but as in sharing information
- allow the kid to help you cook but not make him eat it if he doesn't want to...don't make it manipulative
- again, don't stress out.... :)
sorry this is so long
I don't know if my husband is like this, but it may not be relevant because my husband is autistic and my daughter is not, so most of his behavior is abnormal and it's hard to know what it's attributable to. I was not like that as a kid.
We used to always eat at the same times, but it was so much worse then. Seems like it worked exactly opposite to the problem so much that for a while, I thought it WAS the problem.
Thanks for the help list!
Adding on to the suggestion of dessert 1st - if it's pure protein/clories/healthy food you're looking to get into her rather than just junk for the sake of eating (which would be my path of choice but fortunately/unfortunately I have one of those "will eat me out of house and home" kids and fear my grocery bill she she hits puberty if she can already eat this much at 14mos!) then I'd look into alternative things like vegan brownies made with black beans (http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/09/06/no-flour-black-bean-brownies/) - junk food taste but packed with heathy stuff like beans and coconut oil!
Does she like things that are different and that's why she likes food that other make? You could try doing a dinner swap with some friends - everyone makes a meal or two for each friend in the group that you can freeze and everyone walks away with a few meals. So if 4 friends are involved and each person makes one meal (ie one for everyone) you all walk away with 3 meals.
I'm not so sure the "I'm starving" really is a sign of her ignoring hunger cues. If you're leaving out food all the time, and she avoids it but then wants what someone else has (dad) or what's availble on the go (nuggets) then clearly she's capable of knowing when she's hungry and is using your frustration to get her to eat to her advantage. She's shopping for the next best option. I'd give her fewer options, and have in the back of your mind that if she's eating breakfast, then skips lunch and all snacks before dinner, that at that point she IS going to need to eat and you'll need to plan her choices carefully so that you don't wind up caving when at bedtime she's crying for food that she shoud have eaten a few hours ago. You have to make her thinks she's one-uping you but really you're two steps ahead of her.
Sounds like reading at the table is not an option with you needing to feed the younger one too, but do you have any audio books which you could put on. We've found them helpful for other situations where we need the children to stay in one place. For us they key is that they have to be pretty familiar stories, new ones are still to distracting.
Transition times are hard for both mine, I find keeping meal times regular, and making sure they have plenty of warning to pack up the activity help us. We use a timer like this where the kids can see it counting down. It's worked really well for things like computer games where they can only save at a certain point. They know not to start a new level when the timer is on amber.
I also agree with the PP who said maybe there are too many choices, my kids do better choosing between 2 items rather than the whole pantry.