How does your toddler eat? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 09:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for reading everyone!  We're having some difficulties with 16 month old DD right now with eating, and I'm not sure where to start!!!!  Right from day 1 we struggled with nursing.  She had a bad round of GERD that made it painful and uncomfortable, we never got a good latch, and she preferred the bottle by three weeks. By 4 months she had weaned herself and has never looked back.  To make things more complicated, because of the GERD, we had to give her yucky tasting medicine for the first 9 months of her life -which the only way we could get in her was via spoon.  Hind sight is 20/20 but now I realize how stupid that was because she associates spoon with something yucky that she's forced to take.  SO needless to say starting solids was difficult and she has always preferred finger foods that she can manipulate herself rather than eating via spoon.


So NOW that she's 16 months, she still loooooves her bottle.  She'll honestly starve herself throughout the day, until she can have her bottle (which is nap time and bedtime) when she'll guzzle down 8-9 ounces in one sitting.  This is not a pickiness issue, because she eats everything (peas, carrrots, hummus, meat, pasta, etc etc) but this is when she's willing to eat, which is usually one day a week. She'll pick here and there and you can get food in her by chasing her around as she's playing and popping things in her mouth as she's distracted, but surely this isn't setting up good eating habits? And it happens all day everyday and I never even know how much she's really taking in.


I've read "How to get your child to eat, but not too much" which stresses family meals, scheduled eating, and just relaxing in general about how and what the kid eats, but I feel like we could still be doing something different.  Why doesn't she associate real food with meals?  Why will she only sit in a high chair for 3 seconds before saying "all done" and gettting down, although I KNOW she's starving?  Should I be weaning her off the bottle because she's filling up with milk, but how do I do that?  I don't want to just make the bottle disappear, I don't believe in that kind of approach.


I'm also struggling with timing.  How long does your toddler go between meals/snacks?  DD get's up at 8:00, I make a breakfast of oatmeal, or eggs and toast, fruit salad, whatever around 8:30.  She eats 2 bites and then wants to get down.  I then pack a bunch of snacks (sliced ham, cheese, fruit, crackers) in the diaper bag and we head out for the morning.  I'll usually get her to eat some of this stuff in the car on the way home around 11:00 if she hasn't had some before then)  We arrive home at 11:30 and she's exhasuted so I have no time to make her lunch, so I make her a bottle and she takes a nap.  Here's issue number 1...should I try to get home 1/2 an hr earlier?  do I make the bottle only half the amount so when she wakes up she's hungry for lunch? But she wont go to sleep if she's then because she's had 9 ounces of milk, she isn't hungry again until 3:30 when I'll attempt to feed her again, two bites later she's back to running around.  BY 5:00 I have to start the tub and bedtime routine so when do I give her dinner? I offer her food at 3:30 and 4:30?  And then when she doesn't eat, she gets a thickened feed bottle around 5:30 and another regular bottle at 6:30/7:00 on her way to bed.  And I don't wanna feed her after her tub, because it makes SUCH a mess, I like to do that before.  


AAAHHH, I'm so frustrated, you all see where I'm going with this. Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated!  I'd love to know how your toddler's eat, or don't eat. What's your eating schedule? thanks!

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#2 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 03:20 PM
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Awww, I totally feel your frustration.  Ours comes from sleep more so than feeding, but it's the same onlslaught of "When do I... but then how do I....???"  My daughter isn't so bad with food anymore, but she also had huge latching problems, bottle-drinking problems, GERD, started solids late (8 months) and didn't start using food for nutrition until well after a year.  I would recommend "pouch" foods (we like the Earth's Best ones, but Plum Organics and lots of other companies make them).  DD's food transition was kind of like "drink milk - drink food - eat food."  I also think setting a food schedule is a good idea for your daughter, and perhaps try sitting her at her own little table for meals, or somewhere other than her high chair if that's just not working.  Our food schedule is like this (at 22 months):


6:30 Wake-up

7:30 a.m. Breakfast

9:30 a.m. Snack (often in the car)

11:30 a.m. Lunch

12:30 p.m. "Nap"

3:00 p.m. Snack (again, sometimes in the car)

5/5:30 p.m. Supper

6:00 p.m. Start bedtime routine

6:30 p.m. Bottle before bed

7:00 p.m. Sleep


We don't do a bath before bed, and I think that makes things a bit easier.

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#3 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 04:05 PM
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The spoon w/medicine is a tough one.


My DS (16 mon) now eats with a toddler fork (no spoons anymore). Occassionally he wants my fork/spoon to eat with, I usually let him use the full size utensils too. Maybe this would make a difference for your DD?


I had a hard time BFing him, he was only BF the first 6 weeks. I tried SNS, but that didn't really work for us, so he's a bottle baby too.


This is loosely our normal routine:

5:00am "night feeding" bottle, goes back to bed.

8:00am wakes up and has breakfast.

10:30am nap (1 - 2 hours)

12noon lunch

3:30pm nap (1 - 1.5 hours)

6:30pm dinner

7:30pm bath/brush teeth/book

8:30pm night bottle

9:00pm bed

1:00am "night feeding" bottle


I let him "snack" between meals and if he doesn't eat a good meal - I try to get him to drink 6oz of milk.


He doesn't alway get up for the night feedings, I am hoping he will sleep through the night by 18 months.

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#4 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 06:12 PM
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My son is 17 months.  I just weaned him from the breast a few weeks ago.  I know it's different the bottle, but maybe not so much in the weaning sense.  I used a gentle, mother lead weaning process with him.  I started removing one session out of the day and replaced it with reading/cuddling with him.  After about a few weeks to a month I would take away another session and continued like this until we were down to just the before-bed nursing.  


It was our usual routine to nurse up in his room in the rocking chair just before I put him into his crib.  So, instead of doing that, I started nursing him down in the living room for the last one of the night BEFORE we brought him up to get his pj's on.  After the pj's I would read a book to him and cuddle him while rocking.  It took him a few days to adjust and he whined a little bit, but soon got the hang of it.  Once he was adjusted to that I just removed it all together.  There haven't been any problems.  


Like I said, I know you said you bottle feed, but I can't imagine it being that different as far as the weaning pattern...just a thought.


We had a bit of a hard time transitioning from milk to food too.  

I second the "pouches".  I use the Plum Organic pouches for snacks, or if he won't eat dinner with us or something.  Which is allot lately.  Until he can understand that he needs to eat dinner and I can explain that he won't get to have whatever he wants all the time, I feel bad not giving him at least something.  I just untwist the top and give it too him and he sucks it down.


But here's how our day looks.


Between 7 and 8 a.m. DS wakes up. Get dressed, has breakfast.

About 10 a.m. snack time

About 11 - 12 noon lunch time

About 1 - 2 p.m. snack time

2:30 nap time for 1-2 hours

After nap, very light snack if at all

About 5:30 - 6:30 Dinner time

After dinner, bathtime, then some play time in living room while I clean up the kitchen

About 7:00 p.m. pj's on, read book and bedtime

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#5 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 06:39 PM
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Our schedule (DS is 21 months)


wake up around 6:30am and nurse


breakfast 7:30am (usually toast/fruit/egg or oatmeal or yogurt/toast)


snack sometime around 9 or 9:30am (a veggie pouch or crackers/hummus or something else pretty hearty, sometimes this  is a bigger meal than breakfast)


lunch at 11am (usually dinner leftovers...some sort of bean/rice dish and a veggie)


nurse around 12:45 (prior to nap)


wake up and afternoon snack around 3pm (fruit or veggie or nursing)


dinner at 5pm (hmmm, we eat a LOT of beans)


nurse at 7pm before bed


My wife tends to want to chase him around with food but I'm more of a stickler for set meal times...and since I do most of the food prep it tends to be more of a set thing at our house.  I do tend to treat nursing as a "snack" and since we don't offer cow's milk often it is his primary source of dairy.  From what I've read the suggested amount of milk a day for a toddler is no more than 16-24 ounces a day--and it sounds like your daughter isn't having more than that.  


Otherwise, have you thought about giving her the morning snack and then her lunch earlier?  That might give you time to have her eat a meal w/o feeling like her only option prior to nap is milk.  The other thing is perhaps letter her eat "clean" food (as we call it in our house) after her bath (things like plain noodles with frozen peas or bits of cheese and crackers or slices of fruit and yogurt (thinned with milk) in a sippy cup.  Oh, and we make sitting down for dinner a big deal--if he finishes before we do he needs to wait for us to finish before he gets down from his high chair.  He can color or look at a book if he wants, but otherwise we expect him to eat with us.   Sometimes he'll eat more of his meal if we offer bites while he is sitting with us looking at a book (one we don't mind getting dirty!).  


Good luck!  And, I can pretty much guarantee that she won't starve to death as long as she's offered food (altho' I totally get the stress over feeding our kiddos...we certainly stress/worry more than we need to when he has days where he seems to live on air).

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#6 of 7 Old 01-26-2012, 08:20 PM
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At 16 mos, my DS was still mostly getting the bottle.  I'd put him in his chair 2 or 3 times a day with food, but I didn't stress over whether or not he was going to choose to eat it.  Some days he did, some days he didn't.  I didn't start pushing the weaning from the bottle thing until he was 2, although if he had been willing to drink cow's milk, I would have started trading formula for milk earlier than that. 


Somewhere around 2 I got rid of the high chair because it became a big bone of contention.  He couldn't climb in/out of it by himself, and I couldn't deal with the constant up/down he wanted to do.  So we switched to free-feeding.  He gets a plate on the coffee table that I keep food on all day.  If he wants something different than what is there, he just has to ask.  Some days he eats TON of food, and some days he doesn't.  But he's down to bedtime/nighttime bottles only now, so during the day it's juice/water and food, or nothing.  And he gets to decide which it is. 


I start most days by giving him a banana when he wakes up.  This gives me time to cook him a piece of toast, an egg and sometimes a sausage link (all cut to finger-food size - sticks that are easy to grasp or bite-sized).  The toast typically disappears first, the sausage goes about 80% of the time, and the egg lately is hit or miss.  I may also peel a mandarin and put that on his plate, although he hasn't eaten one all week.  He also gets a straw cup of juice/water mix (he never figured out a sippy and he refuses straight water).  Around lunchtime he'll often ask for a "snack" (granola bar) or a sandwich (either peanut butter or cream cheese or sometimes a quesadilla).  The fruit bowl he has free access to the apples and bananas.  He might ask for crackers or cookies or grapes or cheese (usually string cheese) throughout the afternoon.  I'll refill his juice cup when it's getting low.  I try to make sure he eats something around 5, but it's rarely a dinner food, more likely cheese or an apple.  If I'm making pasta he'll eat some, but otherwise dinner foods are hit or miss (he'll eat creamed spinach, but he won't eat hamburger).  I make sure he gets one last snack before bed, and he gets a 9 oz bottle at bedtime, and usually another one in the wee hours.  This has all happened in the 4 mos since his 2nd birthday. 


Oh, and while he loves forks and spoons and chopsticks, he rarely uses them for the purpose for which you and I intend them.  He might stab his apple with his fork and eat it like a candy apple, but mostly he just wants to play with the shiny.  He eats with his fingers, or if something requires a utensil I feed him off my plate. 

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#7 of 7 Old 01-27-2012, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, this is very helpful.  Especially seeing other people's schedules.  After looking, it seems like we offer food too often throughout the day, so there's a steady stream, and she's not really having the opportunity to get really hungry.  The mid-day bottle really isn't helping anything, so I will try to SLOWLY wean her off of that one.  I also like the pouch ideas so we'll give that a shot.  If anything, it's just nice to get a reminder that it all works out in the end, and most things aren't worth stressing over.  It's amazing how much one little person can drive you nuts though! :)

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