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Archive for March, 2012

Or, as I like to call it: Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat!

Last week, we found out at our 18-month wellness visit that Max, our little superhero, is in the 21st percentile for weight. To be exact, he weighed 23 pounds, 11 ounces, just a little bit more than his 9-month weigh in. So, we made a date with the nutritionist the following Monday.

Now Max was nursing a cold, courtesy of Mommy, plus he is teething, plus he had five shots at the doctor’s office, which meant that weekend, he wasn’t interested in eating a damn thing. We show up to discuss Max’s weight on Monday, and learn that he’s lost half a pound. Way to kick start that conversation, eh?

Now, we’ve already been through the masses of blood tests, back when he dropped weight at a year. So we move on to summarizing Max’s eating habits and getting a recommended list of foods to add to his diet, which includes

  1. One tablespoon of almond, peanut, or cashew butter on toast, bagels, waffles etc.
  2. One ounce of heavy cream per eight ounces of whole milk.
  3. Lots of dips: ranch, dressings, cheese sauce, with dippers like proteins, mini bagels and soft pretzels.
  4. Cream cheese, drinkable yogurt and puddings.
  5. Butter or olive oil on all veggies, breads etc.
  6. Pediasure for the days where he won’t eat a meal.

We also are to add a snack at night, and to try and increase his meat eating. For the next few days, this brings about a whole new shopping/food prepping reality that I’m still adjusting to. I’m checking yogurt shakes (RE: Danimals, Gogurt) to sneak a snack in him before naptime, but they’re all made with lowfat milk; same with prepackaged pudding, totally sans the added calories of whole milk. I’m giving him Tagalongs as snacks, the peanut-butter-filled Girl Scout cookies, because they’re an awesome 70 calories a pop. I’m smearing butter on everything, and making full crockpots of stew meat and pulled pork so he has some consistent meat choices.

And yet. He won’t eat.

At the most, he’ll snack on dry cereal and raisins and occasionally eat a slice of toast or a few tablespoons of peas. He’ll drink milk and some Pediasure. And for the past two days, running a low fever, I can’t even get him into the high chair.

We have tried a litany of excuses and suggestions for this new behavior, which began 12 days ago after his visit to the pediatrician. He’s teething. He’s running a fever. He’s trying to exude control. He’s not feeling well. He’s getting over the shots.

We also have tried adjusting mealtime behavior: from high chair to booster seat, at the table; not praising nor scolding him for eating/not eating; giving him smaller portions of food; remaining nonchalant during meal time.

Some days, I am so angry I cannot see straight. I literally have to walk away from the table, because it makes every neuron in my brain explode when he doesn’t eat. French toast? No. Pulled pork? No. Buttered corn? No. Grapes? No. Just no no no no no to everything that he once ate with vigor. Thank god we haven’t taught him how to say the word yet.

In discussing this with other moms that are dealing with similar issues, we find it’s the exhaustion of not finding a solution to the issue. It’s exhausting exuding so much effort and energy into preparing food that our toddlers turn their nose up at, or worse, squish it in their little baby fists. It’s wondering what to do now, when the problem isn’t just that they won’t eat, but that they need to gain weight, not contribute to losing more of it.

At the end of our conversations, we tell one another the same thing. “Keep calm, and carry on.” So for now, I shall.

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Last Tuesday, our morning started with this:

Little Max was done with a diaper change and Ned watched him run into his bedroom, trip, and eat a face full of rocking chair. We went off to the pediatrician’s office to get him checked out, crossing our fingers that he didn’t need stitches. (Sidebar: We learned the hard, expensive way that most trips to the ER for cuts and whatnot result in no stitches, but instead just a $100 copay for the visit. And nurses goo-ing over our son.)

Luckily Max is tough, tougher than Mommy, I think. The day before his tumble we were at the peds office to see a nutritionist, reason being that our most recent wellness visit revealed that Max has only gained one pound since we left Florida in November. Which in the battle against his weight loss during month nine to month 12, we’re back to his original 9-month weight.

All of this is compounded with a giant immunization/Hep B shot cocktail given at his wellness visit, which basically causes Max to completely lose his appetite for the four days prior to our nutritionist meet and greet. We show up for that appointment to learn he’s lost half a pound over the weekend.

Top that off with the barrage of questions at our first talk with our new doctor. Is he able to stack blocks? Yes. Throw toys? Max had just thrown my newly-found sunglasses across the room mere moments before. That’s a yes. If you ask him to locate body parts, say his nose, will he point to it? Well, he puts his finger in his nose, does that count? Does he know at least seven words? Um, not all at once. Does he say “mama” and “dada”? Not directly to us, no.

At the end of this the doc looks at me and says, “Okay, well, be sure to work with him on that.” Hmm … maybe I should be working on a new doctor. By the time we hit up the nutritionist and then Mikey hit up the chair, I was at the end of my momma rope. What am I to do to fix all of this?

The lovely Kelly Ripa always tells this great joke, about how when you take home a new flatscreen television, you get a user manual thick enough to rival War and Peace, but when you take home a baby, they give you a single sheet of paper. Darn it, right about now, I wish there was a Mommy Manual.

I know that you can’t predict the health and development of every baby. I know I can’t prevent all trips and falls, and I know there is danger in comparing each child to an imaginary “normal” and wondering if he’s falling behind. Why doesn’t he have a giant vocabulary? Ned and I are both academics. Why doesn’t he say “yes” and “no” and “good-bye”? Why doesn’t he know where his nose is? (Actually, I think he does know, but he’s smart enough to know he doesn’t have to tell us if he doesn’t want to.)

I’m not going to lie; I’m completely freaked out that he’s not gaining weight. He’s growing, he’s in the 91st percentile for height. But clearly, his eating habits are not working. And it’s too much to cover in just 500 words. So we’re taking notes from the nutritionist, starting to use some developmental tools and hopefully making some progress, soon to be reported in future blogs, as I start writing my own Mommy Manual.

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