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My 3 year old has eating issues.

My 3 year old son has always been difficult when it comes to eating.  He would not eat anything other then Gerber stage 3 chicken dinner until he was around 18 or 20 months.  The first thing anyone ever got him to try other then baby food was a chocolate kiss at 18 months.  He has always had an issue with vomiting.  At 2 he was referred to an allergist who tested him for allergies which all came back negative and he wrote a perscription for prevacid for acid reflux.  This did help with the vomiting, but he still doesn't eat.  He is now 3 years and 3 months and does not eat one single vegetable.  He will nibble on fruit, but only a bite or two and not even daily.  He will occasionally eat chicken nuggets, fish sticks, crackers, pretzels, waffles, pancakes, and dry cereal.  The only thing he eats consistently is bread.  I am extremely concerned and not getting any help from his pediatrician.  He weighs 28 pounds and is 35 3/4 inches tall which puts him in the 5th percentile for both height and weight.  I have tried everything.  Including a chart system where he earned stickers for each new food he tried.  After earning so many stickers he would receive a reward.  This did not work.  He does drink Ovaltine daily, so he is getting some nutrition.  Does anyone know what is going on?
15 Responses
112359 tn?1226870683
Regarding the vomiting, do you mean that he bringing the food back up during or just after the meal? My son did that at nearly every meal until he was three and a half, then it slowly subsided until by age 5 he could control it for the most part. He has sensory processing disorder which affects him with oral aversions and texture issues. Certain textures he gags on, and with foods he does like, if he doesn't swallow quite right or takes a big bite and feels the food in his throat he will gag and throw it up. He had a very limited number of foods he would eat until age 5 or 6, and he still isn't what I would consider a good eater.

He did not have this diagnosis of sensory issues until he was 4, so until then I was baffled as to why he'd gag and throw up all the time when he ate. He could usually eat again right after, often he'd want the same kind of food he'd been eating- so I knew he wasn't sick, and I knew he liked the taste of the food. We never put him on acid reflux meds, I never thought it was reflux because there wasn't any stomach acid- only the food undigested.

Don't know if any of this can help you, but sometimes it helps to know your child isn't the only one with an issue. As for the vegetables, I was able to get my son to drink the low sodium V8 juice as an alternative. But he did eat ketchup and spaghetti sauce, so I knew the tomato juice wouldn't be a far stretch. Don't know if your son would be as accepting of it. If I were you, I'd add a multi vitamin to his daily routine.
Avatar universal
That does help, thank you.  That sounds a lot like him.  He hasn't ever vomited stomach acid either and he has gagged on foods since he was 10 months old and I gave him a Cheerio.  I doubt the V8 would work for him, unfortunately, he won't eat ketchup and the sight of spaghetti makes him gag.  Someone had mentioned sensory issues to me when he was 1, but since the Doc's never mentioned it, I just let it go.  I think I'll look into that.
Avatar universal
My son is the same way.  He turned 3 in Sept and basically stopped eating most foods shortly after turning 1.  We struggle to get him to try anything new and often when he does, even the tiniest bite will make him vomit.  It's reached the point now that even talking to him about trying a new food causes him to vomit (the anxiety of it).  The doctor thinks he is just picky.  We had him looked at for sensory issues but the team that evaluated him said there wasn't enough consistency with it.  We've been working on getting him to eat spaghetti by having it every week, cutting it up into small bites and putting tons of sauce on it.  But he still resists it and sometimes vomits.  

Between this and potty training, I can't take much more
Avatar universal
Don't worry to much as I was and still am the exact same way as your little one. No one knows why as everyone in my family eats fine it is only me who has what other say is an eating problem. When I was younger my mother was pretty much how you are now and she tried to force me to eat eggs, let me tell you that was the last time she tried to force me to eat anything after her 20 minute shower to remove the eggs and what ever other stomach content was all over her. The funny thing is I like the smell of eggs but can not eat them, I can eat ketchup but if I smell ketchup with eggs I get sick and begin to gag so I have to leave the house until breakfast is over.

If I smell any sea food I gag, if I see any dead animal sitting on the table I throw up, many say O you must be a vegetarian but then vegetables also make me sick aside from pees and a little bit of carrots (carrots sometimes make me sick but it kind of goes back and fourth). I also very much enjoy eating corn.

I have found that I have very bland taste buds meaning if I eat a food it can not be mixed with another food otherwise I get sick. All tastes have to be only one taste at a time. I have always been able to eat pasta and bread but if the two get into eat other I can't eat it.

This is all very difficult to explain but you may want to do what my mother did and feed your little one what ever they will eat it is OK to offer new foods but if the answer is no then it is no. Sometimes all I would eat was candy in a day, believe me my mother was absolutely ironic about this but then the eggs scenario would play back in her mind and she would chill out.

I am 38 years old right now and you will not believe how many times I have been to the doctors for check ups and they tell me they can not believe how healthy I am. I am a very active sports player and have always been in the top for performance so my eating habits have not slowed me down one bit.

Try to make a list of all the foods your little one likes and then break it down for each day based on the nutrients and set the meals based on that. Many doctors say feed your child during regular eating times but then again they can't figure out what the problem was for me or for your child so if your child gets hungry give something to eat regardless of the time of day. You will find as your child grows there pallet will expand a little and they will start to manage there own eating habits.

I hope this helps you to know you are not alone and to know that such eating habits do exist and have not hurt us in anyway.
Avatar universal
I was reading your post about feeding your child spaghetti, I also like spaghetti but sometimes I can't stomach it and other times I can but if it was a rigatoni then I would have no problems I never knew why but for some reason the sauce would bother me so what I did as I gotten older was I tried butter and never had a problem with spaghetti again.

I know this is not the answer you may be looking for but you may want to try this just to see if your child is basically like I am.

Give spaghetti with butter
Give spaghetti with a very lite amount of as plain as you can get it sauce (Rague) was always the easiest for me) and add a little sprinkle of salt. I know you are saying to yourself SALT I don't want to give salt, but the salt has always helped me when I was younger generate extra saliva and for some reason helped me to get and keep the foods down.
Avatar universal
I know I am making a lot of posts but this has been such a life long issue and there are so many things to say.

So I just wanted to add that the biggest issue that determines what I eat is the texture of the foods. So pay attention to what textures your child likes and this may help you find the foods they will enjoy.

I normally can not eat a food if the feel of the food in your mouth is soft, meaning if you where to give me rice that was ever so slightly over cooked and made very soft I would gag and if it was cooked where it was slightly to hard I would gag. I know you are thinking the answer is perfection and yes it is true and a high demand to put on parents but when the rice was cook with the happy medium between the two I could eat it, but this will make you laugh I always have to add salt to the rice otherwise I will gag.

Another example is I love tuna fish but I can not eat it unless I put potato chips on top for some reason I can not mix foods except for hot dogs with beans and tuna fish with potato chips if I do not mix these foods then the hot dogs make me throw up and the tuna fish gives me a bit of a dizzy spell.

As I said in my other post this issue is so difficult to explain there is no clear right or wrong answer, you are not going to find some miraculous cure for this, it made my mother crazy in the beginning so what I would suggest is stop with the tests and running to the doctors AS LONG AS YOUR CHILD IS HEALTHY and start feeding the child what they want to eat along with offering new foods as they grow, as long as there aren't any health risks then there aren't any problems.
Avatar universal
my little sister is 4 and hates to eat but she loves choclate milk so i got her these pediatric drink things from walmart that have lots of nutrients in them she loves them and just thinks she is drinking chocolate milk hope that helps some.
Avatar universal
thanks for the spaghetti ideas.  still no success.  he won't even touch pasta unless it's so covered in sauce that you can barely see it.  oh well.

i appreciate your insight.  both me and my brother have very sensitive gag reflexes as well as having other food issues but not to the same degree that my son has.  it's very challenging.  i'm thankful that he does eat some really healthy stuff- like yogurt, whole wheat bread and fruit.  the challenge is more when we're out with others and he won't eat at all.  i've had trouble getting family to understand that this is more than just pickiness.  as well as with my 2 yr old daughter who is becoming more and more aware that Caleb doesn't have to eat the same things that she does.  she's started turning her nose up at things as well but that's more because she's 2 and not because she doesn't like them.

i guess you just have to do the best that you can and try to help them to be healthy.
Avatar universal
My 19 month old daughter was diagnosed with "Oral Aversion". This is a type of sensory issue. She also has GERD. She eats enough to take the edge off her hunger. She was also a preemie. She's not even on a growth chart percentile for weight.
In my eyes you have a couple of options:
1. Get a second opinion
2. Ask for a referral for OT. This may help you with some of the food aversions.

How does your child do with different textures? AND did you know that there are 25 steps children with oral aversions go through in order to eat a new food?
Avatar universal
Hi, I am currently experiencing the same thing. The exact same thing with my 3 year old. I was worried sick that something will happen to her because she doesn't like to eat. What I did was to put all the solid food in a blender and make sure it's consistency is like gerber's. It worked! She eats them regularly and I feel confident that se's getting enough nutrients. The vomitting has subsided as well. She now likes spaghetti, fried chicken skins and french fries. Sad to day, the only type of food she is able to ingest without any problems would be potato chips and some other junk foods. Now hold your horses, we don't let her eat that but we had to when we were at our wits end finding ways to get food in her. She saw her brother eating potato chips and she got some. She didn't vomit or experience any problems. She was eating them like normal. We had to stop her from doing that though because it is unhealthy. We stuck to her food being put in a blender. Slowly, she is now eating some solid foods. We are still doing the blender thing but hopefully we can wean her away.
P.S. I would cry everyday from work when it was my turn to feed her. The process took 2 hours.
Avatar universal
I have a 3 yr old girl who only eats the same foods everyday. In the morning she eats a big bowl of hot cereal mixed with nesquick and a glass of milk. For lunch she eats rice porridge with tiny bits of chicken meat and yogurt. And for snacks half of a banana and milk or dessert tofu. For dinner though at about 6pm, she eats the same as lunch, rice porridge with either luncheon meat or egg. And about 7pm I give her half of avocado pureed and mixed with condensed milk and evaporated milk (it's kinda dessert). At 8pm another half of banana and 2 glasses of milk before she goes to bed. But every time i give her banana I have to mashed it so she can swallow.

My problem is, she's been eating the same foods everyday. So every week I have to cook rice porridge. And even she eats a lot, she doesn't gain that much weight which makes me stressed out. People might think that I am a lazy mother because of this. Other than that though she is very much active and smart toddler. I just started feeding her gerber vegetables as I can't let her eat any veggies. And she loves eat.

I am planning to bring her to the doctor to have her tonsils checked. Coz my oldest daughter has the same problems before.

My doctor once told me that me and my husband are asian so don't expect to have a big girl. As long as she is active and healthy.
Avatar universal
My son 2 yrs and 9 months old has feeding problems since we started introducing foods at age of 4 months. To this day,  he would vomit if he eats any kind of bread, tortillas, fruits, and a lot of vegetables. But he loves to eat what most kids his age resist, peas, beans, corn, broccoli and rice. The thing is his limit for all he eats is very less, he can't eat more than say a tablespoon of anything at a time. Doctors say he's very healthy and is at 75th percentile by weight and height. But my husband and I are tired of cleaning up vomits, spitting up, and trying to feed him. Since he doesn't eat much solid food, he still takes 30-36 ounces of milk daily in night and day. He loves French fries and Cheetos, and m&Ms, which sometimes we let him eat because we want him to eat something rather than just be on milk like infants. I introduced pediasure to him when he was 2, he likes that a lot.
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