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Looking for a pediatrician...need answers to why my 4 year old grandson will not eat

Discussion in 'Health and Wellness' started by Heaven Bound, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Heaven Bound

    Heaven Bound New Member

    Jul 14, 2005
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    My grandson practically eats next to nothing...he will go all day sometimes on half of a poptart...he does drink liquids but not excessive amounts...he mostly likes dry food such as chips, crackers but will on occasion eat pancakes, chicken nuggets, fries or possibly yogurt...we are all worried about him but his doctor says he will eat when he get ready to...that's just a hard answer to swallow...he is thin but usually has a lot of energy but lately has seemed tired...he at times will actually almost panic if we put new foods on his plate for him to try...he watches other kids eat and acts like he wants to...is it possible for a 4 year old to force himself not to eat even when he is hungry?...at times he will say is hungry but then will not eat when we fix things for him that he has actually asked for...another thing we have noticed lately is that is has bad breath and there's no other way to put this, but when he has gas, it is foul also. Do we trust his doctor or seek help somewhere else? If there is a doctor or anyone here who has experienced this with there own child, i would love to hear what you have to say. Many blessings, heaven bound
  2. Benjamin

    Benjamin Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Oct 6, 2004
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    I’ve seen kids eat like this before and it always has to do with the way they are being raised and taught/given to eat. From what it sounds like I believe you have cause to worry. I know of one mother who would often give her children a large bag of chips and a thirst buster and let this pacify her daughters all day; one of the daughters grew a large tumor of her spine at the age of seven.

    I don’t know how much authority or say so you have as a grandparent but the first thing I suggest is taking away all the sugar out of his diet for starters. My bet is that the drinks he consumes are also full of nothing but sugar. BTW, poptarts and fries are on the top of my list for the most worthless foods one can eat. Chips, crackers, chicken nuggets and pancakes are all JUNK FOOD. There are some healthier pancakes that can be made and the yogurt could be good, but many are also “incredibly” high in “sugar".

    Feed him three scheduled healthy meals a day, nothing else, no snacks, no sugars, and I’ll bet he’ll start eating soon enough. I would try to make it interesting for him but would also make sure that he at least eats something at each meal.

    And yes, I would find a pediatrician that is competent enough to recognize this child’s diet is unhealthy and is willing to offer some guidance or send you to a nutritionist for that guidance.
    #2 Benjamin, Dec 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2010
  3. abcgrad94

    abcgrad94 Active Member

    Jan 12, 2007
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    Actually, this is common in many little ones. Don't panic, and don't try to force him to eat. At mealtimes, keep introducing small portions of healthy choices for him. He will get it, eventually. It took my oldest dd a long time to eat meat. I was convinced she'd shrivel up and die from the lack of protein and other nutrients. She finally outgrew it.

    We have to remember his little tummy is very small, maybe the size of his fist. He may just want a few tablespoons of food at a time. That's okay, just make sure some of it is healthy. If he wants chips, fine. Just bake your own. Crackers? Find whole wheat or whole grain crackers.

    Often a child will not eat a certain food due to the texture, not the taste. For example, cooked carrots vs. raw carrot sticks, or baked potato vs. mashed potato. Find creative ways to present the food, but don't make a big deal out of it.

    Another thing I learned the hard way. After years of trying to get my youngest to eat certain foods, we found out she was actually allergic to those items and her body naturally gave her "icky" signals. Some common allergens to watch out for are peanuts, wheat, eggs, dairy, gluten, and soy.
  4. annsni

    annsni Administrator

    May 30, 2006
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    My first answer would be to have a full physical if he hasn't had it including testing him for food allergies, Celiacs disease and other metabolic conditions.

    After that, I'd begin to investigate if he doesn't have some sort of issue like Persuasive Developmental Disorder or some other disorder that would make just the feel or taste of food aggrivating to him.

    If all is normal, the best thing the parents can do is to come up with a healthy diet for him that is high in nutrition, low in junk and just not make an issue of it. Put the food in front of him, encourage him to eat but not force him. He must stay at the table with the family and enjoy the time together. At the end of the meal, take the food away and that's it. No snacks, no junk. If it's a time between meals (like between lunch and dinner), plan a healthy snack of something he may like and feed him that. Again, if he doesn't want it, that's fine but that's all there is. When you don't make as much of an issue of it, the child will not either.

    Finally, I'd make sure the child is taking a good multivitamin and quite possibly introduce something like Pediasure into his diet to make sure he is getting some proper nutrition.

    What are my credentials? I'm Dr. Mom. :D
  5. Gina B

    Gina B Active Member

    Dec 30, 2000
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    I am not a pediatrician but I have experience with this. I have five children and two of them had this issue. I'll exlain both of them.

    1. My birth daughter Anna.
    Anna had issues from birth. She had swallowing difficulties, uknown medical issues, and continually vomited. She was labelled as failure to thrive.
    After researching on my own because there were no answers, I asked her to be tested for celiac disease. That turned out positive. We kept her on soy formula for approximately four years and kept her on foods she would eat and not choke on. It wasn't a healthy diet, but it kept her alive. We found out later that she also has a misplaced heart artery and the pressure on her esophagus caused the choking. When food chokes you, you kinda just lose the desire to eat!
    Hers was a physical cause. Once she became older, she was able to eat without choking and while we now keep wheat and gluten products down, the celiac seems to be in "remission." Having read about the disease, trauma, such as her heart issue, probably caused it to flare, but she is no longer on that extremely restrictive diet. If she does seem to be getting touchy, we revert to drastically decreasing the wheat and gluten (we keep it low anyhow to avoid problems) and she has never had to go back on it fully yet.

    Child Two

    Wesley is now eleven. He's been in my home for a year and a half...he's my step-son.
    His mother died of cancer. While she was sick, he and his sister had many caregivers and he became used to being given whatever he requested. His diet was the most insane I've ever seen. He literally coated his food in salt. He either didn't recognize or failed to admit he knew what almost any vegetable was. Crackers, fries, chicken nuggets from McDonald's, pizza, milk, soda, and cinnamon rolls seemed to be his whole diet. And salt. He would put a pile of it on his plate and roll his food in it. He was thin and looked waxy. While his maternal grandmother said "he quit eating when his mamma died," that wasn't quite accurate. He ate, but only ate what he wanted.
    He was taken to the doctor and given a clean bill of health physically. He has reactive attachment disorder and strong OCD tendencies, along with just having been spoiled rotten.
    My solution was to quit giving him the junk and feed him normal.
    We started with one green bean cut into three pieces. He cried. He threw fits and screamed. He refused. It sat there all day. He finally ate it.
    This continued to be a fight...simply adding a tiny amount to his food.
    Then he decided to just quit eating in protest. I was more than happy to let him know it wouldn't work and that we'd be more than happy to take him to the hospital, where they could stick an iv in a vein in his arm or head and stick a tube down his throat and feed him liquids, but if we had to do that, he'd be a sorry little guy.
    He started eating a tiny bit of veggies with his food. We then progressed to giving him the veggies first and then when he was done, he could eat the rest of the meal.
    He gave us **** for months. He has an overbite and insisted he couldn't chew vegetables and we were being soooo mean. He pretended to choke and gag. When I made stuff, even sweets, he'd complain it wasn't store-bought and that he didn't like the frosting. He actually requested frosting that was more like plastic yes, he said "I like the kind that tastes like plastic."
    Uh uh.
    You eat what we give you or you don't eat, and if you don't eat, we can be fed with a tube.
    Along with all this I taught him how we get out food. We planted stuff with seeds and I explained how God provides and how cool it is to watch our food come up from nothing.
    We talked about gratefulness and how we weren't doing this because we hate him, but because we care. That it was selfish that we should go to a job and work to put food in his mouth and he would complain.

    I also started teaching him a bit of how to cook and he watched cooking shows to pique his interest in variety. Everyone wants to taste what they cook anyhow, right?

    Eventually he started eating it. If he complained, we took his plate away and he didn't get it back until the next mealtime and he missed what we were having because he had to eat what he complained about. We didn't warm it up because it was warm when I first served it. Further, if he complained we often gave him work to do to work the whininess out of his system.

    The boy now eats perfectly healthy. He is small and that's just his build, but he has a normal skin tone and looks healthy and is MUCH more active.

    The kid who used to scream and throw fits over a single green bean has eaten entire vegetarian dinners. He requests broccoli and another favorite is lima beans. We found that sugar and dairy products contribute to his mental issues so we have drastically limited them. He can have milk once a day and he can have sugary stuff on Saturdays and holidays. We had issues with his grandmother continuing to feed him junk during visits and then his behavior would be horrid, but after a healthy diet, he'd come home vomiting because his body no longer tolerating all that nasty food and it really sunk in with him that it's not good for him. We also ended up having to get extremely stern with other people outside the home because they were not grasping the concept, but now most everyone in his life is tuned in and understands that the dietary restriction on dairy and sugar physically harms him, so sneaking it to him is not being nice, it hurts him.

    It was maddening and frustrating and took a long time, but that's our job as parents. There were a number of times where I just walked away because a kid that age acting that way makes you wanna throw 'em through a wall, but that's not an option! He was depressed, spoiled, and has some mental problems and we had to work through that and not just force it, but try to instill it as a lifestyle instead of something he just has to do while we're in the picture.

    His sister had some of the same issues but working her through it was pretty much a breeze. We actually had to get her to QUIT eating so much. LOL She is a sugar addict and still will try at every turn to get sweets, but she's quit obsessively eating and stealing sweets from everyone and everywhere she could.

    They lost their mamma and that can mess with anyone's head. They were spoiled, and that was the doing of adults, not theirs, but that did make it their problem to work through.

    My advice? Take him to a gastroenterologist. Don't take the advice of just a regular doctor because anyone can overlook something or make a mistake. Anna and Wesley both went to a gastroenterologist.
    Anna, because she actually had a medical issue and not a mental one, also went to a nutritionist. They actually had us save everything that came out of her and write down everything she ate. They tested it to see her absorption levels and I was amazed that she was getting the nutrition she needed. (then again she ate some variety, unlike Wesley was doing)

    Kids stomachs are small. Look up the size of a four year old's stomach and see how much food it can hold. It isn't much. They said it was common for parents to watch and be really surprised at how little a kid actually swallows and be worried, especially in a kid with a tiny build, but she got every bit of nutrition she needed.

    But if he's eating like Wesley, he's also getting a lot of junk he doesn't need. Milk is almost a meal in itself in a kid, and juice and soda make you feel full. Water is great and cleansing and other drinks should be minimized.

    And he sounds SO much like Wesley. Poptarts, chicken nuggets, fries, and pancakes. The kid can eat his weight in pancakes! That was a big clue there...that he WOULD eat when it was what he wanted. The fact that your grandson sometimes won't is a little curious, but it could also be that he thinks he wants it or for some reason feels insecure about being cared for or just is kinda spoiled and wants to make sure you'll do what he asks, even if he doesn't really want or need what he asks for.

    Oh, the bad gas part. Anna had that when she was in the active celiac phase. Her output also was white and would float. That's a major sign right there so watch those things. When she got really bad she was losing blood in diapers and later into the toilet.

    I'll end this by strongly encouraging you to take him to a gastro doctor. Even then, push things. Anna's gastro doctor laughed out loud when I requested she be tested for celiac. She wasn't laughing when the test came back positive and when the scope showed rings of damage to my daughter's intestines.

    Long post, hope it helps somewhat though and that you're not too upset with my bluntness.