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2 Year Old Screaming At Food, Please Help Us!
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we are on the road to a diagnosis for celiac. We cut out gluten in his diet a month ago and the improvement in his bowels and his temperment have been staggering. One thing that has not changed is that he still refuses meats, veggies, fruits and eggs. He will only eat dry foods like cereal and crackers. gluten-free of course. When i place food infront of him he screams until i remove it. In my mind i think that we have only been gluten-free for a short while and so he may still not feel hungry alot of the time. His weight has remained stabled down to the amount of milk he has requested and drank.When i try and remove the milk, he will not eat all day long, no matter what, he will cry all day for food, but refuse to eat.

 

Now his daycare lady is getting concerned and is telling me that this is my fault, and that he has become picky and i have let him dictate to me. Her idea is to put one plate of food infront of him veggies and fruit, and if he refuses let him out the highchair, but if he gets hungry put the same thing in front of him all day long until he eats it.  I have a hard time with this idea, mainly as because he seems to only like dry foods and he is speech delayed and cannot communicate likes and disllikes well. She has said unless this improves she will not be able to take him as she wont allow him to eat ceral all day long. I really dont know what to do, he needs to learn to eat new foods but i dont think this approach is appropriate, She pretty much chastised me for not taking his eating seriously enough, If only she relised the hours of sleep lost, the hours spent cooking and researching. But i feel making him scream more about food will only create more of a desire to stay away from it altogether. Please help us!!

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Have you had his iron levels checked?  PICA can have different symptoms for young children.  There is the desire to eat non foods, but there can be a "crunch" desire too.  (Why some pregnant women chew ice ~ no nutritional value, but crunchy.  My daughter's symptom of PICA was to chew meat and then spit it out.

 

These symptoms are noted by others and labeled "picky eater".  Get his iron levels checked and understand he could have had gut pain eating other foods before.

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he has to be eating Guten to get checked. For a positive test result.  

My daughter was having problems with her 4 yo. She told the Dr. She wanted him to be tested for Celiac. Her Dr. said I don't believe food can cause behavioral issues in children. And that was that! My daughter has since put him on a Gluten free diet. And his behavior is dramatically changed. He was angry all the time. Now he is a wonderful lil boy. 

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And really the Day Care lady? It is none of her business!! It is not her place to say that kind of stuff. I'd find someone new. Or have a talk with her.

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Hugs. Huge hugs. Having a child that is beyond picky can be a strain on everyone (both parents and daycare providers!)

 

Hmmmm....this is a hard one though.

 

So, he likes crunchy. Here is what I would try to do (after getting his iron levels tested...my older son ate pebbles and that's how we found out he was iron deficient!)

I would either get some plates that are divided or get some silicone muffin/cupcake liners....probably the mini ones to start with.

In one of the liners put a crunchy veggie (carrots, sugar snap peas, cucumber)

 

In another....crunchy fruit. (grapes, apples, pomegranite)

 

In each of those, I would only put one or two pieces. I would NOT give him cereal or crackers or anything like that at this point. Tell him if he eats one bite of each he can have the cereal or crackers.....HOWEVER, I would only give him a small amount (like fill up the mini liner with it) and that would be all he would get.

 

Then at the next meal or snack time....same thing. Just a bite for now. Of course if he eats all of something fruit or veggie wise, give him more of that with a new fruit or veggie. Don't make a big fuss out of it but don't tolerate the screaming either. I understand the speech issue but letting him scream and then rewarding that response with what he wants will set you up for worse struggles as he gets older.

My little guy was a grazer when he was that age. He would rarely sit down for a meal but would keep coming back to his food and at that age I let him. I did the cupcake liner with him once I realized that the portions I was giving him were making his meals overwhelming. He's six now, diagnosed recently with Celiac and will eat just about anything I put in front of him. When I introduce a new food....it automatically gets put in a cupcake liner so it doesn't look like this huge thing he has to eat. He knows he has to take at least 3 full bites of it before he can decide he doesn't like it.

I never let them scream though. If that is what they want to do instead of eat, they can go to bed. I wish I would have thought of the cupcake liner thing with my older two (18 & 15) when they were little as they were both incredibly picky but ah well. :) I use the liners with my nephew also (he's 2) and they work like a charm with him.

 

Also, maybe getting a booster and letting him sit at the table with everyone will help too. They like to feel like they're part of what's going on and a high chair just seems to add more problems at this age than help.

 

Two is hard age for anything. Neither of my boys really had speech down until they were almost three, so I understand the no talking part. It's really hard if you suspect a food issue like Celiac. But replacing junk with gluten-free junk isn't helping. Small amounts of cereal/crackers and the like are fine but too much and it's going to be something else you have to figure out later. My older son was like that.....but with bread. He would eat an entire loaf by himself in one day if I let him. Good luck and if you have any questions/vent feel free to ask/vent away! :)

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And really the Day Care lady? It is none of her business!! It is not her place to say that kind of stuff. I'd find someone new. Or have a talk with her.

for realz. 

 

also, he is TWO - i agree with mommy, if he wants to scream, he can take it somewhere else.  but if the kid's got a special need (they can't tell what's making their tummy hurt!) as far as food and what he will eat, let him eat what he WILL eat.  there's time to work on his diet in the future.  

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Let toddlers make a choice (that you are comfortable with) when ever you can.  This is the time of life when they are so egocentric/trying to be little control freaks.

 

Remember this is a hard time for a little one to verbally communicate with you. 

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Thanks so much the cupcake wrapper is a great idea. After a year of going back and forth to the ped with issues of him eating non foods PICA, we did find he has an iron problem and we were told to give multi vits with added iron. But really if he has celiac, which im 99% sure he does then he wouldn't have absorbed them anyway. We only happened to hear at random from another parent when I told them issues I was having with him. She said switch his diet to gluten-free and see, so we did and things have changed a lot, he did his first solid poop in over a year and I almost cried with happiness haha.

 

He doesn't just like things crunchy, he only likes dry, crunchy stuff, so he will eat raisins, but any other dried fruit, and anything that is sticky or wet is a no go. He wont even eat pasta with sauce on anymore. He was never like this, just over the year he started dropping all his foods so that all that was left was crackers, cereal and nuts. Yay for the nuts! So all he was eating day in day out was gluten, no wonder he was in such a state. He just started to scream when I offered food and cried all day long, so we let him graze all day, im happy with that at this age, but his daycare is not at all. Maybe time to find another daycare huh?!

 

He wont even allow a carrot on his plate, and even if he will tolerate it he ignores it, and fruit he squishes in his hands and discards. His speech is very bad, like 20 words bad, but that's ok, I don't expect a conversation, but I understand he is not able to tell me why he doesn't like these foods, and so I feel like that should be respected until we can communicate. But as his mother, I worry terribly about his nutrition.

 

I know toddlers tantrum, I have a 5 year old as well that is autistic and I know the difference between tantrums, meltdowns and distress. His scream is distress and anger, im thinking he just has such a bad feeling towards food from past experience, as before all this he had the mother of all stomach flus that nearly landed him in hospital. The guy has really gone through it and I just want him eating well and being as healthy as can be :(

 

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You know what eles you can do , Is you can dehydrate veggies and fruits and powder them. You can sneak it in some stuff and he will not know the difference ... I know it sounds like alot of work, but the baby needs to eat. Poor lil guy! I have not ever dehydrated fruit but I have veggies. it works like a charm!! We just have a cheap dehydrator. I dehydrate and powder tomatoes , put it in my sauce to make it richer. 

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And another thing. I have never been about bread. I have just never been a big fan. Also noodles I have never been a big fan, no special reason. Just never been about it. Then was dx'd with Diverticulosis , was told tp up my fiber. So I satrted eating heavy wheat bread. It sent me thru a tailspin you cannot imagine ... that led me to Celiac. My point in telling you this is .. Is that why I never really liked bread and noodles? My body actually knew I couldn't handle it? MAby there is an underlying reason he just doesn't want and like things. 

 

I sure hope he does better!! All the best!! To you and him.

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It sounds tough for all of you. I totally agree that it's normal to be sooo picky at that age, but to actually refuse food all day is a bit more intense and suggests he cares about this a lot. There are feeding therapists and group programs. It could be a combination of things, where he associates some food with pain or has motor issues from the celiac. But they can be tough habits. I'd try the suggestions above but if you have insurance that covers it or the funds, I don't think it would hurt to consider feeding therapy.

 

My DS has OT for motor issues and has needed help just eating "hard" foods. I think without his OT honestly telling me that if he spits out meat to have him pop it back in :wacko: , I would NEVER have done that, but you know it worked and he needed more than the avg. kid who just needs to be exposed.

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Hugs mama. Wish I had more advice but I'm drained tonight. Maybe a nice long chat with the daycare. Unfortunately they can't all handle feeding issues......some just simply don't have the patience, while others simply have too many kids. Good luck!

 

It breaks my heart thinking about the poor little guy screaming like that.

 

Curious, does he eat for anyone else? Like, if he's at grandma's or an aunt's or a friend's house...does he eat things there that he wouldn't normally eat at home? I ask because my sister had a similar problem and her little guy would eat for me and for grandma but not much at all for mom & dad. It's a tough one.

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Will he drink really smooth things through a straw? My daughter also had a lot of feeding difficulties as an infant and toddler (before her celiac diagnosis). Part of it was mechanical - she had some fine motor skill delays and sensory issues, and she gagged on lots of things and completely refused certain textures until she was over two. However, what finally worked was giving her lukewarm homemade purees through a straw. She wouldn't eat soups in a bowl, but she was happy to drink them as long as they were totally smooth. We told her it was a yummy new drink (not a food), and that also seemed to help. I'd make homemade fruit sauces (just peeled apples, pears, or peaches cooked and blended with enough water to make them drinkable through a straw), butternut squash, red lentils, and even kale or broccoli puréed with potato. As long as she could suck it through a straw, she thought it was loads of fun.

She immediately became a much less picky eater after going gluten free, but even before that the "shakes" seemed to help encourage her to try the same flavors in normal form. For instance, after a while of enjoying the pear shakes, she was willing to try fresh pear slices. And after having onion in soup purées for a few weeks, she actually astonished me by picking up a piece of raw onion when I was cooking one day and eating it, then asking for more!

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Will he drink really smooth things through a straw? My daughter also had a lot of feeding difficulties as an infant and toddler (before her celiac diagnosis). Part of it was mechanical - she had some fine motor skill delays and sensory issues, and she gagged on lots of things and completely refused certain textures until she was over two. However, what finally worked was giving her lukewarm homemade purees through a straw. She wouldn't eat soups in a bowl, but she was happy to drink them as long as they were totally smooth. We told her it was a yummy new drink (not a food), and that also seemed to help. I'd make homemade fruit sauces (just peeled apples, pears, or peaches cooked and blended with enough water to make them drinkable through a straw), butternut squash, red lentils, and even kale or broccoli puréed with potato. As long as she could suck it through a straw, she thought it was loads of fun.

She immediately became a much less picky eater after going gluten free, but even before that the "shakes" seemed to help encourage her to try the same flavors in normal form. For instance, after a while of enjoying the pear shakes, she was willing to try fresh pear slices. And after having onion in soup purées for a few weeks, she actually astonished me by picking up a piece of raw onion when I was cooking one day and eating it, then asking for more!

That's an interesting idea! I never would have thought of that. Probably because the idea of drinking anything other than a fruit (like a smoothie) kind of grosses me out. I don't really know why though....probably has something to do with having worked in a nursing home and having to thicken liquids and all that kind of stuff.

I could see trying that with your little guy if he's willing (then he's not actually seeing the food) and then after a few weeks if that's successful...have him help make an easy one.....then if that's successful using the cupcake liners to try small amounts of the fruits/veggies/what have you, to see if that works.

When I was a kid I was picky too....then I had kids and they were picky as well. Made me realize just how hard it can be to feed kids! Then I got lucky and had a kid that was only semi-picky and the difference was amazing! Made me apologize to my mom for being so picky! Even if I STILL can't stand raw tomatoes (the look, the feel, the smell or the taste!!!!)

Hopefully some of these suggestions help and your little guy starts to venture out of his shell with regards to foods.

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Thanks for all your help. So it seems there are some sensory issues with the food, which we suspected based on the types of food he likes, and we already know of an OT as my daughter has one. She has recommended getting an OT feeding specialist involved. And to try some messy play with food not at mealtimes to get him to learn about textures being fun without pressure. I hope maybe with the gluten gone he will become less sensitive to these things. But we have had a flare up, mummy didn't know that playdoh from the store had wheat in it. Big error!!! He ate some, now he has had watery rancid poop all day long for 3 days and back to his tired fatigued self and of course, restricted eating and no tolerance of anything. :(

 

He refuses food for everyone, he is indeed very passionate about it, this is not a tantrum, this is distress, his daycare lady said in over 20 years of working with kids she has never seen anything like it.

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Awww....the poor thing!

I thought I'd ask about the eating for anyone else. Sometimes kids are weird like that. Even when they're distressed. Sounds like you have a good handle on what is going on....an OT eating specialist sounds like a good idea. They probably have better ideas, too. :)

 

Hope you get it all figured out.

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Big hugs, mom! You may want to try using sign language. We found it very helpful for one of our children that was a very late talker. And my most classic celiac child has been distressed for a long time, and I think a lot of it is related to chronic belly pain. It can be very difficult to manage, and your child may have some chronic pain issues made worse by food. For our daughter, eating would often intensify and make worse the pain, so eating can become terrifying.

For iron, we found gluten free Floradix to be helpful, as it is liquid. Good luck sorting this all out. You may need to think long and hard about the daycare arrangements. Is a gluten free diet feasible there? Cross contamination issues abound in care settings, and you need a compassionate carer that understands, appreciates and acknowledges the responsibilities of feeding a diet. I would be providing all of your child's food if the carer is unwilling to make the necessary accommodations

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OMG Yes!! I have heard sign language is wonderful for kids!! No time like the right time!! 

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We used sign language too.  It was before we knew about Celiac and it was for my kids to bond.  My son was 3 1/2 when my daughter was born.  I am told it was not 100% accurate, but it worked.  It was from some books and kid videos.

 

Now that my son needs to take a second language, he is taking sign language.  He is trying to go for a 4 year certification and is considering being an interpreter. ;)

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I hope you can find help soon and do something about this.  Truly a two year old shouldn't be screaming about tummy aches for long.  I think if it is a matter of will (what the two year old wants to eat) that you should help the two year old to eat different dishes.  However, if it is a matter of pain, it needs to be solved and fast.

 

D

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We got a body poster (kid type - labels for the different body parts) to help us better understand our children communicating pain. Sometimes it was easier for them to point to the body chart in their efforts to explain their pain to us. Good luck getting it sorted.

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