Ritual Confessions

March 11, 2008

Sunday’s post — worrying about Charlotte

Filed under: Uncategorized — elissakaren @ 4:49 am

There’s an awful medical term — failure to thrive — which I can hardly stand to think of in relation to my little girl. It seems nearly impossible, in fact, that it could apply to her. My daughter is an exceptionally sweet-natured toddler who smiles easily and often. People remark upon her happiness almost daily. She’s incredibly social, physically adept (walking well and climbing everything within reach), active, intrepid, curious, interactive, talkative, mischievous, and playful.

There’s just one major worry. She is all but indifferent to food during the best of times. She comes close to avoiding it completely when she doesn’t feel well. And she has had cold after cold ever since starting pre-school. Her bug of the last week has been particularly oppressive, to the point where I took her to the doctor last week to rule out strep throat or an ear infection. While we were there, I had her weighed. She was 18 pounds ten weeks ago. And she is 18 pounds now. Totally off the charts for a 15-month-old.

This isn’t the first time her weight has been an issue. Last summer, I took her to a feeding clinic because at 8 or 9 months of age, she had no interest in or willingness to try solid food. All she wanted was breast milk. Moreover, most kids her age put everything in their mouths. She brought nothing to her mouth. After several regular visits to a team of specialists, she was coaxed past this aversion and began to tolerate being fed.

Now she’ll bring things to her mouth just fine. She’ll feed herself — a few Cheerios. A sip of milk. A crust of bread. A taste of chicken. Not long ago, she adored yogurt, which was a godsend — all the protein, calcium and many of the vitamins she needed in the course of a day. Now she’s refusing yogurt, she won’t have much to do with cheese, and despite being offered all kinds of other temptations many times a day, she just isn’t eating nearly enough to gain weight.

There are lots of things she doesn’t enjoy that are non-negotiable. I could enforce the move from our bed to the crib. I can enforce riding in the car seat whenever we need to drive somewhere. I can enforce washing her hair whenever necessary.

I can’t make her eat.

And I don’t know what to do. 



  1. I can’t imagine how scary this is for you and Nick. I know how often it’s on my mind, and I know that my own level of concern can be only a mere shadow compared to your own. I think the frustrating thing is that there’s so little you can do … just about the only practical thing you could possibly do at this point is wait to have her in a preschool situation until she’s made some progress in the weight department,so the inevitable small-child germ pool won’t set her back so much.

    Yesterday I was watching Daria smack her little weasel sister for some minor offense, and remembered how curious and patient she is when Charlotte comes to visit, and how unbelievably adorable it was when Charlotte was playing with her and laughing. You’ll have to bring Charlotte over for another session with her … she likes Charlotte far better than she likes Liu.

    Comment by davidrochester — March 11, 2008 @ 1:57 pm

  2. What a scary situation. My son would go literally DAYS without eating anything. I saw the doctor about it but, in my son’s case, his growth was fine so the doctor said there wasn’t anything to worry about. I can only imagine how you must worry and think about this.

    One thought…chamomile is supposed to be a natural appetite inducer. Is there anyway you can make her some tea and get her to drink it? Even making it as a fresh, cold drink might help. Or perhaps, if she likes juice, you can mix it in with the juice? I would think it would be worth a try. See if you can get her to take the tea and give it a few weeks and see what happens.

    What about activity? Does she tend to get hungry if she does a lot of running around? I know my kids would eat a lot after swimming and going to the park. But I do know each child is so different.

    I’ll ask around, too. If you’re willing to try herbs and natural remedies, there might be something out there for her.

    Comment by Corina — March 11, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

  3. Elissa, you might try having her seen by an ENT.
    When my youngest was small, we didn’t realize his allergies would cause his sinuses to plug and make him feel like he was choking when he swallowed. Getting him to eat was a big challenge. It also caused him not to hear very well and delayed his speech development.
    Just a few nose drops morning and night solved the problem.

    I know you must be worried and scared. I hope you figure it out soon.

    Comment by Shawn W — March 12, 2008 @ 3:58 am

  4. Ask your doctor about a prescription for Pediasure. You can usually take them to your local WIC office, get yourself qualified and get it through them if it’s a little too expensive for you. My youngest daughter we had similar concerns about, until we found out that the reason she wasn’t eating was because she preferred to drink milk all day long. She was being lazy! So the cure was to have her drink two cans of pediasure, one for breakfast, one for dinner, and then to offer her whatever she would actually eat for dinner, be it yogurt, fruit, etc… After she started gaining wieght the pedatrician told us to remove the can at lunch and offer her food. She refused it for the first few days, but then caught on that she wasn’t getting anything else, and finally started eating. But as I said this was done under the recommendation of our pediatrician.

    The concerns that the other commenters have offered are also worth looking into… Good luck. I know how these little ones can worry you when it comes to health and developmental issues.

    Comment by Square1 — March 13, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  5. favorited this one, bro

    Comment by Samsv — March 24, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

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