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A child who does not eat or drink

  • 1.  A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-08-2019 12:37 AM
    I have been a family home child care provider for over forty years.  In all these years I have had children who are extremely picky eaters but this is the first time I have had a child who does not eat or drink all day long.  At first I though it was because this is a new environment. Then I thought it might be culturally relevant...we weren't serving familiar foods.  I have had several meetings with the parents and they both say he is very  picky at home as well.  At home he eats berries, watermelon, McDonalds chicken nuggets, string cheese, crackers and chocolate milk.  He is the fourth child in the family and the only child of these two parents. I am very concern.  We can't even get him to drink water.  I have the parents sending his lunch and serve the food according to their instructions.  We have sat him with the group and sat him separately with a staff member.  Usually he tells us at lunch time that he doesn't want to eat and he wants to go to his bed.  If we let him go he doesn't fall asleep immediately.  Usually lays there and watches the other children.  He separates hard from his parents but once they are gone, he's a different child, happy and glad to be here.  He has friends here...calls them his buddies. He is a  38 months old.    The parents are not inclined to take him to the doctor.  He looks healthy enough although he is little.  He maybe has one diaper change for all day.  He attends three days a week from 830 to 530.  He started the middle of July.  Please also  note that we have tried to downplay his eating issues.  We don't make a big deal of this but I feel that there is something wrong.  This is not normal behavior to not be hungry or thirsty.  Any advise would be sorely appreciated.

    Roberta Wright
    The Wright Child Care & Preschool
    University Place WA

  • 2.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-09-2019 05:30 AM
    I sent you an email Roberta in regards to your dilemma with the child that doesn't eat or drink   It is encrypted by vurtru and from the lady of the lakes.

    Kathleen Church
    Educator/ Owner// Provider
    Creative Center Childcare
    Cass Lake MN

  • 3.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-09-2019 09:26 AM
    Hi Roberta,

    I have never had the same experience, but I can only imagine that he is getting enough to sustain him on the days he is not in school.  If he is active and happy during other parts of the day one can only assume his is getting what he needs at other times.  Also, he would have to visit the doctor at least annually for a check up at which time I think his weight gain or lack of it would alert the pediatrician. Could this be his way of controlling what he can control as he probably does not really want to be there and still needs time to adjust and separate.  He is quite young. Do you have access to his medical records?  Does he show significant weight loss?  Is there a school nurse who can intervene?  Has the school director been advised as to the situation? These are just some questions for consideration.  I do think it is wise to continue to maintain contact with the parents about this issue or even keep a journal or some other form of documentation regarding this situation.

    Good Luck,
    Gina James

    Gina James
    Williston Pk NY

  • 4.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-10-2019 07:24 PM
    Thank you for raising an important issue effecting some young children and their families. As a former Director of several Early Childhood Education Centers and the leader of the Early Childhood Education Program for large organizations and local government, I also had this experience. What I  found helpful in resolving the issue, if possible, are as follows:

    - I always check the Child's Health form first to make sure the Health Care Provider hasn't recorded any issues related to diet, weight or special concerns regarding the health of the child.

    - If the Health form has no information in the first item, then I met with the family and listened to them describe their child's eating habits at home and what foods their child eats at home. We also discussed the child's eating habits. I then asked if the family would record what their child ate when not at the Center for a week and then we got together again to review what the child ate during the week to see the variety of the foods the child ate and if there were any issues with the child's eating habits.

    - Next, I would make sure the family received the Monthly Menu of the meals and snack served at the Center and asked if the family would try to serve as many of the items on the menu to the child at home, as possible.

    If none of these strategies worked, I asked the family if they would be willing to bring in the meals and snack for their child and, whenever possible, have a family member join the child for meals and a snack while at the Center. Sometimes, over time, the child ate what we served as a result of subtle peer pressure.

    I wish you all the best in resolving this issue.

    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC

  • 5.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-09-2019 09:59 AM
    I had a slightly similar situation with a child who was 22 months old last year. I had a number of meetings with parents when I insisted he eat and drink water throughout the day within a certain amount of time (3 months) or I didn't think the situation was a good fit. The parents took him to a pediatrician who ran a number of tests and said he was healthy.

    Little by little he took nibbles of food and sips of water. Over time the situation improved. It was quite worrisome.
    The child was full time, an only child, quite bright and articulate, and prior to attending our center, had a varied and robust appetite.

    Susan Smith
    Heart and Hands Montessori
    Lafayette CO

  • 6.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-09-2019 10:25 AM
    I have a grandson with very strange eating habits.

    Having his parents bring the food he does eat is good but that does not always work. Perhaps putting out whatever non-perishable food is brought for him by his parents might help him to "graze", although it would be nicer if he ate when everyone eats.

    I also think that a sitdown with the parents to discuss what you have observed is extremely important. I would keep anecdotal records of your observations of his behavior and what he says prior to meeting with them. It may be time for a professional evaluation from his doctor and other experts to rule out any neurological or other issues that are driving the child's behavior, not just the eating issues.

    You say that he is happy once his parents leave and that he has friends so there may be other issues going on. Also, does he eat a big breakfast before he comes to you? Many kids eat irregularly. My son used to get up early and eat breakfast and then eat breakfast again when everyone else came down to eat. By dinner, he was not hungry and did not eat dinner at all.

    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ

  • 7.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-09-2019 04:14 PM
    hi there.
    I also own a family day care and we have had our share of picky eaters.  For one child it turned out to be a sensory issue and thankfully the parents were on board to get him help. The child ate only fruit and yogurt.   It took a year or so for the child to eat other foods.  we would start with one bite,  That's it.That has always been our rule here so it was not a new rule for this child.    the next time two bites and it grew to a full meal.  We did notice that the parents didn't follow through at home and we were the ones requesting the new foods.  Also this mom made gourmet meals and the child preferred a bland diet.  Does the child have any favorite food?  Food sensitivity is a big issue nowadays.  Maybe something in their diet is making him feel off.
    Another thought, is the child having problems in the bathroom.  Maybe he has made the connection between food and bowel movements. maybe there was a bad experience there.

    Good luck,  sheelagh

    Sheelagh Fitzgerald
    Getting Started Inc.
    Fort Myers FL

  • 8.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-10-2019 08:20 AM
    Its so important to have the child evaluated.  An occupational therapist might be able to help and point you in the right direction if a feeding specialist is needed.  A few good resources I have used with similar problems encountered are:
    Ellyn Satter Institute and Just Take a Bite by Lori Ernsperger, PhD.

    It's great that you have followed your instincts and tried to down play the issues around meals.  Well meaning adults who really care can cause more problems around eating - and I agree, it needs to be down played as much as possible to prevent the issues that arise from power struggle, shame, aversion that can develop further.

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY

  • 9.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-10-2019 09:02 AM
    Hi Roberta,
    it definitely sounds like sensory overload. He just might not be able to eat in that setting. Or he may have a weak interoceptive system and not know that he is hungry. But if he is happy enough during the day I would doubt that angle. Food is such a trigger and area of control for both adults and kids, and if he isn't acting out and is happy to be there, I think you are doing exactly all of the right things. And eventually he will come around.

    Joanie Calem
    Music and Inclusion Specialist
    Sing Along
    Columbus, OH

  • 10.  RE: A child who does not eat or drink

    Posted 11-11-2019 12:11 PM
    The child might have underlying issues other then eating food in a group setting. Perhaps one of the teachers can build a relationship with the child by using puppets to get him to talk, (Puppets can be certain characters he is interested in (ex; Winnie the Pooh, dogs). Or getting him to make his own book by drawing pictures and asking him what each drawing is about. Look at the colors he is using. How about trying to have the menu planned with parents for a day and the children in the class  would be eating the same foods that the parents sent that day. So Perhaps the menu can have chicken fingers and berries etc (things that he likes) and everyone will be eating the same foods, and they can all have conversations about the foods they are eating.

    Hannah Markowitz
    Be'Above Head Start
    Richmond Hill NY