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Question
Posted by: Laura | 2007/08/10

Toddler who will only eat sometimes

I have a 22 month old little girl. About three to four months ago she had a very bad bout with vomiting and dirreah, and since then has become a difficult eater. Sometimes she will eat anything given to her, but other times she demands a waffle or something like that and then won't even eat what is given to her. We have tried everything from limiting the amount of fluids she has at a meal, to just giving her the same meal all day, and most recently just letting her complain and not eat until she finally gets hungry. On top of that she has constant dirreah, and frequent vomiting, and none of the doctors she has seen seems to think that something is wrong. I have seen her on one or two occasions seem to make herself vomit to get out of eatiing, along with drinking herself full, "accidentally" throwing food on the floor, and of course just plain throwing a temper tantrum. My husband and myself are extremely worried about her health because she hasn't gained any weight since she was 18 months old. Please give me what ever advice you can offer.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Laura
I can understand that you and your husband must be very worried about your lassie's health and her intermittent refusal to eat. Now from what you say, there seem to be two distinct factors that are playing a role: a) a physical factors which causes the diarrhoea and vomiting that is not self-induced - I don't know if you have had her assessed by a paediatrician, but if not, then do take her to see one because she may be suffering from a variety of underlying problems (food allergies per se or induced by the original diarrhoea, an irritable bowel in the aftermath of the initial illness, a lack of beneficial microorganisms in the gut, etc). It is necessary for the dr to exclude any physiological cause and if there is one, to prescribe the correct treatment. b) psychological factors - your lassie may be suffering from infantile anorexia or be using refusal to eat, self-induced vomiting, etc to manipulate the situation. This type of behaviour can be because of underlying anxiety (fear of getting sick again), or depression. It is important to have her assessed by a child psychologist to see what is going on in her psychological makeup so that her fears or depression can be addressed.
I do hope that you will be able to get to the bottom of this problem and that your daughter can receive the proper treatment so that she can return to being a happy child eating a normal diet.
Best regards
DietDoc

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