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PM Pediatrics
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Dr. Christina Johns
Senior Medical Advisor, PM Pediatrics

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True Confessions: I obsess over my child’s eating habits

Most parents I know have at least one thing that they obsess about—their child’s speech development, motor function, or maybe even when their baby will get some hair on her head. For me, it’s eating and my child’s size, probably the worst obsession to have. Shame on me! I’m a pediatrician! I should know better than this! But here I am, with a kid on the “small” size of normal, and I just can’t leave it alone. I could spend hours discussing my child’s daily caloric intake and making projections on how big he’ll be, to the point where I’m sure I’m completely boring all my friends.

Here’s the thing:

Luke is not a great eater, and I am sure that I have made it worse by giving the whole scenario way too much attention. We’ve used toys and TV for distraction, giving so much praise for eating that you would think the free world depended on his taking a bite of grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve stayed up nights worrying about whether or not his brain development has been impacted by the fact that he will not eat a single vegetable. We’ve seen feeding specialists and had several pediatrician visits where this subject was the primary topic of discussion.

The verdict

Luke is a normal kid who has been given a bit of a “problem” by the person who loves him most: ME. Imagine how mortified I feel, especially given my profession. If your child is growing normally and not getting sick all the time, then do your best to sneak in healthy foods whenever you can, but don’t make a career out of insisting on exact daily portions. All too often that quickly becomes a control battle between the child and the parent, and eating and sleeping are 2 control battles we can all do without.

So I’m starting to leave him alone (it’s killing me) with food, not making a big deal about it either way, and he’s actually doing better. I know that advice is in every parenting book, but those books don’t have to live with my kid day in and day out. They don’t really understand my stress when, yet again, Luke refuses his lunch and goes hours without eating. I can barely go 15 minutes. But I’m trying my best to keep a lid on myself and my obsession, and I tell my story so that maybe you will do the same with whatever is getting you.

Bottom line: Don’t ignore your concerns but don’t let them take over your life, because inevitably it WILL reach your child.

So tell me, what’s your obsession?

 

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