Thursday, August 5, 2010

Random Toddler Advice Needed

I have a bunch of things going on with Cam that I wonder what you all would do if it was your kids - I know, asking for advice is rare here - so please help!

  • Cam HATES taking a bath. He used to not mind, but since he was about 18 months or so, he cries and cries when we put him in. We tried a bubble machine (that helps), we tried letting him decide when to get in - but even if he gets calmly in, when I get around to washing his hair and face - he FLIPS out. I know the soap doesn't burn (I tried it myself), we tell him to close his eyes before we do it - but seriously. He has to get washed (he plays hard and gets filthy every day) but it just sucks, because he REALLY cries. I want to be understanding - but dude. It's just water. Maggie is in the tub with him at the same time, which he seems to like, but last night, she tipped over (face first) and started crying, and he started - and then continued to cry for over 15 minutes. It. Was. Awesome. I did even try a shower - that was 1000 time worse. He was shaking he was so upset.
  • The crying in general. If Cam drops something, is asked to leave someplace he doesn't want to, falls down - he cries. He used to say uh-oh or wave bye-bye to where we were leaving - but now he usually freaks out. It's frustrating because we usually ignore it, and within minutes he is totally fine and smiling. Please tell me this is short lived phase.
  • When he does fall down, sometimes it looks like he maybe did hurt himself - I'll ask - Where does it hurt? He never can tell me - he will just be crying so hard, is he to young to be able to answer that question? I would think that telling me and having mommy rub it/kiss it/band aid it would help, if he would just show me. Sigh.
  • How much food should a 20 month old be eating a day? I know a baby won't let themselves be hungry, but many nights he has a few spoonfuls of dinner and declares he is ALL DONE. I decided a while back that I wasn't going to fight about food - and he always eats well at other meals. But then he has crying fits upstairs. I was wondering if he was maybe hungry? I know getting into food battles is pointless - but we usually don't give milk at dinner... he gets plenty during the day (definitely 16 ozs) - I wonder if that would stave off the misery? If I make him milk to bring upstairs, he usually doesn't drink it. Or maybe giving desert? Dinner is usually orzo and some type of fruit and some attempt at protein (which is usually scoffed at).

I think that is about it - usually he is such a happy kid - but the current cry-fest in the evening sucks.


Jen said...

I don't really have any advice, but I will say that I don't do the food battle either. Everybody tells me that toddlers hit a tough spot around 18 months and you just sort of have to bear with it. Hang in there!

It is what it is said...

My son is 3 yrs 5 mos so my hindsight is 20/20. Take any or none of this:

As for the bath, can you not do them daily (in favor of just washing hands/feet/face in between) and do them every other day? How much water do you put in the tub (I found that only 3 - 4 inches was the magic level)? Have you let him pick out the bubble bath (at Target or whereever you shop. We found this to help A LOT)? Does letting him take a standing bath help (where you just pour water over him and wash him down)? What water toys do you have (I intro'd everything from the Crayolo tub crayons to a funnel and colander and measuring cups from my kitchen each with varying degrees of success)? To this day, my son still likes the foam alphabet letters (that just stick to the side of the tub w water) and the squirt toys. Can you vary the time of the bath (not so close to bed time, or before dinner, or after nap, etc)? Can you husband bathe him (this was a HUGE light bulb moment for us. My son prefers that daddy give him a bath).

My son has always eaten a bigger lunch than dinner. I've accepted it but we've always managed bed time snacks, too. As he's gotten older, if he doesn't finish XX of his dinner, no snack. Works well at 2 1/2+.

Cam is likely too young to be able to tell you what hurts when he falls, etc. My son started to be able to correlate the injury to the body part at about 2 1/2.

Some kids are just criers so you have to decipher which cry actually means "I am hurt (or in pain)" and react to those. My son was also a screamer (out of frustration) but I though he'd hurt himself. So, early on, we worked with him to only scream if he was hurt but to call for help if that's what he needed. That helped us a lot, but even this morning, my son stubbed his toe on the carpet and screamed like his toe had been amputated. Sometimes that's just how he rolls :)

HereWeGoAJen said...

Elizabeth isn't a big dinner eater either. She eats great at breakfast and lunch, but most days she's not really into dinner.

We taught Elizabeth to tell us where it hurt by prompting her with the information when we saw it. Like she'd fall and we'd say "where does it hurt? Does hand hurt?" And she then knew what to do. Now she can tell us when we don't see it. She holds out the injured limb or pats her head or bottom.

You could try giving him a bath in the sink instead. Or you could do sponge baths for a couple of weeks. Sometimes you just need to break the bad association (remember, we had a horrible time with her changing table for a while) and then they'll forget about it and accept baths again. And try not using soap for a while too. I don't use soap on Elizabeth (she had bad eczema for a while and I stopped using soap then and didn't miss it), just water and a washcloth for extra dirty parts. Water works just fine on her hair too. And maybe you could skip the face washing in the tub until he's over the horror too.

Deborah said...

Except for the baths, the rest of it sounds just like my son. I think it's all normal toddler behavior (the crying, not eating) and we just have to wait it out and know they'll be okay.

Heather said...

I agree with the others, and will go on to say that my six year old will still go through phases where everything, and I mean everything, will make her cry. She is old enough to keep her shit together and even be happy when she is at her summer program/school or with grandparents, but when she is with us and in one of these modes she will lose her mind all the time for a week or so, and then slowly morph back into her normal, pleasant self. Growth spurt? Lack of sleep? We have our theories, but the occasional week long freak outs seem to be unavoidable. You are not alone, and this too shall pass.

We also had a long bath phase when rinsing hair was horrible. The girl liked to put sand in her hair, so I could hardly avoid shampooing. We just ignored her cries and worked as quickly as possible.

Robin said...

my son is 20 months old too and he does some of this stuff--especially the dinner thing. i've realized that dinner is always his smallest meal and he seems totally cool with that. i will usually offer him a snack or some milk just before bed, if he hasn't just finished eating. (snack is sometimes fruit, sometimes crackers, and sometimes a bit of a "cereal bar" - which is really a Z-bar, the Clif bar for kids.) in my mind, it's an alternative dinner, but he doesn't make the connection because there's time between dinner and snack. i don't want him to think if he doesn't eat dinner, he'll get something else.

something that really works for my kid when he doesn't want to do something (like get in the tub, the car seat, etc.) is to say, "ok. we will get in in one minute. did you hear me? ok. one minute." and then i sit around and wait for a minute and then i try again. if he still battles, i say, "remember mama said one minute?" and that's usually all it takes. i think it's the sense of power or control he gets from getting to know what's coming when. same thing works when i go to wash his hair or body. if he's not ready, i always respect the "no" but always only give him one more minute with that same warning. (the "one-minute" thing also works with leaving somewhere. usually with that warning, he will be ok when the time comes. usually.)

can't help you with the falling down thing. my kid always comes to me and tells me. "bump hand. mama kiss it?" if he doesn't tell me, i ask and he answers, usually. i don't know why this one is easy for us, but it is. sorry. good luck!

S said...

My oldest did this whole crazy bath thing. It only lasted about 2 weeks for us (thank goodness). My remedy was washing her in the kitchen sink!!! It was a pain but it stopped the crying. We didn't do any toys in the sink (there wasn't room). I explained to her at each sink bath that when she was ready to go back to the tub she could have the toys. Each time I asked if she wanted to the sink or the tub. Finally, she chose tub.

I don't have any advice on the falling down thing.

My 21 month old doesn't eat either. I, also, refuse to have a battle of the wits with her over food. I remember my oldest did the same thing. As long as there isn't weight loss then I wouldn't worry. My children will not eat for days and then eat me out of house and home for days lol!!

Debbi said...

Did something change at 18 months in the bath? Did you stop using something like a seat, put more water in, etc? That might be all it is. Does he mind getting wet outside with the hose? If so it is not a fear of the water but something else.

Eating, kids at that age love finger food. Try giving him something fun - veggies cut with a crinkle cutter - if he doesn't like them cooked, try them raw. Some chicken fingers from tyson used to come in shapes - that might help with the protein - you know make a game of it - like bite off the lions tail, hehehe.. Also, what time is he eating dinner? Is it too close to lunch or too close to bedtime that his internal clock is done for the day.

He will self regulate for food, so as long as he is eating some during the day then he should be good - he could also be bored with the same items every night - maybe change it up a bit.

Amanda said...

is it wrong that my first suggestion would be to get in his face and say nice and loud, "WAAH! WAAH! HOW DO YOU LIKE IT, KID?" yeah, i guess that IS wrong. (for those who don't know me, yes, that was a joke)

but i actually do have one possibly good suggestion about bath time... when we were little, my parents had this saucer thing they put on our heads to keep the water from going in our eyes... it really worked. i just did a quick search and it looks like if you look for a 'shower visor' or 'bath visor' you may find something similar...

i hope the crying thing IS just a phase! aggh!

Heather said...

Katherine has always been a horrible eater. So we started giving her the kids version of ensure at night. It makes sure she is getting all her nutrients and had added fiber. We even put a little chocolate syrup to get her to drink it and now it is her nightly treat. She loves it. Does the chocolate offset the good stuff - maybe - but it fills her up and keeps her from crying at midnight from hunger.

Maybe a drizzle of chocolate in his milk at night? As a treat?

Of course, feel free to laugh and delete too...

Elise said...

No advice, just wanted to let you know that you're not 20 month old son does everything you described. :)

An 8th generation Floridian said...

Regarding toddlers in general, they just cry! They lack verbal skills to adequately tell how they feel. They realize they are autonomous, and want to do it all, and make every decision for themselves. Low-appetite children do not starve when there is food available. Once they're ready for a growth sprout, the appetite will increase. If you make a deal over him not eating, he'll realize he has eating control and pull that string often. Just close the kitchen after dinner and let him know (when he cries hungry in a half hour) that the kitchen is closed and clean. No more food until breakfast. Remember that taste buds change often in little ones. Try those peas again in a week or two and wow, yummy. Melt cheese over veggies makes them more appetizing to kids too. One of our sons existed on cheese, brocolli, grapes and peanut butter (not all together). The other only ate brocolli, cucumber and chicken.

My sons were very tactile touchy. If the doctor put a "good boy" sticker on their shirt, they'd collapse onto the floor in freak-out tears. How humiliating! Just keep telling yourself, "this too shall pass."

Regarding bath, have a special bath toy that is only his, only for bath tub, and only comes out when things are going great - after the face and hair. Do the bathing as quickly as possible and then have water playtime. If he freaks out, ignore it, but leave that special toy in the cabinet. Don't even mention it (more tears), but pull it out when he's calm. Don't explain the rules, he'll figure it out. If he begins to insist on it, blame someone else and give a very short and matter-of-fact response. "The rule man says, no toys unless you're calm." If thisis followed with screaming tears: "I can't break the rules, sorry." Right now he's got you where he wants you - distressed about that bathing stuff. Relax yourself and go through the motions, ignoring his response. No response from you gets no response from him.

My sons? The 26 year old is in law school, has a varied exotic appetite and still adores chicken and brocolli. The 23 year old is a computer tech, eats everything but (get this) peanut butter.