Fussy Eaters, Probiotics and Pediasure

Gavin has been ill recently and, as most toddlers usually are when they’re ill, he wasn’t really eating much.  As a result, there had been a noticeable “flattening” of his cheeks and belly which was a huge cause for alarm for Gavin’s grandparents.  Although I was always confident he would return to his usual eating habits once he had fully recovered and regain the “lost” weight, my MIL suggested I try to improve his appetite with something like Appeton.  I guess she wasn’t convinced that Gavin would be able to regain the weight on his own given how selective he is about eating.

Ever since he was little, Gavin has been selective about food.  That said, it wasn’t that he didn’t eat, he would only eat the foods that he liked.  And if he liked it, he would eat a lot.  If he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t go near it with a ten-foot pole.  Thought frustrating at times, I have come to accept the fact that this is my retribution for all those times I was difficult with food as a child.  For my MIL who has always been around children who love to eat, I guess this perturbs her far too much for her to accept it for what it is.

It probably doesn’t help that my son runs away from foods that he doesn’t like, crying out, “I don’t like to eat!”  Although, what I think he means to say is that he doesn’t like the food that is being presented to him because he certainly looks like he enjoys eating when he’s busy shoveling broccoli and salmon pasta into his mouth.

So, after all the insistence from hubby and my MIL about how I need to do something about improving my son’s appetite since he “doesn’t like food” even when he’s not sick, I decided to try something.  At the very worse, nothing changes.  Possibly, just possibly, he might be less fussy about what he eats – well, I can live with that!

After a trip to the pharmacy, we came back with a bottle of Natural Factors Probiotic and Pediasure which is a special formula for children between the ages of 1 to 10 and is ideal for children who:

  1. Are picky eaters and selective in foods
  2. Need extra nutrition for catch up growth
  3. Have increased caloric and nutrient requirements
  4. Have poor weight and height gain
  5. Are under nourished or have decreased food intake due to illness or diminished appetite
  6. Are lactose intolerant
  7. In pre-post recovery

Pediasure comes in vanilla and chocolate.  Believe it or not, trying to get Gavin to drink chocolate-flavoured Pediasure is like trying to get him to take his medicine!  What kid doesn’t like chocolate flavoured milk, I ask?  Mine, obviously.  He’ll drink Milo but not chocolate milk.  Go figure!

So to get him to drink it, I’ve had to dilute it (using 2 scoops instead of the recommended 5 scoops per serve) and add a heaped spoonful of Milo to the mix.  Even then, the feeding process has been rather slow and painful.  Thankfully, we won’t have to do this for too long because I intend to stop once we finish this tin of special formula.  After all, the intention is just to help him catch up what he lost while sick and to help ensure a more complete intake of dietary vitamins and minerals, not to turn him into a porkchop.

Probiotic, so the lady at the pharmacy tells us, is great for helping to improve a child’s appetite.  She used it on all her children (who were fussy eaters) and it worked a treat.  The recommendation was to give one tablet a day (meaning one bottle lasts 3 months).  Her explanation was that probiotics helps to improve the digestive system and clear the gut, which then triggers a healthier appetite (after all, who feels like eating when they feel bloated from poor digestion?).

I did google “probiotics” and “improving appetite” and discovered it has been used in animal situations but have yet to see something about it being used for improving the appetite of children.  Terrific, I’m so inspired now (read: sarcasm).  Okay, ordinarily, I’d do a little more research on this before using my son as a guinea pig (sorry, I have become a little sloppy since getting pregnant, being tired and all) but I think there is sufficient information on probiotics having other beneficial properties to make it worthwhile taking anyway.

What are some of the beneficial properties of probiotics for children?

  1. It reduces the risk of diarrhoea – not that Gavin’s ever had diarrhoea, touch wood!
  2. It reduces the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome – Gavin has had bloating and flatulence and complained of stomach pains so it is possible that he suffers from IBS.
  3. It improves tolerance to milk – not really a problem that Gavin has, but then he is a breastfed toddler.
  4. It improves eczema – again, not that Gavin has eczema.
  5. It boosts the immune system – I think we could all do with that.

Feeding probiotic to Gavin was a lot easier than the Pediasure after I followed my SIL2’s recommendation to mix it with his peanut butter sandwhich.  It comes powdered in capsules, so I would remove the capsule and spread the powder in with his peanut butter sandwich.  I also tried mixing it with his favourite drink (Milo) and with ice cream, but those didn’t go down so well.

What’s the verdict?

Gavin’s been on Probiotic for about a week now and he really does seem to have an improved appetite.  He eats even more than he did before he got ill.  Unfortunately, it has done nothing to improve the spectrum of foods he is willing to eat…

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Fussy Eaters, Probiotics and Pediasure

  1. Good to hear about your experiences with probiotics and your toddler…I agree, the lack of human research with probiotics is very frustrating! As a huge probiotic fan, and someone who has seen a lot of positive results from using these friendly bacteria, I would like to see the research catch up with rapidly growing public interest. Good luck with little Gavin, I had a friend who was mom to a picky eater but he outgrew this challenge by about age 4.
    – Anna M.


  2. ya know..i was thinking…you could introduce Gavin to Vitagen too ya know…and i think stuffs like Appeton’s just a gimmick(*woops i hope they dont sue me for saying this ) =P

    also does he takes Zentel?


  3. Anna – Thanks, I hope he outgrows it, too. Can be quite frustrating at times for the family since we always have to make sure there is something he’ll eat at every meal. It also means giving up restaurants that we enjoy eating at just because he won’t eat anything there.

    Valerie – Yes, he drinks Vitagen – although we were told that Yakult is better. Then again, Yakult is also sweeter. The benefit of Vitagen and Yakult is for the friendly bacteria which is essentially what you get from probiotic.

    Yes, we looked at the bottle of Appeton and it looks just like a multi-vite so I don’t see how that can help to increase his appetite.

    Nope. He doesn’t take Zentel. What’s that?


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