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mom2-4 02-24-2003 07:57 AM

3 y.o. eats everything, but what she should
Help, my daughter is scheduled for her 3 y.o. check up in April, but I want help now!!!! I have mentioned it to the doctors in the past, I don't think they believe me!!!:ugh:

The problem, my daughter eats everything, but what she should, and I don't mean junk food, I would be happy if that is what she were eating!!! She eats crayons, chalk, markers, stones, sand, soap. And it is not just a matter of putting them in her mouth...she is actually eating them!!!! I have such a hard time keeping her away from alot of the things, because of the older kids. Over the summer she would literally put a hand full of sand in her mouth!!!! The first time she did it I thought she'll never do that again....well as soon as she was done eating that she put another handful in her mouth. She picks up handfuls of little stones outside and chews on them!!!!! Lip glosses and chapsticks even the unflavored ones just eats them. Glue she ate an entire glue stick one day.

She has been diagnosed as having an Iron deficiency, she is taking Iron tablets daily, but she still eats these is almost like she craves them.

Has anyone else every experienced a problem like this? She is my third child and I have NEVER had a problem like this!!!

Please help!!!!!


Melanie 03-09-2003 12:27 PM

Karen ~ your daughter has an eating disorder called Pica. Here's more information on it:

Hope this helps!

blondie29697 03-09-2003 12:51 PM

This is more than an iron deficiency. There is a disease with the word "pic" in it. I can't recall the whole name, but I'm sure if you ask the Pediatrician he/she can tell you what it is. Ask the most important question when you first speak to the doctor. Studies have shown that after 30 seconds, you have lost their interest. I take a list with me and put the urgent item at the top.

mom2-4 03-09-2003 01:01 PM

Thank you both so very much, that website sounds exactly like her, she does have an iron deficiency. The doctor put her iron but as soon as she was at a comfortable level for them they took her off. I can always tell when her iron level drops.


Jeannie 03-09-2003 03:50 PM

It certainly sounds like she has Pica.. try going to

and put Pica in the search line.
I would also speak to your pediatrician about this as soon as possible, and do it face to face at the exam. I would bring her in as soon as possible. If your Doctor doesn't believe you, change doctors! .. you can contact a teaching hospital in your area or close to you ...and write to the head of pediatrics for assistance. They probably can refer you to someone as well.

Katnhat 03-12-2003 08:31 PM

I had two children. The second was just as you describe your's to be. She ate any and every thing. Acorns were the scariest. We had huge oak trees everywhere outside. My oldest daughter I eventually found out was actually giving them to her. Because "She likes them so much". Oh my goodness, I went through it with her, I must say. The answer was extremely simple though. I hit on it by accident out of desperation. By the way, my little one was only two at this time. I made up a bowl of a fried chicken leg, four vanilla wafers and a few bits of cheese. Her favorites! I showed them to her. SHE was not interested>.....
I made her stand there and listen to me. I told her over and over again tonight when Manda gets hungry (Oh by the way, her "binges" happened mostly at night when we slept. She would go through the house plucking buttons off of clothes, etc.
Anyway, I made her listen to me about this being "Manda's bowl". She finally repeated it. I said yes and we went on with it. The next morning I checked .......the bowl was empty except for the chicken leg!!! She was sleeping soundly. I was doing the dance of JOY! From then on, I kept a bowl strictly for Manda in the fridge from that day on. I kept the bowl filled whenever it got empty or almost it was filled again. Day or night she had food when SHE chose the time to eat it. That was all she needed. She needed a yes for the fridge for food when she chose to eat not when we did. I always tried to have GOOD food in the bowl of course. She never ate to any degree any thing she was not supposed to again that I know of. I mean yes, a few tastes but never to the same extent again. The bowl of her own when ever SHE wanted it was the answer to the problem. It sounds too easy, doesn't it?
Try it and let me know how it works for you??
My Email is open to you. It is [email protected]
Sincerely, Kat :cat:

mom2-4 03-13-2003 03:46 AM

I believe you that it worked, but, she is a picky eater, she is a different picky eater, one day she wants fruit, the next day she wants cheese, the next day she wants chocolate, the next day she wants is never the same things. She changes from day to day...I have to wait to see what she wants, she is very head strong...with an attitude like you would not believe!!!! She is the youngest of four. She was on a fruit binge the other day, so I had a bowl of fruit for her. I opened the can she ate 1/4 of the can, I put the rest in a bowl in the fridge, it is still there, I will need to throw it away.

Thanks for the input, I really think this is a doctor's supervision, type thing, she has low iron, which I believe leads to the binge eating. She had low iron at her 6 mos check up, they put her on iron, then tested her every six weeks, when she was ok, they took her off. Then I found out she was low on iron again, around 1 1/2 years, I told the doctors, they put her back on iron, they tested her every so many weeks, until it was back up, and then took her off the iron again. I have found that after reading the info on pica, that I am really sure that is what she has. She is not a meat eater, so that adds to the problem. I hate giving her the iron tablets without a doctors supervision, so I give her half of one every other day, she seems to be doing better, but will tell the drs. at her checkup, in a few weeks!!!

Thank you again, for your input!!!!


mousebyte 03-13-2003 07:54 AM

Karen, my son has Pica. He is much better now and will be 14 next month. We have always had to hide the glue, mostly the liquid glue but he would eat the sticks also, couldn't have a game in the house cause he ate all the plastic pieces, had to take him to Scottish Rite hospital twice cause he swallowed pennies that got lodged in this throat, ate paper and books like a billy goat. Anyway the doctors weren't much help so we just tried to watch him as much as we could. He seemed to do it more when he was nervous about something. Finally a counslor told us to put a bowl of sugar free gum on the table and tell him he could have gum anytime he wanted. As long as he had gum in his mouth he wouldn't put anything else in his mouth. Amazingly it worked 95% of the time. There is a behavior modification training they can go through but our insurance wouldn't pay for it soooo we were just sorta stuck with trying to help him on our own. He no longer needs the bowl of chewing gum. Like I say it just seemed to get better as he got older. Every now and then he still has a problem with the glue but I don't notice chewed up books or papers in his notebook anymore. Good luck on finding doctors that will help and you might want to give the bowl of gum a try.


mom2-4 03-13-2003 09:21 AM

I will deinintely try the gum, idea, she will love that, I am pretty sure she is this way because of the iron deficiency, I am pumping iron foods into her, and she has left the crayons alone for 2 days now, but can't seem to let her hands off the chalk and pencil erasers. She did eat paper as a baby, but it never occurred to me to be a problem, all my kids liked to play with paper and make it crinkle, but they were not big on putting things in their mouths. Right now, I am fighting with her to stop eating the piece of chalk that she was pretending to draw with.

I will let you know how the bowl of gum works, the only thing is she will be swallowing all the gum, and they say they should not do that, but hey it is definitely better than, chalk, glue, crayons, pencil erasers, sand, pebbles. She has never eaten plastic or reallly even put money in her mouth, I never even thougth of that.

Thank you so much for the suggestion!!!!


mousebyte 03-13-2003 09:48 AM

Swallowing gum might not be good for you and a doctor would probably tell you it is bad for you BUT I have swallowed my gum since I was a little kid. It just slides down my throat before I even think about it. I don't chew it much now a days for that reason but my mom use to tell me it was going to make a big ball in my stomach. I clearly believed when I had my first son and they did a C-section that they were going to find this BIG ball of gum in my stomach but of course they didn't. LOL boy did I feel dumb believeing that until I was 26. Anyway even my kids swallow their gum and I don't really worry about it cause I suffered no ill results and NO I don't tell them that the doctors are going to find a big wad of gum in their stomachs. Funny when my mom said if I swallowed watermelon seeds I would grow a tree in me I never believed that one. Have a great day and hope the gum works.


mousebyte 03-13-2003 09:51 AM

Oh something else I wanted to tell you. My doc. puts me on iron pills off and on and did you know that caffeine blocks the consumption of iron? Tea, coke anything like that (coffee in my case). Anyway I started drinking water with most of my meals and haven't had to use the iron pills in a number of months now.


mom2-4 03-13-2003 11:25 AM

Yes, I did know that caffeine affects iron absorption, so does calcium. And that vitamin C helps to absord iron. There are very few foods that have iron in them that she will eat, I think I will buy spinach this week and sneak it into her ever loved salads, I think she is a vegatarian, and meat has the most iron in it.


mom2-4 03-13-2003 11:27 AM

That is so cute about the gumball, wouldn't of you been surprised if they would have said to you look what we found, and showed you a big ball of gum!!!!

People told me that it takes seven years to digest gum, but, I have found, pieces of chewed gum in all of my kids diapers, all my kids were potty trained wwwwwaaaaaaayyyyyyy before 7 years old.ROFLMAO

I don't think there are really any ill effects from gum, it has to be better than glue, and pebbles, now that I believe would form a stone ball in her belly!!!!


mousebyte 03-13-2003 03:22 PM

Wow I didn't know calcium affected iron also. See I still learn something new everyday. Let me know what the doctor tells you when you take her in for her check-up. I really though they were going to find a BIG ball of gum, I had already told Jerry that the doctor better NOT fuss at me. So I was the one surprised when he didn't find anything. Then I just couldn't believe that my mom had lied to me like that, guess she didn't think I was nuts enough to believe her when she told me that. Of course I told Jerry that we would never tell our kids crazy stuff like that and of course we do, just different crazy stuff.


Jeannie 03-13-2003 04:26 PM

This is from [url] with a Search on Pica

What Causes Pica?

The exact cause of pica in children is not known, but it may be related to certain nutritional deficiencies or parental neglect. Some experts believe it may be a learned habit. Stress is thought to be a factor leading to pica in some children.

How Common Is Pica?

It is not known exactly how many children in the U.S. have pica, because many cases are never brought to the attention of healthcare providers. In addition, many older children are too embarrassed of their behavior to let anyone know about it.

Pica occurs equally in boys and girls. It may occur in teens and adults, especially those who are developmentally disabled, and in pregnant women. It is more common in children living in poverty.

How Is Pica Diagnosed?

Often, a child with pica is brought to a doctor's attention only when the child's eating habits have resulted in a physical problem, such as poisoning or a blockage within the digestive system.

If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical examination. The doctor may use certain tests -- such as X-rays and blood tests -- to look for poisons and other substances in the blood, and to check for blockages in the intestinal tract. The doctor also may test for possible infections caused by eating items contaminated with bacteria or other organisms. A review of the child's eating habits also may be conducted.

Before making a diagnosis of pica, the doctor will rule out other disorders -- such as schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder as the cause of the odd eating behavior.

How Is Pica Treated?

Pica itself usually requires no treatment other than to pay close attention to the child's diet and eating habits, and to be sure the child gets adequate nutrition.

What Complications Are Associated With Pica?

There are many potential complications of pica, such as:

Eating non-food objects can interfere with eating healthy food, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Certain items, such as paint chips, may contain lead or other toxic substances, and eating them can lead to poisoning.
Eating objects that cannot be digested, such as stones, can cause constipation or blockages in the digestive tract, including the intestines and bowels. Also, hard or sharp objects can cause tears in the lining of the intestines.
Bacteria or parasites from dirt or other objects can cause serious infections. Some infections can damage the kidneys or liver.
Eating very hard objects can damage teeth.
What Is the Outlook for People With Pica?

Pica usually begins in childhood and typically lasts for just a few months. However, it may continue in children who are developmentally disabled. In pregnant women, it almost always disappears after the baby is born.

Can Pica Be Prevented?

There is no specific way to prevent pica. However, careful attention to a child's eating habits and close supervision of children known to put things in their mouths may help catch the disorder before complications can occur.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Pica is a condition in which a person craves substances that are not food, such as clay, dirt, ice, or flecks of old paint. Pica can have a physical cause, such as iron-deficiency anemia, or it may be due to a psychological problem.

mom2-4 03-13-2003 06:43 PM

I did read the article on webmd, about pica, that is how I figured out that is what she is dealing with!!!!

mousebyte, yes I was told that calcium is "stronger" than iron and they "fight" to be absorbed, and calcium wins, so iron is not absorbed!!! I was also surpised to find that out!!!

I always, tell my kids goofy, weird things too. Poor kids, they will probably need therapy when they are grown, my sil and I joke aobut that all the time (kids needing therapy).ROFLMAO

She has not eaten anything but food since, my earlier post, that is a record breaker for her, she likes the gum, I bought her a big bag of sugarless gum. I hand it to her and tell her no eating chalk or crayons, and she says OK.

Again, thank all of you for all of your help!!!


mousebyte 03-13-2003 09:53 PM

Hey that is great news Karen. Like I say it worked for matt 95% of the time but we still have to keep the glue away from him, he still likes drinking it. That is to funny, my sister and I joke all the time about our kids having to go into therapy to deal with their goofy moms. With mine one kid will say "hey why did he get that and I will say because he is my favorite" but then the very next day the other kid will be saying "why did she get that and i will give the same answer "because she is my favorite". So they all have times when the other kids are told they are my favorites. Now they just ignore me when I say it and say no I'm your favorite so really why did she get that? Duh, you got something yesterday no one else got. And they say oh yea, I forgot.
Kids, they want an answer for everything. I once told mine that the government was putting a freeze on all kids allowances because parents were going to far into debt. They believed me for about a week, guess other kids told them your mom is making that up.
Have a great night.


mom2-4 03-14-2003 03:29 AM

I think I will try the freeze on allowance excuse, I like that one.ROFLMAO I thought I was the only one who does stuff like that to my kids, must be our "upbringing". ROFLMAO

I guess that is what happens to kids when their parents tell them goofy stuff, I guess it is the snowball effect!!!


mom2-4 03-15-2003 05:16 AM

I am so happy
DD has not eaten anything weird since Thursday that is almost a full 48 hours!!!!! I love the gum idea, she has not even gone through a whole 5 piece pack, yet!!!!!!

Thank you so much for the gum idea, I think it is helping!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

Maybe now I can get her potty trained, she constantly had diarreha(sp?). I think it was from the weird stuff she was eating!! It is very hard to potty train with "loose bowels".

^^ ^^ ^^ ^^ ::-):: ::-):: ^^ ^^

mousebyte 03-15-2003 08:24 AM

Karen I am just so happy the gum thing is working for you and DD. I would still mention it to the doctor though just so he will have a record of it in case the problem reappears.

Just think what kind of goofy stuff our kids will be telling our wonderful grandkids one day. ROFLMAO
And we will probably get on to them for it saying "I can't believe you told that sweet child that".

My middle son has gotten to where when I tell him anything unusual he says "really are you just joking" think maybe I joke to much with him?


mousebyte 03-15-2003 08:29 AM

Oh and good luck with the potty training. Dr. Phil has a really good idea for that if your interested.

mom2-4 03-16-2003 01:26 PM

At this point I am open to any suggestions, about potty training, all the rest of my kids were trained by this age, dd#3 practically trained herself!!!!

She was eating sand today, though, then I would offer her a piece of gum, then she would stop eating the sand.

You do not know how much I appreciate the gum idea!!! And, yes I will definitely mention it to the DR. when she goes, I am sure I will be belittled because she is not potty trained yet. But the only reason, like I said, that she is not trained is because she always has loose bowels!!


Jeannie 03-16-2003 01:34 PM

Karen...may I make a suggestion please? Call the University of PA hospital...and get a referral.. explain your problem and get referred to a pediatric clinic or doctor... baby shouldn't have loose stools all that long time.. I don't think your doctor is taking you seriously. UofPA is a teaching hospital.....they have all the latest medical info...... That is what I would do if it were my child...or take the baby to Cornell New York Hospital for a consult.

After taking a complete history, they will have to run tests again but this is your baby ...I think you want answers and a solution... *s*

mom2-4 03-16-2003 03:08 PM


I am exagerating, when I say all the time, it seems that every time I start to train her either she is sick or I am sick or she has loose stools. But, I did say something to DR, at her 2 yr check up but did not "push" the issue. But, at her 3 yr check up in 2 weeks, I am definitely going to push the issue, and if I do not get any satisfaction, then I will definitely persue your suggestions.

I think that the DRs thought I was a story teller, because I could not get her to take meds, and keep them down, and I would tell them that, she has had to take pills since she is 1 yr. I finally got them to believe me, when she was running a fever, I called them and told them I needed to bring her in right away, when she got there they asked if I gave her Tylenol, (I had not on purpose, so they could see). So the Dr, tried to give her Tylenol, she vomitted all over herself, the Dr, the floor, and myself, just over giving her the Tylenol. The dr. asked if this is what she does all the time...Yes it is!!!!!


Jeannie 03-16-2003 03:24 PM

Karen...make the appointment as I suggested.. it takes time to get the referral appointment.. You can always cancel .. but I'd do it anyway if it were my child in this distress.

VicRae 04-03-2003 08:43 AM

Sounds like you have just about got this problem licked. But just wanted to mention that if you cook your food in a castiron skillet or pan you can add extra iron to your diet very easily. Hope you have a good check-up at the doctors office.
Good Luck.

VicRae 04-03-2003 08:56 AM

It's me again. Just thought of something I use to do when my kids were little and had diareaha. I would make homemade Cornstarch pudding. You can make it with chocolate, lemon, vanilla or peanut butter flavorsand use as much cornstrch as you need to thicken and it should help to thicken the stools some. Also you could try rice water. rice pudding or oatmeal. I use to make these Chocolate dream cookies with oatmeal in them and it would help some. My kids still like them when they get the flu with loose stools. If you want e-mail me and I can send you the recipe. Also If you take too much iron it can cause loose stools.
Good luck hope things get better soon.

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