Ever witnessed your toddler eat his bogie or a piece of paper but will not try the food you have put your heart and soul into cooking? If that doesn’t crush you, I don’t know what will.
I’m sure many parents can relate when I talk about how we all imagined mealtimes to be a fun and stress free time with the children. Unfortunately that has not been the case for me with both my children.
To make matters worse, you meet the occasional idiot who will say ‘ she’s tiny, does she eat?’. Ideally my answer should be ‘no of course not, child cruelty is my thing, I just starve her!’. But instead I reply politely, yes she does.
I didn’t expect it to be so difficult. Isaiah was (and still is) an absolute nightmare when it comes to food (clearly doesn’t take after me) and now I am noticing that Isabelle is not far behind. I have tried the ‘if you’re not eating, then you’re not eating anything’. Here’s how it all worked out:
Sad to admit that I am the parent the caves in and give them what I know they are likely to eat rather than the tough love. Here’s why:
Isaiah, both of my children for that matter eat really well up until they are a little over a year old. Then I notice the fussy eating slowly creeping in. I always try the tough love thing but unfortunately my kids are unbelievably hard headed- I can’t get through. I researched and asked around and received so many tips… yet still nothing seemed to work.
His fussy eating was so bad, that when he started full time nursery he refused to eat school lunch for over a month before he tried jacket potatoes (and that’s all he eats at lunch till today!) His teachers were even worried.
I would cook what I think was lovely food. I will go shopping, prepare the food and almost certain that they will absolutely love it. I will sometimes even buy new plates, cutlery and dish it out oh so beautifully and at that point feeling like Mary Poppins, which is immediately popped with the statement ‘I’m not even hungry mummy, I don’t like that’.
At one point he would not eat any food with color! Literally he would only eat plain rice and refuse to eat sauce. I think for two years I fed him creamy pasta and oil rice (recipe soon come) for dinner.
One of the tips I got was to get him involved with the cooking. Bad idea in my household. After he noticed that I use onions and tomatoes to make the stew, although he enjoyed the cooking session, he was absolutely adamant that he doesn’t like the food because it has tomatoes and onions in them – D’oh!!!
Any parent with a fussy eater cannot stress enough on just how frustrating it is to have a fussy eater. I have been left in tears feeling like a failure. I just did not know what to do and still clueless to be honest.
However, the one advice that I think may have worked with mine is to not show frustration and not force him/them to eat. I try (because I get upset every now and again) to remain calm and take the food away without making a fuss. I kept being patient and kept presenting the food to him.
Now over the last year, I have noticed that foods he hated like ‘chicken’ he currently loves! He can eat a bucket of chicken if I let him. He hated apples, I kept buying them and he saw me eating them, now he likes apple. He hated milk, but after watching his peers drink milk at school, he finally tried it and told me he ‘likes it but not all the time’. If you had told me a year ago that he will give milk a try, I would’ve laughed in your face.
Personally, I think their taste buds change over time along with their minds. I believe being consistent, and having a range of food around him really helped. I kept dishing the veg or chicken on his plate, he ate around it and I kept taking away the rest. Eventually, magic happened when I didn’t give up. I am hoping that they will eventually eat a rainbow of food in the future.
So if you’re a mum with a fussy eater, you are not alone! Fussy eating is a common pitfall. Websites such as: http://www.childfeedingguide.co.uk have some useful tips. Try all the advice and see which one sticks. Clearly, some of the tips did not work for me and my kids but it may work for you. Let’s keep pushing, cooking and hopefully it will all change.