When it comes to parenting all parents and all children are different however often us mums and dads find it reassuring to hear how other parents have dealt with the struggles many of us face, and to see that they aren’t the only ones to struggle! One of the mums from the DB team has kindly shared her own experiences of dealing with fussy eaters. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
I come from a big family (lots of siblings!) and so we were very much a “you get what you’re given” house and plates were always cleared. We always ate together at the table, even those in highchairs, used our manners and mealtimes were a nice time. Needless to say none of us were fussy eaters and there were few foods any of us genuinely didn’t like.
When I had my eldest we adopted the same mealtime scenario, everyone eating together and what not. My son was a great little eater and enjoyed our healthy, home-cooked meals and snacks. Imagine my horror when the little so and so stopped eating “proper” food and only seemed to want red food that came out of a tin (beans, spaghetti, ravioli etc), ditched all fruit apart from bananas and would eat chicken nuggets and pizza but not minced beef and mash (which he loved) let alone look at a vegetable.
He wasn’t being particularly naughty, he just wouldn’t eat what I considered proper food anymore and all of a sudden, BAM, I was public enemy number one when it came to food. We tried the whole “you get what you’re given”, and my personal fave “You’ll sit there until you eat it” which seems perfectly reasonable given that he would eat whatever it was last week. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It turns out that if you make a child sit with food they don’t want they’ll wait five minutes, put their head on the table and go to sleep. Of course then you’ll make them something like toast later because you can’t send a little one off to bed with nothing to eat. That was making a rod for my back right there.
Taking a step back, swallowing my frustration and looking at what he was actually eating he certainly wasn’t starving and while his diet wouldn’t win any awards it was “ok” and he was healthy. We started to reintroduce foods slowly and in a fun, no-pressure way and in his own time he started to enjoy different foods. Soon the fussy “chicken nuggets or nothing” boy disappeared. Was it his way of exerting control? Maybe! Perhaps it was just that his tastes were changing and being three years old these foods (that before he rarely ate!) were the ones he knew he would like and so those were the ones he was going to concentrate on.
Fast forward five years and we had another son. Almost to the day, when he turned three he did exactly as his brother did and started refusing potato, any form of veg, cheese and even ham. I was a little wiser the second time and rolled with it. I’d quickly learned the first time that even the most placid three year old could dig their heels in and so didn’t push him. That said, in the interests of being honest there was the time I put a piece of broccoli on his plate and he looked at me as if I had two heads. In the end (a bad day) I muttered something along the lines of “just try it, it won’t harm you!”. He tried it, gagged on and threw up across the table. He then glared at me and said “I told you I didn’t like it”. That showed me.
Both boys are now at school and if you hear them arguing over food these days it’s over whether we had red pesto or green pesto last time (they each have different favourites). One is a keen fruit eater but eats only a little veg, the other is a huge vegetable fan but doesn’t give fruit a second look. Overall they both eat a brilliantly varied diet, something I never thought would happen when they were tots, and are both very active and healthy.
The moral of this story? Broccoli is the work of the devil and if you wait it out, be patient and creative as usually fussy eating can be overcome in time.