Our Fussy Eater story
Holly was always a fussy eater. She didn’t like fruit or vegetables, she wouldn’t really eat meat either. Retrospectively, I probably was too hesitant in the weaning stage which added to her odd relationship with food. I briefly covered some of this in my blog post – My biggest parenting failure.
Between the ages of 6 months – 18 months I slowly made progress with Holly’s eating habits. She began eating things that had a lumpy texture, but she still favoured sweet foods over anything healthy. Eventually, we made progress with Holly’s eating by offering and encouraging her to eat foods.
It was however short-lived. When she was about 18 months old she was rushed into hospital after she caught some kind of bug. She couldn’t stay awake and was refusing to eat or drink. After about 24 hours, she was showing signs of improvement and was discharged. Once completely better, she was didn’t want to eat at all. I basically had to re-wean my 18-month-old starting with puree and working up to foods more suitable for her age. I don’t proclaim she’s a perfect eater now. We still live with some of the complications of having a fussy eater today, but thankfully it’s much more manageable.
How we helped our fussy eater
At aged two: One of the things Holly found most useful was tracking her own success. We made a little basic chart in Microsoft office decorated with her favourite TV characters and had columns for ‘Eating my Breakfast’, ‘Eating my lunch’ & ‘Eating my dinner’. Every time she ate the majority of a meal she’d get to pick a star sticker and add it to her reward chart. In a final column, we had a special section for ‘trying a new food’. Whenever she ate something ‘new’ (quite often this would be a fruit or vegetable!) she got to put a special sticker on. These were stickers she’d picked out especially. If I remember correctly they were Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom themed. This really encouraged her to at least take a bite of something new!
Have a snack
Now time for a sneaky bit of reverse psychology. Mum’s are cunning beasts. Often I’d make myself a snack – something my fussy eater wouldn’t touch usually. I’d just sit down to eat my snack. This made her desperately curious and want to try whatever I had! It’s a bit like when you say you don’t want chips, your hubby orders chips and you steal some of his because they taste SO MUCH BETTER when it’s not your own food.
Learn by example
One thing I made sure I always did was put a vegetable with every meal. My partner and I would make sure we ate ours and complimented how tasty it was. Some children just need to see their parents adopting good habits that they can copy.
A trap I fell in to was goading her to eat something. I found that if I built something up too much, she was more likely to turn her nose up at it. Try and adopt a laid back approach!
Treats & Praise
It can be as simple as a lollipop or a handful of fresh strawberries and ice-cream, children flourish when their good habits are rewarded with praise, and the occasional treat doesn’t go amiss either.
Nursery & School are a blessing
I can’t tell you the number of times when Holly was at daycare nursery and they’d tell me she’d eaten things she never normally would at home! Before Holly went to nursery she wouldn’t go near cucumber. She started eating at nursery because all of the other children were! Now? She’s a fiend for it!
Come cook with me
Probably the most fun tip of all is having your child come cook with you. Obviously, be careful of anything hot! Getting Holly involved in cooking was one of the most rewarding experiences. Even if it means you chopping, peeling & portioning the ingredients and your child simply adding and stirring them in – they’ll really feel like they’ve achieved something if they cook with you. And they’ll be proud to tell everyone THEY made it! All of the positivity makes them a lot more inclined to eat it, and try new foods!
This one is an age-old Mum hack, but I definitely couldn’t leave it out here.
If you’re making a meal, try just chopping or grating veggies in so they’re hidden but your child is getting all the nutrients still. For example, in a bolognese – try grating up some carrot and leek!
Do you have any hacks for fussy eaters?
Leave it as a comment below!
Featured image: Photo by Anton Darius | @theSollers on Unsplash