There is nothing more frustrating than a child who doesn’t eat. Let me introduce you to Harry, my first born who is nearly 3 and a half and weighs just under 30lbs. At the moment Harry’s picky eating is at its peak. He is currently living on cereals & milk, bread and baked beans! Oh and perhaps some long cheese as he likes to call it (to us it’s cheese strips) the occasional petit filous yoghurt and some innocent smoothies. Harry would eat chocolate for breakfast, dinner and tea if I let him.
I am determined to make Harry a better eater. We have tried all the tricks in the book, hiding food, making hidden vegetable sauces, bribing him with pudding or chocolate, reward charts, flying aeroplanes, pretending to feed his favourite teddies at the table and yes some days these tactics work and some days they don’t. We’ve stayed calm, made him stay at the table, lost our patience, yelled, made empty threats and have had lots of tears. It is rather annoying spending time cooking yummy food for him when he doesn’t want to eat it or even try it! I want Harry to look forward to meal times and sometimes I worry that this is not happening and we are perhaps creating a negative environment when we sit down to eat.
A little background
Harry was breastfeed exclusively for 3 months and spoon fed from 5 months. We took weaning very slow at first, only introducing puree’d fruits, vegetables and baby rice. Harry was always in between the 9th and 25th centile, I got him weighed regularly and he did steadily gain weight so health visitors were never too concerned. By his first birthday he weighed 19lbs, however from his 1st to his 2nd birthday he only gained 2lbs and thus his fussy eating was born.
I personally feel that not being baby-led weaned like my second son, Jack, is why Harry is a fussy eater. Harry never became familiar with different textures as he was on puree’d/lumpy food for quite a long time. I never really let Harry mess too much with his food either and I know now that this has also played a part. Playing with his food, including wiping, touching, smelling and tasting it all builds confidence when eating. With my second son, Jack, I have pretty much left him to his own devices. At first it was nerve wracking watching him eat fruit in finger sticks from 6 months old but the more he did it, the more both our confidences grew. Jack is now 11 months and he is a cracking little eater but I know time will tell as to whether he will continue these eating habits into his later years.
Recently I have simply been asking Harry to just try the food and if he doesn’t like something he doesn’t have to eat it. However even asking Harry to try something at the moment is challenging! So having had a chat with the hubby about the problem we have decided to adopt an easy going, relaxed, he’ll eat when he’s hungry attitude. Yes this is easier said than done but as long as I am offering him varied food then he’ll start eating some other foods eventually, right? It’s been frustrating for us both but we are finally on board with this approach and we have everything crossed that eventually it will work. We are off on holiday soon and are holidaying with friends who also have children the same age as Harry, so we are hoping by adopting this laid back attitude and being surrounded by 3 other boys who do eat a varied diet then he will hopefully find the confidence to try some different foods. Of course there will be plenty of ice-cream and treats too (there is a Haagen Daaz shop on site!) but we will not be using this to bribe him to eat his dinner, after all it is a holiday for him too.
Wish us luck and I shall keep you posted on how we get on when we return!