Anyone used a permissive approach to fussy eating??

(31 Posts)
AbbyCat Wed 06-Feb-13 12:05:58

DS is 22m and strong willed to say the least. He will try new food but has a few favorites. Is it really bad if I just ask him what he wants and give it to him for 2 meals out of 3? The only meal where I will try my best to get him to eat reasonably is dinner as it'll affect his sleep.for instance today he decided he didn't want the rice I made, but asked for coco pops and cheese strings instead. He's a skinny boy and frankly I'm just happy he's eating. Am I setting myself up for some serious fussy eating in future by going with the flow? I'd just rather avoid the tantrums to be honest and am trying to pick my battles!

matana Wed 06-Feb-13 12:13:23

If you can offer him a choice, i really think that's a good way to approach eating where toddlers are concerned, providing it doesn't inconvenience you greatly. I personally wouldn't leave it open ended though and would give him a choice of one or the other. For example, I always ask my DS (2.2) whether he wants toast or cereal for breakfast. I always ask him whether he wants soup or a sandwich for lunch (or ham or cheese sandwich etc). In fact it's the same with everything. If i ask him if he wants a bath he will invariably reply 'No'. If i ask him if he wants a bath or a shower, he will reply 'bath'! It's simple psychology!

However, if i'm cooking a meal for the family, i never cook him something separate because i want to encourage him to try food. I figure if he's hungry he'll eat - even if it's just the cheese topping rather than the pasta, for example! Or the bread side dish rather than the main meal....

I have done it.

Ds was picky to the extreme and limited himself to about 4 meals. But he happily ate fruit and veg. I figured his diet was dull and restricted but not unhealthy sojust gave in and went with it.

He is 7 now and still fairly set in his ways but his diet has expanded a little and he will at least try the odd thing without hassle. It is a personal thing but I am quite laid back and think I have bigger fish to fry than making life an epic battle.

Slipsliding Wed 06-Feb-13 12:22:59

Yes, I do it with ds who is also 22 mo and it is beginning to work . My policy has been to never make a fuss and just accept it and he is now eating veg... May not last but we neither criticise or praise and I'm sure that is the right approach for us as I don't want to emotionalise food.

libelulle Wed 06-Feb-13 12:23:38

I'm a very go with the flow person when it comes to food and kids but I'm not sure I'd go with the giving in to coco pops and cheese strings if I'd cooked something else that I knew they had liked and eaten before.

I have two excellent eaters aged 2 and 4, both on the lower end of the growth charts (very lower end in one case) who also go through periods of enormous fussiness. After a period of massive stress about what they ate when i worried constantly, I made a very conscious decision not ever to make food an issue I fought over with them. It really seems to have paid off, in that we all enjoy mealtimes together and the kids eat a wide range of foods and are willing to try new foods.

This is what I do. It didn't always sit naturally to begin with!

-I make sure that I cook meals that I think they'll eat, or at least elements of meals I know they'll eat (eg make a stir-fry and pick out for them the green beans, red peppers and prawns that I know they like).
-I completely pander to stuff like my DD wanting everything kept separate on her plate.
-I ignore it if what they end up eaten from what I've cooked is far from a balanced meal. Quite often DS will have only say peas for dinner and DD only rice. I reckon it balances out in the end.
- If they try something and don't like it (even if they have in the past), I over-praise massively for the attempt and then don't push the issue further.
- What I've cooked for dinner is what there is for dinner! They can have bread if they don't want what is on offer, but I won't cook anything else.
- Pudding is never dependent on eating main course.
- DH and I are very keen and adventurous eaters so they see us eating and enjoying our food.

Oh and I NEVER make food a reward for anything.

Ineedmorepatience Wed 06-Feb-13 13:22:28

Tanya Byron once said on tv that a fussy eater needs to see a new food upto 20 times before we should expect them to eat it.

I really liked that and have gone with it with Dd3 who has ASD we all sit together and eat and she is offered what we are having. Sometimes she tries sometimes she doesnt but the food is always around for her to see, touch and smell.

She has the option of a marmite sandwich but rarely takes it these days. She is 10 now and eats a huge range of foods. She has never been forced to try she is given the choice.

Involve your Lo in making food and buying food and playing with food, making shaped sandwiches or faces on the plate.

Making food fun is a gentle way to encourage a varied diet.

Good lucksmile

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 06-Feb-13 13:27:39

Did go that way for a while with DS but it got to a point where he only wanted to eat cheese sandwiches.

We started giving him new foods along with something we knew he would eat. He's 8 now and only refuses fresh tomato and courgette.

The going with what they want really didnt work out with either if my DC.

cupboardlove Wed 06-Feb-13 13:33:04

I am having the same problem with ds3. He is 21 months old and has just stopped eating amost everything except weetabix and honey sandwiches. I try different lunches with him and we sit as a family all eating good homecooked meals every night. ds will try one mouthfull then spit it out and refuse to eat any more. I don't give him anything else and he doesn't seem bothered or hungry. today was the last straw as he even refused a honey sandwich for lunch. Any advise?

diyqueen Wed 06-Feb-13 13:43:35

Dd is 22mo too and is a bit on the fussy side with eating. I do give her a choice for breakfast and lunch, but make sure the choices are healthy (e.g. I'll offer cheerios or porridge for breakfast, let her choose juice or milk to drink, let her choose fruit to go with her sandwich at lunch etc.). For dinner we all eat together and I make things I think she'll eat at least some of. I don't offer alternatives but will offer puddings that make up for whatever she's missed in her dinner... so if she just eats fish and potatoes it's fruit for pudding, if she just eats the vegetables I'll offer cheese or yogurt for pudding. She has to wait for pudding until dp and I have finished the main meal though.

cupboardlove Wed 06-Feb-13 13:53:08

If i could get ds to eat a mouthful of fruit or veg or anything i would be happy! Wont even eat raisins anymore. :-( I will keep on trying though!

noblegiraffe Wed 06-Feb-13 13:59:52

If coco pops and cheese strings are on the menu, why would he ever choose to eat a healthy dinner? What if he asked for chocolate and crisps?

I think if you're going to offer an alternative to make sure he eats something, it needs something dull but filling like a cheese sandwich or toast, followed by the usual dessert.

notso Wed 06-Feb-13 14:24:28

I have stopped caring about what DS2 eats.
He gets a choice for breakfast just like my other DC do,
lunch is usually a cheese or ham sandwich or soup and bread,
for dinner he has whatever I am cooking.
He will have fruit a few times a day, more if I let him, and sometimes cake or a biscuit.
There is no rhyme or reason to what he will decide to eat although he usually eats pasta with any tomatoey sauce or chicken curry and rice so I do try and serve them frequently but not daily.
He sits at the table with everyone, if he start messing about then his food is quietly taken away, if he cries for it back he gets another chance, if not he leaves the table.
Initally I felt bad about him going to bed with no dinner and gave him toast but then he started asking for toast straight away so I stopped. He doesn't ask for food and he doesn't wake up hungry during the night.
I am hoping that 'this too will pass'.

Chopsypie Wed 06-Feb-13 14:32:43

I give him what we are all having, and if he doesnt eat it then tough. He then gets the option of a simple supper so hes not starving.

I dont give him things I know he doesnt like (so far BBQ sauce, mushrooms and cucumber) and I dont punish/reward him for his behavior at mealtimes. He obviously gets praise for sitting and eating nicely, but I wouldnt offer him extras for being good.

That sounds quite harsh when I read it back, but hes 2 and a half, and very stubborn!

Jojay Wed 06-Feb-13 14:42:13

Notso - your approach sounds spot on to me.

I do that with my 18 month old twins. They're dc3 and 4 so I haven't got the time or energy to pander to everyone's whims. We generally all eat the same, everyone has a bit of everything and I don't over analyse leftovers - much less stress! They all seem healthy enough to me.

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 06-Feb-13 15:06:43

Agree with noble. No child is ever going to eat what you want them too if that's on the menu smile

We do pretty much the same as notso and jojay.

notso Wed 06-Feb-13 15:11:18

Jojay I have 4 too and totally agree about not having the time to be faffing around making different dinners.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 06-Feb-13 15:12:08

I did exactly what you are describing with DS1 OP. If he didn't want something then he could have what he asked for. Soon enough I realised what foods he would and wouldn't eat and only gave him stuff which he would eat. He is and always was very clear about his likes and dislikes. I would not battle with him over food and the most important thing was to get him fed one way of the other.

He is now 7 and enjoys a good range of foods and oddly will eat any kind of fish or seafood but no fruit at all.

He has always been slim and healthy and seems to have no food issues.

AbbyCat Wed 06-Feb-13 15:38:00

A lot of criticism regarding his diet! Coco pops isn't usually on the menu for lunch- I hadn't cleared it away after breakfast and he saw it on the counter. At which point if I had taken it away, there would have been a meltdown. He won't eat a cheese sandwich but will eat them separately (and had asked for bread as his mid morning snack). He loves cheese strings though and could easily eat 3-4 at a go. He will have other cheeses as well but I don't think one is nutritionally superior anyway so I'm not bothered by the fact that its cheese strings! And we don't eat crisps / cake / biscuits / milk chocolate so those aren't available to him as options. Generally if he refuses a meal, I offer bread / cheese / yogurt / fruit.

Those in the don't offer an alternative camp- if he refuses his lunch, what do you do? Say no lunch? But why if he asks for a sandwich later? Do you then give that to him? Isn't that then essentially the same as me offering it to him instead of lunch so he eats something?

JiltedJohnsJulie Wed 06-Feb-13 15:46:17

It's not really criticism, my DH would quite happily live on cheese sandwiches, in fact any brown food and coco pops if I let him.

If our dd refuses a meal we just leave it there. If she says she's hungry later we tell her to go and help herself, the meal is still waiting for her. Sounds really tough but I've had a very tough time with her being extremely fussy and this approach works for us.

FunnysInLaJardin Wed 06-Feb-13 16:06:31

Oh and IME Abby a few cheese strings, which incidentally DS1 LOVED or a bowl of cocopops for tea does not mean that aged 7 they will only eat these types of food. If anything because I was fairly relaxed about both of my DC's diets they don't see those foods as a treat now and can take them or leave them.

Rooneyisalwaysmoaning Wed 06-Feb-13 16:13:03

totally laid back here, now at 9 ds eats almost anything.

ouryve Wed 06-Feb-13 16:15:39

DS2 is 6 and still a vegetable hater, but we always put a small piece of veg on his plate. We also give him new foods alongside familiar foods so we know there will be something he'll eat. We're managing to increase the forms in which he'll eat potato, so he no longer has to have oven chips with every single main meal.

libelulle Wed 06-Feb-13 18:43:31

I didn't see a lot of criticism of his diet, just advice.

<'why bother' face>

DoItToJulia Wed 06-Feb-13 18:59:19

My ds ate everything until about 2 years old. Then said no to virtually everything. At the time I couldn't decide if it was just because he could say no or because he really didn't like the food.

We had about 6 months of refusing all but baked beans, avocado and toast, then a year of weird rules. Cheese sandwich? Had to be deconstructed. Pasta? Had to be plain with veg on the side. To begin with I pandered to it as I was just so pleased he was eating. Then I started to get a bit tougher.

Now at 7 he will eat most things except tomatoes in all forms and can cause a bit of a fuss over mixed up meals, like a cottage pie. He would eat it deconstructed but at 7 I am not pandering to it.

Nutritionists do say at this age to look at what a child eats over the course of a week to make sure there nutritional needs are being met. Hth.

BoffinMum Wed 06-Feb-13 19:03:45

I would not consult with him, but I would put out lots of different things at mealtimes, including things I know he likes, so he could choose suitable (in his view) food without arguing or resisting anything. Ultimately children don't let themselves starve, and over a month their nutritional intake often balances up quite nicely.

Another thing I have done is got even very young children to help prepare bits of the meal. They are then 10x more likely to eat some of it.

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