If you have a fussy eater - what's your current approach?!

(15 Posts)
PenelopeChipShop Fri 04-Nov-16 11:45:02

My DS is 4 and has been fussy since about 18 months. I keep hearing that he'lol improve with time but is worse if anything. At the moment the only protein he'all eat is those wretched turkey dinosaurs (Bernard Matthews) which I'm only serving about once or twice a week in the interests of getting him to try new things. Am actually quite worried now that he isn't getting what he needs.

My baby DD is 7 months so just starting to be able to eat pretty much what we have and I've been looking at recipes for the both of them but just keep thinking there's no point in me making lovely homemade sauces as he won't even try anything new. It's so depressing.

Just wondered what others are doing with entrenched fussy eaters who won't try new foods. I either feed him the same bloody thing day after day (surely not responsible and will never change the situation) or serve up healthy balanced meals that I KNOW 100% he won't touch. It's a waste of time money and effort! I really want to feed them the same thing but he will either starve or just pick out the plain pasta like he does now. I just hate this!

RedLemonade Fri 04-Nov-16 11:58:52

Mine isn't so bad in terms of fussiness but I firstly make sure she's actually hungry (hence she now has dinner at 4 rather than 6 to avoid snacking), and I tend to always have one thing she'll like but often delay it slightly.

So there'll be some fish and peas on the plate I give her and the chips are "nearly ready".

I pop the plate in front of her vvvvv casually and say "here you go, some yummy fish, you like that, I'll just check the chips". I then swan off and don't pay her any attention as she eyes the plate and (increasingly now) picks at bits until I reappear 5-10 mins later with some chips and a "oh great you've enjoyed that, here are some chips now too".

It's a piece of consummate acting on my part but the determined nonchalance is now working. It's like playing the hardest hard to get you've ever played!

CJCreggsGoldfish Fri 04-Nov-16 12:05:17

I'm just coming out of the fussy eating stage with one, and entering it with my second. I've been lucky that they will both eat fruit and veg (but not much else). My approach has been to feed them what they will eat, but continue to eat an array of food in front of them. My eldest starting (she's about to turn 5) starting asking about our food about 6 months ago, then slowly started to try it off our plates, and now there's a number of meals a week she'll eat with us (including chilli). We never forced her, never pushed her and let it be her choice to try food. Basically, we've tried not to make food a big deal, as hard as this has been at times.

MyschoolMyrules Fri 04-Nov-16 13:11:02

Make a list of what he eats. Then see if you can think about a new way of presenting it. If he likes pasta, baked beans and turkey dinosaur, make him pasta mixed with baked beans and let him see that you are cutting the turkey dinosaurs in it.

This is step 1. He will learn that some of the food he likes can be presented a different way.

Then (what I did) was to lie. Sorry. I convinced ds that rice was chopped up spaghetti, that broccoli were little dinosaur trees (and planted them upright in his mashed potatoes), that chicken were a type of dinosaurs so the eggs he was eating were, really in a way, dinosaur eggs.

There are still a number of things he won't eat, but this helped to start him off. He is now 9 and still a bit fussy but getting on ok with a relatively balanced diet.

Loops81 Wed 09-Nov-16 14:17:21

We encourage our 2.5 year old to help with cooking, which she loves - stands on a chair at the counter and helps chop, mix things etc. I can't say this has widened her repertoire massively yet, but it at least gets her excited about food and asking questions (like "How do you eat onion?"). We've taken to making pasta sauces full of blended vegetables, and smoothies made of fruit and veg to make sure she's getting what she needs, while just continuing to offer different food alongside the stuff we know she will eat. Good luck, I know how how frustrating it is!

Witchend Wed 09-Nov-16 15:45:47

Mine's 16yo, so I offer one thing that she will eat (even if it's not her favourite). If she doesn't want that then she's self-sufficient. She was a great eater until she was 8yo (and dd2, who is a great eater now, was dreadful at 4yo)

Namechanger5432121 Thu 10-Nov-16 09:29:39

I have been battling with my ds since he was around 18mo too and now he is 3.5 he will eat a variety of things but miniscule portions.

I have just found the 'tot it up' food diary on the infant and toddler forum which I fill in daily and I am surprised that he is actually getting enough of everything for his age. Even when I think he hasn't eaten much at all, it is still quite balanced.
It has helped also when it comes to snacks to see what he has had enough of for the day and which food group he could do with a bit more of.

I thought it would stress me out more as I would see that I am failing to give a balanced diet but it has really surprised me (and allowed DH to chill out a bit rather than stressing over how little he eats!)

Sorry if it is no help for you but just wanted to write an essay let you know about it in case.

redlemonades advice is good to stagger the meal.
Also we started doing tapas style dinners so he could help himself and try as much as he wants without pressure.

TeaAndCake Thu 10-Nov-16 10:13:34

I called time on my fussy eater DSs (5 and 3 at the time) when I started to wean DD.

I'd had enough of trying to please them and having to cook several meals every day. They had pretty much narrowed it down to bread and cheese at this point and I was sick to death of the daily grind of feeding them and arguing over every single meal.

I do realise that I'd let it get that way but with a newborn and PND to deal with I was pretty much up to my eyes.

I decided to do a sort of BLW routine for DD (I did my own version rather than the one in the book). I cooked whatever I fancied for dinner and gave everyone the same thing.

DD just got on with it and DSs bitched and moaned at everything for about 6 months but (and this was the really tough bit) I ignored everything let them get on with it. No alternatives, I cooked one meal only and if you didn't eat it then you didn't get anything else. I didn't plead or cajole at all, eat it or don't. They did go to bed hungry on a few occasions but they certainly didn't fade away in the night and definitely ate the next meal put in front of them.

All 3 are still a PITA with some meals but on whole much better.

Sorry if this seems a bit too hardline but at that time I was at the end of my rope and had to do something to change the way we were doing things.

Worked for me.

Loops81 Thu 10-Nov-16 10:18:15

TeaAndCake it's interesting to hear your story because every piece of advice I read is to take this approach - eat it or don't, no special treatment - but it's so hard to get out of the habit of serving something easy and cajoling them to eat "one little bit more". It's good to see that it works (sometimes)! Did they surprise you and eat things they previously shunned?

SnugglySnerd Thu 10-Nov-16 10:22:38

DD likes to help cook (she is two) and I let her taste ingredients as we go along. She is more willing to try them cooked after a little preview. She hates pizza for example but likes rolling the dough and choosing toppings. Even if she doesn't eat it all if she knows it has things on that she likes she'll try it.
I don't worry if she only eats the pasta or the rice sometimes. At least she won't be hungry and she eats a lot of fruit, cheese, yoghurt and hummus so I'm satisfied she eats a range of nutrients.

TeaAndCake Thu 10-Nov-16 10:38:28

Loops - yes, all 3 have surprised me with foods they previously wouldn't even look at.

DS2 loves omelettes and beans. Not a chance of this before.
DD will eat any veg in its raw form (peppers, mushrooms, carrots etc) but not quite so keen when cooked.

All love fruit but none like mashed potato much.

NotCitrus Thu 10-Nov-16 10:53:21

I did all of the above. Ds got more and more distressed and when he was upset he would limit his foods even more.
So he gets his favourite sandwich daily. He can cope with lots of change and stressful things if he knows there will be his 'safe' food for his next meal.

Dietician said his diet is fine, but suggested putting other foods in a separate dish for encouraging touching and eventually eating. And vitamins, mainly to reassure everyone he is getting them. He accepts the vitamins as the alternative is eating new things, and also is happy to eat few sweets etc as they aren't balanced by fruit and veg etc.

100 or 50 years ago it wouldn't have been unusual to have very similar foods every day, so I see culture as part of the issue (expectig kids to eat huge range of food from round the world as school dinners). Accepting his limited diet means I have a happy, exceptionally healthy 8yo. Though it probably shouldn't have been such a surprise when he got a ASD diagnosis this summer.

Notso Thu 10-Nov-16 11:10:18

Similar to TeaAndCake I provide the food and let them get on with it. Most of the time they serve themselves, I've got four children and it's easier to cater for likes and dislikes this way and there's less waste. I try and encourage them to just serve up a little bit then take more if they want.
My rules are,
everyone has to sit nicely at the table,
nobody has to eat anything they don't want to BUT,
if you don't like something just ignore it rather than announcing it or whinging about it,
nobody mentions pudding.

DoorKnee Thu 10-Nov-16 11:21:15

Similar here to most of the above.
Always have something on the plate they will eat along with something you want them to try.
Rule is they have to try the one thing, one bite is enough
Stay calm, even though it is a big deal to us, we don't want it to be a drama for him.
This builds trust and has worked wonders on my boy. He's very funny about texture. He didn't eat any meat or fish or eggs so protein was a nightmare for me. He will now eat salmon, beef, chicken and boiled eggs so I consider it a success. It takes a LOT of patience though and you just have to trust the process. He's 5 now and still won't eat 'wet' food like bolognese, but I'll just keep trying! I'm happy he has a balanced diet from all food groups now so that's fine with me for now. We eat at the table as a family so hopefully he'll see us enjoying food and will want to join in more.

theAntsareMyFriends Thu 10-Nov-16 12:28:48

Fussy DS too - 2yrs9months. I feel your pain and I get really stressed about it at times.

My approach is to give him what he wants but with something he might not have tried on another plate. If we put it on the same plate he removes it/throws it and can get upset so its there if he wants it but not if he doesn't. I remember too many meals staring down at a plateful of food that I didn't like and feeling pressured to eat it so I don't want to make food an issue for him. He is never pressured to eat anything and if he doesn't want anything he can move it away from him.

He has occasionally tried new foods when in a cafe, at someone else's house or with other children and then sometimes we can recreate the foods at home and he will eat it.

He loves cooking but that doesn't make any difference to what he eats. He's cooked scrambled eggs since he was 1 but has never tried a bite. Every so often we discover a new food he likes and I get so excited. Its really small steps but he will get there.

We've also done the lying thing. He loves fish and happily ate chicken for a few months with us telling him it was fish. He now knows the truth but has got used to it. We let him decide on what he wants for dinner about every 3 days. He always requests pasta but at least I feel like we are giving him a bit of control over his own food. One day he might surprise me and ask for something new!

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