Fussy toddler - go with the flow or try encouragment?

(18 Posts)
AvidMarion Thu 22-Nov-12 13:28:17

I'm sitting here trying to think about what meals me & DP might have next week/what I can cook/looking at some recipes - all good. However it's just occurred to me that I've not even thought about including DD, 18 months.

She's always been a very picky eater, was difficult to wean & highly suspicious of any new food. She eats mostly toast, cheese, some fruit, some yoghurt - those kind of basic breakfast/lunch type foods, but not consistently & has never eaten anything that might be considered 'dinner' (meat & veg type stuff). She loves her milk & would happily have that all day instead of food, but she currently has 2 x 6oz cups of milk per day.

It's a shame because me & DP love a good meal & have got into the habit of enjoying that after DD has gone to bed. Is this a really defeatist attitude & should we be encouraging her to eat 'dinner' with us more? On the occasions we've tried to do this DD has got stressed, we've got stressed & no-one enjoyed anything. Have we given up too easily & should persist or is this just something she'll grow out of eventually so no problem?

By the way, given her current restricted diet, should I be giving her vitamin supplements?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 22-Nov-12 16:37:27

Fussy toddler to normal-ish pre-teen success story here. I found a combination of things worked eventually. Familiar foods alternated with new ones. DS left to eat on his own alternated with DS sat at the table with everyone else. The trick is that, whatever you go for, don't stress, hover, poke food at their mouths, don't encourage, cajole or wheedle, don't bargain or get annoyed .... just present a very small, manageable amount (assuming she's OK with a spoon etc) with a smile then IGNORE... get on with your own meal, chat to the other people at the table normally, and let the child get on with it or leave it as they wish. If they leave it, clear away and let them get down from the table, no harm done. If they try a bit ... big smiles. If something gets rejected once, don't write it off, just try again on another day. Resist the temptation to offer an alternative.. they rarely starve to death smile

The other thing that seemed to work brilliantly was 'peer pressure'. When other children came round for tea and DS would eat anything put on the table, just to be one of the gang.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 22-Nov-12 16:39:41

BTW... unless she has a particular problem e.g. perpetually catching viruses, vitamin supplements probably not required. Toast, cheese, fruit and yoghurt are not too bad nutritionally.

ppeatfruit Fri 23-Nov-12 10:45:27

IMO it's not a problem as long as YOU don't make it into one. It's a stage that she'll grow out of. I wouldn't allow her to go hungry i'd just give her what she likes while you eat what you like with her and make no fuss whatever if she wants yours or not.

AvidMarion Fri 23-Nov-12 19:11:54

That's some good advice, thanks.

I try to stay calm and nonchalant but DD can produce some major histrionics if any unfamiliar food comes anywhere near her.

I guess its useful for her to see us enjoying food, even if she's not eating the same then?

ppeatfruit Sat 24-Nov-12 08:43:48

Yes of course grin! Good luck!

PickledGerkin Sun 25-Nov-12 10:20:39

I found presenting a plate with food that my son would definitely eat with a item that he had to try helped, therefore he knew that once he had tried the new food he could happily eat the rest.

Ds2 is now 6 and much better but it has been slow going. I think it is karma as I was an appalling eater as a child but then back then we didn't have the choice of foods that we have now.

Ds2 didn't like cows milk (he was on prescription milk for reflux which he liked) so he had to eat yoghurt and cheese daily to keep his calcium levels up.

Good luck, it can be awful.

ppeatfruit Sun 25-Nov-12 13:08:38

Gherkin How d'you reckon vegans manage without the calcium from cows milk? it's not nec, IMO and E. There's lots in other foods.

JiltedJohnsJulie Mon 26-Nov-12 22:28:25

Think the NHS now recommend vitamins at that age anyway, but you might want to google it. Agree that offering new foods alongside ones you know they will eat worked for us in the past. If she's not currently on full fat cows milk, you might want to swap her over to that as follow ons and toddler milk can be constipating, which can suppress appetite.

Have a look on amazon too at a book called My Child Won't Eat.

BabySpider Tue 27-Nov-12 08:18:11

You've probably sorted your meal plan now but thought I'd say that I found reading "meals without tears" really helpful. Can't remember who it is written by but it's got a dark blue cover. It explains nutritional requirements as they grow, and goes into things like how our relationship with food can influence theirs. There are no magic tricks but I found it reassuring that I was doing the right thing with my DS, who was going through a phase of refusing anything that wasn't a fish finger or a bowl of cereal! Hth.

AvidMarion Tue 27-Nov-12 18:36:04

Ooo great, I'll have a look for those books

cantmakecarrotcake Tue 27-Nov-12 18:50:37

DD's paediatrician (who we're seeing about fussy eating and poor growth) said that he recommends all under 5s have a multivitamin which I think is what the NHS position is too. It wouldn't hurt to start them if you're worried. We use Wellkid which is pretty comprehensive.

Re evening meals. Save yourself the stress and enjoy your meal with your DH. I see no reason (or benefit) to ruin your evening meal by eating with a fussy toddler - also do you really want to change to toddler-friendly meals every day? I personally couldn't eat sausages/fish fingers/sweet corn every night!

It's a defeatist attitude, yes, but then I've been defeated!

Good luck!

dreamingofsun Tue 27-Nov-12 19:10:19

i'm going to go against the grain here a little. if you want your daughter to eat a wide variety of foods, she is more likely to do that if she sees you eating them. so i would eat as a family.

if you let a child just eat the things they really like there's a danger of them turning into fussy eaters, eg my teenage niece who has a long list of things she won't touch because she was served bland, limited range of meals as a youngster.

DancingInTheMoonlight Tue 27-Nov-12 19:18:37

Could you do random buffet style items throughout the day that look like snacks? A good quality fish finger? Potato shapes (you can get ones with carrots hidden in them), pasta with home made blended veg sauce, a few pieces of filled pasta, peanut butter on toast, banana on toast etc. Don't fill plates of new stuff, just the odd piece slipped in with normal food don't mention it at all, even if she doesn't touch it-and repeat smile

AvidMarion Tue 27-Nov-12 19:50:46

I think there's a lot of good ideas there. We'll probably try a few different ideas but from what I can gather the key is to keep trying new foods and try to stay relaxed (and when it's not going so well put DD to bed and enjoy our dinner now and again wink)

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 27-Nov-12 20:09:06

Totally agree with dreaming, our Dd was fussy but is much less so now. We eat as a family and no, we don't eat child friendly food every night, that would be awful.

For me, what was important was just not getting dd to eat more but to enjoy food as a family. There are lots of ways you can make regular food more friendly too, tonight we had homemade chicken fried rice, I added our salt after serving the DC. Tomorrow we are having chicken fajitas, dd used to have chicken fried in butter and garlic but now eats exactly the same as us, with perhaps a little extra soured cream. On the other nights we are having fish pie, jacket potatoes, homemade burgers and roast dinner.

We've done mostly what cognito suggests, although agree that avoiding the screaming demands can be hard at first, but its really, really worked for us.

Do your meal plan, server her small portions, smile, eat, chat and ignore all the fuss and never, ever, ever offer an alternative. It works, I promise smile

Dancergirl Tue 27-Nov-12 21:44:13

dreamingofsun I would disagree. LOTS of children are fussy and really tbh most children are not that interested in food they way adults are. I was terrible as a child and ate mostly bland food, but I became naturally interested in food in my teens and twenties. My mother usually cooked what she knew I would eat so I enjoyed eating and there was no pressure. Left to their own devices, children try new foods when they are ready.

OP - your dd is still really little so don't feel pressurised into having family dinners just yet if that's stressful. Also children of this age often have v small appetites as their growth slows down in the second year.

Do a mixture - sometimes feed her early and you and dh later, and sometimes eat together but make sure there is a PART of the meal that she likes. As she gets older, let her seeing you eat all sorts of things and offer her a bit from your plate if she's agreeable.

Does she like eggs? You could do omelettes with different fillings?

ppeatfruit Wed 28-Nov-12 08:45:10

Yes exactly dancergirl 'no pressure' is extremely important IMO and E. As an ex C.M. nanny, E.Y. teacher and M of 3.

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