If you've been through the fussy eating stage and out the other side ...(20 Posts)
... did you have to do anything or did it get better all by itself?
DD is four and the foodstuffs she will eat are diminishing day by day. She used to eat two veg - peas and broad beans (and potatoes, but don't really count those) - so we had them with more or less everything. Then we did a MEND course (= healthy living thing run by local children's centre) which I did mainly because it said it could help with fussy eaters. They did the exposure technique where every week they had a fruit and veg and we had to look at, touch, smell, lick, kiss and then bite into them. DD loved this. We did it at home with everything and partway through she decided that she also liked carrots and sweetcorn. Double the veg! Woo hoo! Course ended in early December and she's recently dropped ALL veg from her diet <cries>
She basically lives on a diet of yogurt, potato cakes, baked beans and (some) fruit. She used to eat all fruit but is now dropping those too.
She also eats very little. This doesn't actually bother me, it's the limitedness (totally a word, don't question me) of what she eats, and also the fact that it limits what the rest of us eat a bit.
I'm at the point now where I'm ready to declare war on her pickiness and start smuggling hidden veg into everything she will eat (difficult, most of it is beige - but that leaves me parsnips and cauliflower I reckon ), to the horror of my own pre-children self, who was smugly confident that my relaxed attitude and honest approach to food would lead inevitably to enthusiastic and adventurous eaters
I am aware this is a normal stage, but should I be doing anything to ease it? Or just gritting my teeth and uttering the MN mantra?
I find that mine wax and wane through various phases, broadly just keeping one step ahead of me whatever approach I've adopted at that point. Mine are coming up for 8, 6 and 3 (well, and a baby, but he only has milk so he won't come into it) but apart from spag bol, there's nothing they all like it seems. The 8yo was a bugger when he was little, but is now pretty adventurous. The 6yo never did that whole tantrum-y difficult stage, but is far more limited in his diet. the 2 yo appears to be on the atkins diet and only eats meat and cheese and fruit. oh, and chocolate. They all eat that.
It sounds like you're doing a great job with your approach.
I think I would try making sure that most meals contain one element she has previously liked, and then whatever you're having. If mine have genuinely tried and not liked everything, they might get a slice of bread and butter, but broadly I try not to deviate from the 'eat and like it' mentality. It must be said, this is paying dividends at the moment, as, having just had a baby, lots of other people are cooking meals for us and there's nothing else on offer. Not that I'd recommend having a fourth child as a way to deal with a picky eater.
Haven't got time to post, will try to come back later
whimsical which bit of my approach do you like - the relaxed attitude to amount, the readiness to declare war on fussiness or the teeth-gritting?
I very much like the bit about your 8 yo Mine have both been natural Atkins dieters a lot of the time, they both seem very carb-averse Will consider the fourth child
Dita both of mine went through a fussy stage at this age. Our DS is also 8 and the only thing he refuses is fresh tomato. Dd is more of a work in progress.
Think the suggestion of putting something you know she will eat on the plate is a good one.
Here we started just giving her what we were having and letting her get on with it. Yesterday she asked what was for tea, said she hated it and wasn't going to eat it, complained again when it was served and when she realised she was being ignored and there was nothing else coming her way ate 3/4 of it. I can live with that .
I'd also give her really small portions, she can always ask for more but they can be easily overfaced.
Have you read My Child Won't Eat by Carlos Gonzalez? It was out of print when we started sorting out dd but is back in print now
Been through it, came out the other side by about the age of 7 I was grey and wrinkled they were totally unscathed now as teenagers they are worse than they ever were It's not easy
Really important (esp as she is a girl) to stop fighting/conversations/basically all mealtimes being about conflict ...
I used to go out if my mind, and get really really tense and crabby at every meal time until dh (her step dad) pointed out it was turning into a power struggle that she was winning EACH time, either by by not eating, leading to coercing, bribing and arguing, or eating leading to huge amounts if praise... At the end if the day it's all attention based around food. He's a dr, and sees a fair amount of anorexics, and it really made me change my attitude..
Now I feed her things I know she eats, happily make different food for the rest of us and don't even discuss it....
When she says she doesn't like/won't eat I just say fine...
Her eating has improved massively and I nearly fell off my chair at Christmas when she said, " maybe I should learn to eat a few new things as its all a bit boring, how about sushi.." WTF... Of couse she hated it, but she tried it..
She's 10 and a half and we have had this her whole life, I changed my behaviour about 2 years ago and mealtimes (and our relationship) have become so much better.
Best of luck
Just to be clear, there is no conflict at mealtimes. There is usually something she will eat (often plain pasta or plain rice!) and I just ask her if she wants to try what we're having, sometimes she will but immediately spits it out, and I tell her it's fine. Sometimes I give her the option of having some baked beans if there's nothing she'll eat.
Actually tbf she is pretty good at trying things. We also have a chart on the fridge atm where she gets a tick every time she tries one of half a dozen veg and she will often ask to try something so she can get the tick, whereas I can't really be bothered with the charg
My question was really whether I should be being more proactive or if things would get better by themselves.
The only conflict really is the fact that she is constantly getting down from her chair to dance or god I don't know what, so DH and I are endlessly telling her to sit down and eat. Occasionally DH will try to bargain with her to eat two more mouthfuls in exchange for pudding (yogurt) but I tell him off for that
Also frustrating that she will ask for half a dozen things then take a bite and not eat them. I bought a punnet of raspberries for the four of us to share, she took half (she loves them and I'd rather she ate them than me and DH) then squished them into her yogurt and left them That kind of thing really pisses me off! Or she'll take more when there's still some on her plate and leave all of it. Argh.
We eat at 6 - was wondering if that's too late for her and she's too tired to eat but that's when DH gets home and I like us to eat together.
Also wondering whether I should start letting her have school lunches (at preschool). She is desperate to have them (they get biscuits and icecream for pudding!) but I usually make a packed lunch on the grounds she won't eat about 80% of school dinners, but perhaps it would expand her horizons.
Also (last thing, sorry!) she says school sometimes give her a sticker for eating all her lunch. Think I'll ask for more details but I'm really not happy about that, AIBU?
Sorry so long
Watching this thread with interest. Our nearly-3-yo DD is becoming worse and worse with food and I really think its just attention seeking/rebellion. So we're also trying the tactic if not making a fuss, letting her refuse, but telling her there is nothing else instead and sticking to that. I really don't know if that's the right or wrong thing but after a full day at work, I can't face cooking a separate meal which may also be refused. And also, I fear that just feeding her plain pasta or rice (about the only thing she hasn't refused) will just discourage her from ever tying anything different, never mind the lack of nutritional value. But i am worried about her going hungry.
Oh, and she's also started the thing of asking for food and then ignoring it. Grrr.
The fussier my kids got the more I cut out sweet treats and snacks and made sure they were hungry when they ate and I always ate with them - the same food. Not sure if that fixed things or not...they eat a pretty big variety of foods now but who knows - we're a bit of a food obsessed household.
My older girl became fussier & fussy, then at around 14 started trying new things & now eats just about everything. I didn't do anything special - I have never made an issue out of food & don't expect anyone to eat food they don't like.
Little one is currently fussy but I am confident she will grow out of it, like her big sis. I wouldn't make such a big deal of it (charts & the like sound like a whole pile of faff to me).
I have 2 DD's ages 5 & 6. Both went through this fussy stage, DD1 is pretty much past it now, DD2 isnt... I personally found school dinners to be a godsend. DD2 ate nothing but cold spaghetti, grated cheese & cucumber off the salad counter for the first term of school. I gritted my teeth about how much this was costing me! Last week she came home and told me she had "ham" (gammon) potatoes, cauliflower & gravy for her lunch, I nearly fainted! She has yet to get a clean plate sticker & I'm not expecting miracles, but apparently her best friend liked the gammon meal so she ate it too.
Grit your teeth and try not to get frustrated. Mine started coming out the other side of it by about 10. I never made a big deal of it, and both the buggers hated different things so I'd alternate hated veg each night so that I knew they were at least getting veg every other day! From the age of about 7 I refused to cook separately for them. Bloody Annabel Karmel.
Now they are 11 and 14 and will try anything. When I cook and dish up, everyone gets a bit of everything and I don't fuss if they pick bits out. This happens less and less though.
Today at lunch, they both tried fresh organic tomato with balsamic vinegar off my plate. Then BOTH ASKED FOR MORE . My work is done.
I consider myself to be super relaxed about food - and have been pretty darned smug over the years about my 3 dcs ability to eat just about anything put in front of them. Until I realised that actually they are unbelievably fussy now (aged 16, 12 and 6) than ever they were as little children (especially the 12 year old). Textures, flavours, combinations - they all get brought up as reasons for disliking the food offered.
My point being that I think you can really only go with the flow and pretty much let her be, for your own sanity because you may well have years of this ahead of you!
I'd let her eat school dinners, the social pressure encourages them to try different things. I'm with you with the stickers though, DD1's school gives out house points for a clean plate which I'm not happy about. DD1 isn't a fussy eater though so I'm more concerned about her listening to her appetite than getting her to try things.
I think you've got to go with the flow to a certain extent. Having said that I don't offer alternatives at mealtimes and insist that everyone has a bit of everything on their plate. I assume if they are hungry they will eat, but they don't have to taste thing sif they don't want to, we do tell them that your taste changes as you get older and so it's a good idea to taste things to see if you like it now, they are very tickled by the fact that I didn't like olives as a child. Snacks are fruit or crackers and cheese. It definitely helps if they are hungry when they sit down for a meal, when we visit my family the kids are constantly offered biscuits and cakes as snacks and surprise surprise the amount they eat at mealtimes decreases.
TBH looking at the adults around me, the ones who had access to a range of food are the ones who eat well as adults, however fussy they were as kids (my brother ate five foods as a child so mega fussy!). So keep cooking and you'll hopefully have a thirty year old who isn't fussy.
When I was watching Sky News yesterday they highlighted a report which shows that British toddlers are the fussiest eaters in Europe, and then they had two nutritionists to talk about the report. I think what particularly struck me was that they both said how important it was that the children actually came to the table hungry - that in this country we give our children far too many snacks and they never learn what hunger is (not getting at you, Op, just thought you might find it interesting). They also emphasised how important it is to make meals a social time and not a battlefield, and as a PP poster said not to offer alternatives - ie this is the meal, take it or leave it!
Totally agree. Lots of people I know complain about their children being fussy but give their children more snacks in one day than mine get in a week. Think te no alternatives is really important too. We've done all of this with our dd, family meals, happy conversation, one choice and limited snacks.
Thanks all. Good to hear that most get through this stage, though tbh was aiming for her to be over it in the next 6-12 months so feeling a bit faint at the prospect of another ten (or 26!) years of this
We do encourage her to keep trying things in case her tastes have changed ... Unfortunately was recently revisited it upon me when I had to try a Quorn chicken slice (bleeeeeeeeeeurgh) in return ("Try it, mummy, you might like it now" ). Also slight issue with DH being vegetarian, but will not try meat just to see if he likes it now ...
Both DC do often eat a lot of snacks between end of school and dinner - I mentioned to DH only this evening that we might as well put out a healthy buffet at 2 pm, let them pick at it until 7 and then put them to bed. But the RELENTLESS PESTERING grinds me down. And it is mainly fruit. Sigh.
Tonight I put carrot, sweetcorn and parsnip on her plate (tiny bit of each), she said she wasn't going to eat it, I said that was fine. She did actually try a few bits of sweetcorn
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Join the discussion
Please login first.