AIBU to ask what you feed your fussy eaters?(27 Posts)
I have run out of ideas (and enthusiasm) for what to feed my fussy eaters. They are DS3 years 5 months and DD20 months old; before people wade in with "if they don't eat what the family eats then let them go hungry", please just don't, my youngest has only just started sleeping for longer than an hour at a time in her own bed at night and I do not want to be up all hours because she is hungry and wanting to breastfeed all night to fill her tummy.
We've got into a rut of fish fingers, veggie fingers, chips, potato cakes, houmous, wraps, chicken goujons, baked beans, cheese, cereal, brioche, sausages, fruit bars, raisins and not much else. DD will eat fruit most of the time which I count as a win but DS won't. They also won't eat the same things, one likes half of the above list and the other likes the other half.
I HATE planning my shop and meals for the week. I feel most of the time that I might as well open my purse and throw my cash in the bin because 75% of what I give them gets thrown on the floor/walls or wasted because they refuse to eat it. (Yes, I discipline them and tell them that we don't throw food and if you don't want to eat it then leave it on the side of your plate.)
Please MN, I really need ideas and inspiration for things to feed them and strategies to try.
This time of year I do lots of picnics for the DCs. When they were little they seemed to graze through the day far more so a picnic would be ideal for them to keep going back to rather than one big stodgy meal.
I also made them run/move as much as possible so that they're properly hungry; lots of walks, bike rides and paddling in the local stream to build up their appetite.
As for the chucking it at the wall, I'd go batshit at that so am not the person to answer. But DS2 was an absolute shite for picky eating as a little one and now he's 6 he's an amazing eater. Lots of choice, give them control re portions and just try and make mealtimes calm and enjoyable; they're going to know if you're stressed or desperate for them to eat and they'll do the opposite for sheer devilment. And perhaps encourage your older one to prep meals with you. Kuhn Rikon do loads of children's cookery equipment including dog-shaped blunti-ish knives which they can use for chopping chunks of cucumber, melon, celery etc. It really made a difference to DS2 when he was allowed to 'help'.
These are the ones we have; John Lewis sells them, too. The scissors are fab for herbs; DS2 had his own little herb pots for cooking and would spend hours trimming the wrong ones to stuff into his recipes. Cheap herb plants are always available at supermarkets.
There's a cookbook of children's food by Annabelle Karmel called superfoods for kids which is brilliant for fussy eaters that age
How are they with eggs? Omelettes take minutes and I find it hard to believe anyone could take offence at an omelette.
You didn't mention pasta. Would they eat pasta and a sauce?
Your selection of foods sounds good to me, mine was far more fussy. I always made Annabelle Karmel's hidden vegetable tomato sauce, frozen into cubes in the freezer as a sauce for tomato pasta. All ds's friends loved it and it had veg in it! Would slice a muffin and put the sauce on top with cheese and grill for pizza. They loved doing this themselves.
I've been doing cooking with DS - letting him do 90% of prep himself but he still won't even try it. It's so frustrating.
DD will eat scrambled eggs, DS won't. Neither will eat omelettes. Neither will eat pasta, it would be easier if they did because as PP said I could hide veggies in the sauce. DS doesn't like pizza either. It is so frustrating.
I've been really chilled about things for ages, just cooking them what they will eat but it makes me feel like a shit mum when their diet is basically fish fingers/frankfurter sausages and chips with beans/sweetcorn. It makes me feel like if I was on a TV programme and people saw what I was feeding my children, people would judge me harshly and say how shit I am.
I fed mine same as the rest of the family BUT made sure at every meal there was at least one thing she liked & enough of it to fill her up. Only rule for mealtimes is you have to be polite, so no screeching, saying YUCK or anything like that. We talk about our days or something pleasant. No stress, no cajoling from the parents and conversely no whining from the kids.
It's worked, my picky one is still a bit but doesn't make a fuss if there's something she doesn't like on her plate and will always try new things now.
You mention potato cakes so I wonder if they like mashed potatoes. When my DD was small I could hide quite a lot in mashed potato. Vegetables, cheese, beans, ham. For a while it was a go to lunch!
I totally feel your frustration op, my DS is 16 months and won't eat anything at all unless.it's on his plate on the coffee table (high chair results in too much of a fight). He will eat nuggets, fish fingers, burgers etc but anything healthy/different he won't even try it he just stands there throwing each piece over his shoulder onto the floor. If he doesn't like the look of it he just throws the whole plate. I might as well save my energy and give it straight to the dog. It's a horrible feeling when every single meal.you prepare just get thrown around, sometimes I want to.scream. no advice really, just solidarity
I know it sounds a bit out there but have you tried them with falafel? They have an almost nugget like quality but you can pack them with lots of different veg. Also skewers. Little one probably still a bit small but for your older one try threading things on a wooden skewer. The idea of it coming on a stick seemed to make it more appealing!
Quaesidilla could work if they will eat wraps.
Don't worry. What they're eating is fine. Keep offering the healthy things they like and already eat.
I've agonised over the so called 'kid food' diet. But actually while my kids like boring repetitive food, pizza and fish fingers feature regularly. They also love fruit and raw veg so it's not all bad.
I'm sure they'll eat grown up food one day.
*oh and out of guilt I do daily vitamin chews...
I don't know if it helps but my DC were awful eaters at that age. They are much better now but they didn't improve much until over 10. I think they were easier when food was put in serving bowls to help themselves from. I also found that I could get raw veggies in as snacks mid morning or mid afternoon & then I was less bothered by the all the chips. If you make simple but slightly different snacks and leave them on a low table but not at 'meal times' would they be interested? I'd eggy bread / cheese on toast / toasted tea cake / ham on a cracker etc.
Also have you tried sweet potato chips ?
Lol @5foot5 ... I've eaten raw octopus, eel is one of my favourites and I'll eat almost anything
But omelettes are vile 😂
At 20 months my dd would eat cottage pie (hidden veg) yoghurt, banana, breakfast cereal, biscuits, eggs and not much else apart from sugary foods. She's coming up 9 and she will eat lettuce, carrot sticks, pepper sticks and a range of cooked veg (although she'd prefer not to) and a fairly good range of simple meals. Think burger, roast chicken/beef, pulled pork as well as Nuggets. She hates potato including chips and loves bread and all things sweet.
I always had snacks with me as she usually wouldn't eat what was provided. I never made meal times a battle. Periodically I used to offer her foods to try and didn't make a fuss if she didnt want to. Sometimes she tried the things. Most times she didn't. If she likes something, it now gets added to the ever growing list of likes. These days, she asks to try things off my plate. So recently bacon and eggs and another time omelette. She wanted meatballs so I did homemade meatballs and a tomato/mozzarella sauce with onions and garlic to try with them. I thought it a bit risky but she lapped that up.
It is not abnormal at all for a 5 yr old to refuse all vegetables and then be like my dd, who eats broccoli, carrots, green beans, peas, cabbage, onion and other veg like spinach and courgette if chopped up very small in composite meals.
I have DD aged 4, who eats tiger bread, garlic bread/with cheese, smiley faces (oven cooked)...yeah, just them things in rotation.
HV suggested disposing of meal in bin if DD did not eat, tried that.
Tried everything from hiding veg to bribery...meal times became frustrating for the family. We tried eating the same, what she wanted, encouraged interest in food, planting veg/herbs, even eating out at different places.
DD has never had a snack at nursery, not one thing in nearly two years!
Doctor has said she is not malnourished and seems to have energy so it's just a thing 'kids' do, they are not worried!
So will watch and see if there is anything new we can try
Thank you for the tales of your picky/fussy eaters! It is a big comfort to me knowing that I am not the only one. They both used to eat loads of variety and healthy foods, DS started to cut bits out a fern months before DD was born and as soon as she cottoned on to refusing like he did I felt like I lost the battle.
Neither will eat mash, DS used to but after about 10 meals of me making it and him leaving it I realised it was another food he was shunning. I've tried carrot chips, courgette chips, sweet potato chips, parsnip chips but no. DS won't Ben trust a crinkly potato chip
Don't beat yourself up OP. You're obviously really trying and there has to be a balance between trying to get the kids to eat a healthy variety of food, and them not eating at all.
This is probably hugely unhelpful and the most middle class suggestion ever, but would growing a few veg at home with the kids help, if you have room for a few pots? DS1 wouldn't touch tomatoes until we grew a pot of them. Carrots, dwarf cucumbers and so on?
We could try growing them growing them, though I'm doubtful it would make him eat them! He knows all the names of different fruit and vegetables and helps to pick them out in the supermarket, just won't eat any of them!!
I've eaten raw octopus, eel is one of my favourites and I'll eat almost anything But omelettes are vile
You must be making them wrong then!
DD (15 months) is going through a picky phase, so I'll serve up dinner, but if she refuses it, I've got backup. Mostly frozen stuff that can be warmed up quickly in the microwave. What works for us:
- frozen sweet potato mash (Iceland)
- frozen Swedish meatballs (Iceland)
- Risotto with butternut squash (homemade)
- pancakes (homemade or bought)
- beans/hoops on toast
Try not to stress about it too much - I know that's easier said than done, but it won't last forever.
Do they do pancakes? They're my absolute go-to for busy nights. A handful of spinach goes in for "monster pancakes" and I can even hide some mashed pumpkin in they. Otherwise raspberries are nice swirled through. Or just plain. It's eggs and milk which I think is fine.
I'm not sure this is helpful for you right now but thought I'd add my experience with DS. Around the split of his father and myself he gave up eating. He'd gone from not seeing his dad bar an hour a day or so at home to literally two full days a week. Plus refusal to feed him the same brand of baby/toddler meals and giving him uber cheap Heinz tins of crap. So at the age of 10 months he'd gone from eating anything and everything from salmon to every fruit right the way to curries and sausage bean stew.
Over time he started eating the dreaded beige food and would literally cry/scream/gag anything else went in his mouth.
DS is six and a half now and over the last month has improved dramatically. He's gone from only eating a certain brand of skinless sausages, waffles, potato smiles, micro chips, boiled and roast potatoes and peas as well as McDonald's fries and chip shop chips. Toast and one brand of chocolate cereal. Oh and plain pizza and garlic bread. That was literally all he eat savoury wise.
Numerous times over the years I was told by Health Visitor and well meaning family members to just give him dinner and no second choice etc. DS would just go hungry meal after meal day after day.
Literally two months ago he started asking for Yorkshire puddings and McDonald's plain hamburgers after his Dad getting him to try them. We've been gently encouraging him to try new foods recently. In the last few weeks he's eaten a tonne of new foods. Including raw peppers, carrots, sweetcorn, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, turkey dinosaurs, chicken nuggets, chicken dippers, chicken burgers, plain chicken breast, onion rings, strawberries, banana, blueberries as well as expanding his sweet tooth as well.
Personally I just think it's clicked in his brain that we're not trying to harm him and that food won't hurt him. Either that or it's just his age and noticing step siblings eating more.
I also had this with mine and it's incredibly frustrating, especially when they don't like the same things. My DS2 who is 8 have just recently started eating pasta and pizza but it's definitely not favourites, he likes potatoes but the older one loves pasta - grrrr usually to make life easier I put a couple of potatoes in the pasta water
Other tips and tricks is to make your own nuggets, feels a lot healthier and you can even try things they wouldn't normally eat by hiding it under a layer of crumbs I have got mine to eat salmon this way
Another favourite is turkey steaks, they are really thin so takes minutes to fry
All your suggestions are brilliant, thank you. I'm trying my best not to make it a big deal with them so they don't start to refuse even more. I really hope that we grow out of the beige food phase sooner rather than later though.
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