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The getting tough with fussy eaters thread

(23 Posts)
ChristinedePizan Fri 29-Jul-11 20:28:06

Right, so after 3 1/2 years of my DS being incredibly fussy, to the point where he will eat cereal, sandwiches (with limited selection of fillings), chicken nuggets, chips, eggs and pasta pesto parcels (tortellini with pesto), I have decided enough is enough.

I read The House of Tiny Tearaways book the other day at soft play so decided I would give Dr Tanya's advice a go (because I love her). So tonight I served for inch long pieces of spaghetti alongside a piece of bolognese that was probably about the size of a shirt button. 45 minutes of sobbing later (coupled with running out of the room and slamming doors), he had eaten the bits of spaghetti but refused to eat the tiny piece of bolognese - it looks like cat food apparently and although we do have a cat, she eats dry food.

So that was that. No pudding, gone to bed.

I feel shit now. This is going to get better isn't it? I know I've got to do it and I really wish I'd not let him get away with it for as long as I have done sad

ChristinedePizan Fri 29-Jul-11 20:28:55

for? Four!

Oh and he's actually nearly 4 1/2 - I just didn't count that first year because he was a really keen eater at first

Cwm Wed 10-Aug-11 20:50:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChristinedePizan Wed 10-Aug-11 23:11:03

Hello smile

I haven't really tried again. It was so awful that I've not bothered. He doesn't care if he goes to bed hungry, he's not that bothered about food basically.

I could of course give him cold spaghetti for breakfast but that seems very mean.

Oh god, six? I have been entertaining a fantasy that he will grow out of it by the time he's five ...

Let's hope someone has some advice!

plipplops Thu 11-Aug-11 09:02:06

Can't add anything helpful except to say that DD1 (aged 4) is much the same. She eats fish fingers, potato smiles, pizza, egg on toast (but I have to remove most of the egg), spaghetti bolognaise (but I have to feed her this one) macaroni cheese and sandwiches (just bread and butter). Shell have a decent breakfast and packed lunch type food. DD2 (2.5) is not quite as bad but getting there. If they don't eat what I offer they go to bed hungry and don't seem to mind. I never give them snacks between meals to try and make sure they're hungry.

It's really annoying as they say they don't like things before they've tried them. I try not to worry too much as they both eat cheese, fruit, cereal etc so I think they're getting a fairly balanced diet, and they're both fit and well. Things have improved from a point where DD1 was eating weetabix 3 times a day and DD2 was having baby food in jars (16 month gap between them, and when it came to weaning DD2 I lost my way a bit!).

DD1 is starting school in September and I'm going to send her for school dinners, I really hope that by watching her friends eat she might start to have a wider variety. Also we don't really do puddings, and the fact that they get pudding every day at school has been a selling point! I had a plan to do a family meal on the weekends (the timings don't work out for us to eat together in the week) and all eat the same thing. I tried once with roast dinner, which I know they like bits of, but they both refused to eat anything and I sort of gave up.

I don't know if you need to relax and give them time, or try and be super keen and sort them out? It must be hard to have someone else decide what you eat every day? But then my big sister was a fussy eater when she was little and has said it was really hard going to friend's houses for tea and I don't want them to be like that.

Sorry I've gone on a bit there, looking forward to hearing some positive advice...

Cwm Thu 11-Aug-11 17:07:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChristinedePizan Thu 11-Aug-11 18:35:04

That sounds really familiar Cwm. He is hugely suspicious of any type of new food, especially anything with a sauce type thing. Weirdly, he likes cappelletti pasta with pesto and I've realised he will eat any flavour as long as the filling isn't obviously red.

It's largely psychological I think. Every childcare facility he's ever gone to has said 'oh yes, we're used to fussy eaters, we will get him eating, don't worry' and then admitted defeat within a few weeks. If he cared about food more, it'd be easier but he's just not bothered.

dikkertjedap Thu 11-Aug-11 19:26:11

TBH it seems to be a normal stage lots of young children go through. So, as long as you don't allow him to fill himself up with junk food he should be okay. His body will make him crave the foods he needs one way or another. Might help to take him shopping and get him involved in preparing food. It might also help to work with reward charts and initially with an immediate reward if he eats his dinner, i.e. desired toy or whatever standing in front of him (or first go to toy shop and let him tell you what he likes and you keep telling him that he will get this after he has eaten his dinner otherwise you will store it away). My dd responds very well to such incentives (she is five now) but a year ago she wouldn't have eaten certain things whatever the incentive was. So matter of timing. Also, you can achieve a balanced meal in many different ways, including through choice of healthy snacks. Good luck and try not to worry too much, you can also give a vitamin supplement if you are very worried.

latrucha Thu 11-Aug-11 19:35:52

I have a daughter who is three and a half and has always been very fussy. I feel it is my fault for the way I weaned her, but that's by the by.

I have tried all sorts and I came to the conclusion some months ago that I can opnly make it worse. Since then, I have made as little fuss about food as possible. Mealtimes have become nicer, the same amount and range of foods is eaten, but she has asked to try some things and does ask quite regularly now. She doesn't usually really try them, but I see it as evidence that one day things will improve. She will now eat jelly and apple, though.

My MIL, after much experience of children, thinks the only thing to do is nothing while they are small. She's had five of her own and seen her children with their children, plus cousins etc, so I feel some supprt there!

I was once told that 80% pf faddy eaters grow out of it in time, which is why I think I could only make it worse.

A friend of mine was just involved in a study in which the parent had to select a food the child didn't like, and then offer them some kind of reward for eating it over the course of a month. Apparently the child will usually adopt the food but I do ask myself if this is really the way I want to bring up my children.

Perhaps if the method you used really makes you feel bad, it's not the one for you?

brightermornings Thu 11-Aug-11 19:43:23

Hi my dd is 9. She is a fussy eater but is slowly getting better. For example 12 months ago wouldn't eat bolognaise but now will attempt it without complaint.
Same with sausage and mash. Her older brother eats anything so she can be quite a challenge. I just keep trying her if she doesn't eat it then no dessert. She does like some weird foods asparagus and houmous!!

Cwm Thu 11-Aug-11 22:07:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mermaidmad Thu 11-Aug-11 22:22:39

Gosh have just posted my thread without seeing this one and am so relieved to see I am not alone. I keep telling myself she will grow out of it but shes 9 worried about her. Just glad I have found other people with the same problems smile

dikkertjedap Thu 11-Aug-11 22:30:51

Are you worried that he doesn't get the right nutrition or annoyed about the hassle of him not eating what you want him to eat? If you are worried that he doesn't get enough fruit/veg you could give him smoothies (including ready made such as Innocent or the Mr Men smoothies, Tesco does them). Each count as one of the five a day. So even if he drinks two of them a day, then he already has two out of five, given that he eats cereals/bread (which is excellent), and meat/fish/eggs (excellent), he should be fine. Again you can always give him a supplement and some dairy (milk, yogurt, petit filous, milkshake drinks, etc.). He is probably eating better than many of his peers.

reup Thu 11-Aug-11 22:31:08

My ds2 is very fussy and only eats a limited amount of food. I've have never offered alternatives and basically half the week he does not eat his main evening meal. I've been doing this for 3 years and it has nor helped at all. Occasionally he will try things he doesn't like but only with a full scale stand off about it. It was ok to do until the last few months because he has started moaning about how hungry he is. So I reply that he was offered food. And then that conversation is repeated until bed time.

So I'm at a loss as this approach is always advised but 3 years if it has not changed my sons eating habits!

Beamur Thu 11-Aug-11 22:36:55

My DSD is a fussy eater (beige food, no fruit or veg please) and I was adamant that DD would not be fussy.
DD has her own ideas. She actually eats a reasonable range of food and most of it is pretty healthy so I'm not worried, but she has very clear ideas about what she likes, although she is more willing than her sister to try new foods.
Our tactic is to not make a fuss, offer the food, offer encouragement to eat it, but no punishments if not and no conditional pudding either - i.e we will allow pudding even if not much dinner is eaten as I don't want to encourage over eating in order to get pudding or to make pud too big a deal.
The good news with DSD is that over the years (she is now 16) her diet has improved - it's still not great, but she has chosen things to try, a turning point for us was when she went to senior school and started having school dinners. We refused to make packed lunches any more - I think having more control over her food and the influence of her peers has been helpful. She still struggles a bit with fruit and veg, but eats some and likes juice, smoothies, fruit bars etc.
Unless your childs diet is really bad - in which case, I'd seek professional help, in my experience, they do gradually improve, but if they have a specific objection to certain flavours/textures etc, that may stay with them always. My DP cannot bear what he calls 'wobbly' food.

Nanny0gg Thu 11-Aug-11 23:30:46

I was a fussy eater and if I didn't like a food, I really didn't like it, to the point that mealtimes were torture as my mother used to try and 'hide' all the hated vegetables under the potatoes in the hope I wouldn't spot them.
I cried and heaved my way through many a Sunday lunch.
And I still don't eat vegetables.

Keep offering different foods, but please don't force the issue. Think of something you don't like and how you would feel if you were forced to eat it or left with nothing if you refused.

As long as they eat some foods that are nutritious, don't worry.

Beamur Fri 12-Aug-11 12:48:20

The other thing I thought to add - when introducing new foods, I've always tried things that are similar to those that DD already likes, it's not such a stretch for her then - plus this seems to increase her confidence in that I'm not going to force her to eat something vile!
My fussy eaters seem to react to textures more than flavours - both DSD and DD are wary of sauces (but both like home made tomato sauce which is helpful) and like quite plainly cooked foods, but both also quite like strong flavours - such as parmesan, DSD also likes marmite.
A chum of mine recalls being such a fussy eater as a child his Mum used to plonk a dish of cold baked beans on the table with 2 spoons for him and his brother as for a long time this was the only veg they would eat - he is now a bit of a foodie perversely and really enjoys food and is an adventurous eater!

ChristinedePizan Fri 12-Aug-11 18:37:00

dikker - is that question to me? I'm not desperately worried about lack of nutrients - he eats a lot of fruit and likes milk, cheese and wholemeal bread. It's just that it's very difficult when he goes to other people's houses. And he's starting school soon so would like to think he'd be invited to play but I'm really embarrassed that he won't eat sausages and mash or spag bol or most other popular children's meals. It's already a bit of an issue when I get together with all my friends and their kids because he will be the only one that won't eat. It probably bothers me more than them to be fair.

reup - gosh, that sounds hardcore. I get really irritated if he doesn't eat the food I've made (although I try not to show it) so I don't think I could carry on as long as you have.

cjbartlett Fri 12-Aug-11 18:58:26

Op - has he any other siblings he can copy what they're eating?

TapselteerieO Fri 12-Aug-11 19:01:41

I was a fussy eater and so were my brothers, I will eat anything now, I am hoping this will happen with my dc, who seem to be fussier than me....

ChristinedePizan Fri 12-Aug-11 23:36:15

Nope, only child sadly, cj

skybluepearl Fri 12-Aug-11 23:54:21

I just give my boys what ever we are eating. If they are picky, i just tell them to eat the bits they like and have one mouthful of anything they are not sure about. If they don't eat, they don't eat and it's not a big deal. i make sure they don't fill up on snacks or puddings though. I somethimes re-offer the main dish again and say it's there if they are really hungry but often they are not that fussed.

Rookielove Wed 05-Oct-11 18:59:23

ChristinedePizan, why is it sad being an only child? I'm an only child and I loved it. I know plenty who complain and hate their siblings.

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