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2.8 yr old fussy eater

(23 Posts)
Dixiebell Sat 22-Jun-13 19:26:19

DS1 is a nightmare with eating, and has been since about a year old. He used to eat everything, I made loads of lovely homemade dishes from weaning, and he gradually started refusing them all. Being a pfb, I think I somehow didn't manage to nip this behaviour in the bud because I just wanted to be sure he got something in him (obv regret this now) and he now has a limited repertoire of meals he'll eat - sausages, fish fingers, chicken nuggets, meatballs, potato waffles, that sort of thing. Not the most wholesome stuff, but he also eats cereals, bread, fruit, yoghurts, so I figured he's probably getting enough nutrients and over time we can re-expand his menu to include 'proper' meals like spag Bol, fish pie etc. But he just doesn't seem to get any better. We did reward chart, and offering food but not making a big deal about it. He occasionally 'tries' something - a piece of cucumber or some peas, or a spoonful of spaghetti, but it is a long slog of cajoling and he expects a reward after just one bite. If we are stricter, it breaks down into tears and screaming. It's like he believes he will eat it, but can't bring himself to actually put it in his mouth. I'm trying to limit snacks near to mealtimes, and leave uneaten food for him to come back to. But he tries every trick in the book, distraction, needs a wee, show me the pudding mummy, this pea's smashed, I don't have to eat all the carrots, puts spoon in mouth but then doesn't eat it, keeps food in side of mouth, I'm too tired, ...argh! It drives me mad. Meals end up taking over a hour and finish with everyone angry and upset and food usually uneaten. I have a 6 month old too and feel him watching this process twice a day cannot be good. So anyway, does anyone have a magical strategy that has worked for them..? Please say you do...!

JiltedJohnsJulie Sat 22-Jun-13 21:00:14

Not magical but I do have a strategy that does work, albeit slowly and not necessarily completely. A couple of years ago I was where you are now and while dd is and probably always will be fussy, she does eat more and without the fuss.

Serve the food and eat and chat.
Don't serve favourites, just family meals
Do not comment on what he is, or isn't, eating.
Refuse to get drawn on discussions on his food, for instance a "I'm not eating that" usually gets met with ok dear and a change of subject
Don't cajol or even ask him to eat eat a thing.
Serve really small portions, he can always ask for more.
After 20 mins if you and dc2 have finished, clear away and do something else
Never, ever offer alternatives
Keep snacks to an absolute minimum
Keep a food diary so that you can see what he has eaten over the week, it should help you to stop focusing on one meal.
Read My Child Won't Eat by Carlos Gonzalez, your library will probably have a copy.

DS will take time to adjust and to realise that things have changed but it will change and for the better smile

Dixiebell Sun 23-Jun-13 06:54:02

That's really helpful Jilted, I think we just need some rules to work to. What would you do about puddings? Would you just offer fruit or yoghurt after main course no matter what's been eaten? We've been saying no pudding unless you eat X, and ds will ask for ice cream or sweets if he eats aomething, but maybe would be better to decide in advance what it is and just give it whatever?

tumbletumble Sun 23-Jun-13 07:03:24

I agree with everything Jilted says. I have 3 DC, the boys are good eaters but DD tends towards fussiness.

Re pudding, I never say 'no pudding unless you eat x' because I try not to treat sweet food as a reward / bribe. So yes, I would decide on pudding in advance and give it anyway. The only thing I insist upon is not saying 'I don't like it' when you haven't even tried it! You must have one bite.

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 23-Jun-13 10:10:35

Exactly what tumble says. You can always make his pudding portion really small. I do keep any refused meals too and when she is complaining she is hungry, we just remind her on that there is food, she just needs to eat it. Another thing we did was to stop her bedtime milk and snack.

Dixiebell Sun 23-Jun-13 15:43:50

Ok, plan in action! At the very least it sounds less stressful than current approach, even if no more gets eaten!

Satnightdropout Sun 23-Jun-13 15:55:00

I have exactly the same problem so going to try what Jilted said smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Sun 23-Jun-13 19:48:36

dixie it transformed our mealtimes. Like I said though its not a magic formula but it will take the stress away and ensure you all have a almer mealtime. Plus you can cook a wider selection of meals so everyone else will enjoy their food more too smile

smellsofsick Sun 23-Jun-13 21:11:47

We did pretty much the same as Jilted (might have been on Jilted's advice now I think about it!). I just couldn't cook separate meals for everyone, it's ridiculous.

DD1 knows that what's on the plate is the only option but I don't cajole or force, just offer it to her and if she says no I get her down. Quite a few times, she's come back to the table to see if I've thrown it away and has a taste or a few mouthfuls.

It has taken a while but now, at 2.5, she is eating more including a few veg and salad.

DialMforMummy Sun 23-Jun-13 21:21:18

I did pretty much what Jilted said.
It works.

fififrog Sun 23-Jun-13 22:08:05

My DD 2.3 a year ago was eating cream cheese sandwiches, plain pasta and fishcakes. For lunch today she had tomato and basil quiche, asparagus and lettuce, and for dinner Tonight she ate Thai chicken curry with six different veg in it. I'm not trying to boast here, sometimes I can't believe she's the same child! Just wanted to show you things can change!

I used to get Really wound up about it. What changed everything for us was to eat as many meals as humanly possible together and not cook special food for her. That's not to say we don't eat sausages or fishfingers, but we cook what we want to eat. I try to make sure the meal has something on the plate that she likes (even if it was only one item out of four). Unlike Julie I am willing to offer an alternative, but it is only if she's tried something new and doesn't like it and the only alternative is a slice of bread and butter. I have only had to supply this twice in the last year, mostly because I try to put something on the plate she will eat (which might be bread and butter!). I always give her yoghurt or fruit after regardless of what she ate. Am only just beginning to tell her she won't get it if she doesn't make an effort because now she is a good eater but easily distracted!

Good luck!

fififrog Sun 23-Jun-13 22:11:24

PS someone on here recommended My Child Won't Eat by Carlos Gonzales. It's an excellent book. Wish I'd read it earlier!

LittleMilla Tue 25-Jun-13 21:30:18

Glad I found this thread as my 2.1 yo DS is getting worse by the day. Fruit and veg alludes him - he licked a strawberry the other day and was very pleased with himself about that hmm. Will eat satsumas and bananas but that's it.

We eat MOST meals together but it's a bloody slog. Will look at that book and not allow myself or DH to get drawn in to silly fecking games. It's all a ploy!

cantmakecarrotcake Tue 25-Jun-13 22:03:14

Another fussy eater here. Except she was that way from weaning. 2 years later and we're finally getting there. I've learned that as long as a child's diet is fairly balanced (over a week, or in a day if their diet is limited and repetitive) then not to worry too much. Make sure they have a supplement (it's recommended for all kids under 5) - we use well kid to boost iron and Vit D in particular (dietician's advice).

DD (pfb) is v small so I was guilty of 'just getting some food in her'. I'm trying to chill about her size, offer food and take it away if she's not interested. I'm not averse to giving her a yoghurt half way through her main course if it means I can insist on 'a bit more sausage' first and then she goes back to her main course after. I'm sure that's not perfect parenting or table manners but tough!

The recommended book is good, it helps you chill out about the fussiness. I may re-read it now we're entering a new food phase.

So no miracle cure, just advice to chill and not make it a big issue. It's ok to call their bluff, put a whole meal in the bin and let them be hungry. At 2 1/2 they're starting to understand consequences.

agree with everything jilted says apart from the bit about limiting snacks. I consider snacks and pudding as another chance to get calories in.

I have found this page and many others on that website absolutely invaluable - I too used to worry about fussiness with food and found it hard not to feel cross and personally insulted if food wasn't eaten. I feel very relaxed about the whole thing now, and that's coming from someone who stresses about most things!

I have recently realised that being too hungry or tired affects how much DS will eat so I have devised a schedule of when I serve meals and snacks so he doesn't have a chance to get too hungry, I've also started doing dinner and bed a bit earlier by planning ahead and not worrying too much if the DC have something cold (like a platter of different things), simple (like something on toast) or eat separately from DH and I occasionally - this is because both of them were so tired and cranky at dinner that it was miserable for everyone.

hope something in there helps, I know it's stressful when toddlers refuse food and mess about but it's totally natural. as long as you're offering the right foods and not giving them hang-ups about how much to eat (such as no pudding unless you eat all your dinner) I honestly think you're doing all you can do and for most DC it's just a phase smile

sorry my link doesn't go to the page I wanted it to but the whole of the site is worth checking out I think

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 27-Jun-13 21:00:52

Think the snacks thing is so subjective. I have one lovely friend who constantly complains that her pfb doesn't eat meals. She asked me to look after her for about 49 minutes and had packed more snacks for her to have in that time than most children would eat in a week. So yes we give snacks, our DC are growing and I couldn't survive on 3 meals with no snacks but I try to make sure they aren't too big or too close to mealtimes smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Thu 27-Jun-13 21:02:18

40 minutes. Asking me to care for her Lo for 49 minutes would be a bit specific and a little odd smile

tricot39 Thu 27-Jun-13 22:24:45

jilted's advice is excellent backed up with the idea that "calories are king" so pudding being offered whatever happens and without comment is good.

I.hope it works for you. Also remember you have to offer foods that they are sort of interested in and that they can "play" with foods for a long time before actually wanting to eat it. Keep offering.

If none of that works the join us [[

tricot39 Thu 27-Jun-13 22:25:18

Bliddy phone. Sorry

Dixiebell Fri 28-Jun-13 16:02:06

Thanks all for advice. I am trying to be more relaxed this week. We haven't had any major fallings out. However, I do find it hard not to comment at all on what's being eaten. A bit of encouragement can lead to a few spoonfuls of peas being eaten, or cucumber tried. So maybe should just limit myself to saying come on, eat up, or try this, a couple of times per meal, but not press the point. Good to hear success stories too.

JiltedJohnsJulie Fri 28-Jun-13 17:23:35

dixie that's one thing me and dh really fall out about but if you can, I would really try not to comment on anything as they do pick up on your anxiety smile

tumbletumble Sun 30-Jun-13 11:34:41

I think a bit of gentle encouragement is fine, as long as mealtimes are as pleasant and relaxed as possible. So I'd say stuff like 'have you tried this? It's yummy' or 'are you enjoying x?' but nothing that involves insistence / persuasion / bribery / power struggle etc. It's hard not to talk about food at all during a mealtime!

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