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Ridiculously fussy child - feel like a rubbish parent, how could I get it so wrong?!!!!

(18 Posts)
MrsHelenBee Tue 25-Mar-14 11:05:43

Does anyone else have a really fussy child?
My DS is a little over 2 and a half, and has a terrible diet, which really worries me.
As a weaning baby, he was fantastic - I couldn't get enough fruit and veg into him! Albeit just pureed stuff at the time, he had a colourful, varied diet - I was so pleased!
At some point when we moved into full solids, he gradually pushed all of these away. He went from eating what mummy and daddy ate to just a few dishes, which lacked colour - very little fruit or veg. He seemed to have issues with the texture of things, which I thought was just phase, but things have gone from bad to worse. A hot meal is either fish fingers, meatballs or chicken goujons, and he only eats potato with them. Every day, I put some carrot, peas, broccoli or other veg on the plate, and he eats with us to watch us having the same things, but he won't touch any of it apart from the potato and protein.
He must be so lacking in vitmains and minerals and I feel terribly guilty. In-laws say we feed him rubbish and that we should force him by giving him the choice of a healthy meal or going hungry.
I'm a teacher, I know all about encouraging children to eat a healthy and balanced diet, but I feel I've totally failed him. He goes to nursery 2x week and eats virtually nothing all day, flatly refusing the lovely, varied home-cooked meals they offer.
I'm really down about it. Has anyone else gone through this?

dashoflime Tue 25-Mar-14 11:15:21

I think its quite normal OP
I read somewhere that fussiness is something children have evolved to experience around about the same time they become more mobile and independent. They grow distrustful of unfamiliar foods and this prevents them from accidentally poisoning themselves.
My little sister refused to eat anything except tinned sweetcorn in instant gravy between the ages of 5 and 7. The smell of the gravy used to turn my stomach- especially at breakfast time envy
I think the trick is to puree everything and hide it in something else to be honest
Will he eat mash- you could try hiding veg in that.
How about tomato sauce (I mean with passata not ketchup!) My Ds doesn't seem to count that as a vegetable for some reason.
Bits of fruit wizzed up and stuck in yogurt?

GingerPCatt Tue 25-Mar-14 11:23:31

My DS is very similar. Hasn't touched a veggie in ages and may have the occasional banana but that's it for fruit. He still gets a nighttime bottle of formula so I know he's getting the vitimins and minerals he needs. You could try that or give him a multivitamin. They make drops or a friends son loves the gummy ones.

MrsHelenBee Tue 25-Mar-14 11:33:33

Hi dashoflime, thanks for your advice, I really appreciate it.
I think I'd have struggled with the permanent smell of gravy, you must have felt sick!
He likes yoghurts and used to eat the puree fruit pots - which was a relief as I knew he was getting some fruit in his diet, even if it wasn't pieces, but those stopped too and now a yoghurt is rarely accepted. For a while, he'd ask for some of mine, which was good as it had fruit in it, and I used to puree fruit and put it in toddler porridge for him. That stopped too. I'll try puree again though - I return to old things he used to accept here and there in the hope he'll come round.
He doesn't eat mash - just oven-cooked smiley faces, numbers or letters. I've tried hiding things and he's wised up to it - he eamines everything on his plate, taking very small bites to be sure it's what he thinks it is, and he knows when it's in his mouth - it gets pulled out and given to me, then it's a job to get him to carry on eating.
The meatballs he has have to be dry - yuck! - as he can't stand sauce or anything else touching his food. He tries deserately to rub it all off with his fingers and if it's still evident, the food is rejected.

MrsHelenBee Tue 25-Mar-14 11:42:07

GingerPCatt - it's a huge relief to hear I'm not alone, although I wouldn't DS's meal times on anyone!
Banana used to he staple for mine, which I was thrilled about as they're good in so many ways. Now, he'll ask for some of mine but play with it and then leave it. Raisins ae the only fruit he ever eats now.
I tried some vitamin drops which the HV recommended. They smelt awful and, after 5 months, he also decided he wouldn't have them. they must hve quite a strong taste as he knew when I'd sneaked them into just about any drink. The pharmacist told me I couldn't give him the chewy tablet type until he was at least 3 - not that far off as DS is only 4m off his 3rd birthday.
He still likes milk at bed time, which is good as I also think he could do with the calcium (he won't touch cheese and yoghurts are too few and far between), but he'll only drink whole cows milk.
He's the most gorgeous, happy and chatty little man, but he does wear me down with the eating!

BrianButterfield Tue 25-Mar-14 11:47:24

I could have written 95% of this - the only difference is now DS is getting past 2.5 he is slowly starting to eat new things. He ate broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, swede and meat and potatoes at sunday lunch this week which felt amazing! I basically stopped stressing about it - most of the time I offer him what we're having and let him take it or leave it, but I build in some DS friendly meals in the week (fish fingers and waffles, that sort of thing). I literally put food in front of him and say nothing about it - and sometimes he eats something I never thought he'd touch!

MrsHelenBee Tue 25-Mar-14 11:53:42

Hi BrianButterfield - wow, a proper sunday lunch and loads of veg too, well done, what an achievement!!! Can I ask though, if you offer him what you're having and he leaves it, do you offer him what he likes instead, or does he go without? I only ask as my in-laws say 'If it takes starving him, then that's what it takes'. I totally get that he'll keep on refusing food if he knows that's all it takes for me to produce something DS-friendly, but starving him seems awful. Maybe I've just been too soft. It sounds like you're winning the battle though, what a relief!!!

Merefin Tue 25-Mar-14 11:57:41

Mine are long past this stage but I remember it well.

So he's getting full fat milk, meat, and potato? That's all good.

Will he drink fruit juice? Flavoured milk? (You can put puréed fruit in it, plus a bit of nesquick).

A multivitamin 'sweetie' will help...mine like the Barrettes ones and still have them now (age 7,14,17).

I know you think it's limited and your in laws are criticising (thanks, that's helpful) but it's not too bad. Mine have def had phases worse than that, and a friend's DS was even more limited (ham sandwiches, apples, milk only) for over 10 years! She was resigned to it and now he's a teen he's getting better.

Try not to worry. You are doing all the right things, serving up a variety of stuff regularly, setting a good example yourself etc. there's not much else you can do except wait it out.

Merefin Tue 25-Mar-14 12:01:15

No, you aren't too soft at all. Don't do the starving thing, it's mean, IMHO. Serve what he likes PLUS some things for him to try (tiny tiny bits so it's not overwhelming eg 2 peas, one salad leaf).

Does he like ketchup some other dip? I allowed ketchup with everything if it meant veg and salad got eaten. (Teen dd still has ketchup on green veg if she's at home, I ignore it as long as a portion of veg is eaten then I'm happy).

piratecat Tue 25-Mar-14 12:01:49

op, don't be too hard on yourself, my dd was/is the same.

some children are really sensitive to textures, change, noise, erm everything, well my dd was anyway. She was really good up till about 2 yrs, then it all went wrong. Beige coloured foods, in the main.

She has survived, but i give her supplements. She eats fishfingers alot!!

MumOfTheMoos Tue 25-Mar-14 12:01:52

My DS is just coming up to 2 and is very suspicious of anything green although fruit and tomato passata are all welcomed.

However, I've always put the food in front of him and if he eats it, he eats it but if he doesn't then that's it. He has fruit for afters most meals and we have pudding at home once a week. So holding out for something better is pointless. I'm of the view that if he's hungry, he'll eat it. If he's not hungry then I don't want to get him into the habit of eating when he's not hungry or always finishing his plate etc

It's not always easy, especially when I've cooked something lovely that he's eaten before (of at his CM or nursery) but I refuse to make food a battleground!

TheScience Tue 25-Mar-14 12:10:10

My DS1 is very similar - great up until about the age of one then progressively fussier. He doesn't like vegetables or anything hot (as in the temperature). Luckily he will eat fruit though.

What I tend to do is make breakfast and lunch things he will eat (so bread, cheese, cereal, milk, yoghurt, fruit, hummus, peanut butter in varying combinations) and then make dinner that DP and I like. Often he will just eat plain pasta/rice or bread and butter for dinner.

After about the age of 3 I did get a bit stricter with dinner and insist he try some of everything on his plate before having pudding (pudding is only ever fruit, yoghurt and sometimes custard anyway) - literally 1cm cube of chicken, one pea, one piece of carrot etc. He is 3.7 now and is a lot better (will sometimes eat a spoonful of peas, even had a mouthful of spinach the other day) but still eats tiny portions. For dinner I give him half a child's size portion and we do use a timer too as otherwise he just sits and stares at his dinner for ages.

He has almost never eaten a hot meal at nursery by the way - peer pressure does not work with all children grin

Skiingmaniac Tue 25-Mar-14 12:10:48

I have two DC and one eats everything in sight and the other....not much at all - it is so frustrating! They are 6 & 7 I'm hoping the fussy one will turn a corner soon....when I was little my siblings and I were brother now eats everything, I eat most things but my sister is still as fussy as ever at 45shock

MrsHelenBee Tue 25-Mar-14 12:19:52

Think I'm going to try him on the multivitamins - worth it if he gets a bit of a boost - especially as several of you have said you've done it too.
Colour-wise, I do think his plate looks dull and depressing, but I appreciate that he is at least getting protein and carbs. For breakfast, he likes a cereal bar, which I allow as it has some of the fruit taste and I don't want meal times to be a war and totally negative experience. He also likes toast with marmite (I'm pg with DS2 and it makes my stomach turn but he could be having a lot worse on it I guess). He enjoys Organix corn snacks, which are tomato and herb or cheesy-tasting, and not packed with junk, so he gets some flavour variety, and he likes bread sticks, cheese savouries (all abut the shapes!) etc, so I guess it could be worse. If I'm very lucky, the occasional little bit of cheese on toast or a tuna sandwich is accepted.
It all comes down to the fruit and veg really. It's such a shame when he used to be so easy to please - casseroles, pasta bakes, risotto...all sorts, and he used to share a peach, a banana, some grapes etc with me. I guess I just assumed that if we'd got off to such a good start, we were ok, but thefeeling of going backwards is a downer. When I think of where he was a year ago, it's disappointing, but I really hope he'll gradually improve.
One thing I'm happy about is that, while he does have a sweet tooth, he happily goes without much of that and we manage to keep it an occasional thing. Thank goodness he's not demanding ie cream at every meal time!

sleepis4rwimps Tue 25-Mar-14 17:35:56

Hello! Ive not got much advice just want you to know you're not alone! DS1 is a very fussy eater and in the past it has broken me inside. Like you and the other ladies here im nutritionally aware and was so looking forward to making lots of hone made healthy meals that would get scoffed... was not to be! My strategy is to ensure DS has a good breakfast, give him something he will definitely eat for lunch and snacks and dinner have what we do... or not as the case may be! like your ds he is suspicious of foods and needs everything separate and obvious. Have you tried pizza? I use oven cheese pizza but on a section for him I smear on homemade tomato/veg puree and grated cheese on top to hide it! then it looks like we are eating the same.
I am hoping it is a phase and they will eventually try other things. I have a DS2 who's nearly ready to wean so hoping and praying he will be less fussy and perhaps DS 1 will want to try what DS2 is having?! or maybe im delusional grin We will all get there in the end and im sure our DSs are thriving despite their fussy nature wink

sleepis4rwimps Tue 25-Mar-14 17:42:48

sorry that didn't make sense I meant he generally is given what we have for Dinner which is sometimes a guarantee but often not.

another thought as it is all about shapes can you use shape cutters on things to make them more appealing to him? might try it myself smile

Greypuddle Tue 25-Mar-14 19:44:49

Meat is full of vitamins Just to reassure you!

naty1 Wed 26-Mar-14 14:23:41

It does sound like he doesnt like colourful food.
I wouldnt advise cereal bear for breakfast (i do love them but really , like some other `cereal` they are a sweet.)
Does he like porridge?
Currently mine loves peas and sweetcorn and fruit but doesnt really like veg so no carrot, tomato, cucumber, mushroom.
Its sad they go from eating everything to picky.
I have bit of a texture thing myself, dont like tomatoes, cheese, gravy, custard.
Im surprised he doesnt like fruit though

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