The curse of Potato Smiles.....(34 Posts)
I haven't really posted here before but having had IMO yet another bad food day.
Our 3 1/2 yo son has gotten to the point where the range of food eaten at home is fairly restricted. At nursery he pretty much eats anything apart from puddings, fruit and salad. We find it hard to believe some days but have no option but to believe the nursery nurses who were there. Our main problem is the weekends.
Breakfast isn't a problem as he normally has an adult sized portion of porridge.
Lunchtime is can sometimes be cheesy toast but is currently beans with toast or spaghetti shapes with toast. Used to be sausage rolls but won't eat the sausage now so have stopped those.
Evening meal generally has to be 'Smiley Faces' with beans or spaghetti shapes. He used to always want fish fingers or turkey numbers but he's obviously fed up with those now.
We tried doing him the same meals as us but he refuses to eat it. Roast dinner, spag bol, chilli (even though he eats both those at nursery) are greeted with "I don't like that".
We can't go out for picnics/days out as he won't eat sandwiches.........
We read about two routes to take:
1: Let him have what he'll eat and he'll grow out of it. He's eating after all.
2: Give him what we are having and if he doesn't have it then he waits until next meal. (Tried it but worry about him not eating.)
We chose the first one as it seemed the easy route and "hey, he's eating....." But are starting to worry we've created an even bigger problem for the future.
I'm sure it's a common problem. Any thoughts/recommendations?
Quite simply, 2 is the answer. They eat what they are given or they don't eat. Do not pander to his demands and no substitutions. He won't allow himself to go hungry. He is in complete control at the moment and you are enabling that. Take back control.
The problem is you are worried about him not eating. change your attitude to:
The responsibility of a parent is to offer their child food. The responsibility of the child is to eat .
Is there a reason you are worried abit him not eating? Is he underweight?
You can always keep the dinner and give it back to him if he changes his mind.
Agree with Tobysmum.
I would add try (and I know how hard this is) to keep upbeat, untroubled and unprovoked. Just suggest a few tries but don't make a big deal about it. Also try to all eat together regularly so he can see everyone else enjoying not only the food but the social time together. But if he doesn't want it then away it goes. Genuine dislikes aside, I wouldn't be offering alternatives though.
My dd1 was tricky and I'd worry about it, cajole her, Cook other things, sound worried. In the end she was controlling the situation rather nicely.
When dts arrived there was simply no time left to play about. She had it or didn't. No fuss. And that seemed to work. She just got on with it.
The answer is definitely 2.
At his age you can simply say that the shop doesn't sell smiley faces anymore if you wanted to.
Or make your own with mash/sweet potato/veg mixed in and cookie cutters.
You can also make your own nuggets if you wanted to go down that route rather than just serving up what you eat but I was always too lazy for that
Does he admit that he's eaten all his lunch at nursery?
Thankfully our situation is not quite as bad but ds 3.5yrs completely refuses to try new things. Eats good range of meat, fish, veggie, pasta, rice based dishes etc served by nursery. Plus all types of pudding.
At home rejects anything different or new and has reduced no. Of things generally eaten. So annoying. Esp vegetables - will eat cucumber, carrots, red pepper plus hidden veg or sauces but nothing else that looks like a vegetable.
I am just hoping this is a phase and just continue to serve stuff but admittedly do make a reasonable no. Of dishes weekly i know will be eaten.
I have tried relabelling things as christmas beans ( broad beans), dinosaur trees ( broccoli), rainbow mash/rice etc but it is hopeless!
I would jst keep offering tngs and wait for change. Ds will sometimes try something new or different at someone elses house or a cafe.
Thanks for the tips all. Much appreciated. Tonight we went for it and did a Spag Bol for all of us. He totally wasn't up for it.
Kept calm and said fine but that's all there is. Tried a few times to get him to come and look but he wasn't interested.
After we finished ours I went and sat on the sofa with him and had a chat. Managed to persuade him to come to the table and have a look and explore the food. I also said that if he didn't eat his tea there'd be no more chocolates from the advent calendar. That's probably what did it but he did try some plain pasta (by now cold) and ate about a serving spoons worth. No mince or sauce but hey, I'll take that for starters.
A little later we lay on the bed to read some books so as he snuggled in he said "I did try my pasta Daddy......"
To answers some of the points above. He's not underweight but he does have much spare if that makes sense. We just worry about him not eating as I guess we are programmed to think he should eat.
Most of the time when asked about nursery he'll say that he's eaten it. Hell, some days he has two bowls of things like chilli.......but not at home.
Tbh I think you're talking about it far too much.
Put his food down and talk about anything else but eating.
Don't throw it away straight after so you can re-offer if he says he's hungry ten minutes later but I'd put an hour limit on it tops.
I think if he wasn't eating either at nursery or home a different approach might be needed, but the issue is clearly not that he doesn't like the taste of things. I do think there's a lot to be said for not making meal times a battle or over-talking it. If ds barely touches his dinner but immediately asks fir pudding he gets the same response each time "you weren't hungry for dinner so you can't be hungry for pudding", no big lecture, no coercion, just simply remove dinner without any sign of displeasure. When ds goes through fussy phases we cook the same for all of us but ensure there is something within that meal that he will eat - e.g. if he says he doesn't like thw pasta sauce then fine, fill up on garlic bread. If he claims he doesn't like beef, or chicken, then have some potatoes. We just help ourselves each time, and check (once) that he's sure he doesn't want to try some. Without fail they've been passing phases and fads and as soon as he realises he's missing out and everyone else is enjoying a wider variety of foods, he comes around. You could also try (if you haven't already) involving him in preparing and cooking food. Ds wouldn't try mussels, so we went collecting them in the beach on holiday, washed and cooked them together. He loved them. He hated mince pies until he made his own!
I would really try to avoid persuading him to eat his food. It just makes meal times into a drama where you cajole and he has the power. Make sure his plate has something on it he likes and put it in front of him without comment. If he eats well at nursery then he will eventually eat at home too.
He's going to feel full for a long time after an adult-size portion of porridge. Maybe make breakfast a bit smaller so he has more appetite later on?
And I can definitely recommend the 'eat it or lose it' strategy.
He might just not be as hungry in the evenings as at lunchtime at nursery so might be worth trying new things at lunch rather than in the evening.
Have you tried other types of bread for sandwiches - mine really like tortilla wraps (rolly bread) as they help with rolling and there are no crusts.
Hi, I'm a foster carer and deal with lots of food issues. Number 2 is definitely the way to go, and no chatting or cajoling either - he chooses to eat or not. I find if we all eat together at the table, but are not focused on food, it really helps - we often do a quiz, pull crackers or play I spy - the eating is almost incidental, so not a focus.
Getting him to help make the dinner is also worth doing. If he can set the table, garnish the plates, cookie cut the carrots etc he will be more engaged.
Finally, it may get worse before it gets better, it's a long game. But just stick with it!
I really wouldn't use chocolate as a punishment/ reward. Try to channel your inner "meh". I know you care massively but he must not see this. This is dinner, there's nothing else. Oh well, fine, if you're sure. I do leave the bowl on the side in the kitchen for 10 mins or so after DD2 gets down just in case. But crucially no biscuits between meals.
Also I think he should sit at the table with you regardless of whether he is eating or not. It sounds like that isn't happening.
I do not agree with Odyssey bte- I have a child that remained 2 and a half stone from ages 2 to age five and a half!
Some children will not eat, particularly if they have anxieties around food.
Don't forget also that ' chili's at Nursery is likely to be verybland and could. Be a very different taste to the one at home
Perhaps the issue is the appearance and he struggles if the food looks different?
Adult size porridge means he's probably not that hungry.
I wouldn't make a fuss and wouldn't discuss food with him at all. Id just offer your home cooked meals and make no comment if he doesn't eat. Offer no alternatives.
He's totally playing you up as he's eating everything at nursery. Don't stock convenience foods or junk snacks in your fridge/cupboard. Reintroduce treats once he's eating healthily.
My youngest just did not feel hunger (he has very high pain threshold) so perhaps talk with him about what it feels like and how we assuage it.
I don't have a magic answer I'm afraid but I do sympathize - there are lots of children like this, he'll get there I'm sure.
Two and a half stone is still a healthy weight for a five year old. My 8 year old is on the bottom percentile line and a bright spritley healthy thing. In the 50's or 70's most children would look slim like him but we are a lazy nation of wheat, junk and sweet addicts now
Hedgehogs - it put him right down into sub 10th centile- his height is 80th centile plus- that is not okay for him! Especially as he was almost 6.
His weight now is around 25th- 30th centile. I'm never expecting more tbh and a proportion of that is now muscle of course.
DS is the same age and has only recently gotten better about eating. I made sure he had a breakfast abs lunch that he liked and would eat then for dinner he had (slightly modified) what we had. Since he had eaten two good meals I wasn't worried about him starving or not getting enough.
A child properly staving themselves often relates to mental health issues or extreme physical sensitivity I think. I think it's just a habit based problem with OP as she has always just fed unhealthy convenience foods at home while DS eats well at nursery.
DD was the same for a long time - she would eat everything nursery and then school gave her but at home would only countenance a limited range of food (more than the OP's son but not in the bracket of "just eating whatever we were having"). Most frustratingly she would point blank refuse to try anything new
We did a mixture of relenting and holding firm - she isn't underweight but does need to keep her blood sugar levels up or she descends into a cycle of awfulness and is unable to get out of it, so not feeding her food she would eat had an impact on the whole family.
In the last couple of weeks at 4.6 yo she has turned the corner herself and has tried more new food in the last few days than the last two years. I think she is basically growing out of the fussiness
From experience go for 2. I did 1 and ds(8) is still mainly eating fish fingers and smiley faces. He does now occasionly eat sausages, chicken and mash, roast potatoes or chips. A few hungry episodes will be more than worth it in the end!!
BTW he won't touch school lunches either except fish meals on friday.
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