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Fussy toddler messing around with his food, what to do?

(14 Posts)
Bubbinsmakesthree Thu 29-Dec-16 20:13:26

2.5yo DS, very fussy eater. Most advice I have read about dealing with fussy eaters boils down to not making a battle of wills out of mealtimes, don't get caught up in offering bribes, alternatives etc - which I am trying to follow.

I generally try to make two meals a day I think he'll eat and one meal a day I'd like him to eat (for that read anything with any kind of vegetable in it) and try not to make too much of fuss over whether he eats or not.

The problem is if he is not very interested in a meal he will play with the food, mush it in his hands, try throwing it - basically anything other than eating it.

I know for weaning babies playing with food, getting used to textures etc is encouraged but at 2.5 I feel that basic table manners should be in force.

I'm just at a bit of a loss - when he is playing with food he will sometimes try a bit so I feel it helps a bit with exposure to the tastes and textures he is currently rejecting, but I can also tell he does he does it to deliberately test boundaries.

I am just not sure what to do for the best!

Rumtopf Thu 29-Dec-16 20:19:35

I think you're doing well with offering two meals you know are likely to be eaten and one of a variation but tbh as soon as he started faffing I'd move his plate away. If he changes his mind he you can move it back while you're all at the table but I agree, table manners are important to instill. 2 1/2 is old enough to use cutlery and have a good go at eating politely.

thenewaveragebear1983 Thu 29-Dec-16 20:21:33

My 15 month old is going through a 'mush and throw' phase.....he is ok if he is doing it himself with his cutlery but obviously as he's only little he isn't great at getting it in. I think he gets bored and so chucks it to liven things up!
With 2.5 yo, would he be more interested if it was things like kebabs/skewers, or some 'novelty' method that would keep his interest? Failing that I would just keep offering small amounts during the day (maybe split the meal to two small snack size portions?)- in my experience they all have phases like this, and eventually will eat a decent meal once they are hungry enough. It's frustrating though!

mikado1 Thu 29-Dec-16 20:21:59

I'd take him down once he starts playing tbh, though I'd allow a bit if play if he's eaten a good meal, if that makes sense! Add vegvto two meals just to up exposure, if this is the area you're concerned with, don't bat an eyelid if he doesn't touch it and don't praise if he does-he eats for himself only. By eating and serving a good variety of nutritious food you are doing all you can. He will broaden his tastes with time, all going well. Hth, if he's eating two meals a day that you're confident he likes, he's doing pretty well.

PS I am a qualified one-time fussy eater myself ;)

Ilovecaindingle Thu 29-Dec-16 20:23:48

Do you let him help? My 2 year 3 months son helps with meals. Weighs things / spoon things into a pan etc.

pklme Thu 29-Dec-16 20:32:57

I think all food should be nibbles and tastes at this age, especially for a fussy eater. Put a taste of the new meal on every plate for a while, he will start tasting it, if only when he messes with it. If everything is in little nibble size portions he'll get used to trying lots of things. It's quite nice to serve it in little silicon cup cake cases, as it looks appealing and doesn't touch other food.

Also, relate new foods to food he likes. So if he likes pizza, then offer pasta twirls in a cup with 'pizza sauce' in another cup. Pizza toppings- grated cheese, sweetcorn, diced ham, all in other little cups. If he likes macaroni cheese, serve cubes of chicken with macaroni cheese sauce. Etc.

Bubbinsmakesthree Thu 29-Dec-16 20:42:23

if he's eating two meals a day that you're confident he likes, he's doing pretty well.

That does mean very limited variety though - something basic like Weetabix and a banana for breakfast and a cheese sandwich for lunch. I'll try adding carrot sticks or cucumber alongside the sandwich but he largely just attempts to use these as projectiles.

I do think I should be more zero-tolerance with his messing around - I do have my limits but I always feel conflicted with giving him a chance to have a taste of something even if it involves licking the sauce from his fingers.

Bubbinsmakesthree Thu 29-Dec-16 20:47:48

Do you let him help? My 2 year 3 months son helps with meals. Weighs things / spoon things into a pan etc.

Yeah tried this - he sometimes gets very engaged with food prep and plating up, then totally refuses to eat it. He very carefully dished out carrots sticks and baby tomatoes on his plate the other day, looked very proud of himself, then chucked them all onto the floor as soon as we sat down at the table to eat angry

Doje Thu 29-Dec-16 20:52:45

I cut back drastically portion size with my DS. Have a look at the below:-

www.babycentre.co.uk/l25017775/portion-sizes-for-toddlers-bread-cereals-potatoes-and-starchy-foods-photos

I cut back to the lesser end, so 2 tbsp of things. Things like green beans that I know he'll fuss about the most, I put say, 4 bits on his plate and if he kicks up a fuss, I ask him to have 2 mouthfuls. It's made a bit of a difference for us.

With him, he likes the food, it's a battle of wills.

mikado1 Thu 29-Dec-16 20:55:29

Have you a variety of lunches though? Keep serving the raw veg, I really think trusting him is the way to go. Like a pp said, he likes cheese, give him cheese with pasta; he likes bread/sandwiches, vary the filling.

Bubbinsmakesthree Fri 30-Dec-16 02:02:16

Thanks for the ideas - I have tried most of the usual advice on dealing with fussy eating and am largely resigned to it being something we've got to ride out.

My main concern is still the extent to which I should be enforcing table manners. I feel like I am constantly getting into exactly the kind of mealtime battles I am trying to avoid.

Example tonight - pasta with tomato sauce and grated cheese on top. Started out picking off and eating the grated cheese with his fingers which I let him get on with. Encouraged him to try some pasta on a fork - bit of a battle ensued as he wanted to pick up individual pieces with his fingers instead - he ate a couple then started smooshing them in his hands and onto the table at which point I called a halt and took the food away. Should I have called a halt earlier? Not let him get away with picking out the cheese with his fingers in the first place?

pklme Fri 30-Dec-16 08:01:14

I wouldn't worry about manners or using fingers. He's very young. He'll catch them from you as he gets older. You do sit and eat with him? Another thing I did was give much smaller servings, with extra of the thing he likes available for when he had finished his first serving. I didn't make a big deal of it, just gave him the plate then said "oh and if you are hungry enough to eat all that there is an extra bit of sausage later."

ilovetosleep Fri 30-Dec-16 14:17:32

I am wondering the same with my 2.8 yr old ds2. He's not actually that fussy and eats a lot of variety, but he's going thoiugh a phase of spitting out chewed up food (for a reaction I think, and it's usually just one item off a plate e.g. Today it was raw tomatoes, everything else he ate fine)). I have been completely ignoring it as he often then eats it again (gross!) or at the least carries on around the mess he's made. It's disguating but I do think when I react it gives him ammo to repeat. Am hoping it's a phase and he'll stop soon. He does know it's wrong, I think it started when he had nasty thirst infection and swallowing hurt but he's just carried on! I also don't stop him eating with his hands as Ds1 did this for years and now uses a knife and fork at 5.5 like a pro.

tinymeteor Sat 31-Dec-16 19:43:10

I'm finding that I have to pick my battles with DD, and for now that means prioritising her eating over her table manners. Sitting nicely was becoming such a flashpoint that it destroyed any chance of getting food in her. So I've let her wander to and from the little table. Tantrum free mealtimes were the goal, while we tried to get her to eat a fair repertoire of foods. As she's getting older (2.9 now) it's getting easier, very slowly. And actually her table manners aren't terrible, maybe because we haven't made a big thing of it.

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