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Help with food

(12 Posts)
absolutehush Sun 03-May-20 17:27:11


I have a 13 month old who is weaned but I am having problems with her behaviour/diet...

She eats a relatively limited range of things - no meat or eggs, little dairy/fish (and only when their hidden - e.g cheese melted on to pasta). She is finger food only as she's got a very independent/stubborn streak.

She will often refuse to eat anything and will just sweep everything off the table.

I try very hard not to offer too many 'alternatives' and not sweet stuff but it's hard when it's the third meal of the day and she's had nothing,

I don't know what is normal at this age and what is behaviour I ought to be addressing - like throwing everything on the floor. I do say no, and try to prevent her.

She will put everything on to the floor and I know she is hungry as she will then go back and eat the same thing later (often off the floor where I've missed with the hoover, damn peas and sweetcorn get everywhere)...

She has always been underweight so I am reluctant to send her to bed on nothing. I also want to stop giving formula in the day but feel like I can't at the moment. She often gets hysterical when just left to get on with it (I will sit and eat with her) and I don't want to make food a big battleground as I have issues with food myself.

Does anyone have any advice?

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
Poppinjay Sun 03-May-20 19:58:09

The best thing you can do is be as relaxed about it as possible and just make the food available in whatever way she will eat it. If that's in a bowl for her to pick at while she's crawling round, so be it.

The most important thing is that you don't interfere or encourage in any way.

Put the food wherever seems best and leave her to it.

absolutehush Mon 04-May-20 14:01:46

Hmmmm ok. I do want her to eat with us though? Or is that too high an expectation?

Also do you know what is normal amounts of food? Today she had for lunch half a slice of cheese on toast and about half a banana. This was a very successful meal for us!

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
ZooKeeper19 Mon 04-May-20 16:53:22

I wonder if a messy food mat on the floor would be an option. If you just put the food on a plastic sheet on the floor in bowls, and play with her and eat at the same time. That way whatever falls on the floor is relatively clean/edible.

Poppinjay Tue 05-May-20 09:05:58

You need to prioritise.

The most important thing is that she feels comfortable to eat. If food becomes a source of stress for her, her appetite will disappear. There's no point in her being at the table with you if she can't eat.

You're clearly feeling very stressed about her food intake and she will be picking up on that. This is what you need to change first.

It is your job to make the food available to her and her job to decided what and how much to put in her mouth. Do everything you can not to interfere with her job in any way. You getting involved is more likely to reduce what she eats.

I know how hard it is to step back but, when it's ripping you to shreds internally, that's your problem, not hers and you need to keep it to yourself. I've been there myself and it's horrendous when every meal time makes you want to cry.

There's nothing to stop you bringing her up to the table when you're eating but, when you do, give her toys and don't offer her food unless she is asking for it. Put it on the table, eat it and talk about everything but the food. Let her have some if she asks for it. If she throws it on the floor, leave it there. If she plays with it, that's good. Exploring the smell and texture of food helps make it familiar and easier to eat.

Don't focus on what she's eating and whether it's enough. Unless her weight is dropping or low enough for medical professionals to be concerned, she is getting enough. If that's the case, you need expert advice.

The majority of resistant eating at this age is about it become a source of stress. Take away the pressure to eat, no matter how subtle and gentle it was, and the eating improves.

absolutehush Tue 05-May-20 10:52:45

Ok, thank you for providing some much needed perspective. You're right that I am very very anxious about this and that she eats more if I am say, snacking or having my breakfast and she is running about, and just comes up to me and has some of mine by choice.

I think that I need to step away from the internet, as well. It's making me feel like I'm failing!

OP’s posts: |
absolutehush Tue 05-May-20 10:54:47

@Poppinjay I often praise her if she does eat - is that something I should stop doing?

OP’s posts: |
Poppinjay Tue 05-May-20 11:40:52

I would stop the praise too. I know it feels like something g positive shouldn’t be harmful but I found it much better not to express an opinion at all. The only strategy that ever worked was reverse psychology, so pretending to discourage her and be a little unwilling to hand food over but that is probably a step too far for you right now. It might work well later for introducing new foods.

I know this might draw some disapproval on MN in the current climate but messy play with food can really help toddlers who find the texture and wetness of foods a sensory challenge. Think of it as a step that needs to happen before tasting.

selly24 Wed 06-May-20 00:20:25

Teddy bears picnic with a tea set to take pressure off
Finger foods:
Have you tried French Toast ( aka eggy bread) bread dipped in egg and pan fried?


Flaked fish and mashed potato/ veg rolled into little shapes

Pizza (muffin base)
Meatballs ( homemade)

Thick soups with interesting pasta shapes?

Tortilla / Spanish omelette cut into chunks?

Flaky pastry sticks / twists baked with cheese?

( realise there are some dense - not too healthy options here but thinking about presentation texture avd toddler suitable nutrition - high fat/ calorie density)

Will she eat anything from spoon / bowl?eg weetabix?

absolutehush Wed 06-May-20 19:16:54

I just wanted to come back and say that I have stepped away from dinner time and started thinking of it as messy play time! As a result some spicy chicken breast that my husband was snacking on was eaten, along with a fair amount of tomato spaghetti and a satsuma got eaten. I need to work on broadening her horizons and that one good meal doesn't mean it's all ok but I clearly didn't appreciate how much I was communicating stress!

OP’s posts: |
absolutehush Wed 06-May-20 19:19:14

I'm also going to start doing 'fun' things at the table where she eats (like painting) so that sitting at the table isn't just a food-stress situation. I hope that's a good idea!

OP’s posts: |
Poppinjay Wed 06-May-20 22:17:18

I'm also going to start doing 'fun' things at the table where she eats (like painting) so that sitting at the table isn't just a food-stress situation. I hope that's a good idea!

It certainly is smile

So glad you had a good experience today.

Try to change how you think about her eating. You aren't responsible for broadening her horizons. That's something she will do herself, when the time is right for her, by taking advantage of the opportunities you make available to her.

I hope this is the beginning of you being able to enjoy mealtimes.

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