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Fussy Mindees...

(21 Posts)
Titchyboomboom Fri 12-Oct-12 21:48:43

I provide all meals and snacks to the children in my care and haven't really experienced fussiness before as most of the children I have had were quite young (under 2) and ate mostly what I put on their plates. I now have 2 older children (4 and 5) who are siblings and quite often they don't want their breakfast and / or dinner. I have reward charts which work to a point, and praise them for trying new things with 'I tried a new food today' stickers, but generally, they are hit and miss to feed.

Things I am doing so far also include monthly menu plans which I email home and ask parents to let me know a week in advance if their children really don't like something... (for weekly shopping purposes mainly) If I hear nothing back I can assume the menu is ok and proceed as planned. I also ask the parents to go through the menu with them in advance so they know what to expect...

But it isn't working... I'm not sure the parents are looking at it and taking it seriously. I am finding it really difficult as it is affecting my daughter (22 mths) who eats everything.. she is starting to turn her nose up at things as the 2 older children she idolises are doing the same

I think I need to speak to the parents, goes without saying, but was really looking for any advice anyone has on dealing with fussiness...

Tips..... ideas.... recipes even!!!


sleeplessinderbyshire Fri 12-Oct-12 22:00:44

no tips but good luck. My 3yr old DD is a total nightmare who will only eat peanut butter on toast, cereal or variations on a theme of chocolate (well odd other things like breadsticks and apples but certainly not proper meals)

Star charts seem to make no difference and her (wonderful) nursery just offer the normal food, take it away if uneaten and ensure that several days a week there is a snack she will eat like breadsticks, apples or ricecakes. She has tried jelly and mashed potato there in the past 6 month (not tried anything new at all at home for a year or two)

Titchyboomboom Fri 12-Oct-12 22:40:36

Wow, what a nightmare! So would you suggest taking the same approach as the nursery... offering normal meals as per the menu and taking away of uneaten then discussing with parents? Just looking for a parents perspective smile

Bumpstart Fri 12-Oct-12 22:52:25

My kids were minded, and I always appreciated it that our lovely cm let me know when they had or hadn't eaten well.

At day nursery, they used to come home with a slip of paper which said what they had eaten etc, which was great.

If you feel these parents are not taking it seriously, perhaps a more formal way of communicating it may be helpful?

Then you can point to the days and days of not eating to them when you have an opportunity to discuss it with them.

Good luck.

HSMM Fri 12-Oct-12 22:56:58

Maybe the parents are happy for you to keep trying things they won't eat at home,in the hope tthey'll snap out of it.

I have a rule with my older mindees that they are allowed to have 1 food they don'tlike. One doesn't like milky puddings and another doesn't like carrots.

I also have a rule at the table that no one is allowed to say "I don't like ..."

Sorry ... no help at all.

Titchyboomboom Fri 12-Oct-12 23:27:56

Great idea! I am definately going to stop them saying 'I don't like' ... marvellous.... this will help my DD no end!

The parents do want me to keep offering, but I am unsure when the children are just not wanting to eat something they usually do (parent has told me in the past that sometimes they eat mash, sometimes they don't) or genuinely don't like it...

I have a daily link book with a food diary in it... I will make more detailed comments on it to emphasise non eating, getting upset etc


Titchyboomboom Fri 12-Oct-12 23:34:52

Ooooh..... a table rules poster is running through my head

1. If you don't wish to eat something, please leave it on your plate
2. Please do not use the words 'I don't like'
3. Please sit nicely at the table until everyone is finished (we do this already)
4. If you try something you have never tried before you will get a 'I tried a New Food Today' sticker!

What else can I add?

littleoldme Fri 12-Oct-12 23:38:00

I have this with my mindees too. I have agreed with parents that if the children a meal they will be offered buttered toast as the only alternative. On Monday one child chooses tea for the whole group , they love this. Also I often involve the younger ones in making meals when the others are at school. We still get se waste but seems to help.

thunksheadontable Fri 12-Oct-12 23:44:03

What is wrong with saying you don't like something? I would not make this a rule. I would say something like it's fine to say you don't like x but it's the food on offer today. There will be no other food on offer today, no matter how many times you tell me you don't like x. f they persist I'd say I've heard you say you don't like x so we don't need to talk about it any more and then ignore their comments and use normal discipline if they keep going on unreasonably.. But expressing dislike is fine for all of us to do in and of itself and I would not be comfortable with a blanket ban on expressing opinions on food as that is about communication and not in itself s negative behaviour.

HSMM Fri 12-Oct-12 23:52:43

They can tell me they don't like it, but if they say it in front of the other children, I end up with a table full of 6 children refusing to eat and saying they don't like it.

HSMM Fri 12-Oct-12 23:54:40

How about involving the children in menu planning. Everyone suggests one food or meal for the following week and somehow these are worked into a menu plan?

Bumpstart Sat 13-Oct-12 00:40:18

My kids are not allowed to complain about food. This includes saying they don't like it. They say things like it's not my favourite instead, so can express their opinion. I can also tell how much they enjoyed it by how much is lefton their plate at the end of the meal. Some fussy eaters are fussy because their opinion has been given too much importance. Not allowing them to complain about food is teaching them the important lesson that they don't have to like everything they eat.

Tanith Sat 13-Oct-12 09:08:09

If they tell me they don't like something in front of the others, my reply is "you don't need to like it: you do need to eat it!"

That usually stops the imitators in their tracks, and sometimes the fussy eater will have a go, too.

It's a big problem. I'm sensitive to real dislikes and accommodate them so long as it's not restricting their diets. Same with allergies. Sometimes strong dislikes are linked to intolerances (but not always!).

Some of the strategies I've used are:

Likes/dislikes sheet - they can dislike a food, but not a category, for example I'll accept "bananas" but not "fruit"

Tasting tests - I had a child who claimed to hate cheese, so I bought a selection of different ones and they had a sheet to mark as "Yum" or "Yuck". To my amazement, this child happily marked every cheese as Yum!, including stilton and gorgonzola, but marked plain cheddar as Yuck!
I've tried similar with other foods with some equally startling results.

Menu Preparation - the kids choose the menu and I cook it for them. We designed a proper restaurant menu, often with a theme (Italian Restaurant is popular).

Cooking - getting them to cook a simple meal. I find they're more likely to eat it.

Pasta - I make a wide range of pasta sauces that might not be absolutely authentic grin. They love pesto, so I sometimes make it with cabbage and basil, or a tomato-based sauce will have aubergine in it. Sometimes just presenting the food in different ways does the trick.
Every child claimed they hated mushrooms, so I gave them mushroom ravioli, which they loved - then I told them what it was grin

If I'm cooking a casserole, I always put the cabbage, kale, spinach whatever on top of the casserole to cook at the end. That way, even if they won't eat it, the juices have gone into the casserole. I use the juices from vegetable water for gravy for the same reason.

Having said all that, whatever effort you may make, keep it all low-key to the child. If they choose not to eat, then fine - up to them - you assume they're not hungry. They don't get anything further, and no attention. Try smaller portions - sometimes they feel a bit overwhelmed by seeing all that food and they can always ask for more.

Nip any disparaging comments in the bud and come down on rudeness like a ton of bricks. I once had a 7 year old boy telling me my meal tasted of dog-sh*t. DH dealt with that immediately - the boy was removed from the room and DH read the riot act before sending him back in to apologise to me and the other children. Never occurred again wink

colditz Sat 13-Oct-12 09:18:42

Thinks, the problem with children saying "I don't like it" is that they WHINE it, they CHORUS it, and the one child who would have happily eaten it will listen to all the whining and decide that this food must be awful to cause to a fuss.

I have a ban on "yuk", "I don't like it" etc. they my quietly leave it on the side of their plate, they may not complain.

Tanith Sat 13-Oct-12 09:56:24

I once offered dates as part of a snack when a parent was present.
The silly woman told us all "Ugh! Dates! I can't stand them!"
Her daughter had been about to try them, evidently for the first time. No surprise that she promptly refused to touch them after that! The other children all left them, too, even those who had previously eaten and liked them.

MyBestfriendsWedding Sat 13-Oct-12 13:29:32

Over the years there has been a lot of food waste with my mindees. I've looked after some very fussy eating children, my children also included. When I came back to work after ML I decided no more hot meals to be offered to my after school children, only healthy snacks and fruit are now given. They enjoy the variety and it takes them through to home time. Never lost business offering no eve meals, but i will prepare a dinner if it's a random late finish. Sorry that doesn't really help your predicament, but I know how you feel!

Titchyboomboom Sat 13-Oct-12 21:51:13

Thank you so much for all of your comments, feedback and ideas. I need to give the refusal less attention I think. I do involve them in the planning but this backfired recently as they came to think that they could choose every meal. Doh!!!

I think I need to do a Supernanny type action plan just for me, so I can remind myself how to deal with it... consistency is key from what you say and clear boundaries. I am going to take lots of tips from what you guys have said...

mamadoc Sat 13-Oct-12 22:28:36

My DD is a horribly fussy eater.
A lot of it was due to food allergies she had as a baby and her being quite underweight so we put too much pressure on trying to get her to eat and made it worse for a while. She's 5 now and quite a lot better but the following is from bitter experience and dietician advice:

Offer the planned meal. If uneaten just remove without comment. No alternative. Fruit is always available but no pudding or treat if main meal uneaten.
Do NOT cajole, nag, bargain or otherwise make it a big deal or it all turns into a power struggle which you can never win.
DD is allowed to politely state that she does not like something and leave it to the side but any whining, face-pulling or rudeness gets disciplined.
We try to strike a balance of having most meals being things she will eat but also some days having things we know she probably won't. Everyone else would get really bored otherwise and it gives her a chance to try.

I am pleased to say that toddler DS is a great eater and hasn't so far picked up any of his sisters bad habits.

Titchyboomboom Sat 13-Oct-12 22:33:53

Thank you for your advice - it is definately the attention I am giving it which is making it worse I think and it is this which is affecting my DD. Am going to steal your fruit idea!

januarysnowdrop Sun 14-Oct-12 18:59:56

Oh it's such a pain, isn't it?! I have a really fussy annoying mindee who does exactly this and has been a terrible influence on dd2 who idolizes her. I think a lot of the comments here are helpful - just tell them if they don't like the food, they don't have to eat it, but they're not allowed to make a fuss. Make sure there's always something they'll eat (bread, rice, pasta) and if that's all they eat, that's fine - don't draw attention to what they are & aren't eating (but maybe let the parents know!).

I found the one thing that really helped was when I changed my policy at mealtimes from giving out plates with food already on them, to putting all the food in the middle of the table and inviting all the children to help themselves - this way they can decide what they want to eat and I don't worry about their choices. Basically try to stop worrying about the issue - they won't starve themselves (and even if they did, it definitely wouldn't be your fault!)

narmada Sun 14-Oct-12 22:11:05

Some children are just born fussy. I have one non-fussy DC and one extremely fussy DC. Same treatment, different outcomes.

Don't be too hard on the fussies. I am not saying it can never be improved but some children are just more sensitive to some flavours and textures. DD won't eat anything saucy or past-y, e.g., mashed potato, gravy, etc.

Her nursery used the usual 'take it away and don't make a fuss' thing. She had persistence. It took her about 6 weeks to start eating even half-way normally there.

DS will eat anything, including chilli-laden curries, and always has done.

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