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Nanny approach to fussy eating

(24 Posts)
Greydiddi Mon 19-Sep-16 17:32:43

Hello All

Just looking for some views from experienced nannies about my nanny's approach to my DS2. I suspect her approach is perfectly normal and I am being a bit silly, as I freely admit I struggle not to be too much of a soft touch with DS2blush

DS2 is 20 months. He seems quite advanced in comprehension etc for his age ( I don't think this is me being a proud parent/people being polite to me as it has been mentioned at several classes/by other nannies etc). Anyway as a result my nanny has told me - which I agree with to an extent - that she treats DS2 more as she would a slightly older child for many things.

DS2 is a very independent and somewhat cheeky/stubborn child. He is particularly badly behaved at meal times ( although I do think this is partly just his age/stage). He loves fruit/yoghurt anything sweet. He quite often refuses to eat much /any of his dinner. When he does this my nanny gives my elder son his pudding ( fruit/yog/sometimes something nice) but my DS2 isn't allowed anything and has to sit at the table whilst DS1 eats it.

This makes me uncomfortable for some reason (particularly the staying at the table whilst DS1 eats), because he is so young ( and doesn't seem to be improving DS2's behaviour!). I guess I just wondered if this was a usual approach? I suppose I'm slightly uncomfortable as my DPs were very strict with sweet treats, which led to me gorging on them as soon as I was independent. However having written this I can see I'm probably being rather silly about such a minor thing!

Ebb Mon 19-Sep-16 17:51:38

20mths is too young, imo, to withhold pudding. They're your children so just say, "I'm happy for X to have yogurt or fruit even if he doesn't eat much savoury. We can work together on strategies for improving his eating when he's a bit older."

Greydiddi Mon 19-Sep-16 18:36:26

Thanks Ebb - happy to have a chat with my nanny, guess just wanted to sense check first that I wasn't being a bit OTT!

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Mon 19-Sep-16 19:00:53

I'd actually have no issue with this, the younger ones will learn very quickly by the example of their older sibling that if we eat dinner, we get dessert.

Your way means they learn they don't need to bother because they still get it anyway, and it's possible your older child will start to follow suit.

LadyMonicaBaddingham Mon 19-Sep-16 19:12:19

Surely if you don't eat your dinner, you're not hungry? Ergo, no offer of a second course (i.e. a pudding). This is the way we've always treated it, forgive me if I'm way off normal behaviour...

buckyou Mon 19-Sep-16 19:13:33

We were just away with in laws, we have 2 babies in the fam who are 15 months. One day niether of them ate much dinner and i gave my lg a yogurt but the other lg wasnt allowed one and cried. I felt a bit mean for giving my daughter one!

I think they are a bit young to understand, maybe your little boy can understand but he's your kid at the end of the day so tell her if you are not comfortable with it.

Artandco Mon 19-Sep-16 19:16:00

I let mien have desert still. Here it's only plain Greek yogurt or fruit so treated as part of main meal

Artandco Mon 19-Sep-16 19:16:12


Greydiddi Mon 19-Sep-16 19:37:16

Thanks for all the replies! I can see it is maybe a horses for courses area - as I said I think it is because he has to sit and watch his brother rather than just not getting the afters ( which is usually yoghurt/fruit). I can see my nanny's point though that it does seem like he is holding out for dessert and does understand - it's just to me he seems so little!

Laineymc7 Mon 19-Sep-16 19:45:06

My daughter is 16 months and sometimes doesn't eat much dinner but will always eat her fruit and yoghurt. I just don't make a fuss if she doesn't it dinner I still give it to her. It's not like it's Chocolate it just fruit and yogurt and i want to know she's having a good amount of food.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 19-Sep-16 19:53:24

I agree with your nanny

If child makes an effort then fine. Doesn't have to eat all every meal but a good portion of it or no pudding

I did a temp job like yours with 13mth twins and one learnt v quickly that she would leave her lunch as tea and still have pudding as that's what mummy wanted

I kept saying to mum wasn't a good idea. One twin eats well now at 3 and other one picks bit always demands pudding which was yog rice pudding custard etc

Artandco Mon 19-Sep-16 19:56:28

I would rather mine are a banana or something after not eating dinner for whatever reason though as otherwise parent ends up with child awake at 2am hungry. However mine usually eat fine so on the odd day they don't I figure they just don't fancy like I might fancy just toast one night

StringyPotatoes Mon 19-Sep-16 20:07:51

I'm a nanny and at my boss' request I always let my LO eat as much or as little of his dinner as he liked and he would always be offered pudding. Most times he ate the pudding even if not the meal.
At first I was a bit uncomfortable but now am a total convert to this approach and now at 3 he isn't in any way a picky eater! And, crucially, he often turns down pudding (including chocolate ice cream!) because he doesn't really see it as a treat to be snapped up.

My argument against the "not eating you dinner means you're too full for pudding" thing is that we often say we have "two stomachs" - one for the meal and one for pudding. Why can't children be the same? If the pudding is yoghurt or fruit it's not the same as pumping them full of chocolate ice cream or Haribo, is it?

I guess this is an issue of "different stoked for different folks" but I agree with you, OP

Crasterwaves Mon 19-Sep-16 20:51:17

We don't do puddings as such - every meal is followed by fruit from the bowl if wished by the kids and they can have fruit for breakfast or not as they like. Yoghurt and fruit are also snacks.
We did baby led weaning and as a follow on from that iyswim kids are allowed a sensible amount of anything that is on the table to be eaten.

So if my child the same age as yours hadn't wanted one item of the meal but wanted yoghurt and fruit I would take that as their meal and say fine.

We did this with my eldest as well and they are now the least fussy child food wise in their group of friends.

NuffSaidSam Mon 19-Sep-16 21:13:50

It's very much a 'different strokes for different folks' issue I think.

Personally, I think it's a bad habit to get into to expect something sweet at the end of every meal so I wouldn't give fruit/yoghurt to a 20 month old as a habitual thing whether he eats his main or not.

A 20 month old can understand the idea of refusing dinner in favour of something sweet and I don't think that's ideal as a regular thing, so I would go along with your nanny and withhold the sugar at the end of the meal. I wouldn't make him sit at the table though because that feels almost like a punishment.

I'd go with....'you're not hungry right now, that's fine, go and play'.

The only time I would give fruit/yoghurt instead of a balanced meal would be if the child was sick.

sentia Mon 19-Sep-16 21:25:03

I don't agree with your nanny's approach. I think she's making the yoghurt/fruit course into a punishment (by withholding it when the first course isn't eaten and making the point by giving it to your older DS) and I think when you make food into a punishment (or reward), particularly sweets which society already brands as treat food, it takes on an emotional dimension that invites bad eating habits.

But on the other hand lots of people are brought up not allowed to have dessert if they don't eat main, and having pudding with almost every meal, so she's certainly not doing anything out of the ordinary or massively damaging. I agree with Nuff, if you weren't offering a "dessert" routinely, and she wasn't making him sit and watch his brother eat the sweet course, it wouldn't be such a big deal.

idril Mon 19-Sep-16 21:32:52

I agree with Ebb.

It's a bit irrelevant whether others think it's the right approach or not. You don't and he is your child. If you are uncomfortable with what your nanny is doing you need to tell her.

(Although speaking as a former nanny employer, I know this is sometimes easier said than done!).

Greydiddi Mon 19-Sep-16 22:58:12

nuff I do agree with the fruit/yoghurt still being sugar and grew up myself without ever regularly having anything following dinner ( I don't ever really think of having something after my meal myself). The yoghurt initially started with DS1 as both kids have been milk refusers ( although DS1 doesn't have a sweet tooth at all and will quite often turn down his 'pudding') and also because both nannies I have had automatically did it.

She is a great nanny and this really isn't a big deal, I suppose I was just wanting some sense check as it does bother me a bit. It is the sitting at the table bit that I think I don't like. I think I will probably suggest he maybe gets offered a banana and then just leaves the table if he doesn't want it, with no fuss.

Thanks for everyone's responses!

Yerazig Tue 20-Sep-16 06:38:59

I agree with your nanny if your child is refusing dinner but wants his pudding, he's obviously learnt that he doesn't need to eat his main course and can still receive something sweet. Children are much more cleaver then what they get credit for. This is definitely one of those situations where you agree or don't agree about withholding pudding and there's no middle ground as such. Just talk to Your nanny and explain your issue.

LightTripper Tue 20-Sep-16 10:31:05

Personally I would take the same approach as your nanny (though I would let the younger one get down from the table). But we also try not to have pudding for every meal. My "rule" is, if she finishes her meal I will check if she wants something else (in case she is still hungry): I might offer cheese or toast or pudding, depending on what I have and whether she already had sweet stuff that day or not. If she doesn't finish I don't offer anything else except something plain like toast (e.g. if there was only one food type on the plate like a pasta with sauce, I would offer toast in case she really didn't like it). Nearly always when I do that she says no to the toast as well (i.e. she actually wasn't hungry).

But the main thing is you take the same approach so your children learn the rules and can rely on them. And as you are the boss, having considered your nanny's views in the end it is your view that counts. If your nanny disagrees she may leave, but it sounds like that may not be a disaster if you have very different approaches? Definitely worth a chat.

Audreyhelp Tue 20-Sep-16 20:00:28

I am a nanny and don't agree with making meal times a big deal.
But regardless the advantage of having a nanny over a childminder is that the nanny fits in with you . So if you don't like what she is doing discuss it with her.

Chloris33 Tue 25-Oct-16 12:30:00

At this age food refusal is common and doesn't necessarily mean the child is not hungry. Yes, it's reasonable to encourage eating the dinner before the dessert, but I think it's a bit much to expect a child of this age to tolerate seeing his sibling eat his dessert without being allowed to have any of his own. Very young children don't yet have the resources to tolerate this kind of frustration, that comes later. The kind of discipline your nanny is using here might be more suited to an older child. I wouldn't be happy with this, I would have a word. My son is 21 months and often doesn't behave well at mealtimes, I know what a pain it can be, but I also know that there's not much that you can do about it. The more stressful you make mealtimes the worse it gets. He will probably grow out of it.

JoJoSM2 Wed 26-Oct-16 00:46:09

I think it's an awful idea to do that. I think it's cruel that she makes him sit and watch the older one have the pudding while he can't. I think it will stir up negativity and sibling rivalry or resentment and just wind the little one up.

Squiffy01 Wed 26-Oct-16 19:25:13

I would do the same in my house and often do. 20 months is nearly two! They understand a lot and can quickly get in the habit of eating no meals cause they know something else will be coming after that they prefer.
You have to choose what you prefer to do if you don't mind them not eating food you have prepared or cooking something else then ask the nanny to stop doing what she is doing.
I also don't see the sitting at the table when older sibling has it as a big deal. He is still going to see sibling eating it unless he is sent out of the room and sitting at the table is a nice habit to get into, you don't up and leave when you are finished when out with friends. I encourage a bit of chat about what we have done, sing some songs with my lot brier they get down if they aren't finished at the same time.

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