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If you had a difficult to feed toddler how did it ever get better?

(6 Posts)
Lifeonthecanal Mon 24-Sep-12 15:38:10

I don't just mean a little fussy, I mean full on nightmare to feed. DD is 2.5 and has never been a good eater. The list of foods she eats is basically pasta, tomato sauce (with veg hidden), cheese sauce, eggs, fish fingers, tinned pasta, sweet corn, peas (under pressure), toast, peanut butter and not a great deal more. She will of course eat cake, cookies, ice cream etc, but that is limited. Fruit is a life saver as she will always eat that.

Tonight I gave her pasta with the sauce of a beef stew I had just made. No pieces of meat, just the sauce. Totally refused. She had been promised ice-cream after if she ate the pasta. In the end she had a piece of toast and a yogurt.

I really am at my wits end. I won't send her to bed (we are ahead of the UK so nearly bedtime) with nothing, hence the toast. I just wonder how on earth I will ever introduce more foods? Do I just keep on offering stuff even if I know she will refuse it or do I stick with giving her food she will eat? It's so difficult.

Has anyone ever had a difficult eater that eventually eats normally? Please tell me a positive story!

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Sep-12 17:44:21

I sympathise. I think there was a period when all DS would eat was chicken nuggets and Jaffa Cakes smile He's now 12, in rude health, and whilst not what you'd call adventurous, has a pretty normal diet and enjoys a wide range of foods. There is hope. Some tactics that might help you.
- Don't pressurise, cajole, threaten, bribe, comment, explain, plead, hover etc. Just put a small amount on the plate and leave them to it.
- Alternate familiar/favourite foods at mealtimes with small amounts of new ones.
- Keep offering the new foods so that they become familiar foods
- Don't be frightened to let them go hungry if they refuse everything. Hungry is a big motivator smile
- (Later) Send them to eat at other people's houses... Lost count of the number of times DS came home from somewhere asking if we could have XYZ food that so-and-so's mum makes
- (Now) Invite small friends round to eat at your house, picnic style. If other kids are eating things so will yours
- Involve them in making food and having 'naughty tastes' of things as you go along. Similarly, forbid them from eating something when your back is turned... (this worked for carrot sticks!)

Good luck

Lifeonthecanal Tue 25-Sep-12 06:37:09

Thanks Cogito. It is nice to hear there is some hope. Maybe I will stop trying to bribe and just keep putting new food on her plate. It's really a big source of stress of me and that is no good for either of us.

She goes to nursery 3 mornings a week and I pick her up just after lunch, specifically so she can eat with the other children and hopefully see that eating things like bread is normal! The staff are helpful but not sure it's making any difference.

She is healthy and a bundle of energy, it's just when I read other posts about what toddlers eat and I realise some children tuck into shepherds pie, stew, chicken curry etc I really realise how shocking DD's diet is.

crackcrackcrak Tue 25-Sep-12 06:54:15

I knew it would be 2.5 before I read the whole op grin your limited list is quite good! Dd was pouch only! (and treat foods obviously)
She is 3 now and has greatly improved as have her little friends. They do come out of it eventually you just need to gently persevere.
I still find evening meals the most awkward. Either dd is already too tired and therefore stroppy or not hungry enough to either wait for or eat much. We are out usually during the day and she has a packed lunch filled with mostly healthy food plus a small treat. Sometimes all she wants is to eat what's leftover and go to bed. I let her - she seems fine and is the right weight etc for age.
Also at mealtimes if there is the slightest distraction she will hardly eat anything but I don't push her - she will/and does ask for food later on when she is hungry.

I offer v small treats as an incentive to eat veg. 1 small ice lolly after dinner in exchange for eating her broccoli. She has to eat a set amount like 3 big florets but I never push her to eat more -I'd she does as she's asked the lolly is produced straightaway. This is working better and better now as she knows it's cut and dried whether she gets the rears or not.

Novelty stuff works with dd too. I found her hello kitty chocolate lollies to use as incentives. They are tiny and are about the size of a choc coin but she will ensure a lot to earn this reward! So I've got loads of veg down her neck lately in exchange for an atom of choc in pink foil! Now this has been going on a while I'm thinking she doesn't actually dislike the veg particularly - its just part of the toddler boundary pushing thing.

I think their safe foods have to be respected though or they get more anxious. If I ask her what she wants for tea and take says sausage and beans even for the 3rd time that week I just think oh well - at least you will eat it all and it's hardly KFC!

EggsOvaryZee Tue 25-Sep-12 11:26:11

On a similar note - how do I extend my DS (nearly 5) foods? Hasn't got the excuse of a toddler anymore!
I know this sounds a silly question. He used to eat nursery dinners, a tiny bit of, but he would eat some things, though it was getting progressively less. Now he's just started school and will be taking packed lunches (they don't have the option of school dinners) so now I am freaking out because basically, he's having the same meal twice a day!

Bribery or stickers do not work for 'trying' something new. His main issue seems to be nothing in a sauce, or wet. A texture thing.

We don't all eat together. i serve them tea/dinner between 5-6pm and DH and I eat about 8.30pm when they're in bed. We often cook together, but makes no odds. His 3.5 yr old sister eats more of a variety, but I am so exhausted making separate things for them both.

He eats what he eats happily (if you know what I mean) but I just cannot introduce anything outside of that, then a couple of things he used to eat he 'has gone off'...he will actually remove 'new' things from his plate and freaks out til I've removed it - tried an olive the other day since sister loves them...

It sound so silly but I really worry. His food is a combination of the below and ONLY the below!

Apples - green only
Tinned peaches
Plain bread (or rolls)
Dry cereal (sometimes)
Vegemite
Plain pasta
Turkey chunks/chicken breast
Peppers (orange and yellow)
Cucumber
Carrots
Custard (occassionally)
Orange jelly
Plain cakes/crisps

DialMforMummy Tue 25-Sep-12 12:38:47

Don't be frightened to let them go hungry if they refuse everything. Hungry is a big motivator Absolutely. And everything else that Corgito said.
My DC albeit a bit younger than yours (2) was heading the same way and as I am keen obsessive about DC to eat healthy food, I got my knickers in a right twist about it.
I decided to take a step back and now basically, when dinner/lunch/whatever is served, there will be nothing else is DS decides not to eat. We've had tantrums about it (want a yogurt but not his main meal for example) but we did not give in and he eats what he is given.
I am also pretty ruthless when it comes to snacks, he is not allowed anything too filling (bits of fruits generally or one biscuit) so he is hungry at dinner.
It's a control thing they do that's why when I pretended not to care whether he ate or not, DS stopped playing up.....

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