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If you had a fussy eater but started offering new stuff with no alternative... How did it go?

(27 Posts)
Imbimba Wed 03-Jun-15 09:32:01

I have 3 DCs - 5, 3, 6months.
The 5yo eats quite well especially since starting school and eating school meals, she's quite open to trying new things now.

The 6mo is doing baby led weaning (which I did not do with the others) so I'm happy with that.

The 3yo is very, very fussy. I really struggled with having two so close together (only 18 months between older 2 kids) and took the easy option every time with mealtimes. As a result I often end up cooking 2 or 3 different meals.

I know that kids will eat what you give them, eventually, and I just have to take charge and cook one meal for us all. BUT I'd be really interested in hearing from people who have taken this approach with a fussy eater and how it went. Hope this all makes sense.

Walnutpie Wed 03-Jun-15 09:43:15

Very distressed hungry child, is how it went! Tbh, it didn't work with me when my mother called my food preferences 'fussy' and expected me to eat food I didn't like.

Do you know that feeling of your appetite dying because the food puts you off? That happened to me at lots of he meal times and I just was really thin and was tearful.

My mother thought I was naturally skinny and quiet and over sensitive, but in fact I was underfed.

I was incredibly skinny until I left home. The joy of finding my own food when I left home is still with me! The fact that my mother just made food that she considered acceptable, and made no attempt to include my palate in her domestic equation deeply affected me, and still does colour my attitude to her, ineradicably.

Would you invite guests to your home, and say 'like it or lump it' at dinner time?!

Imbimba Wed 03-Jun-15 09:55:51

Ok, thanks for that rant, walnutpie.

I didn't think I needed to really get into the details of what I was going to serve but maybe I do - e.g. my 3yo eats chicken nuggets, I would serve chicken breast meat without breadcrumbs. Not very far from what i know he will eat.

AwayAndRunUpMaHumf Wed 03-Jun-15 10:01:10

I have the same problem. My 6yo is now great at eating, he will now have curry, steak pie, pasta, salad, salmon etc. My 3 year old is a fecking nightmare.

He'll eat chicken nuggets, cucumber, waffles, strawberries, rice crispies, toast, ham sandwiches, apples, and yoghurt. That is it. Anything else I sit down to him he won't even entertain, just says 'yuck' and pushes it off his plate.

I did get him to try a sausage roll the other day but he only liked the pastry.

Don't know what to do if he won't even look at a new food. He does seem to be getting a bit more inquisitive about what we're eating, asks what it is and what it tastes like but refuses to try it.

Walnutpie Wed 03-Jun-15 10:02:29

Sorry for the 'rant'. grin

I've tried to modify my children's small preferences into ones more convenient for me, and it's never worked, and they've held it against me!

The incident of The Spinach Soup will never be forgotten in my house...

LikeSilver Wed 03-Jun-15 10:09:36

I had a real issue with texture as a kid - still do although I'm much much better than I used to be - and had a couple of experiences (of forced eating at private school) that meant I was very unwilling to try new foods. My mum generally included something within the meal that I could eat, or made sure either lunch or dinner was something I could eat. If there was nothing, I was welcome to have bread and butter or toast later on. That's what happens in our house now, too. I'm not willing to create food drama as I struggled badly as a kid.

Imbimba Wed 03-Jun-15 10:13:24

It's difficult, I don't want him to be hungry so end up serving him things I know he'll eat... but I'm just perpetuating the fussiness.

I gave him some chicken breast the other day and he wasn't paying attention and put it in his mouth before he realised it wasn't covered in breadcrumbs. I got very excited for a minute!

I will keep trying. School really changed my older one's eating habits and fussiness. Maybe I just need to wait until then with DS.

Walnutpie Wed 03-Jun-15 10:14:25

Yy about texture being an issue for children. This is why they like meat and fish to be put in breadcrumbs, so it's crunchy, like toast and rice crispies.

Imbimba Wed 03-Jun-15 10:15:26

LikeSilver i think that sounds sensible - ie making sure there is some part of the meal he'll eat.

Even at the moment if he hasn't had much dinner I give him yoghurt or crackers afterwards.

Chips1999 Wed 03-Jun-15 10:20:10

I wonder if it's a 3 year old phase? My DS is very fussy about things that he used to wolf down!

My mum used to cook a range of dinners and if there was something we didn't like we left it to one side of the plate e.g. my brother didn't like peppers, mushrooms, celery and courgettes, but mum still added them to spaghetti bolognese. My brother hated fish so mum wouldn't serve up a salmon fillet for him as it would be a total waste of food!

I think a bit of a compromise is good on both sides. I managed to persuade DS to try a bite of sweet potato yesterday, I told him I just wanted him to try one bite and if he didn't like it he could leave it. Stickers were also involved grin I think it's a case of getting them to try things, rather than expecting ten to finish the plate and easing new foods in slowly. Lots of praise for trying even of they spit it out.

Yuleloglatte Wed 03-Jun-15 10:21:19

Hi, I'm a foster carer and have looked after lots of children who have eating issues. Firstly, I think 3 is a very fussy age for most children, and he may well grow out of some of it ( especially if he has school dinners)
I find the most successful way of helping fussy eaters is to serve 1 family meal but include bits the fussy eater will definitely eat. Getting them involved in prep is helpful and I serve salad in separate bowls so they can all have the bits they want, rather than rejecting the 'salad'

If they get very upset I will serve food they prefer but they have to sit at the table with everyone else, so other foods are part of their life. I don't give snacks or treats to fussy children ( though don't make a fuss or shame them, I just say they need to practice meals before they have snacks)
I think it's important for meals to be happy rather than stressful, and if they are it is conducive to more experimental eating long term

Just2MoreSeasons Wed 03-Jun-15 10:28:23

I've found that by putting a few bits of salad and new items on the table when they're hungry and saying"just waiting for the <usual food item> to finish cooking" (even if it's already cooked) really helps them to try stuff without you asking them to.

Imbimba Wed 03-Jun-15 10:33:28

Thank you for your responses, it's helpful to hear about other experiences.

FreeButtonBee Wed 03-Jun-15 10:38:12

Also put tiny tiny portions on the plate - like two 1cm squares of frittata to start with. Better for them to ask for more than for them to have too much stuff in their face and reject the whole lot.

Hoppinggreen Wed 03-Jun-15 12:47:45

I ended up with a very upset and hungry child who saw mealtimes as a trail for about 5 years.
Now my dd is 10 and as long as her diet is balanced and healthy I let her eat what she wants. Very occasionally she will decide to try something new ( I always offer but if not that's ok) and now she has a much longer lot of " safe. Foods than she did at 5.
It's been hard, especially since DH equated not eating with bad behaviour but it's all ok now and she eats pretty well.

slicedfinger Wed 03-Jun-15 12:51:58

My DDs were all tiny, and so I stressed badly about feeding them up. A friend one day pointed out that a healthy child offered healthy food will not starve themselves. It was tough, but I think she was right, and now (11,13,15) they eat anything. DD1, always the fussiest even tried cuttlefish recently!

Hoppinggreen Wed 03-Jun-15 12:57:07

I'm glad it worked for you sliced but some children WILL starve themselves, although to be fair I suppose it depends how far you are willing to push it.
After 2 days of my DD eating nothing ( following GP's " child won't starve themselves" advice) I cracked. Don't regret I did, I just wish I hadn't even tried it .

SummerLightning Wed 03-Jun-15 13:10:51

I have a very fussy 6 year old. He has always been fussy, and is still fussy.

He doesn't like things mixed in AT ALL, so I know I will have more luck getting him to try things if I, say, give him a new vegetable, served totally plain, or a new meat, etc.

I should emphasize that this trying and actually liking new things happens about three times a year, so it is a slow process.

We do cook one meal most days, but I will try and separate things so that he will try bits of it (e.g curry and rice, I know he won't eat the curry, but he will eat a bit of rice). On the days that I cook things that he hates, I make him try a bit and then he is allowed toast. He loves almost all fruit so that is good and he can fill up on a banana if he doesn't like the main course.

I am currently a bit worried about school dinners, as apparently he is infamous throughout the school for eating nothing except cucumber and cress at lunchtime (and I can guarantee he won't eat much of these as he doesn't really like them that much). School tends to "mix in" most of the food, so apparently pasta with meatballs will all be mixed in, or lasagnes and pies. Apparently on Christmas dinner, they wouldn't give it to him without gravy, which seems pretty mean to me. He's been having school dinners for nearly 2 years now and the "eat it or you'll be hungry" idea does not seem to have worked there. (he did come home saying, I've got a new food I eat.....cress.. once though)

Anyway I think as long as you keep offering them other food and varying things they like already slightly then that is probably the way to go. My aim is that eventually he properly likes most food, not that he grows up traumatized by being starved into trying stuff.

SummerLightning Wed 03-Jun-15 13:15:21

Oh and I would say don't give up on trying new things, at one point my son would eat only houmous sandwiches, yoghurt, bananas and rice cakes.

Without persistence he would never have learnt to like breaded chicken, salmon, most other fruit, pasta, potato, fish fingers etc, and then we really would have been in trouble! (as well as chips, sweets and chocolate, which is less pleasing I suppose...)

The other reason for our approach is it's easy, while still offering him new things. Getting stressed out about it was doing none of us any good.

BabyGanoush Wed 03-Jun-15 13:17:27

My DS1 was very very fussy at that age.

I just made sure I cooked at least one thing he liked, with often something new on the plate too.

Eventually he got used to having more adventurous food.

But we really backed off with the pressure, no praise when he tried the new food, no telling off either. We just backed off.

He was not allowed to be rude or throw food off the plate. He also had to sit down with us, and stay at the table. Also, no pudding if main meal not touched.

But basically we pretended to be chilled about it, and gradually (over the years) it stopped being an issue.

I think any kind of pressure has the opposite effect, nonetheless you can demand reasonable table manners and politeness. (so no saying: "This is disgusting!" as that is rude to the person who cooked the meal)

BabyGanoush Wed 03-Jun-15 13:19:08

cross post with Summer, similar approach

fiftyshadesofgrot Wed 03-Jun-15 13:26:53

I agree that some children will starve themselves/make themselves very ill. My DD 5.5 is so very fussy. I had no idea that she wasn't eating ANY of her school meals (in reception) as she told me she would eat every day. The truth was she didn't touch food ALL day.

Ive given up force feeding her the family meal as it was hugely stressful and unsuccessful. I stick with the 4 meals she will eat & offer her new foods but her response is usually a big fat 'no thank you'. Id rather she eats the same meals over & over than nothing!

wiltingfast Wed 03-Jun-15 13:31:31

I did this, went pretty good I'd say not that we have a massively varied or exotic diet anyway!

That said I never make him EAT it but I do say, that is it, you don't have to eat it but there is nothing else until XXX. When trying new foods I might not even put it on his plate initially but offer a taste from my plate or failing that a sniff!

Also I didn't just land out with chk tandoori, one new element at a time.

I don't make a lot of remarks at the table really, a bit of encouragement but no lavish praise, I try for a low key but positive vibe. If they eat everything I might say, gosh you were hungry!

Texture was definitely an issue so I would talk a lot about the foods we were eating, the colour, the taste, what they felt like, smelled like, and I'd say to take small bites. My dh talked about superfoods and that was an idea that caught on and now he's always asking is X a superfood and will show off his muscles elbow grin

Also, and this is probably controversial, I don't really let them say they hate something. I say all food is good, you just haven't tried it enough, sometimes you have to try a food a lot before you get used to it and like it etc.

Oh and fgs limit snacks at least the hr beforehand. Hungry children will eat more ime. Even milk can be a culprit for spoiling the appetite for a small child. I would say things like, isn't dinner going to be yum? I'm really looking forward to it etc.

I took most of this from Ellyn Satter's book, How to Get your Child to Eat, but not Too Much.

VG. Highly recommend it. I got mine in the library but it is still on amazon.

Also that book, French Kids Don't Throw Food or whatever, while a bit annoying also had some good nuggets smile

Walnutpie Wed 03-Jun-15 13:36:16

Yy that children will 'starve themselves'.. That's what I was talking about upthread, about that feeling of your appetite dying because you don't like the food. Add that to feeling disapproved of and your natural tendencies being disregarded or manipulated and food just loses its appeal.

IMO children like this then spend their pocket money on sweets. I used to kniw girls at school who'd buy three chocolate bars on the way home from school to scoff before they got home.

Walnutpie Wed 03-Jun-15 13:38:41

Oh, and eating for approval instead of for taste, so that your natural relationship to food dies, and you lose your inbuilt appetite signals.

Leads to obesity and all kinds of ED's.

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