How do I avoid a picky eater?(16 Posts)
Our ds (15 months) used to eat absolutely anything (he's a big boy) but recently it has all gone wrong. Now a typical day consists of:
Breakfast: banana porridge + toast (maybe a 1/4 slice?)
Lunch: Egg mayo + cucumber sandwich (poss half a sandwich) + kiwi or similar
Tea: Pasta with bolognaise sauce (maybe 5 spoonfuls) + yoghurt (which he doesn't always eat)
He has snacks of fruit, cheese or crackers.
I know it doesn't sound bad overall but often he wont even try what he's given when I know he must be hungry. For example tonight, tea wasn't ready until 6pm (we normally eat at 5ish) and he had chicken, cous cous (with a bit of pesto) + veg. He has eaten all of these before but wouldn't even try them tonight. I understand that he will eat what he needs I am just worried he's going to end up not liking anything.
What do I do? Give him something else, give him fruit and yoghurt for dessert as normal or not give him anything. I am worried that my approach (cajoling him into eating) is the wrong thing to do?
Definitely don't cajole. Don't make a big deal of it at all. This is just a phase, and if you let it pass without seeming to be bothered or interested, then he will eventually go back to eating well. It may take days, or weeks, or longer, but fussing or cajoling will just extend the time and make his pickiness worse.
He is trying out what 'powers' he has and food is a very easy one. Don't give him any extra snacks, though you might want to consider making a meal a little earlier from time to time if necessary, or making meals a little smaller and snacks a little larger if that is comfortable for you. But mealtime has to be over when he loses interest.
My ds can be like this as well. He's 2y4m and is a healthy weight for his height. He was a brilliant eater until he reached 15 months or so and then began refusing foods. On the whole I have found that a softly, softly approach works with him. I want him to eat a healthy diet - how he gets this is immaterial to me as long as he eats healthily on the whole.
I don't fight with him over meals - if he doesn't want it (rare now) I lift him down from the table and leave it - depending on what it is I may re-offer it at another time. What I don't do is then allow him to eat other things such as sweets, crisps, chocolate, biscuits etc (something DH is not so good about). If the food can't be saved I wait an hour or so and then offer him the fruit bowl and some grated carrot and cheese etc. This all seems to work and we get very little in the way of refusal now - maybe because he knows that it just goes back into the kitchen quicker than I can say "see if I care" and gets no other response. If it's an evening meal I tend to think he can't be hungry but also review what he's had that day - if it seems very little I give him some milk at bedtime but that's all.
BTW I think you're doing well with your DS - sounds a very well balanced diet to me. Also I keep reading that sometimes you just have to keep offering them things to try (approx 8-10 occasions) before they'll taste and accept.
I reckon he's just flexing his toddler muscles and discovering that he can exert some influence on the world.
BTW, this evening he could well have been too tired to eat or co-operate. My dd has always been a very good eater, and the only things that ever put her off her food are overtiredness and overhungryness.
That said, she's currently going through a picky and unco-operative phase (she's 2.5y) and I'm doing my best to follow my own advice!
Thanks for your thoughts, one question though, what do I do about fruit/yoghurt? These are the 2 things that he will almost always eat and normally has for dessert. It annoys me (how petty!!) that he wont eat his tea then will tuck into fruit even asking for more when he finishes it. Do you think it's ok to just hive him what he likes, I think he knows if he says no to his tea it doesn't matter as fruit is on its way!
In my humble opinion (having a very faddy DS1 and an "eat anything" DS2), if DS2 I would not give the fruit and yog if they don't eat dinner - I assume he's not hungry and let him go and play. Really hard to do but DS1 is so difficult with food (he's 3 now) and I wish I'd been more assertive with him when he was younger - he gave up eating "proper" dinners when he was about a year
Agree with Prettycandles - my 4yo is an fantastic eater, but at around this age she got picky and I'm sure it was a power thing.
DD2 (2) is still a wee bit wary about new things. To get her to try new things, I give her a meal which consists of 3 things I know she will eat and 2 that are new. It's slow going with her tho' I must have put brocolli on her plate 30 times, before she eventually started eating it!
Present him with his dinner. Do not make a fuss / exhort him to eat it. At age 15 months offer him a plain boring alternative (like toast) if he doesn't touch it.
When he is a little older and understands more, explain to him that if he does not eat his dinner he will not get anything else and will go hungry. But IMO he is a little too young for that hard line currently.
I certainly wouldn't go on to the fruit and yogurt if he hasn't eaten an acceptable amount of main course. Give the fruit and yogurt as a snack at a different time of the day instead, so that at least you feel reassured that he has eaten.
It may also help to give him tiny portions. I used to serve ds his meal in thirds, only putting the next helping on his plate if he had finished the previous one. Some children do just have tiny appetites, and their appetite can vary over time.
Until dd was about 18m she would two to three times as much at a meal as her big brother, and he was more than twice her age. She's not fat, and he's slender but not skinny. It's just the way they're made .
'she would eat two to three times as much' - forgot the verb!
I agree with PC. My 4yo is an excellent eater but she when through a picky phase between 18months and 2yrs and I'm sure it was a power thing with her.
DD2 (2) is not a picky eater, she has quite a varied diet, but is generally unwilling to try 'new' things - I must've served her brocolli 25 times before she finally ate it! She went through this power thing recently - refusing meals point blank. It was hard, but DD1 got pudding and she didn't. The phase was fairly short-lasting as a result.
I still think 15 months is too young not to offer some sort of plain boring alternative (he is still a baby) - chances are he will wake up hungry in the night.
A little older (18 months +) is the point at which I would toughen up and offer nothing else.
Thanks again for all your thoughts, might need to just put a bit more thought into planning meals and snacks.
The hard thing about it is that I know it's not actually that he doesn't like the food, he will tuck into something one day and then retch when offered it the next. This is the difficulty with planning meals as I don't know what he'll eat from one day to the next. If I was sure that he either just wasn't hungry or didn't like it, it would be much easier!
I have always had food "issues" which I would absolutely hate to pass on to him, I so hope this is just a stage that he'll grow out of soon.
anchovies - don't hold your breath re him growing out of it soon, sadly.......
anchoives, I have almost identical issues with DS, 14 months. Having gone from eating almost everything, we now get these situations where one day he can't get enough, and the next day it's flung on the floor. It's very frustrating if you've put in time and effort preparing it!
I offer DS two things as part of his "main course". As DS seems intermittently to dislike spoons, we do some form of "finger food" (sandwich / veg and dip / rissole), and then something like pasta and sauce (should the spoon be acceptable that day). It's worked well for us. It gives him a bit of choice, keeps me happy as he's more likely to eat something, and is a boundary that I can cope with setting and keeping to.
Currently I do offer fruit / yogurt if it's the evening meal, as the odd occasion when I haven't and he's eaten nothing for his mains, DS has woken at around 5am very obviously hungry. But I like HMC's idea of offering something boring, I personally do worry about offering sugary yogurts in particular when nothing else has been eaten.
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