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I have completely failed to give DD1 good eating habits - please advise

(20 Posts)
Leln Tue 22-Sep-09 13:37:38

DD1 was exclusively breastfed till 6 months, then we started A. Karmel's purée recipes. She was always tricky when it came to solid food, ate tiny amounts, refused things she previously had wolfed down etc.

As she grew into a toddler, she became pickier and pickier -- which I thought was normal, a developmental stage, refusing food as a way of asserting independence etc.

She is now 2.9 and has a very limited repertoire of food she will eat:
- tortellini stuffed with cheese (no sauce)
- beans on toast (occasionally)
- potato gnocchi
- cheese sandwiches
- chinese spring rolls
- bread, any sort
- breadsticks
- tinned asparagus (highly salted, I know, I know)
- er, that's it.

If I offer other food, she just doesn't eat. I have tried persuasion, bribery, etc. - totally demoralising experience all round. I have tried just letting her eat what she wants. I give her something she likes and let her choose how much she wants to eat (the answer: not very much).

I see other Mums insisting that their DC eat "two more spoons" before leaving the table, but my DD just refuses and I cannot force open her mouth (can I??).

I hear Mums say, "I give him the veggies first whzen he is hungry then add the pasta / meat / whatever foodstuff is preferred once he has eaten the veggies" but this does not work either.

I hear Mums say "I make fajitas / pancakes / bolognese sauce / etc and throw loads of veggies in there secrretly" - I have tried this, she refuses if she she sees even a mm of anything alien.

So, bottom line: I am not looking for new strategies on how to persuade her (don't think anything will work, TBH) but I would love some recipe and food ideas....stuff that your kids love, just to try to broaden her list of acceptable foods.

Any ideas?

I am bereft and feeling like a true food failure after starting off at birth with such high hopes and good intentions.

sheeplikessleep Tue 22-Sep-09 13:39:08

have you tried making food with her, like pizza and encourage her to put the toppings on?

Leln Tue 22-Sep-09 13:41:05

Sorry, forgot to mention, DD1 is perfectly healthy and not underweight (she sees to that - eats bread, cake, biscuits whenever offered - not by me - she is like a labrador puppy when it comes to the sweet stuff and breakfast items like porridge, cereal etc.)

So, not underweight, not scrawny, not sickly, just an ANNOYINGLY bad eater.

TheMightyToosh Tue 22-Sep-09 13:48:10

Oh man, I am in the same pickle as you Leln! ALmost identical story. I breast fed excl to 6 mths then started with the AK purees and meals, but now DD (2.8) has settled into fish fingers or crackers and cheese! (Well, slightly more than that, but still annoyingly no veg!!)

She has never been keen on veg, and now just refuses it. She finds it immediately if we hide it in the mash or whatever. Cannot sneak it past her.

The one saving grace is that she likes fruit, so we give her loads to make up for the lack of veg. Does your DD like fruit? Mine also loves breakfast stuff, too smile

My current plan is to just keep putting better food in front of her, and to avoid letting her snack between meals, so that when the meal does arrive, she will be hungry enough to give it a go.

I also avoid putting anything I know she will go for first (such as crisps) on her plate until the healthy stuff has gone. Otherwise the crisps will be all she will eat!

I have found that by continually offering her other stuff (e.g. cucumber) and by eating it myself in front of her, she does eventually try it and sometimes decides she likes it.

I guess that is all I can do, and not get upset if she genuinely doesn't like things. I suppose her tastes won't change over night, but slowly, hopefully they will....

plimple Tue 22-Sep-09 13:49:22

What do you eat? Does she eat with you? I'd always give her same as me and let her eat as much or as little as she likes. Don't give another option, but don't make a big deal about it either. Have you tried this?
I used AK to wean, but not religiously and never smooth purees. I still use loads of her recipes for family meals.
Maybe have easy breakfast she likes, both of you eat easy lunch e.g. beans on toast and then make dinner a bit more interesting. If she sees you eating well she's more likely to do the same. Also if you like the food then it doesn't matter if she doesn't eat all of hers as you can finish it!

mmrsceptic Tue 22-Sep-09 14:02:16

Making pizza v good idea.

I would look at what she likes and adapt it slowly, really slowly.

Literally, to the point of a couple of sticks of fresh asparagus in with the tinned, followed by the odd long bean and so on. Tiny, bits of sauce and increasing slowly. If she likes cheese sandwiches, will she eat cheese with thin slices of apple eg on sticks.

Will she do the "toothpick" think eg little lumps of cheese, apple, grapes, in a dish and the challenge is to pick up with a toothpick.

Can you mix tiny bits of fish with the potato. That sort of thing. Sounds really boring but sometimes works.

shouldbeironing Tue 22-Sep-09 14:04:55

If it's any consolation, my DC were pretty bad eaters at that age but are now much better - things improved from about age 4 onwards. Are you vegetarian? If not you can do homemade healthy versions of burgers, chicken nuggets, and mine still prefer raw veg/fruit to cooked - so carrot, cucumber, slices of fruit etc.

iwouldgoouttonight Tue 22-Sep-09 16:37:40

Mmm ,the list of her favourite food had made me hungry! DS (just 3) has become quite a picky eater but I just continue to make what I'd like him to eat (what we eat) and he continues to pick out all the courgettes, peppers, onions, etc and just eats the pasta or whatever!

I figure if we just keep on with this and don't make a big deal of it, he'll eventually eat the good things too. We never offer an alternative so, for example, yesterday I said its omelette for tea, he said 'I don't like omelette, I want pasta' and refused to eat any, so I just said, well we haven't got any pasta so you sit with us until we've eaten ours and its up to you if you eat any omelette. He eventually got bored of just sitting there and picked his way through his omelette (making sure he picked out all the vegetables in the process!)

You say she likes gnocchi - could you do it with a tomato sauce (just tinned toms with a bit of garlic and onion whizzed in the blender)? So she is trying some veg while eating something she likes?

Slubberdegullion Tue 22-Sep-09 17:04:13

Leln, I was like you having some incredibly stressful mealtimes so I started this thread about a month ago and got some fantastic advice.

What I do now is:
Meal goes on the table in serving bowls, the dds help themselves to as much or as little as they like.

If they say "yuck I don't like it" I shrug and say "all the more for me then". Apart from that I do not comment in any way on what is being eaten or not (so i don't give lots of praise if food is eaten either).

Praise is given for nice manners and high quality conversation wink grin

Bad manners and/or excessive whining/whingeing they are told to leave the table and come back when they have stopped.

When they have finished eating they may ask to get down. At this stage they are too young to sit still for ages and ages while the rest of us eat.

Telly goes off during and for a significant time after meal times (so they are not rushing from the table to get back to the tv)

No pudding.

No bribing, cajoling or nagging.

No snacks between meals apart from fruit (and I have to keep an eye on banana consumption).

That is the strategy. The most important thing though is to not get your knickers in a twist if they do not eat. They will not starve (nod to moony). It is your responsibilty to provide good nutritious meals. It is not your responsiblity to make your dc eat them (nod to seeker's mum).

mankymummymoo Tue 22-Sep-09 17:11:39

if she has a sweet tooth have you tried sweet and sour veg or chicken? Put lots of pineapple in it and serve with rice. very easy to eat with a spoon too.

or sticky ribs? you could try putting the sticky rib filling in the spring roll wrappers so she initially thinks its a spring roll?

Slubberdegullion Tue 22-Sep-09 17:46:59

Have just re-read your OP and I see you didn't ask for you strategies grin sorry!

But tbh I think (and ime) that your attitude to food and her eating of it is the most important thing and not what her diet consists of at the moment.

If you take all the emotion out of it and if you refuse to let yourself be wound up by her fussy ways then I think you might find there is a change in the atmosphere at meal times that is much more conducive to her trying new things. Don't let it become a battleground, the moment they realise that food is the most fabulous emotional weapon they will wield it with all the force they can muster.

dogonpoints Tue 22-Sep-09 17:55:56

I'm like plimple - I want to know what you eat

thirtysomething Tue 22-Sep-09 17:57:20

No advice but if it's any consolation my DS was even fussier than yours OP - I used to tear my hair out as he would only eat macaroni cheese or veggie sausages and beans for tea and that was IT!! - but now aged 11 he is like a hoover, will try anything, loves everything and is very adventurous when wating out!!!So there is hope!!

With him it's happened so so gradually - at first it was the influence of other kids at nursery that made him interested in other foods. He gradually realised if he didn't eat lunch there he would be hungry! So he tried a little of this and that and copied what the other children ate - then at school it was going to friends' houses for tea that really helped as he realised his friends ate different things!! But it all came from him wanting to try things and being hungry. he has very exotic tastes now and loves cooking for himself - it's our special time together in the kitchen.

The key is to relax - if she is healthy, gaining weight and generally a balanced child then there's nothing to worry about., She will eventually want to expand her diet - until then just carry on as you are and maybe as others have suggested let her help with some cooking? The main thing is not to make a battle-ground of food or over-emphasise treats if she eats broccoli etc as this leads to food being a control issue.

Another thing we used to try was letting DS choose a different thing from the fruit and veg aisle each week and talking about it, drawing it, then cooking with it etc. he now loves leeks, mushrooms and melon and it all started this way!

AvengingGerbil Tue 22-Sep-09 17:57:58

Mine is nearly 10 and still eats like this.sad

No interest in trying anything new, in fact, behaves as if you're trying to poison him.

Doesn't care if you go down the 'eat or go without' route - will go without happily.

Doesn't snack. Doesn't eat sweets or chocolate or crisps. Won't touch chips or fishfingers or burgers etc.

Will happily cook with me, but refuses to put it in his mouth - 'I made it for you, Mum'.

We eat together (though not always the same things. There is a limit to the number of plain pork chops I am willing to eat). No tv/distractions.

I've given up on emotional stress about meals and just fuel him up on stuff he'll eat (which is fortunately mostly pretty healthy).

Sorry, this may not be what you want to hear. You may just have to live with it.

Othersideofthechannel Wed 23-Sep-09 06:00:48

A lot of 2.9 yr olds have equally short lists of acceptable foods.

Both of mine have naturally lengthened their lists since that age.

Just keep eating lots of different foods in front of her. If the food is in serving bowls (rather than on the plate) it can easily be re-used eg in a pasta bake at the next meal, or cooked fish into fishcakes

I think school dinners helped - one DC came home asking for omelette because he had had it at school and the other starting eating cherry tomatoes after they were on offer at a playscheme and the other children were wolfing them down (despite multiple exposures at home)

Of course she could be one of those children who stays fussy into adulthood but she is still young enough for it to be a phase!

Othersideofthechannel Wed 23-Sep-09 06:01:41

How's it going Slubberdegullion?

mrsgboring Wed 23-Sep-09 06:14:27

how about sweet potato, baked or fried in wedges? good vitamins in it

nooka Wed 23-Sep-09 06:27:26

Some children are just like this, and although it is very upsetting if you yourself enjoy food and cooking I think there isn't a huge amount you can do except for wait for them to grow out of it. My dd was OK with vegetables, but refused meat for a long time, only ate very plain things and absolutely hated sauce. To the extent that if any dripped on her plate she woudl scream and then refuse to eat anything at all. In fact at 9 she still really isn't keen on things in sauces and prefers plain options. For many years she would only eat pizza with cheese on top (no tomato) and specks of herbs would also set her off.

It was very frustrating!

I think that it's the fruit and vegetables you need to work on, because she's getting carbs and protein from the cheese (althugh it might be good for other sources too - wafer thin ham worked for dd). Are cucumber, raw carrots or peppers (red/orange/yellow only) things she will try - they are all quite sweet and also predictable (no juicy surprises like tomatoes). What about bananas or apples?

I'd also agree with slubber, help your self meals (perhaps with one or two you must eats) are probably the least stressful all round. The other thing I would say, and this is a bit sad really, but I would stop trying to cook her things that you think are nice, because it is just too upsetting to make something special only to have it rejected.

On the plus side over time it usually does get better - dd is now (at 9) a really helpful sous chef, and has even eaten trout complete with bones (she didn't actually eat the bones - just was happy to tackle a whole fish, something I never thought I'd see).

Oh, finally if you are really worried about the low veg consumption it is sometimes easier to put veg into cakes - carrot cake being the obvious example, but there are also cakes you can make with beetroots and courgettes, and you really wouldn't know.

ShannaraTiger Wed 23-Sep-09 06:58:39

I'm soo glad I'm not alone. Slubberdegullion I have book marked your thread for later.
Meal times are making me really depressed at the moment, hopefully MN might keep me off the antidepressents, yes it's got that bad. Anyway time for the battle of breakfast. Leln sorry to hijack your thread, good luck hopefully with the power of mumsnet behind us we can overcome the mealtime battle field and tranquility will return. hmm

Slubberdegullion Wed 23-Sep-09 09:52:27

otherside - great thanks

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