Interesting BBC Article on Toddlers Eating Habits - Food for thought for those who have 'problem eaters....'?(49 Posts)
Yes I've just read this.
It is very easy to become very worried about what our children eat, and I've seen parents try and force feed their children, or make their children miss out on playing with other children because they have to stay sat at the table until all their food is finished.
A paediatrician once told me she's met parents who think cheese strings are a 'health food' and parents who put pink food colouring into potatoes because they say their child will only eat pink food.
It's very difficult!
I used to think that children ought to eat anything and everything; I have now completely reversed my opinion, in the light of my experience with my two DSSs and my DD, who have very clear preferences for quite plain "children's food": pasta with tomato or bolognese sauce; veal escalopes; hamburgers; roast chicken; cod; mashed potatoes; white rice; sweetcorn; peas etc. I make all our food from scratch and it is fresh and healthy but I certainly adapt the recipes to a less sophisticated palate.
I certainly was fed "plain food" as a child in the late 1960s and 1970s - that was all that was available - and I do think that we often ask too much of modern Western children.
Anna - you may have a point. On 'unsullied' taste buds, some flavours must just be very overpowering and potentially unpleasant. Our rule is that dd has to try, and we will offer something that she has turned her nose up a few times before giving in, because sometimes she has an epiphany - like with olives for example. She eats most things, but we have accepted that there are some things she wont do. Curry, on the other hand, is a BIG hit (as long as its not too strong.)
Certainly I am aware that my own tastes have developed and become more sophisticated over time and I wonder whether modern Western children's seeming apparent preference for "junk food" (chips, nuggets etc) isn't just due to the fact that if they are being offered a choice between modern adult food (in all its international combinations) and junk food, they prefer the plain flavours of the junk food?
I can't imagine that people who live on a diet of nuggets and chips eat a particularly sophisticated diet but perhaps I'm being unkind.
What I found interesting about the article is the tendency nowadays to medicalise absolutely normal developmental behaviour. I notice it on MN a lot - that there are some people who think there must be something wrong for their child to display any kind of behaviour that isn't perfect 100% of the time. So tantrums must be down to bad parenting/poor diet/exhaustion rather than a child just simply exercising his frustration at not being allowed to do what he wants. Exerting control over food is one place where a toddler can learn very quickly that they can be in charge.
That is a really good article. My DTS are now 5yo and have good eating habits because we never made a big issue with food.
They do not snack on junk unless we go out for the day and we buy them an ice-cream.
We keep their food plain and their favourite meal is steamed fillet of salmon with mash potato, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. They find things like bolognese sauce too rich so I don't feed it to them. They love roast chicken and pork plus sausages, cod and tuna and they adore my Jamaican chicken curry and homemade vegetable soups. The only complex carbohydrates they will eat is potato and pasta so I just do variants of that.
The key thing is that I do not make a fuss about food and stick to variants of what I know they will eat. Eventually, they will try new things but right now, why make life more difficult by force feeding them foods they won't eat.
The important thing though is that they do not snack between meals. If more parents did not fill up their toddlers with crisps and biscuits, they would not have half the feeding battles they are experiencing.
spokette - I am the same. I have tried to expand my DS's diet but as he likes really plain and boring food and it's all healthy, I've stopped and gone back to boring stuff. And what you say about snacks between meals is so true - if he has a piece of cake or something (ie when he is visiting his grandparents) he won't eat his tea.
I love being an exception to any rule
I think I'm fairly sensible. We eat nice healthy food as a family. We don't eat crisps much and limit sweets and biscuits.
DD still won't eat anything.
to sum up:
most children who make a fuss about eating do not have an eating disorder
however, some do- or will go on to develop one
it is safest to assume that yours will be in the first category until you have seen evidence to the contrary
this does not give you the right to judge parents whose children are in the second category
"I can't imagine that people who live on a diet of nuggets and chips eat a particularly sophisticated diet but perhaps I'm being unkind."
I am often saddened to observe parents who feed themselves sophisticated (even luxurious) food giving their children a diet of defrosted junk, on the basis that "that is what children eat/like".
There was a slot on BBC Breakfast about this. The paediatrician was very good but they had wheeled in our old friend Annabel Karmel as well!! She made some awful comment about lasagne being an excellent thing to feed your family because 'the husband' could heat his up when he got in from work. Nice bit of stereotype reinforcing there!
I think we have been very lucky with DS. He is 10 months old and he mostly eats the same as us. Bolognese, chicken and tomato pasta, roast dinner, shepherd's pie, bean casserole. He's very keen on fruit and veg, strawberries and asparagus have proved real hits.
My Mum is a GP and said she got no end of people going in and saying their 2 year old didn't eat anything. When she probed further they would be having juice and crisps and biscuits at intervals through the day and then the parents wondered why they wouldn't eat a meal.
both of mine went through a fusspot stage between the ages of 4 and 7/8. They have both now grown out of it. I think one thing that helped them get through it was that dh and I did not get terribly stressed about it one way or another- we didn't provide alternatives but we didn't throw wobblies about how much they ate either.
we hoped it would be a phase and it was
but I suspect there is a small group of children with sensory problems, in which case it probably doesn't make much difference what you do
might add for those of you with younger children:
I was very proud of my toddlers who ate anything
and then suddenly they didn't
but now they do again
so don't be too sure that your beautiful parenting methods will always produce a consistent result - there may be long dreary years in between
childrearing is work in progress
I am not remotely smug about my DS who is not a great eater quite a lot of the time. He won't eat tea if he eats between meals like I said but he also gets so hungry sometimes that he won't eat either.
I try very, very hard not to get stressed about it. But I think it's very easy to fall into the trap of giving them any old thing that you know they will eat and bingo they've realised that if they hold out long enough they'll get chips instead.
cory - who's judging?
And if more people were allowed to feed their kids what they wanted, not having other parents at school giving them sweets and treats life would be alot easier
i totally agree with this article and have known too many mothers who are afraid to give their children food or convince themselves their kiddies have allergies or dislikes for food even though you are supposed to try the same food at least 20 times before the child can decide whether they like the food or not!
Bonsoir Anna you're right. Recently I had lunch with a friend who served us beautiful homemade stuffed ravioli with a perfect sage butter sauce whilst the children were fed Turkey Dinosaurs as she said "God I would never eat that crap".
I have 2 brilliant eaters and one not so good who has however got much much better in recent years. Eating together as a family is abolsutely key IMO. They really look forward to mealtimes and it is an excellent way to gradually introduce new tastes and motivate children to join in and eat whatever is on the table.
When DH and I have rice, we offer some of it to boys. One will try it and the other will just go "Yuk". We don't make a big deal out of it.
I refused to eat rice when I was younger. Considering that I am from a Jamaican family and one of the staples is Rice & Peas, my DM gave up trying to persuade me to eat it and just gave me yams or mashed potato (I refuse to eat boil potato). At the age of 18yo, I tried Rice & Peas again and now can't get enough of it.
My DD doesn't often want to try new things at the start of a meal but will often ask to try something new right at the end of the meal, when she has seen everyone else eat it with gusto!
What I find so interesting is seeing other people's children (I work so don't spend a lot of time with my DS and other pre-school children). Had some friends around at the weekend and they were all very impressed that my DS would eat felafel and he's not a remotely adventurous eater.
I think the not making a big deal thing is key. My cousin and her husband insist their toddler finish all his food and he doesn't get any pudding if he doesn't. That just seems all wrong to me.
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