I can not begin to tell you how many meals I have made for Mole and they have ended up going in the bin. It’s like she can taste the smallest bit of pea mashed into meal. A shame really as when we started weaning Mole would eat everything!
We recently attended a dietician appointment. It was suppose to be for Frankie and his milk allergy but seen as we are already a dairy free household we switched the conversation onto Mole and her fussy eating.
I left the appointment feeling reassured and determined with Mole’s meal time issues.
Here are her tips and some of my own that have really helped us:
Do not serve up a different meal
The biggest mistake I was making was, when Mole refused her food, I would go and serve her up a completely different meal. My biggest worry was that I didn’t want her to go hungry. But more often than not, she would then refuse the next meal. It was almost like a game with her and the more she played up, the more attention she would get because I didn’t want her to be upset or throw her plate on the floor.
The dietician advised to ignore her tantrum. If she gets worse, take the plate away, calm her down and reassure her. Even if she needs to have a little break away but then go back, give her the same plate. This way she is not learning she can demand what ever dinner she wants.
Once in a while, I do an indoor picnic. I make it sound really exciting for her, we set a place up in the living room and I serve her simple foods like fruit and sandwiches. If I was to give her this in her high chair she would not eat it. Yet for some reason she eats every single bit of food this way. The important thing is, it gives us both a reset. Its stress free for me and I know she is eating. And exciting for her.
Sometimes she is distracted with her toys in the living room, I just make sure that even if it takes a while for her to eat, she does go back to her picnic and eat.
The whole family eating together at the same time helps. It establishes a good routine and you are being a positive role model. Mole is then not distracted by what someone else is doing and trying ways to get their attention.
I like to show Mole i’m eating the same food as her too and how tasty it is.
Again if we hit a bad meal time, when she has been in the highchair long enough, I will put her on my knee and let her explore some of my dinner. This is only when I have finished eating too. For some reason, she seems to be more open to trying food off my plate than her own.
Don’t overkill the favourites
Easier said than done when you know what their favourite meal is. The fussier Mole became, the more I was serving up her favourite pasta dish. Then I realised she was eating it 5 times a week! Soon Mole showed no interest in eating it. Which at the time, you are so caught up in dinner time, you automatically think she is just being fussy again or teething when really, she is bored of it.
Back in time
One question we asked the dietician was “Why does she go three days eating loads of food, then another three days not wanting anything?”
Her response was interesting. Humans use to have to go for long periods of time not eating food as it was not available. In our nature we are trained to fast. This is so we would have been prepared for the hard times. As a baby, we are still programmed that way but as we grow older, we realise that food is readily available so we unlearn this behaviour and teach ourselves to eat everyday.
It’s completely normal for Mole to have an appetite some days and others not wanting much at all. Respect her and offer her food but, if she is not hungry, do not stress.
The dietician said: If you keep serving Broccoli, Mole will never see this as unusual, and one day, she might actually go to try it. It may time a long time, but, it will happen. Where as, if you never give her Broccoli, and then suddenly make a big deal about it to her she will more likely play up to it.
Personally, I felt a bit confused by this one as I hate wasting food and did not want to keep throwing away veg in the bin. I gave it ago and she was right, Mole took a few weeks to try it.
Make food more fun. Cut it out into different shapes, make funny faces with it or get them involved in making it. This could be a make your own pizza night or simply putting the pasta into an empty pan for you. The more fun it is, the more likely they will eat it. Switch off any distractions like the TV so they can fully focus on the food.
I hope these tips help you. They have certainly helped us. Having a fussy eater can be hard but, I think it is important to know that because they have a label of a fussy eater, does not mean we have to accept this and have stressful meal times. There are ways we can have fun meal times where food is not thrown onto the floor on purpose.