I’ve mentioned it before many times (here, here and here to name a few) that Reuben is a fussy eater. He’s just got worse too as he now won’t eat the little Annabel Karmel pasta shells I used to be able to hide veg and meat sauces in. It has been a LONG time since he was willing to eat the quinoa dishes I used to make him or snack on avocado. How I miss the days when people used the take the piss out of me for feeding him such healthy dishes!
Now he will eat toast or a sandwich (but mainly picks out the filling unless it’s something like cream cheese), scrambled eggs, porridge (“podge” as he calls it) or fruit. He’ll also eat nearly all junk food (as long as it doesn’t have any nutritional content, so fish fingers are out) and LOVES cake/chocolate/biscuits/dried fruit/cereal/sugary-ness.
And, yes, it does make me cry from time to time! But then I read something that reminds me that it is just a stage and if I’m consistent, he should come out the other side agreeing to eat more than just a turkey twizler. I must stay strong!
So I’ve done a bit of research and put together a list of ways for ME to cope with my fussy eater…
How to cope with a fussy eater in 6 steps
a) He’s growing. He’s healthy. And apparently his little stubborn body is making sure he gets everything he needs.
b) He can definitely tell when I’m anxious. I need to stop pacing around him being obviously anxious as, according to Super Nanny, this causes stubbornness and anger in your little one. I can concur.
c) Super Nanny also says getting angry can have a lingering impact on your child for many meal times to come so concentrate on keeping calm (or learn how to calm down if you do get angry) and don’t take it personally!
a) Everywhere you look about fussy eating you are told that you need to eat with your children. Breakfast and lunch doesn’t seem to be a problem for us but dinner is. If I’m going to do eat with Reuben, I need to plan ahead so that I have healthy meals that are varied and delicious for me too. (As opposed to what normally happens at about 4:30 – I panic and make him a fruit and toast selection. Again.)
b) Make time to do it together – Reuben loves to make juice and will drink it regardless of what is put in – spinach, cucumber, kiwi. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll start to eat a salad if he helped to put the chopped up ingredients in a bowl and stirred if for a while???
c) play with food – I’ve mentioned before some research by Ella’s Kitchen that kids who play with vegetables (but not fruit) are more likely to eat it at meal times. I’m thinking an edible sensory box?
3) Don’t spend more than 10 minutes prepping – kind of goes a little against point 2 but I like this idea (again from Super Nanny) as I’ll be less frustrated if something doesn’t get eaten but also the healthiest things tend to take less time to prep anyway!
4) Accept it for now – a lot of advice out there is for people with toddlers who can be reasoned with…for example, Parenting says to give them one thing they will eat every meal time and say to have 1 bite of everything else. Great idea as this over time will get them to develop a taste for the other things. However, despite my best efforts, Reuben isn’t at the reasoning stage. I encourage, Reuben even says the word “try” but nothing passes his lips. I shall persevere but I’m not yet sure when I can say to him ‘just 1 bite’ and he’ll do it.
5) Encourage but don’t push – as mentioned in the point above, encouraging is good. However, I have been known to try and put food in his mouth in the hope he might taste it and realise how yummy it is. This is totally the worse thing I could ever do and results in a tantrum, which is upsetting for both of us. Live it, learn it and stop trying to do it again!
6) And if it does turn into a disaster, don’t feel guilty – Baby Centre says this happens from time to time but you should learn from the experience and approach the next meal time with positivity.
I feel calmer already! Do you have any tips for coping with a fussy eater that might help me cope?!