You may have gathered from my recent blog that we are still having issues with Monkey’s fussy eating. I haven’t written about it for a while as I don’t want to go on about the same thing all the time, but it seems to be consuming my waking hours (and keeping me awake at night) at the moment so I need to get some of these thoughts down on paper. At the end of my last post about mealtime issues, things seemed to be on an upward trend… but somewhere along the line things have gone downhill again. I’m not sure even how really, these things happen quite gradually I think.
We just suddenly realised we were really struggling at mealtimes again so hubby and I had a good chat about it. We realised that we had been subconsciously pandering to him and his eating whims. For an easy life we’d been cutting out meals that we knew he wouldn’t eat and eating more of the things we know he eats well. It’s not all junk food or anything, his favourite meals are curries. An Indian one we make, and a Thai yellow curry. He loves dried fruits and nuts ( I think maybe he wants to be a child of the forest!) and he will always eat peanut butter on toast. But he hasn’t eaten pasta in over 6 months now, and some of his recent favourite foods are now losing their appeal. He won’t even eat baked beans any more which he loved until recently. He will only eat eggs scrambled – not boiled, fried or even in an omelette.
So we re-read loads of advice on the subject to work out how we can help him grow out of this phase. We don’t want to get to the stage where he is eating the same meal day in and day out because let’s face it, it’s not healthy. It also makes things hugely difficult to ever eat at someone else’s house or go out for dinner or have a life and you run the risk of it extending into childhood and adulthood and you end up with an adult who never eats fruits or vegetables or who has an eating disorder or something. Maybe I am worrying too much about extreme cases but I just want my little boy to grow up healthily. So as of this week we have decided to be firmer and follow the advice we have found. To offer him a variety of healthy, tasty food, and leave it up to him whether he eats it. No attention if he kicks up a fuss, no cajoling, persuading and definitely no force feeding. Also, no alternatives. If he doesn’t eat his meal he doesn’t get anything till the next snack/mealtime. It sounds simple but I am finding it really hard.
I’m not talking about forcing him to eat food he doesn’t like but the problem is that he refuses to even try food. Even foods he absolutely loved a few months ago now he either prods in disgust then pushes it away from him shaking his head, or won’t even look at or touch and just sits crying until we let him down. The problem is that my mummy instincts kick in and I just want to give him some food he likes so that I know he has eaten and will be happy. But I can’t, I have to be strong, it’s horribly hard right now but surely it’s for the best in the long term?
We never normally have much of a problem at breakfast but lunchtimes I have recently just been giving him food that he likes, taking the easy route, to make sure he has had enough energy to get through the day really and to make my life easier. This week though it has to change and I have been giving him a few different things, including some things he used to love but now won’t eat. We’ve also been cutting down the amount he eats for snacks, as he seems to have taken another step in his development and his appetite isn’t quite what it used to be. He used to not manage without regular snacks, whereas now he eats a lot less. We can’t expect him to eat his meals if he is full up from snacks and he needs to get his nutrition from his meals really. So this is how our week has gone so far…
Monday actually got off to a surprisingly good start and he scoffed all of his lunch. I was prepared to be strong but he ate it all! Curried rice with bits of turkey, broccoli, cauliflower and carrot. Result! Dinner was sausages and pasta in a tomato sauce. He ate the sausages with no sauce on but wouldn’t eat anything else.
Tuesday lunch was pasta risotto, which he used to love but as expected he didn’t want to know. He didn’t eat a bite and kicked off massively. I was prepared for it though and actually he coped for the rest of the day much better than I expected. We went for a walk after lunch then came home and did some play-doh play, he had a nap at a normal time and slept really well. I was really surprised. We had Thai curry that night with added veg and he scoffed loads. Lovely day.
Wednesday we visited a friend for a play-date and so it was an easy lunch and a favourite, peanut butter sandwiches. He loves it so of course scoffed it and we both had lots of fun at their house, Mummy chatting with my friend and Monkey playing with his. Wednesday night was another dinner Monkey loved – until recently, breaded chicken breast with sweet potato, peas and green beans. Again, would not eat a bite. Was very tired all evening and woke up a few times in the night so I guess maybe he was hungry?
Thursday was a very difficult day. Even at breakfast he didn’t eat as much porridge as usual, and barely ate any snack either. Lunchtime came and he was really hungry. We had the same lunch as Monday but he picked and fussed and I broke. It had been a difficult morning after a difficult night and I got really cross. He tipped his food out everywhere and was sifting through then eating one grain of rice at a time. He wouldn’t take any off a spoon and I lost it. It’s just so frustrating that he won’t eat something he liked even a few days ago. I think it’s because I wasn’t prepared for it. And because maybe the week so far is taking it’s toll on both of us. Anyway I got really cross and broke my rules, tried to persuade him and then because I knew I had lost my cool I tried to walk off and calm down but that just made things worse so it ended up with both of us sitting and balling and I just felt like such a bad mummy! He ended up going for his nap earlier than normal because he was just so tired from lack of food.
He slept longer than I thought he would and has snack that afternoon was some dried banana and raisins, which of course, he scoffed. That night was beef meatballs with pasta in tomato sauce. He ate maybe half a meatball when we broke it up into crumb sized pieces but that was it. He was happy enough after tea though and slept better overnight.
I think in hindsight a lot of Thursday’s issues were my fault, I overreacted ta lunch because I was tired and in a bad mood myself. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though and I just hope I haven’t taken us back a step!
Today (Friday) we had a play date and unfortunately Monkey fell over and got himself a very nasty split lip, poor monkey Anyway he did really well and ate his toast for lunch but not the scrambled egg. No idea why, he wouldn’t even touch the egg, but I have resolved to have a much calmer attitude about it and not to let it get to me again like it did yesterday. I have to have faith that he will eat when he is hungry and will hopefully grow out of this phase. I can’t be stressed like I was yesterday otherwise that is going to cause more problems.
Anyway, that is the plan, I will keep you posted! Have you ever struggled with a fussy eater? How did you get past it? Or did you not get past it?