Monkey Ate Pasta!!!! (and how we made mealtimes happier)

I’m sure the title of this blog left a few puzzled looks in it’s wake. It sounds daft right? Why on earth is this loony excited that her son ate pasta? If you have read about any of our, erm, challenges with Monkey’s Fussy Eating over the past 7 months then you may have an idea why this statement makes me so ridiculously happy that I ran around upstairs waving my arms in the air with glee after dinner. If not then I will explain.

At 13 months old Monkey went from a Pasta-lover to a Pasta-phobe. It wasn’t just pasta – almost overnight loads of his favourite meals slipped out of favour. When you served them up, the look on his face was like you had scraped s**t of your shoe and put it in front of him. I actually think he would have been more interested in that than some of his previously favourite meals. It made me so miserable when I would try and make something he would like and he would just pick at it or put it in his mouth then spit it out, or just sit there screaming and wailing and refusing to eat.

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Cue months of googling and desperation. Months of mealtime battles verging on force feeding. Months of misery. How did my baby who ate a more varied diet than me, who ate nearly everything put in front of him, suddenly stop liking so much food? We’ve had ups and downs, it hasn’t all been quite that hideous but you get the idea. I know that I am not the only parent faced with this nightmare at mealtimes and thankfully I found lots of support on-line and with friends and family.

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Before the days of fussy eating – eating everything!!  

We tried lots of things but we weren’t always 100% committed to it if I’m honest. We were subconsciously pandering to him by giving him food that he likes rather than face a battle, but that backfired as he soon stopped eating some of the meals that we were previously so sure he would. I was giving him too much at snack time because I didn’t think he would eat dinner anyway – can we say self-fulfilling prophecy? So hubby and I had a serious chat about it and decided enough was enough and have gone down a hard line and followed the following advice.

How we made mealtimes happier with our fussy eater:

Cook one meal for all the family. It feels cruel (and depressing) making a meal that you’re pretty sure they won’t eat – but you have to give them a chance and as I said giving him foods I thought he would eat didn’t always work either. Do not offer an alternative if they won’t eat it and do not give any pudding. This terrified me at first but honestly he has gone to bed without any tea a number of times and  slept through the night absolutely fine.

No food until the next meal/snack time. I guess older kids it may be mealtime but because of his age we felt too cruel saying nothing til 6pm if he doesn’t eat lunch at 12 (cruel for me having to cope with the misery that would entail anyway). A couple of times we have re-offered the missed meal again within say 1/2 hour of the meal but that’s it, and snack time is a good few hours after lunch anyway as it’s after his nap.

We have cut down his snack sizes, we made sure that there was always a big enough gap between a snack and a meal – to make sure he is hungry enough at mealtimes. He never drinks sugary drinks anyway and we have cut down the milk he was drinking before mealtimes, and increased dairy at other times.

No reaction whatsoever whether he eats or not. We initially were praising him when he ate well but then I read that that can put pressure on them so we stopped and it has made a HUGE difference. We praise him for using his fork and spoon well and we just keep saying how yummy our food is, and we talk about a lot of other things, but NOT about whether he is eating his food or not. If he doesn’t want to eat it he gets down but we stay to eat and he gets nothing else and no reaction. 

When he is finished he is finished. He doesn’t have to clear his plate. All part of ‘no pressure’. If he has tried everything and eaten pretty well then we offer him pudding – some fruit or something usually but occasionally a treat if we have one.

Get him involved with food preparation. You can read a bit more about this here - initially it terrified me, and still does in some ways – but all the time spent in the kitchen definitely makes him more interested in food and more likely to try it. In fact he would like to be in the kitchen all the time now because he associates it with yummy food!

The main rule -DON’T GET STRESSED! Nope, don’t.  Just don’t! Even when he is crying, or playing with his food or picking at it and pulling a disgusted face. No stress. Deep breaths. Actually we found playing with food is a good sign – touching it at all is a step in the right direction and one step closer to the food going in his mouth. Some things even go in and out of his mouth a few times before he finally goes mmmm, yum, yum and scoffs the rest. Sometimes he gets down and then comes back again. We just leave him to it and I figure we will worry more about manners once the good eating has solidified!

It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means – there have been very difficult days and even whole difficult weeks where he has been surviving on 2 meals a day (breakfast + either lunch or dinner) every day, resulting in a grumpy little monkey. BUT – the light at the end of the tunnel is that his eating has improved SO MUCH!

He eats baked beans again – which he had started to refuse. He eats tomato sauces again which he had refused for months. He eats sweet potato which he had gone off recently. He LOVES soups – all flavours and colours. He loves his Veggie Burgers again. He loves having a fruit pot for pudding. And the biggy – he ate a whole meal of pasta and he LOVED it!

I’ve been thinking about a post like this for a while but there was one thing holding me back. Pasta. We have played with it, cooked and dried. We have served up a variety of shapes and colours of pasta, different flavour sauces, plain, cheesy, nothing. No can do. I was trying to reconcile myself to the fact that maybe he just doesn’t like pasta? It’s possible right? But urgh, all of the meals that we have with pasta, will he not eat any of them?

Then, tonight, we tried this amazing recipe for Roasted Garlic One Pan Mac and Cheese from Taming Twins. He was in the kitchen while I prepared and actually enjoyed eating a lump of cheese for the first time I think ever while I was grating some. He then tried some out of the pan and loved it. We sat at the table and he LOVED it. Scoffed the lot. Couldn’t get it in his mouth quick enough.

My tummy was doing somersaults and I was grinning from ear to ear. Daddy and I were shooting happy, mushy looks at each other, holding hands across the table and feeling so darn proud of our little boy who was eating pasta. Trying so hard not to break the rules and gush our happiness to Monkey, no pressure, no pressure, no pressure. It’s making me well up as I type this, how ridiculous right?

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Mealtimes now are the complete opposite of what they were, they are a happy place and one of my favourite times of day. When up until recently they have been the time of day I have dreaded more than any other. Previously the site of tantrums and tears – mainly from me – now they are a place of smiles and giggles and cleared plates and puddings.

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I’m not saying that now he will eat absolutely anything that we put in front of him – but it is a HUGE step in the right direction. He may still go hungry some nights but that’s ok because he is getting such a good varied diet all the rest of the time. Yay!! :)

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Annabel Karmel’s Amazing Veggie Burgers

I am a huge fan of Annabel Karmel’s recipes. I had no idea whatsoever what to do when it came to weaning Monkey so we got her book and it made it all seem so much easier. There are many of her recipes that we have now converted into family meals because she is really good at getting those veggies in and still having the food taste amazing.

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I actually saw these burgers on her website when Monkey was at one of his fussiest times and decided to give them a go. They have become a regular in our house since then as they are seriously delicious and they get all of us to eat a lot of lovely vegetables. Initially Monkey loved to eat them in a Pitta Bread, then during the worst fussy stage he refused to eat them, but now he loves them and tends to open the Pitta bread and just pick out the burger – with all the vegetables and goodness in there that is fine by me! :)

The original recipe was for a smaller batch (halve all of the ingredients below if you’d prefer to make less) but we make a whole load of burgers, which we then freeze and reheat as and when as they are a bit of a faff to make – but so worth it!! It doesn’t feel as much of a faff now as I’ve got a bit more efficient at it!

We also made these for one of my best friends who is a notoriously fussy vegetarian (she doesn’t like many vegetables!?!) and both her and her veggie boyfriend loved them too so that is definitely a good endorsement for you.

Ingredients
100g Roasted Unsalted Cashew Nuts finely chopped  
(we whizz them in the food processor)
WP_20140208_13_34_03_Pro100g White Breadcrumbs ( or toast a few slices of white bread then whizz in the food processor)
4tsp Thyme (Fresh or Dried – I use dried)
100g Grated Cheddar Cheese
300g Sweet Potato (approx. 2 medium sweet potatoes) peeled and cubed.
2 Red Onions, finely chopped
2 Carrots, Peeled and Grated
2 Small Leeks, finely chopped (see below *)
200g Chestnut Mushrooms, finely chopped (we aren’t fans of mushrooms so we whizz them in the food processor, they go a bit mushy but it works well in the burgers!)
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 tsp Runny Honey
Flour
Oil for frying

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The cashew nuts, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

The mushrooms, whizzed

*This may not be helpful at all, but we don’t like big bits of leek, so I have found that if you slice  along the length of 3/4 of the leek so it is in halves, then turn and slice again so it is in quarters (and again so it’s smaller if you can) while still attached at one end, it makes it easy to chop it into very small bits. (If that makes sense at all??? If not just ignore and chop how you like!)

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Method

Put  the breadcrumbs, cheese, thyme and nuts into a bowl

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Boil some water in a pan, add the Sweet Potato and cook until soft. Drain and put to one side.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Fry the Leek, Onion, Carrot and Mushrooms for 10 minutes or until soft.

Add the garlic and fry for 1 more minute

Tip the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the breadcrumb mixture, the Sweet Potato and the honey.

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Mash together and season to taste, I don’t find it needs much seasoning, if any.

Put some flour into a small bowl, shape the mixture into approximately 16 burgers and coat each burger in flour.

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(No my arms haven’t suddenly got hairy, hubby helped with this bit :))

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It can help to rest the burgers on a pre-floured surface before cooking so they don’t stick!

 

 

Heat some more oil in the frying pan (we tend to use Rapeseed Oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil but it’s up to you which you use) and fry on a medium-high heat for 2-3 mins on one side, until browned, then flip (they are still quite soft so it helps to use a spoon in one hand and spatula in the other, you have to be a bit gentle though!) and cook for a further 2-3 mins on the other side. Hubby likes them quite well cooked so ours end up quite a dark brown!

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Leave to cool on some kitchen towel to remove excess oil.

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Serve! We often serve in toasted Wholemeal Pitta Bread, and I love them with a dash of chilli and tomato chutney, but Hubby and Monkey love them just as they are.

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You can serve in bread rolls of course but because they are quite a soft texture we find the pitta breads work really well, and they help hold it together, we made bigger burgers for my friends and they were delicious but they all squished out of the sides of the roll when you bit into them!

To Freeze, I layer in parchment paper (to prevent them sticking together) and freeze in freezer bags. Then I just reheat them in the microwave. I’m not sure what the recommendations are but I just take them straight from the freezer and microwave for a minute or 2 (to make sure they are piping hot) leave them to cool a little bit for Monkey then serve.
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Fussy eater update – feeling full of anxiety and guilt – 19 months old

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?

Mealtime issues, what has worked (and what hasn’t) for us… so far anyway!

I know I have written quite a few blogs about mealtimes and the ups and downs so I am writing this blog over quite a long period to try and have, in one place, what we tried, and what worked and what didn’t. I have looked for a lot of advice, and found many people on various forums saying “My toddler won’t eat! What do I do?” So I know I am not alone with these struggles. Friends with older toddlers have also assured me that they have been through this stage and come out the other side and their toddlers are no longer fussy eaters, at least not all of the time!

One thing that I have heard over and over is that if they won’t eat their dinner you shouldn’t make another meal as you are encouraging the fussiness and showing them they can get what they want by kicking up a fuss, and that they don’t have to try food. This worried me so much as Monkey was only about 13 months when the battles started and seemed so young to be not having a meal! Plus I knew I was the one that had to deal with him really cranky and miserable because he is hungry and tired and hasn’t eaten. So I held off from this tactic for ages, out of fear. Maybe I prolonged our problems, maybe I didn’t, who knows?

For ages we had Postman Pat on the TV for every mealtime, even on our phones in restaurants or when we were out, because then he would eat without a fuss. But we knew this wasn’t a solution in the long run. So we stopped using the TV, and moved his chair round to the end of the dining table so he can’t see it during meals. Sometimes were more successful than others, though generally he seemed fine with with the no TV part but was still hugely fussy with foods other than his favourites (fish fingers, baked beans, peanut butter, toast). Occasionally we will put some music on to help keep him occupied as boredom can affect how long he wants to stay at the table. We try and mix it up with nursery rhymes, classical and pop (he really likes Katy Perry haha).

One day we decided to go for it and if he didn’t eat his dinner then we wouldn’t give him anything else. This was a big step for me but Monkey went to bed without tea and no harm done, he was a bit cranky that night but no worse than he has been before at bedtime. He slept through the night and was fine in the morning. One of my biggest worries was that if he didn’t eat his dinner then he would wake up in the night hungry or something, but I guess he really isn’t a baby any more!   It made a huge difference to my train of thought as I stopped trying to force him to eat and I calmed down a lot at mealtimes. Let’s face it they feed off of stress and it only makes situations worse so having a calmer environment is definitely better. Plus I now know that he isn’t going to starve if he doesn’t eat his dinner one night. It’s basically take it or leave it and if he wants to eat then he will, if he doesn’t he won’t.

I’ve also read about offering food you know they like alongside new food. If it’s just new, or something I’m not sure of then he won’t try it. If he has a small portion of something he definitely likes – like sweetcorn fritters, then he is more likely to try the newer food. This definitely helped for a while. The same goes with having either a slice of bread or Pitta Bread with the food. As he likes that and will start to eat and then will usually eventually try the other foods. He eats all sorts of things in pitta bread, our homemade veggie burgers, risotto, curry, anything really! It’s just so weird, I read a lot about toddlers his age being scared of new foods, but for the most part we aren’t trying to get him to eat new foods, it’s meals he has eaten loads of times before, and generally loved. I just don’t understand it, but I am trying really hard not to let my frustrations show as I know that makes things worse.

Like one night, for example, it was a thai curry and I make a really mild one for him. He used to love it, but now it’s like I am trying to feed him something awful. So I gave him a slice of bread which got him started. I then dabbed a bit of his bread in the sauce, and eventually after a lot of screaming and wailing he ate that bit of bread and it was like ooh yeah I do like this, and then hey presto he scoffed the whole plate of potato, chicken and carrot. I don’t even give him the rice anymore as I know he won’t eat it, but he did well! I try to give him a lot of praise when he eats well and then he gets like a yoghurt or some fruit or something if he’s still hungry, I just wish it wasn’t so stressful getting him to try something in the first place! aaaah!

Our rule is that if he tries his food, then we are happy and he has done well. He is allowed to not like things and he will get something else if he tries it. If he won’t try it, then he doesn’t get anything else. I hate doing it but if he really won’t eat any of his food then we let him down and he usually runs off to play while daddy and I finish eating, Though sometimes he tries to take us with him or brings toys for us to help him with and then it is really hard but we have to be firm and make him wait till we finish eating. We really try not to give him any attention when he isn’t eating (so no shouting or telling off or cuddles) but lots of praise when he does eat well.

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Urgh since writing the above, I feel like it is 2 steps forward, 1 step back. He hasn’t properly eaten his dinner any evening this week and both hubby and I are getting stressed about it again. Need to try and be stricter on the snacks, or try and change times of eating or something because it is just not working anymore. Even some of the things we knew he liked, such as pitta bread or sweetcorn fritters, he now doesn’t like. So bang goes that plan. It’s just a battle of wills at every mealtime again with him screaming while we try to carry on some semblance of conversation and pretend it isn’t happening, until we eventually let him get down to play. He puts the teeniest bit of whatever it is, into his mouth then spits it out without trying it. We don’t give in and he doesn’t get any pudding or anything else if he hasn’t eaten his dinner but it doesn’t make me feel better.

Hubby doesn’t get in until just after 6, and I know that is quite late for Monkey to be eating but I also like us to have a family meal together. Even at weekends when we eat at around 5.30 we have the same problem. We have lunch at 12, which isn’t usually as much of a problem, (though today it was a nightmare) then a snack at 4, after his nap as he is hungry by then. Then I have to keep him busy as by 5 he seems to want to eat more, but I don’t let him eat after 5, so that he is hungry in time for dinner at 6. He is usually chomping at the bit, crying at the doorgate into the kitchen, or trying to and something to eat at the table, then he gets in his chair, sees what is on his plate, and most of the time he then cries more and tries to get down from his chair. I encourage and coax and talk about how yummy the food is etc and occasionally if he tries something properly, then he will eat it all up. But most of the time, he tries a teeny bit (not really tries, just puts it to his lip and then spits it out) and then screams to be let down. When I eventually let him down he then screams and pulls at me until I go and play with him. Which I don’t do until I finish eating, but it is horrible and stressful trying to eat when he is screaming at me and pulling my arms and clothes.

I try really hard for all of his snacks to be healthy foods, like dried fruit, fresh fruit, cheese, biscuits/treats made with wholegrains and oats etc. He doesn’t really like chocolate so never has that, and only occasionally has some pom bear crisps (which are really low salt). I have been trying to convince myself that it doesn’t matter if he eats a lot of snacks because at least they are healthy snacks (or at least not unhealthy) but the dinner does need to be the main event, and a snack should only be quite small really, so I need to try and be a bit stricter in limiting those maybe.

 

Right, after the uphill struggle of the weekend which I have written about above, we seem to be back on level ground again. Not sure what happened, whether he was just trying to assert his will, or if he was feeling rotten (he had had a cold for a week or so) but today was so much easier. I didn’t really do anything different… maybe being strict with him over the weekend paid off…. who knows! But he had his normal snacks (he likes sweetcorn fritters again so had those this afternoon, I make them with added veggies to get hidden vitamins in :)) at pretty normal times, and we had a mild curry tonight (which I always give him with bread and milk in case it is too spicy for him) but he did really well. He ate his chickpeas, potato and chicken and a lot of his bread so I was happy with that and he got fruit for pudding. He seems to have had an attitude switch over night… who knows, maybe it will switch back tomorrow!

Other things I have tried include:

Shaped food – for example he has star and moon shaped pasta. He is definitely more interested in this pasta than normal pasta but I can’t say it makes him eat it more often!

Eating from our plated – I know it isn’t ideal but sometimes, randomly, even if we are all eating the same thing (which we do 99% of the time) he will like it if he can eat from our plate, but not from his own. This isn’t always the case though!

Getting him involved in food preparation –  I have read quite a few things suggesting you involve a fussy child during the food preparation stage, so they are more interested when it comes to eating it. I feel Monkey is a bit young for that though and it would be way too dangerous having him involved, maybe I just worry too much I don’t know, but I wouldn’t let him loose with a cheese grater and if I tried to get him to stir something I think it would go everywhere!  Sometimes though if he is hovering around me while I am trying to sort dinner I will try and give him a little taste of something we are having – like a piece of sausage, or pasta sauce. He will generally reject it initially but sometimes he will go ooh yum, and gobble it up, then it can make mealtimes a bit easier. Emphasis on ‘can’ hehe.

Being massively enthusiastic about the meal – My mum did this actually and I had never really thought about it – I am usually feeling pretty harried and am a bit brusque with him – come on Monkey, dinner time, etc. When you think about it, not really the best way to start a mealtime. So now I make a real effort (and it can be an effort) to be more like ‘wow, look at this yummy food! Mmm this looks so tasty’ as I take it over to the table. It really works if he is paying attention and gets him going mmm mmm along with me.

Tonight we had a combination of all of the above and it was the first time he has happily eaten pasta in sauce in months, so I take that as a small step towards success. I’m not sure there is any easy fix that will stop the problems forever, maybe not until they grow out of this phase a bit, but in the meantime I will just keep trying anything I can think of! I might do a post soon about some of the best recipes I have found to get those veggies and vitamins in them sneakily too!

 

 

The rough with the smooth… and good samaritans

We had a pretty miserable day yesterday and Monkey was not happy no matter what we seemed to do. We had so much whining (which I am afraid to say really grates my nerves) and it all built up to a huge battle of wills at lunchtime. He has been getting fussier and fussier with food again over the last few weeks, I won’t go into too much detail here I have written about mealtime battles before and am writing a longer blog about dealing with food issues so it is all in one place, rather than boring you all with endless blogs about the same thing!

But anyway, yesterday lunchtime was a screaming, wailing nightmare with him refusing to eat his falafel, which I know he loves. We ended up taking him out just to get out of the house, hoping for a change of scene to help. Eventually, after realising he really wasn’t going to get anything else, he took a tiny bite out of the tupperware pot I had transferred it to, and then scoffed the lot because oh yes I really like this. Grrrr Why we had to have half an hour of screaming before this I do not know.

He was really fussy all afternoon after his nap too, though we were definitely being stricter with his food intake yesterday, and he scoffed all of his dinner (yay) but then by bathtime and bedtime he was a real misery guts again. By the time he was in bed both hubby and I had had enough.

This morning he woke up much happier and actually coped pretty well as I carted him around various shops. Unfortunately I had a disaster as I lost my purse this morning, it was in my coat pocket and all I can think is that when I was putting Monkey in the car to come home it must have fallen out as when I got home I could not find it anywhere. I was devastated at the thought of having to go through all of the hassle of cancelling cards and getting a new driving licence etc. So after his snack we dashed back to the last place I knew I had it and checked with the shops and with the security guard who patrols the car park, nothing, I was gutted.

We came home again as my parents were coming round, opened the front door and ouila! My purse was staring up at me! Some lovely lovely good samaritan found it, saw my address on my driving licence and brought it back for me! I was amazed and just couldn’t believe it! She had put her name and number on a little piece of paper so after I had calmed down from the stress of it I gave her a call and thanked her profusely.

The funny thing is that it was like a turning point in my day. After yesterday, and with the miserable weather and with the purse drama I had been feeling so low. But pretty soon after we go home my parents arrived and from then on we have had the loveliest day! Monkey was on top form and back to his old self again, having so much fun with his Nanny and Grandpops it really warms my heart. He then ate his lunch with no fuss whatsoever (yay!) and went out for a play with his grandparents as it stopped raining for a little while. This meant that I got a load of jobs done in the house which made me feel better. I think there is really something in the whole, tidy house, tidy mind thing.

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Anyway then home for a bit more of a play and then down for his nap. He was lovely all afternoon and we popped over to his other grandparents house for a brief visit to return a collection of things we had at our house (including Granny’s umbrella, which she must have been missing!). He had a lovely lovely play with them and then he came home for tea and he ate so well! He still spat a few things out and was a bit silly (he has recently discovered sticking his tongue out and one of his favourite things today has been blowing raspberries), but on the whole he ate really well and and tried everything.

We had a lovely bathtime and he was so cute reading stories with his daddy both before and after and well I had to write this blog post because honestly I could not feel more different to how I did yesterday. There are always ups and downs in life, and especially I am finding, as a parent, but the stark contrast of today and yesterday really hit me. Be thankful for the good days and just get through the bad days as they won’t all be that hard!

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A very trying day…

Urgh, today has not been the best day in my ‘stay at home mum’ journey so far. On the whole I have been enjoying being a stay at home mum, the monkey is very fun and I’ve been keeping us both busy and happy, but today is a real low point.

It started at about 630 this morning, pretty normal wake up time, but instead of a happy chattering monkey he woke up crying for some reason and took a little while to cheer up. After that he was ok, but as his Granny would call it, he has been very eggshelly (fragile) all day and the slightest thing has made him upset. I think I’ve done well most of the day and been understanding that he’s having an off day. We all have them after all!

We had his 7-12 month developmental check this morning too, and although it went well, you can’t help feeling a bit judged being cross examined on what he’s doing, how much he’s eating, what he’s eating etc. I don’t think monkey enjoyed it either, being stripped off and weighed, measured and looked at, then being watched by a stranger while he played. Not today anyway, other days he may have taken it in his stride, but this morning he was pretty grumbly. He was also really tired most of the morning which didn’t help!

We got through lunch, which wasn’t exactly fun, then he had quite a long nap though it was a bit restless sadly, and he woke up happy. Great, I thought, maybe he was just tired? But the afternoon hasn’t gone that well either, reaching a low point at teatime.

Unfortunately after a day of being understanding and coping with the random upsets and crying I am shattered. Going over everything the nursery nurse said this morning hasn’t helped, worrying and feeling guilty over the slightest thing she said, about what cup he drinks from and how we serve his food and just, well, little bits and bobs that just generally leave you feeling like you’ve been scored and given a ‘could do better’ grade in the subject of motherhood.

I thought teatime would go well as he loves the meatballs I make and his steamed potato and peas…. but apparently not today. Today he is spitting everything out, not wanting to know then crying and gagging so he throws up the little bit that he has actually eaten (and he had seemed to enjoy the odd few bites).

At this my façade cracks and I lose my cool. I tell him off and throw the cup he is playing with, rather than drinking from, on the floor. Yeah, I know, who’s the parent here? Throwing things in a tantrum isn’t exactly the best example to set, but how else do you vent frustration to a 10 month old baby who can’t tell you why he suddenly doesn’t want to eat the food that he has liked every other time before? The food that you have spent ages in the kitchen preparing while he sleeps?

I try to tell him he needs to eat his food or he won’t get anything else, that’s all there is, but then I’m feeling awful because I know he’s hungry, he needs to eat. And if he doesn’t eat his tea then surely he won’t sleep well tonight and that isn’t good for any of us.  How do you teach them to eat what is in front of them while still making sure they go to bed full? Is he too young to be worrying about that? Should I just give in?

I realise I have to walk away and take a breather so because I don’t know what to do I give him two of the oat and apricot biscuits (that I made at the weekend but usually try to ration so he doesn’t just eat biscuits all the time), dump them on his tray with some raisins and walk out of the room. I sat on the stairs, text my husband because I needed to vent (lucky hubby coming home to such a happy home!!) and had a little cry. I then go back in, check and yep sure enough he is eating the biscuits and raisins, so not off his food completely. I turn the TV on and walk out again because I can’t be all smiley and serene yet.

Thankfully, hubby is now home to help for the evening and there’s only an hour or so to go before bed.

I know it’s not his fault, maybe his teeth are coming through and hurting, maybe he’s just feeling under the weather. Poor little thing can’t exactly tell me what is the matter. But honestly, days like this are not fun. Days like this are not easy. Days like this make you feel like a really bad mother.

Thank goodness not all days are like this! Tomorrow will be a better day… at least I really hope so!