When you love food and your baby bears turn into fussy eaters

I love food and I often wonder what people think. When in a shopping centre food court how will people see me as a mother if I got KFC for the kids and some sushi for myself? What do people think when I give in to my toddler and get him a donut at midday and it’s so obvious that it was going to be his lunch? And then I wonder, do they look at me and imagine that I’m eating my children’s food because they are like sticks and I, well, I just don’t appear to be on the underfed side.

Happy eaters suddenly become fussy eaters…what do you do? You stress! Then tantrums become frequent – for both child and parent. I knew I had to change my approach when the dog put his tail between his legs and walked away into another room at the sound of my voice during dinner time.

Mealtimes have been battle times for me as a mummy since my oldest turned one. I’ve had moments of holding him down and shoving the food into his mouth because all I could think was he has to eat or he will starve into illness. Bribery became a forte – but it doesn’t always get the kid eating all of his dinner! Then I count how much he’s consumed and tell him “just this much more and then you can have your ice-cream”. One fellow mummy recently told me how she enforces the bribery method. She offers the reward to her son if he eats all of his dinner. If he doesn’t finish it then he doesn’t get it and it makes her feel bad within herself that he will go to bed without a full tummy. But I admire her for being firm with her rule.

I’ve had other mums tell me how they’ve been through the same thing. Their toddlers used to eat all the home made fresh food. Some even stuck with only organic ingredients and felt like they were on a roll. Then it’s almost like overnight everything changes and they’re dealing with toddlers that will only have chips or toast.

My son went from being happy to see the meal dished up on his personal dinnerware to turning away in disgust when seeing the food.  “The kid eats with his eyes” is what hubby says. I have taken a long time to accept this change in my boy and I’m over letting him have foods that he wants and yet still struggle to have him eat a complete meal.

food, fussy eaters, chocolate cake
How easy it is to convince him to eat chocolate cake!

I do not want to go through having to throw out all the sauce bottles from my pantry again just to try to prove a point to my child. That was a memorable frenzy moment of mine! I had cooked up a new recipe of some sort of potatoe fritters and served them up with tomatoe sauce. I even involved my boy in the cooking process to make it all fun. When it was time to eat up he was eating up the sauce and not the fritters! Then I banned sauce for a while.

I always read or hear from people that what you make available to children is what they will have. But what if I do that and they go hungry. Then I see some sort of vitamins especially formulated for fussy eaters. What if I make the pharmaceutical industry richer because I think this will fix the problem?

Lately our attempt to recover our happy eating moments involves explaining how meals work and where the dessert course fits in. Therefore, when the dinner plate is cleaned up we get rewarded with a little sweet treat. If there are bits left over it means the meal wasn’t finished and there is no treat. So we’ve outlined a reward and a consequence. Might I add, the explanation of the sequence of main and dessert courses is a repetitive task!

What about my second baby bear? Well with him I think it’s due to throwing my rules and routines out the window. I never wanted to feed my child by holding them either on my lap or standing at the kitchen bench. But I am guilty of this second time around. It is a massive hindrance for us as it has made my baby bear think he can try flying out of my arms before he’s even halfway through his meal. No more! There is a high chair in the house and it must be utilised for the purpose it was manufactured.

But then this little almost one year old has even thrown food at me, on his high chair table and onto the floor! The fussiness has kicked in way sooner with this kid. It might have been easy to chuckle at it the first few times but now it has become frustrating. Cleaning up mushy food isn’t fun. Mostly when it’s stuck on the high chair, or in between my baby’s little fingers, or when it’s in my hair.

And the one thing that really got me writing this piece today is…How easy it is to forget to just have fun with your child.

It was time for some lunch and my little baby bear was trying out crunching a carrot stick. Soon enough he had a better idea. To throw it at me!! Instead of turning into monster mummy I pretended to eat it with a mummy bear sound effect. Baby bear roared with giggles. Mummy bear did too. Lunch was eaten all up with some more laughter and we were happy together. I wish and I hope I can make it like this all the time with both of my boys.

food, fussy eaters
Enjoying healthy, fresh watermelon with the debris of previous foods thrown about concealed in the chair!

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