Friday, 2 March 2012

The Nightmare of Fussy Eaters

Honey has always eaten anything, everything, and all of mummy and daddy's food in between. However, after catching a nasty French cold (from our visiting French friends) a couple of weeks ago, things have completely changed. She was quite poorly initially and refused to eat for a day or so, which didn't surprise or bother me. Yet since making a full recovery she has decided to carry on being super fussy; not eating breakfast, or lunch, refusing meals including old favourites like Spag Bol and sandwiches and basically starting to throw tantrums as soon as she even sits in her high chair and sees a bowl of food headed her way. She would however have some of daddies Spag Bol while he was watching tv (a habit I quickly nipped in the bud). It has been a nightmare and really quite stressful, especially as I could see her once fat little tummy shrinking away.
Fussy eating is heartbreaking for any parent, and after furiously researching it online, I have discovered it happens at some stage or another to most toddlers. It's just so frustrating to see them refusing what we know is best for them, not to mention food you have slaved over being thrown on the floor, and not one spoonful pass their pursed little lips.

A few gruelling weeks later and Honey is finally eating again, not as keenly as before it's granted, but anything is better than nothing.
I have learnt a few little gems along the way from Gina Ford and Annabel Karmel which have have really helped (both of which were surprisingly sparse on advice for fussy eaters. Gina Ford had one case study in her Weaning book and The Contented Toddlers Years, and Annabel one page in her book. Considering it is such a stressful time I would have thought there would be a little more help??)

Anyway the main things I have learnt and want to share are below.
1 Toddlers WILL EAT when they are hungry, simple as that.
2 They can survive on very little when being particularly stubborn ie two peas and a sip of water as I have learnt!
3 Snacking is dangerous - anything eaten or drunk up to two hours before food time has a HUGE effect on their appetite (and therefore stubbornness!) we have cut out snacks to great effect.
4 Toddlers like to test their power - a bowlful of food being fed to them takes away their independence. Giving them a plate of interesting finger food lets them think they are in control! Haha! The same goes for giving them cutlery when you are feeding them.
5 Don't let meal times become a battle ground. As hard as it is, if they sit down in their high chair and scream or throw food or point blanks refuse to eat, calmly and surely remove the food and get them down. Bad reactions from mummies and daddies can quickly turn into eating issues and also make them realise they can create reactions.
6 Tired bubbas won't eat, point blank. If I know Honey has had a particularly busy or tiring day I will move meal times forward, which has really helped.
7 Try and offer them healthy favourites to get their confidence back.
8 Don't use tv or other distractions, or try cajoling and coaxing them to eat, this can encourage really bad habits.

I hope this helps if any of you go through the same thing we have. Or if anyone has anymore tips I'd LOVE to hear all about them.


  1. oh i know where your coming from with this, harry used to eat anything, then he hit 1 and hardly touches anything! its upsetting when were all sitting down and he passes me back his plate full of food basically saying 'no thanks' im hoping now hes nearly 2 he might get more adventurous with trying things again, ive asked the doctor and they have said its normal at his age and as long as he is drinking fluids then it dont matter too much about food, but its still very hard x

    1. Oh it is horrible, and so hard not to react too. The joys of motherhood!! Xxx

  2. My little one is 17 months old she literately turn into a fussy eater over night on her 1st birthday, I didn't cope very well, but in time I learnt too it was just a faze and made my peace with her staple diet of sausages or chicken with peas, sweetcorn and jacket potato!! Now we have slowly introduced new things like pasta and fish and sandwiches and show her lots of encouragement when she wants to try something we have! I still struggle but she is getting better and is a happy healthy girl, in fact her new favourite now is Daddy's home-made Chicken Tikka and rice!! Big improvement! I also found Jo Frost's Toddler Book really helpful!

    Karen x x x

    1. Chicken tikka? Great work! Oh Jo frosts book sounds good I may have to purchase that, thanks! Xxx