A Guilty Mum’s Manifesto for Fussy Eaters
Having a fussy eater almost literally kills parents. The guilt is the worst, is it our fault? What could we have done differently? Is everyone judging me? How did I end up being so inadequate? Will the child starve? Will the child have bendy bones because they won’t drink a kale and goats’ milk smoothie?
DO NOT PANIC
Your kid certainly will not die, many kids have lived on buttered toast and diced dried apricots for months on end and they are FINE.
DO NOT YELL
It just makes everyone feel worse (you more than anyone, especially afterwards, promise) and it does not get results, it just means the kid gets yelled at on top of not eating. It also means everyone dreads mealtimes.
STOP BLAMING YOURSELF
Being picky seems to be hard wired into many kids, its not your fault – it’s the way its meant to be for toddlers and some kids take longer to grow out of it, sure there are “ways” to get it to happen, and when you are feeling stronger after giving yourself a break from the stress, then you can implement the judgemental nutritionist, superior child psychologist, family member or well meaning friend’s advice.
STOP LISTENING TO OTHERS
Lots of people give you advice about it, they can’t help themselves. Say to them “I have tried everything, but thanks for your advice, we are just going to go with this for now”.
GET YOUR PARTNER ON THE SAME PAGE
Have a little chat about this so behaviour across the management committee is the same. You don’t want one person being the yeller and one person trying to stop the yeller. It’s a bad look, and a bad feel. Ask me how I know.
HAVE A BACK BONE OR HAVE A BACK UP
I know that everyone is going to want to shoot me for this but if you can’t bear send your little Muppet away hungry have a tiny sized portion of a really bland bit of food you know they will eat ready, it can be as simple as a plain piece of white bread or a banana. I suggest you don’t go to the trouble of making something else, we don’t want the little dictators to see that if they don’t eat what we first make, another 3 course meal will magically appear, because a) its not fair on us and b) who could be arsed? For the rest of us that are a bit tougher (I have been in this camp now for a few years, its easier), particularly those with older kids, tell them it’s the dinner or its starvation, a surprising number of them will happily go to bed hungry rather than eat the food you worked so hard to cook. Mine do it sometimes. Tough.
TRY TO HAVE A LOOSE PLAN
Write down everything your kid WILL eat, including breakfast and lunch and snack stuff. Don’t include junk food but the basis for sensible meals. Weetbix counts. Sandwiches count. Biscuits do not count. Yoghurt that is so sweet it tastes like lollies does not count. Work these items into a meal plan. If you can get a different meal each day for a week, bravo, if you find you get to the end of all the things that Tarquin can eat after 3 days, just put it on repeat. Make sure you have the stuff for all of that on hand at all times. Just rotate until you regroup enough to try to figure out how to break their spirited eating habits.
It gets better. And nobody told me about this either.