Thursday, 7 September 2017


Fussy eating toddlers, how can I get my toddler to eat

There is nothing more frustrating than a fussy eater.  Meal times become such an issue and eating out or going to family/friends houses is just a dread.

Oscar was weaned at around 16 weeks, he wasn't sleeping well so I thought I'd try weaning and he took to it like a duck to water.  He loved his food, as he got older we did the baby led weaning thing, he would feed himself finger food, eventually moving on to using a spoon and so on.  He would eat anything, even pinching food from our plates.  I thought we were onto a winner.  I thought this is great he's just like his dad, eats anything!

Everything changed when he hit around 2.  He started to refuse the foods that he would usually eat and wouldn't eat fruit, wouldn't even eat the fruit pouches that he once loved.  It started to become a real struggle and his diet became so limited that I would literally dread meal times.  Oscar would only eat the following things, Pizza, Fish Fingers and Waffles or Smiley Faces, Chips, Chicken pieces, Pasta with Pesto or mini savoury eggs and cocktail sausages.  Oh and bananas!  Although that may seem like quite a few choices it really isn't and of course he is missing all of his veggies and fruit.  I wanted him to eat proper home cooked food, and I really didn't want to be cooking different meals.

One of the things that would frustrate me the most is that he would go off to nursery and apparently eat everything they gave him.  Although that was frustrating it was also reassuring as I knew that he was just playing up with me, so this is where the plan of action began...

Here's how we've gone from a point blank refusal to at least 'trying' something new and in somce cases devouring the lot!

Oscar loves a kinder egg, and in the past admittedly we were probably giving in to his demands for chocolate way more than we should have been, grandparents also weren't helping this cause.  We made it clear to him that there would be NO treats unless he ate his lunch or dinner.  This has worked relatively well, however we have had some days where he's reluctantly given up his chocolate in return for not eating, when he does this it's an indicator that he really doesn't like what I've put down (noteably macaroni!)

Although he isn't up to eating his lunch or dinner Oscar will always ask for a biscuit, a treat, a banana, some raisins, chocolate, anything other than a good cooked meal and again we were probably allowing him to many snacks in between meals.  I think this was probably the reason he ate better at nursery because they had structured meal and snack times.  We have really been trying to curb the snacks and instead of giving him biscuits and sweets I'll offer him fruit, raisins or yogurts etc. Because he isn't eating snacks all the time when it does come to lunch and dinner he's actually hungry!

This may seem really harsh but we have started to remove his toys if he doesn't eat.  He is really into Paw Patrol and recently was given the paw patroller, he literally plays with it all the time.  If he is being difficult and refusing to eat we will simply remove it.  He likes to watch YouTube kids at dinner time and although once upon a time I would have winced at the thought he does actually get on and eat better when he's watching it, so we allow him to do that when he's at home.  Again if he doesn't eat or is playing up we remove that also.

You have to be consistent, this one above them all is probably the most important! I am a sucker for giving in at times, he cries and pulls those heart strings and I feel bad, but I know that really I'm the one being mugged off here.  My husband is much better at following through and standing his ground.  However over the last few months I have been following suit.  If we remove his toys or iPad then that's them gone for the night unless he eats. Oscar now knows that if he doesn't eat there is no toys and no treats.  He understands this and although it might take him several tellings and a good 40 minutes he will eventually give in and eat.

I have to laugh at this but Oscar will try and negotiate with me about how many pieces he has to eat before it's acceptable for him to have a treat.  Although my husband will tell me not to negotiate I sometimes find that this works.  If I am clear with him from the start, he then knows what my expectations are and he (sometimes) just gets on with it.  Some days it works and others not so much, but on the days it works its a win for mum!

When Oscar has eaten his lunch or dinner I make such a big deal about it.  I tell him he is such a clever boy, I give him hi 5's and I let him go and choose his treat.  I can see by his reaction that he also feels super proud of himself and he will often say with such delight 'I ate all my dinner'.  I feel like this is a great booster and the next time I give him the same thing I remind him about how clever he was the last time and how yummy it was.

Fussy eaters are no easy egg to crack but we have found that structure and consistency has really worked for us and I finally feel like we are getting somewhere with him.  I know that some kids just can't be cracked, but give it a whirl and you never know it might just work!

Kirsty x

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