Mum sees progress from Facebook posts
In general, recipes that advertise as being for picky eaters, are NOT! I find it really frustrating to look at a list of recipes and think, no, no, no to most of them.
In trying to rectify this, I have been posting food concepts that I know will work for many fussy eaters over the last few months. Often, this is not about recipes, but about ideas you can use to gently support your child to take a step in a new direction.
If we have a child that is uncomfortable around food, banging down a new food on the plate is rarely going to produce great results. It is about gently introducing things, building a comfort level, and helping them to believe that they can eat something new comfortably.
Often the process takes time and requires enormous patience on our behalf but it really can support even the most selective of eaters to make progress. Starting when we start to see things going awry (or straight away if they’ve never been a good eater) helps.
The concepts I am posting are things that I know will work. Not all will be a fit for every child, but many can be adapted so they are more likely to be accepted. Again, this is not about putting a new food in front of our child and thinking the food choice is the answer.
The approach, combined with the food is the answer.
I was delighted to receive the following message from the mum of a 3, year old, who has been using the posts to help her daughter eat more variety. I’m sure many of you can relate to what she’s saying.
In Mum’s words
Hi, I just wanted to say thanks for all the posts you share on Facebook. My daughter (almost 3) has been so painfully fussy since age 1 and it has caused me SO MUCH stress and anxiety that she wasn’t getting what she needed. With your tips I am starting to turn our dinners into a positive time which has led to her actually trying things other than bread, cheese and peanut butter! We started off doing a once a night pancake week which she loved and I slowly made them healthier over time, the kids loved this. With each meal I don’t try and make her have an adults version of it but instead a kids version. For example tonight we had tacos for the first time. I let her use the tongs to pick out what she wanted and even though it was mostly just cheese and carrot she did eat a little bit of lettuce too and that feels like a massive win from how things have been. I asked her to try some of the vegetarian mince and she did so happily and even though she spat that out I’m so happy I can ask her to try things finally. So thanks for showing me how I can introduce foods to her and just be happy with her sampling as we can continue to build on that.
I felt super alone with reading other fussy eater blogs where my youngest child just would just never eat those things. Your food ideas are much more practical! I am happy for you to share my story I’m really grateful for all the tips!
I’d like to take a moment and respond to some of the things written by mum. Often we learn a lot from what’s happening for other families.
1. I know we are often told not to worry if our child is not eating when they are really young as it’s all about the exploring and learning. To a degree, this is true. But I’m just completing training on feeding babies who struggle to eat comfortably and 10 months is seen as an important cut-off line.
Once our child reaches 10 months they should be able to manage solid foods. If this is not happening then it’s a little alarm ringing. Not a cause for panic, but definitely to take a look at what is happening and why.
If we have a child who is over 12 months and food is a real challenge already, it is often not just going to magically come good.
However, as a parent we can do so many things to support our child, whether 12 months or 12 years to eat more widely. Using very similar base strategies for all ages we can gradually build comfort and start to change the way they approach food and feeding.
2. Parents often feel a lot of stress and anxiety around what their child does and doesn’t eat.
Although perfectly normal, the worry can really affect our child’s eating. As their most important relationship, what we convey to them can be either helpful or unhelpful.
If we’re introducing stress at the meal table, it can often inadvertently make our child feel nervous around food too. If they already have an inbuilt discomfort in regard to eating, this can be magnified.
3. A positive eating environment can make a huge difference. The more relaxed we are, the more likely we are to eat.
Plus, if mealtimes are fun and we look forward to them, it’s going to be far more likely that we’ll eat!
Go mum for having pancake dinners. What a great way to introduce some fun.
4. Mum intuitively did so many great things. Letting her daughter have some choice and some autonomy, for example. Having control within boundaries can change the feeding dynamic.
5. Mum is so right, eating a tiny piece of lettuce was huge. It’s not about the volume, it’s about willingly trying something new. Every time this happens it’s a big win. Volume often comes with time and confidence.
6. Eating the vegetarian mince – even though it was spat out – is again huge. Putting anything into the mouth is a big step forward. Also, new foods will often not be a win right from the start, so I expect a LOT of ‘no’s’ to start with.
7. Having a picky eater can be quite isolating. It can also be disempowering if we feel that everyone else’s child can eat these “fussy eater recipes” and ours can’t.
I’m here to tell you that 99% of the children in the families I work with couldn’t eat them either! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If you haven’t checked out the food concepts on FB please do have a look: https://www.facebook.com/theconfidenteater
If you have friends or relatives with picky eaters please invite them to join in.
If you feel that even those recipes are not working for you, it’s probably time to get some additional support. I’m happy to speak to any parent who’d like to know whether what we do is a fit for their family. Or, to give you an opinion as to where you’re up to with food and feeding: https://theconfidenteater.com/contact/
Judith is an AOTA accredited picky eating advisor and internationally certified nutritional therapist. She works with 100+ families every year resolving fussy eating and returning pleasure and joy to the meal table.
She is also mum to two boys and the author of Creating Confident Eaters and Winner Winner I Eat Dinner. Her dream is that every child is able to approach food from a place of safety and joy, not fear.
Learn more about Judith here: https://theconfidenteater.com/about/