Why it DOESN'T MATTER if your toddler refuses to eat

TalkMum blogger Eleanor from The Bristol Parent says we should all be a bit more honest about how tricky it can be to get babies and toddlers to eat a balanced diet...

Can you imagine going out with your partner for something to eat and this happening:

They order four things from the menu, including something that’s not on the menu

They demand to eat the food they choose from a martini glass with a spatula

They push half chewed mouthfuls of their food into your mouth with a loveable grin

They only put anything in their mouth when nobody, including strangers, is looking at them

They demand to leave the table twelve times and then scream in a heap under their chair when they do

They leave without paying

And yet, you still love them. And take them out again the next week. And everybody else’s partner is so much better at it than yours.

Yet another weird thing about the love and patience you develop for your children – you put up with this jazz. You despair of it, but you also laugh at it, photograph it, and have lots of conversations about it.

Even those with their kid sat there, gnawing on baby-led broccoli he chose himself in Whole Foods, will see most of these things in the next five years.

Getting food in your child’s mouth and getting it to stay there is THE common thing that keeps the mum-minds moving from the moment they whoosh out of their chosen trap door. Think about it. When did you last NOT think about what your kid had eaten today?

Never mind our musings about what’s happening to it after food is eaten, and wondering when its going to come out. And how. And at what velocity. And where.

What’s my point? What I’m trying to say is that, amongst my friends, anyway, the vast majority of toddlers (especially) have odd, dismaying, predominantly one food-group heavy preferences on food. Yes there are kids that will try everything, but that doesn’t mean they eat everything all the time. Just like I don’t admit to eating half a pack of biscuits whilst working, most of us don’t tell the truth about what our kids actually do eat, for fear of looking like a bad parent. But I’ll tell you a secret – here’s what my 23 month old ate on Sunday:

  • Half a crumpet
  • Two packets of raisins
  • Some cheese and herb puffs (you might know these well)
  • A Yorkshire Pudding with gravy and cheese sauce
  • Two breadsticks

Not telling the truth is daft really, because we’re all in the same boat – the SS Fill Your Kid Up At All Costs. You may remember your first journey on that boat – it was the post-partum midwife ‘you need to get more food into him’ visit. You’ve bought a season ticket, inadvertently – so try to relax and enjoy the ride.

Easier said than done when you’re incredulous at the fact they have only eaten a bowl of cornflakes and a fruit pouch all day. Or that they have thrown all their food on the dog’s head (this happened to me this morning. He loved it. I didn’t). Keep your cool and take as much peer advice as you can. We’re all on that stupid boat!

However, if your child has reactions to food groups, or isn’t drinking enough water or liquid in general, or cannot swallow or chew properly, this is always a good time to see the doctor.

Read blogger Rachel's tips on dealing with a fussy eater and our top weaning products.

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