Some of you may follow me on Instagram and will have heard my latest ‘mummy struggle’ is Ruby’s fussy eating. Things came to an all time low one day last week when the only food my two year old would eat was breadcrumbs from the top of fish fingers and bleepin’ cheese strings.
When I started Ruby’s weaning journey I was obsessive to say the least. Ruby was only given home made baby food, absolutely no pouches or jars. I don’t regret this whatsoever, I am proud she was given the best food possible at this stage of her life because she’s certainly not getting any of that goodness now. I do however regret fooling myself into thinking that by making everything from scratch and introducing my daughter to a wide range of textures and flavours that she would somehow skip the fussy toddler stage. If we ever are blessed with another child I will definitely be baby led weaning again along with some homemade purées, but I will be going in with my eyes open, expecting food refusal to be around the corner ready to hit at any given moment.
I said I would put a little blog post together because the response to my insta stories was phenomenal, WE ARE NOT ALONE! Lots of fellow toddler mamas asked if I would share the advice, so I thought I would put it in writing for my own reference purposes. I won’t mention any names because I’m not sure if these ladies would like to be quoted, also many of you guys made similar points so I will try my best give an overview.
A lot of us feel frustration when food is being thrown on the floor or ignored on the plate, we are only human – we have gone to the effort of making a meal for our favourite little human and it has been (sometimes quite literally) thrown back in our face. One lady made a point which really hit home with me, “you cannot control what your child eats – only what you give them”. This same lady pointed out that when a toddler recognises their parent is getting upset or frustrated, it gives them power, which at this early stage of their lives they don’t get very often. A child will never let themselves starve, at mealtimes they may refuse to eat, that is fine, they will make up for it at the next meal, or when they are good and ready.
A few people mentioned about the importance of eating together as a family, unfortunately for us this is impossible mid week. Neill and I usually end up eating after 8pm due to his long working hours. At weekends we always eat as a family and I do tend to find Ruby is more inclined to eat more on those days. At this stage in her development she is a little parrot and copies everything we do – unfortunately she won’t copy us in the vegetable eating department.
Snacking has been a massive problem in our house. Up until I reached out to Instagram I have been offering too many snacks (yoghurt, cheese, crackers, fruit and obviously the odd packet of quavers) between meals. I convinced myself Ruby needed these as she was ‘having a growth spurt’ or ‘a really hungry day’, but that same ‘hungry day’ she would refuse meals. I have learned I need to limit snacks, this particular battle I must win or there is no chance of meal times being stress free. It’s too easy to give in to constant “mmm yummys mmm yummys”, I have been strong this week and responded with “yes Ruby, it’s almost lunchtime – we will have yummys soon”, rather than “ok, what would you like”.
Another tweak I have made, and possibly the most effective has been bringing back the highchair. We said goodbye to our trusty highchair about six months ago when we purchased Ruby her own little table and chairs. I hadn’t made the connection between the bad eating habits and this change until I took a step back from the situation and thought about it rationally. I believe the freedom of eating at the table was distracting Ruby from her food as the first meal back in her highchair was demolished! Obviously every child is different, but for us this has made a huge difference.
There was a clear message from mums who have come out the other side of this particularly dark, soul destroying tunnel – it is only for a season, you will get through this. Like any stage in a child’s development (I’m thinking newborn cluster feeds here), when you are in the moment, it feels like this will be your life forever – but this too will pass. Most mummies are saying that by the age of 3.5/4 (only another two years to go then) they have their little fussy eaters back on the straight and narrow. For now, I have accepted that Ruby won’t be sitting down to a plate of meat and two veg. This acceptance has brought me a sense of peace, for now I will continue to offer healthy choices and where we get a victory it will be celebrated. I have introduced a daily dose of vivioptal, it is a comfort to know that even if Ruby has eaten very little in a day, she is still getting all of her vitamins and minerals. Obviously it has to be added to juice to mask the flavour *rolls eyes*.
I hope this post has been helpful for some of you, writing it has certainly been therapeutic for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, drop me a comment or email if you’d like to share!