What is it with kids and food? When they’re tiny, they’re little milk monsters, barely going a few hours without wanting more. Then they start to wean and everything’s fair game. Turn your back for a split second and they’ll swipe that olive from your plate. Then something happens and they become fussy. Why?
With Bunny we did a little bit of baby-led weaning, but did feed her baby rice and some jar food and pureed bits I’d prepared for her. But I enjoyed letting her play with the texture of food and exploring the tastes. Unfortunately, I also believed the idea that if she ate more, she’d sleep better, so desperately tried to feed her lots of food (bananas were always a good bet, if messy!) in the vain hope she would sleep through the night. She didn’t. And now I know better, thankfully.
As a weaning baby, she ate anything and enjoyed everything. I was one of those mothers with good intentions who vowed to avoid giving her sweets or sugary items for as long as possible. Unfortunately, she quickly cottoned onto the fact that the cake I was eating, or chocolate bar I was munching were probably quite tasty and made sure I shared them with her. We managed to avoid any drinks other than water until she was old enough to share her own drinks with friends and then discovered squash and fruit juice. Suddenly, water and milk were no longer good enough. Then came the refusal to eat savoury items if there was any hint of sweet food within the vicinity.
Nowadays, I can reason with her and she will, usually, eventually, eat her breakfast/lunch/dinner. It’ll take over half an hour and she drives us mad with her procrastination chatter. But, she does pretty much eat most of it, until she claims that she’s full up. Then she’ll stuff her pudding down in seconds and ask for more, claiming she’s still hungry. Strangely, if I suggest she finish her dinner, she suddenly isn’t though…!
Now, with Bear, we were more enlightened in our approach, taking the adage “Food for fun, until they’re one” as our mantra whenever it seemed as though she wasn’t eating much. She didn’t have anything pureed and no baby rice passed her lips. We waited until she was sitting by herself and was showing an interest in food before offering her tasters from our plates. And she loved it, most of the time (although, not melon)!
However, as she gets closer to two, I’m seeing more of that stubbornness appear at meal times. Breakfast is a battle unless she’s sat on my lap, eating with my spoon from my bowl. If she’s asleep at lunchtime, she’ll not bother with lunch until much later in the afternoon, but mostly dinnertime is ok. Unless there’s something sweet around! On the rare occasion that Bunny eats her dinner quickly, she has to sit patiently waiting until Bear has finished before she can have dessert. And god forbid we mention yoghurt, banana or anything else before Bear’s finished or she’ll throw her plate across the room and repeat it until we give it to her.
I have discovered that quite often she will go back to any leftovers (hers or her sister’s) after pudding and finish them off too, so at least she knows if she’s had enough or not, although I’m sure this won’t last much longer.
I really don’t want to make food a battle or an issue with either of the girls, but it is always such a struggle to get them just to eat the healthy food over the sweet things. I’m trying to make sure there are always little healthy snacks available for them to pick on during the day if they want something, to try and move away from their need to snack on rubbish. Yet I continue to worry that they might not be getting enough of the good stuff and may become fussy.
We all eat together for breakfast and dinner (and lunch at the weekend) and all have exactly the same food so that the girls are exposed to lots of different tastes and flavours. For an easy life, I could give them fishfingers and chips or similar every night and they would eat them without question. But I want them to have non-processed food as much as possible so will continue to fight them. But for how long? When will dinner time be a pleasant experience without all of the current stress? Or is it about to get worse as Bear gets older and more verbal and Bunny starts school properly and peer pressure takes its wicked hold?! I would love to go out for a meal and actually enjoy it! Am I alone here?