Why won’t they just eat their food?

It seems that all day, every day, Bunny tells me she’s hungry.  She’ll often have three bowls of cereal in the morning, finishing the first to announce “I’m still hungry!”.  She’ll have a snack at nursery and then a sandwich at lunchtime (she usually only manages three quarters and tends to leave the crusts too).  Then, all afternoon long, she’ll whine that she’s still hungry.  We usually have a slice of cake or a couple of biscuits mid-afternoon, but this is never enough to stop the whining, so she’ll also have a couple of crackers and peanut butter.  We have dinner around 5pm most days, so at most, it’s a couple of hours that she doesn’t have anything to eat, if that.

Child eating

She may be smiling, but probably isn’t eating

Once dinner is made and we’re sat at the table, she’ll happily proclaim how much she loves me and how much she loves the dinner I’ve made for her.  And then she’ll pick at it, sing, count the stickers on the worktop, question what is being said on the radio, play games with her sister, regale stories from her day, or make stories up, sometimes, she’ll even kneel on her chair and dance.  Anything, but eating.  It’s a rare night that she’ll just sit and eat her dinner without fuss.  Sometimes, she claims that she doesn’t actually like it (although I know she does), other times, she’ll ask for us to help her eat it (in other words, feed her like a baby).  But every time, almost without fail, it’s a battle to get her to just sit and eat her food.  She takes FOR-EVVVEEEERRRRRR!

I just don’t get it.  She whines that she’s hungry, so I rush and make dinner as early as possible, yet then she picks at it like she’s full up.  Well, actually, I do get it.  She’s at that age where she wants to control what she eats and would much rather be eating junk than anything healthy.  The irony of her wolfing down her oven chips and fishfingers isn’t lost on me.  And I wonder why I bother to make pizza from scratch, or spend hours simmering homemade curry and pasta sauces on the hob to ensure the flavours have had the best chance to infuse, when I know I’m going to have to spend the entire meal begging her just to eat some of it.

Toddler eating

The days before she had her own mind!

I will not give in though.  We do not want to spend our money on processed, shop-bought foods.  I chose not to work so that I would have time to prepare decent, homemade meals for my family in which I know exactly what has gone into each meal and don’t have to worry that I’m inadvertently feeding the girls horsemeat!  And don’t get me wrong, there are some successes.  I made a butter chicken curry from a recipe I found on the Jamie Oliver forum the other night and both girls polished it off in no time, even asking for more!  But I still find it so frustrating and disheartening, when I’ve spent time making a meal from nothing to watch it being pushed round the plate by ungrateful children!  Well, Bear usually just throws her’s across the room – she’ll start with her water, followed by her fork, then will tip her bowl upside down and gradually ensure that any food she “discovers” on the table, makes it onto the floor too.  Very rarely her mouth.  And then she spends the entire night nursing.  Forgive me if I want to scream!

Parents of older children, please reassure me that it gets better before I run to the local supermarket and stock up on shaped breaded chicken and potato type foods!

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