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Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 13:26
by Dulcie
Hi All,

Perhaps this is totally normal but here's our story...

We've done BLW right from the start with our little fella. I spent a lot of time researching and think we did it right?! He's now 22 months and has always been a ridiculously fussy eater, to the point where he often takes one look at a meal i've made and refuses to even taste it. The exceptions to this rule are fairly few. Spag bol, fish and chips (never cook them at home so only special treat when out sometimes) fish fingers, beans and most things on toast, porridge. He will eat meat too but not if it's in sauce. He loves fruit.

He won't eat a single vegetable however or anything anonymous and sloppy like pies, stew or mash so opportunities for hiding veg are slim. He'll only entertain tomato based sauces and won't even taste any other sauce.

In short, his diet has become very limited and if it's supper time I often cave if he refuses his meal and offer him something I know he'll eat i.e beans on toast just to get food into him so I know we won't wake hungry in the night.

Any suggestions for broadening his diet or should I just wait until he decides to broaden it himself? Problem is, if he won't even taste things how does he know he won't like them?

Should I stop offering alternative options if he refuses to even try a meal? Is it ok for him to skip meals altogether in these cases? I don't want to have him skip lunch only get halfway through the afternoon and have to fill up on breadsticks or something while we're out. Nothing wrong with breadsticks I know but mostly empty calories. Once he's decided to refuse a meal, nothing will induce him to give it a second try later in the day so no point taking it with us as a pack up and he won't eat sandwiches.

Argg! Any suggestions or advice? When do we get to this elusive "he's a fab eater due to baby led weaning" stage I've read so much about?!

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 14:19
by mamapup
Um, apart from the fact that the puppy is four months younger, I could have written this, almost verbatim.

We have a child who front loads on breakfast. In the week if I'm not working I normally make.him one meal I know he'll eat and one he may not. At the weekend the same. At nursery he seems to eat anything but for us he will rarely touch a vegetable.

Nothing but reassurance that you're not alone. I think it's fairly normal. I try not to stress if he doesn't eat, I sort of see it as his problem. If he doesn't eat lunch I will bring supper forward but not offer lots of snacks. If supper is ignored and he says he's hungry just before bed I offer supper again or if he's very lucky, a banana. We were letting him snack until recently but now we don't at all unless he's.ill. It's really helped the meal time eating. I think snacks work if your.child likes eating but if they're not interested in food then snacks are a hindrance.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 14:30
by Dulcie
Thanks, I like the idea of one meal he'll eat and one he might not. He's just stuffed his face with eggs on toast for lunch (a fave) so you've encouraged me to go ahead and make the chicken leek and stilton mash potato pie I really want to make us all for supper. It's guaranteed to look like mush so debatable whether he'll even try it but surely it's best to just keep offering a variety so I will go for it. I've always done snacks as I read that toddlers need them but our good friend with a little boy the same age never lets him snack and he eats well at mealtimes. Perhaps it's worth a try!

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 15:41
by mamapup
We also always did snacks but have a very good friend who doesn't let her son snack (are we sure you're not me four months down the line?) and he eats much better. We waited until we felt the puppy could manage / understand the no snacking rule, which came about a month ago and we have really seen a change in habits. Still not brilliant but things we never expected him to get tried at least.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 17:34
by Dulcie
Ha, lets hope I'm not your future self or you'll be terribly disappointed when you get here and find that the eating hasn't improved and your child has an addiction to fish fingers chips and beans!! Think i'll try the snack-free approach, sounds worth a go!

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 18:22
by Dulcie
As predicted, jumping up and down in anticipation of dinner, then massive meltdown at the sight of yummy chicken pie. Clearly it doesn't look enough like fish fingers. Sigh.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 18:39
by mamapup
Well, we offered the puppy: hallumi, sharon fruit, croissant and amazing beetroot/mushroom rolls Mr.C made (as I said, a snacky supper if he eats lunch). All of those barring Mr.C's bread are firm favourites. He ate a sum total of nothing but weetabix! We offered weetabix because he's ill so we wanted him to have something. Grrrr.

(our fishfinger is the sausage, sigh.)

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 19:00
by Dulcie
Same boat, Little man's been ill for a week now so as usual I felt guilty, caved and offered all his fave snacks... apricots, melon, breadsticks, anything he wanted etc. resulting in a 20min tantrum in highchair, more tantrums on sofa then asleep an hour early before I even got his jammies on him. Guess maybe he's still ill then, will have to wait a little longer before trying to sort out his diet!

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 21:14
by Lily
Just to offer some suggestions (which you've probably tried already - apologies if so), my LO isn't too fussy but he won't eat large pieces of meat or fish, and has quite a narrow repertoire of veg, but things he likes include:

Tomato pasta sauce with finely chopped onion, garlic, and/or grated carrots mixed in
Drop scones with pretty much any kind of diced veg in them
Egg fried rice with peas and/or sweetcorn
Macaroni cheese ditto
Spinach and ricotta croquettes (my recipe is on here somewhere)
Tortellini or ravioli - he loves these so much that he doesn't care what the filling is

Sadly BLW doesn't guarantee a non-fussy child, but hopefully it helps you trust them, relax and let them take things at their own pace.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 21:46
by catkin
Our approach is to try to make sure meals are varied, but not offer alternatives. So if the meal is broccoli and spag bol followed by fruit, they could eat any or all or none of those as they like. Same approach with snacks. Yes, I expect if he doesn't eat lunch he will want a snack, but as long as the snacks are varied and healthy too does that matter? If mine don't eat tea or are hungry after tea, very dull bedtime snacks are offered - usually rice cake and milk. I figure they'll only eat that if they're actually hungry rather than angling for favourites.
Would it matter if he had porridge and fruit for breakfast every day then you'd know he had some nutrients in him? We all choose our own breakfasts here anyway.
Have you tried getting him involved with food prep? Something about sneaking bits of veg at the chopping stage seems to generate massive enthusiasm in my two.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 22:23
by Dulcie
Thanks you two,

Sadly just the sight of veg, raw or cooked gets him in a huff. Not sure why as we've never forced the issue and always eat veg in front of him but just the sight/discovery of a single piece of veg mixed in with his food and he'll instantly refuse the whole dish, often followed by inconsolable tantrums that his meal has been contaminated. If I leave the veg in plain sight on the side of his plate he'll usually pick out the other things he fancies off the plate but will always leave the veg untouched. It makes no difference what type/colour/how it's cooked, he has never ever eaten a piece of veg knowingly...and believe me i've tried every type of veg under the sun, cooked in every different way! Often the first thing he does on receiving his meal is to send the veg overboard before getting on with his dinner.This has been the case since we first started BLW at 6 months. He eats lots of fruit so I'm not too worried about the veg (so I tell myself anyway!) but the narrowness of his diet in general and the fact that he'll rarely eat what we do does get me down sometimes. I feel like it's getting narrower all the time. Once he would eat any potatoes, boiled, mashed, baked etc, but now he'll only eat them if I make fake chips (chop steamed pots into chip shapes and grill them) no oil so not unhealthy but just a hassle that he won't eat the same potatoes we're having. He used to like more. And sweet more. So as far as carbs go, we're pretty much down to pasta and chip-shaped potatoes and toast. Oh and it has to be spaghetti, no other shape of pasta. :scream ...and so it goes on... have I brought this on myself somehow? I got the impression from the BLW books I read that we should be easy and relaxed about food and just let them eat what they fancy, but now I'm starting to wonder if i've created a mealtime tyrant in the process?! Afraid to let him go without food if he refuses my lovingly prepared meal though, it just goes against the grain to let him go hungry so always end up offering loads of stuff until he finally eats something or wants to get down. Have I taken a wrong turn somewhere down the line?

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 22:45
by catkin
You sound (naturally) very worried, and perhaps this is coming across to him and making him feel under pressure at mealtimes? Sometimes the less attention you pay to them the more likely they are to try things!
I do think if you keep offering alternatives till he gets what he wants then there's not much incentive for him to try things. Not saying at all that you are to blame for the way your child eats, but it sounds like you've maybe got into a bit of a negative spiral about it?
Perhaps you'd find it easier if you knew there was something he liked for dessert (fruit say), then you could just give him a very small amount of whatever the main course was on his plate "to try" and leave him to it.
Or someone here had a cheese sandwich solution - children were offered a choice of cheese sandwich (cheese on toast in your case?) or the actual meal, eventually they got bored of cheese sandwiches and ate the meal.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 06 Dec 2013, 23:07
by UnhappyRightFoot
Mother of another picky eater here! *waves*

Munchie is 3.5 and is only just starting to try things - very occasionally, if the wind is in the right direction and there is a U in the day of the week etc etc!

Here is what I have tried (with very limited success but hey, all babies are different......)

Encouraging them to cook with you - if you have a bar stool or something they can sit up at the K counter with you and help prep.
Books - Dr Seuss Green Eggs and Ham and Usborne do a few flappy books about how the body works (and therefore, why food is important and what happens to it - may be a bit of a stretch for a 22 month old but you can start sewing the seeds...)
Put the food down and leave them to it. Make meal times light hearted, no pressure etc etc
Put tiny amounts on her plate and can add more if required
Begging, pleading, bribing etc etc etc

We generally don't snack - she's never "needed" them but at pre-school, they do snack and she's been asking more. Fruit, rice cakes etc all fine.

I think if they eat 2 meals well, then I don't worry about the 3rd! It can be a struggle to get her to eat breakfast, because she's sooooooo ssssllllloooooowwwwwwww, lunch is always something I know she'll eat, so supper is what I decide. However, following a recent "Please help" thread, I'm switching tacktick to always serving her what she wants - PASTA. So either she'll get fed up with it or we'll be eating it at her wedding! This is only when it's something I don't think she'll eat. If she won't eat, it's fruit or yoghurt. I don't cook anything specially for her after serving. Even if she decides she doesn't want sausages, which she happily ate last week!

As her staple is tomato based pasta sauces, I do add grated carrots and corgettes to hers. Like yours, she'll eat lots of fruit but, apart from cucumbers, no actual physical vegetable that is identifyable as such!!! Oh, and of course baked beans by the can load! Carbs are pasta or bread. Won't eat potatoes apart from a coaxed chip and the odd grain of rice.

It is so hard, isolating, miserable at times. There are days where I absolutely hate meal times (not helped by a food throwing 16 month old!) but I find when I can relax and keep things light it is better, and Munchie also responds better.

I did read somewhere that from the age of around 3, they start to become more adventurous - something to do with harking back to us being cavemen. And Munchie has tried a few more things and extended her range to include crispy aromatic duck with pancakes and cucumber (no sauce!) and chinese spare ribs. Not ideal due to clear salt content but hey, anything is a bonus!!! She also sat at the breakfast bar last week and eat handfuls of frozen peas (WTF??? She's NEVER eaten a pea!)

I don't have the answers, but I do know that you can't MAKE them eat. You haven't taken a wrong turn at all. BLW does not guarantee good, varied eaters. Some just aren't going to do it, for whatever reason. It's how you handle it - from the atmosphere at mealtimes to ensuring the food they do eat is as healthy as it possibly can be. Have you read "Meals without tears"? It's not a magic wand but does offer suggestions and reminders of how not to make it worse! Oh, and I KKNOW it's easy sitting here, with babies sleeping happily, with a new regime to say all this, but I have been there, cried, argued, got pissed off etc etc etc. It is really hard and really frustrating - but you aren't the only one!!!

x posted - agree that you could try limiting alternatives. DH thinks we shouldn't allow fruit or yoghurt if a meal is untouched because she might be holding out for what she wants - something your LO may also be doing. However, I'm not happy with her eating nothing at all - a yoghurt is, at least, something in her tummy!

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 07 Dec 2013, 12:19
by Dulcie
Thanks Jinglystars,

That's really helpful! I'm pretty certain that he'd actually like most of the things I cook if he'd just try them but you're right, you can't make them eat so it's more about just getting a good variety into them over the course of the week.

I like the idea of getting him cooking with me, I did try it a couple of months back with disastrous tantrum results when he wanted all the things he can't have...the sharp knife, not his kiddy knife etc... ending in him nearly falling off the chair whilst having a meltdown but his understanding and communication skills are better now so maybe i'll try it again. His xmas present this year is a lovely little play kitchen which I plan to put in the kitchen near where I cook so hopefully that might help his attitude towards food too.

He also eats great when he's at the table with other kids. He goes to a friend's who has a house full, one day a week for childminding while I work and always has 3 or 4 helpings there and nicks anything the others don't eat fast enough! Either her cooking's better than mine or it's the bubbly atmosphere of eating with 4 other kids. I think the latter. We have baby no. 2 on the way so hoping next year when she's old enough to wean, he might enjoy the "small person" company at the table. I do always eat breakfast and lunch at the table with him and we have the same thing (i.e. I eat whatever i'm making for him, not the other way round!) but I tend to cook our supper while he's occupied eating his and Daddy leaves for work at 4 or 5am and doesn't get home til 7pm earliest so there's no chance of family meals except on Saturdays, Daddy's one precious afternoon off. I do try to keep mealtimes lighthearted though and never force the issue if he doesn't want to eat.

Re: Very fussy 22 mo, despite doing BLW from the start.

PostPosted: 07 Dec 2013, 22:20
by mamapup
Um, dulcie,.you are me a few months down the line. Also got a girl baby on the way! When you due?