Austin has turned a corner with eating lately. Turned a corner and driven himself straight off the ruddy well-behaved-good-eating-cliff. What a NIGHTMARE!
I have always spoon fed Austin, only giving him bits to eat with his hands that are ‘supposed’ to be eaten by hand – toast, bread sticks, snacks etc. All of a sudden a month or so ago he’s been refusing the spoon and I mean full-blown tantrum, pulling his own eyes out of his skull refusal. I never wanted to go down the full baby led weaning route – spag bol up my walls and all that, but it suddenly seemed as though I might have no choice! Noooo!
I somehow got myself in the mess over the last month or two of feeding him beige until he’d refuse anything that wasn’t beige. Brilliant, top marks Hannah. As an ex-nanny, and a seriously tough one at that, how did I get into this with my own baby?! I was on the highest horse as a nanny it seems, swore blind I wouldn’t do half the things I’m now doing. It’s true though what people say, it’s totally different when it’s your own child! I’m still sticking to the majority of what I preached when nannying, I’m no mug! But the odd few things have slipped the net due to the higher emotions that come with being a parent vs being someone who is hired to do the right thing.
I realised after a week or two of Austin’s beige addiction that he’d become ridiculously fussy – wouldn’t touch a vegetable (unless it came straight from an Ella’s pouch – no real pieces mother thank you very much). He will eat pieces of real fruit and berries until the cows come home, other puddings and also anything that is beige. You know, bread, cheese, crisps, bread sticks, rice cakes, cocktail sausages, mini scotch eggs. Utter crap! It didn’t take me long to give myself a proverbial slap in the face and sort myself out – why was I letting him run rings around me? Enough was enough.
I’m a fan of the old ‘tough love’ so I went straight in for it the next day. Porridge and fruit for breakfast, then an omelette with some pieces of steamed broccoli, carrots and peas for lunch. Breakfast was fine as usual but he ate no lunch, just screamed at me in disgust. To be fair I expected it. He did the same with dinner too – would you believe I’d had the audacity to serve him up some grilled chicken, a roast potato and parsnips. Basically a roast dinner. What’s this boy’s problem!?
He drunk a huge bottle of milk that night, surprise surprise and the same as soon as he woke the next day. He was so hungry but that’s what I needed him to be if he was ever going to give in. Lunchtime on day two, I’m calling a success – he held and licked a green bean! A GREEN BEAN! He also ate a few mouthfuls of the tuna bagel I’d made too. It slow, but its huge progress. Eggs and fish are things that have previously made his skin crawl, so it seemed.
I decide to carry on and only serve him fresh, real food from now on at least until he’d stopped his stubborn streak. He needs to learn that fish fingers and chicken nuggets are not going to be served up every day – sorry about that mate! I popped to the shop and picked up things I’d never fed him before, all different kinds of vegetables to steam or roast. His plate looks so much more healthy – he still refuses a lot but he will eventually learn that he will always be served up a plate of brightly coloured food and he has to get used to that.
You see as horrible as it is to see them cry and starve themselves (they will definitely not actually starve themselves), the only way of getting kids out of the “he’ll only eat chicken nuggets and chips” problem a lot of parent’s face is to stop flippin’ serving it!! Kids will only eat that because it’s being offered. If the problem foods are removed from their world, they will need to learn to enjoy others – simple as that. Here’s some of what we tried in the first week of change:
My saviour has been crackers. He absolutely loves them so I’ve found even if he’s refusing his main foods – fish, eggs, meat etc I can always create a way to stick it on a cracker. I’ve become one of those bloody Annabel Karmel mums I used to laugh at – hiding 48 vegetables in a tomato sauce on pasta FFS. I’ve topped crackers with fish paste (vom), mashed boiled eggs up into a paste with a some garlic mayo and herbs, avocado (his new favourite, I can’t believe it!) And lots more lately. Anyway, this is only a stop-gap to get him back to enjoying different flavours again. I’ll stop mashing and hiding soon enough and he’ll just have to get used to what he is served!
I don’t imagine it’ll be easy as he really has become a fussy so and so. There will be times when we’re out for a meal and I’ll order him chicken goujons and chips, or he’ll eat some of my fish fingers or whatever and that’s fine, I’m not some organic super mum and I won’t pretend to be. But at his meal times day-to-day unless he is poorly, we’re in a serious rush or for a treat, he’ll get proper food with fruit and veg. He can cry and refuse all he likes, I certainly won’t be giving him another option. In the mean time though I’ve been giving him a large pouch of Ella’s vegetables mid-morning just to make sure while he’s refusing most veggies, he’s still getting what he needs each day. I’ll phase those out at some point, but one thing at a time, eh?!
I don’t even need to ask how many of you have been through this before or are going through it right now – I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about!
This is just my way though, I think it’s up to each mum to decide how to approach the situation and good luck to any of you that tries! I have gone from the best eater (by spoon) in the world to the absolute worst, but it’s not going to become a big deal for me. He’s not going to starve himself after all. I’ll be sure to update you all soon – wish us luck!