In our house the most stressful time of the day is tea time. This is for several reasons: James has decided that around that time he is unable to play by himself for more than about 5 minutes and then wants me to watch him watch TV, which makes cooking difficult with a toddler tantruming and trying to pull me in the direction he wants me. Then when tea is finally ready we wait in nervous anticipation to see if he will actually eat anything or if we will be throwing away yet another perfectly good meal. As I am cooking the tea I can feel myself getting more and more worked up about getting it made and then whether James will actually eat it. It’s hard work!
For anyone that watches our Instagram or Facebook stories you will know that James has started to refuse some of what were his favourite foods, making him into even more of a fussy eater. The last couple of weeks have been a real battle with what he eats for tea. Breakfast and lunch he seems to still be happy with his usual safe foods, but what he has for tea has been a real struggle. On some days he has completely refused to eat any of it and on other days he will just pick at it. I don’t like James going to bed hungry so if he absolutely refuses any of it we will make him some peanut butter on toast. Even when we have given him toast he has also been suspicious of that and it has often taken a while before he starts to eat it. I’m thinking he is suspicious of it because it is what he normally eats for lunch and he isn’t used to having it for his tea.
His safe foods for his tea were mashed potato (where I was able to hide sweet potato and carrots in it), baked beans or spaghetti hoops and then some sort of breaded fish or chicken. He was getting a combination of these foods, and they might sound boring, but that is all he would eat. We decided that we would just give him the foods he liked and hoped that as he got older and started speaking and understanding more we would be able to tempt him in to trying new foods. It meant tea times were less stressful because we knew he would eat what he was being given and we didn’t have the stress of trying to get him to try anything new. On occasions if there was any food on his plate that he didn’t recognise he would refuse to eat any of it.
In the last couple of weeks James has gone through phases of only eating spaghetti hoops or baked beans and then to only eating the breaded chicken or fish. One day we decided to give him beans on toast but he would only eat the toast if it hadn’t touched the beans. I have come to the conclusion that he prefers to eat finger food so he can feed himself and be more in control of what he is eating. Yes I do have a two year old that won’t feed himself using cutlery, but at the moment that is the least of our concerns.
As he is only eating the breaded chicken or fish we are not getting the opportunity to get any vegetables into him. We have decided that the best thing we can do is give him breaded chicken or fish and then give him a couple of new options to potentially try. I frequently read that children need to be exposed to different foods numerous times before they will try them so this is what we plan to do. I would love for my child to eat fruit and vegetables but he has always refused to even put them in his mouth, and I do find it worrying that he isn’t getting all the nutrients he needs, so we do give him vitamins. We are going to try and keep positive though and be grateful that he eats something.
We will be celebrating any small successes and the first success we had was that James still ate his chicken, even though there were other foods on his plate that were unfamiliar. There was a time when he would have refused the lot. Every night I will put James’ food in front of him, tell him what everything is and then leave it up to him as to whether he wants to eat any of it. I don’t want to start pressuring him, I want him to feel relaxed about eating, and for us to remain calm. On the second night of this new regime before he even touched the chicken he ate pitta bread. This is a new food. I thought he would like it as he likes bread, but when we have offered it to him before he has refused it. On the third night he tried garlic and coriander naan bread. It’s still bread but it is a new food and he hasn’t tasted coriander before. He still refused the vegetables on his plate but he did try something new which is small progress. I will continue to document his food journey and the new foods we are exposing him to on Instagram and Facebook stories if you want to see how it is going.