Fussy Food: It's a Phase (!)
Friday, November 30, 2012
"He used to eat everything I put in front of him but then suddenly has stopped"
We hear this a lot from parents and the most common reply we overhear is:
"It's a phase".
Well, yes it probably is a phase. But how you manage this phase is vital to how your child is eating at the end of it. Parent through the phase and you will have a versatile eater, indulge the phase and you will have a fussy eater. Let’s look at why this phase occurs and what you can do about it.
We all want some control in our lives and children are no different. Meal times occur at least three times a day so it’s easy to see why they are more likely to occur then.
Tip: Give your child a small amount of control at mealtimes. You make the big decision (“With your lasagne, would you like peas or sweetcorn?”) they make the small decision (“peas please”). This small opportunity to make a decision is giving your child some control over what will appear on their plate.
Tip: Give your child control in other parts of their life. Your child needs to get used to A-B decisions so look for every opportunity to do this. We often hear mums asking “Would you like to get in the left or right side of the car?” or “Shall we drink from your red cup or your blue cup?”. These small opportunities for control throughout the day will not only ensure your little one is used to making A-B choices but also the positive effect on your parenting.
The good thing about A-B choices is the effect it will have on your parenting. Trust us, when we say if you teach your child that only two choices exist, you will find fewer tantrum situations. So your little one won’t put their coat on. You have two choices: Either you wear your coat and we go to the park or you don’t wear your coat and we stay indoors. You as a parent are happy with either outcome (very important) and your little one is making a decision to which they are accountable. Everyone’s a winner.
Tip: Allow your child to self-feed. Choosing to put the spoon in their mouth is your child being able to exert their control over the situation.
Tip: Have a variety of foods available on the plate. A bowl of risotto or a single omelette is not appealing so instead have an omelette, peas and potato so your child can choose. You could even have half an omelette and slices of omelette, again so your child can choose which to eat.
Your child may really enjoy one food and be asking for it all the time. Using the control technique you can manage your way through this by you deciding how many are available and they choose when they eat it. If your little one has a biscuit habit, make clear there is one biscuit available today and your little one can choose when to eat it. Delayed gratification is not easy at a young age so don’t be surprised if your little one chooses it at breakfast time. That is their decision and they are to live with the consequences and if they are upset later when they can’t have it, comfort and cuddle and explain but don’t offer another biscuit – do so at your peril.
Children thrive on routine and predictability so it’s not surprising that they want the same in their food and ask for the same things over and over again.
Tip: Satsify their craving for routine by applying it in other areas of life. This might be a bath before bed, consistently eating breakfast together, watching 5 minutes of TV after pre-school, reading a book before bed...there are so many ways you can bring routine to your child’s life but it needs to fit in with your family.
We like to set our little ones a good example and encourage sharing. We don't mind you using any of the information, recipes and tips from our website, all we ask is that you credit us hard-working mummies here at Yummy Discoveries.
Thank you x