Fussy Toddlers, totally normal right? Well yes actually it is, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when you are dealing with one. Emilia took to baby led weaning so well, she ate most things and ate well. However a bout of illness and some serious teething left me with a very and I mean very fussy toddler.
There was a time when all Emilia would eat was cornflakes and cheese, all foods she’d previously loved were cast aside. It was a real struggle to know what to serve her. Along with sleep it has been one of the most stressful parts of parenting for me so far. I tried so many things, different plates, different times, sofa picnics, eating with her, leaving her to eat on her own – the list goes on. So after all this there are a few things that have really helped me combat her fussiness. Now don’t get me wrong, she can still act like I’m trying to poison her with a food she loved the day before. But she now eats a lot more, and much more variety. She is also willing to try new foods which is massive for us.
I got to the point where I really didn’t know where to turn, so I turned to google. Every parent’s best friend! After looking around I found The Gentle Eating Book by Sarah Ockwell-Smith book, and as with all her books it was a winner. That and following Charlotte Stirling-Reed on Instagram gave me some great insights into babies and their eating habits, and some ideas with how to combat Emilia’s fussiness.
The Gentle Eating book in particular talks about babies being natural grazers and it’s there that I first read about grazing plates. I was wary at first, Emilia always sat with us for meals at the dinner table I didn’t really want to change that. But I was desperate, so I did a little more research and decided to go for it. I ordered a snack tray online, this is the one we went for here, and it’s working really well. We do sit down as a family for breakfast, and dinner but I don’t worry about what she eats as if she’s not hungry then she has her snack tray out all morning and afternoon. Each time I fill the tray I aim for 2 protein, 2 carbs, 2 fruit and 2 vegetables. And she has access to it all day. When we are in anyway. When we go out I just have a lunchbox full of foods & always offer food to her when the opportunity arises. With her snack plate it’s in an accessible place with her water, all day everyday and she can eat whatever she wants whenever. Emilia stands and studies what she’s got each morning, and whilst she does go for her favourites first a lot of the time, she often picks up something totally new to try it out. It’s honestly worked wonders for us. I trust Emilia that she knows what she needs & often see her eating all the protein one day, then nothing but carbs the next.
One other way this has helped me is by taking the stress out of meal times. And I think this has really helped, mealtimes are no longer a battle. And that’s definitely rubbed off on Emilia. I now don’t really worry about what Emilia eats meal to meal or even day to day but focus on her weekly intake. Her appetite varies dramatically day to day, if she’s teething, ill or even just a bit tired she won’t eat. But the day after it might seem like I can’t fill her. It’s easy to get hung up on one meal but taking that pressure away has helped massively. Food is enjoyable again for all of us. I enjoy baking with Emilia, and getting her involved in the cooking. And this leads to her trying more & being interested in more foods.
Another thing I’d recommend is hiding fruit & veg if they avoid it. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and there is a reason it’s a good idea. Emilia just does not eat veggies, even fruit can be a bit hit & miss. So I try and hide it wherever I can. This was difficult when all she ate was cheese but I found ways. Fruit & veg muffins, hidden veg sauce on pizza, and in pinwheels, Smoothies mixed in with milk on her cornflakes, you name it I’ve tried it. So be prepared to get creative. Whilst I try and make most of Emilia’s food at home I also buy the Ella’s Kitchen frozen range as they have lots of veg hidden, and sometimes we all need something quick and convenient. I still serve Emilia fruit and vegetables in their true form as well though as hopefully she’ll love them again soon.
When we do sit down to eat I try to I make sure we’re eating the same meal. Or at the very least have some of the same elements. Food always seems to look better on your plate! Emilia has tried broccoli, and corn on the cob again recently due to me or Danny eating it.
It can be really difficult with a fussy toddler, I’ve worried so much about Emilia. As with anything baby/toddler related it’s usually just a phase so try your best, ride it out and try not to stress.
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