Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Food for thought

I remember reading somewhere - I think it was in The Bible (otherwise known as Baby Love by Robin Barker) - that after a certain age (18 months, perhaps?) a toddler should "take part in the family meal, eating what the family does."

I think I need to get Robin round to our place at meal times because, can I tell you, at three years of age, my son is NOWHERE near eating what we eat.

So that means making two separate dinners every night. Most frustrating, not to mention time consuming.

In short: I'm over it.

But how do I get him to eat what we do? He won't touch anything remotely like a casserole or soup. Will grudgingly eat a lamb chop - but only on occasion (and frankly it makes my blood boil to pay about two bucks for a teeny bit of meat only to have to throw it in the bin). He will humour us by eating noodles - but not with the kind of veg we like to eat in our noodle dishes. (Only tinned corn and frozen peas, please.)

What to do? I guess one option is for us to give in and eat what he eats (fish fingers and vegies, lebanese bread pizzas, pasta with pesto, corn and broccoli). Not very likely.

Is there a way to expand what he eats? Do I need to get tough?

Ideas, anyone?


Stomper Girl said...

A bit of both. We have some meals like chicken schnitzel with mashed potatoes and raw carrot sticks, or good old spaghetti bolognaise, that we all eat. Then we have the simpler meals for the fusspots, while we indulge in a roast or a stirfry. But most nights we sit down and eat together, and finally, FINALLY, the seven year old is looking with interest across at our plates as he eats his boring pasta with napoli and asking if he can taste ours!

The older your child gets and the more amenable to reason, the more you can insist that he tries stuff. Age three is when their eating shuts down, it's apparently a tribal protective thing so that the curious toddler doesn't wander off and poison themselves on the pretty berries.

Oh and we bribe with icecream after a dinner eaten well. Technically they say not to do that, because of the good food/bad food thing, but it's worked really for us, probably because ours don't get a lot of sweets.

daysgoby said...

Okay. I'm not a nutritionist (I just play one on tv!) (no, not really)
but i can tell you what worked for us.

First, I feel your pain.

You need to decide what's important to you. Is it most important that he eat? That he eats only what you do? That he cleans his plate? That he tries new stuff? and then act accordingly.

For us it was important that we not make two meals, and that he tries new stuff.

We have a two-bite rule, and then they are free to make THEMSELVES a peanut butter sandwich for supper.
(My kids? Cass is almost-seven, and Rosey is almost-four.)

Cass is harder than Rosey - he doesn't like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, most casseroles (I have a sneaking suspicion it's a texture thing, as all the things he hates can feel 'slimy' in your mouth)

We usually let Cass pick one thing to have for supper. (A side dish, usually - that way I KNOW he'll eat at least one thing.)

And keep offering the food, even if they keep saying yuck. Rosey and Cass both LIKE salad now.
(I know! I was shocked!)

Good luck! You should get plenty of input on this topic!

kurrabikid said...

Thanks guys ... I really do appreciate you sharing what works for you. I am fed up to the back teeth with cooking separate meals, so all advice is gratefully received!!

Juliette said...

WoW I must be lucky,
my kids aged 5 and 20mths eat what I eat.
Or they get nothing, actually I don't think negotiation has ever been an option.
Im one of those horrible tough mums,
' eat it or starve!!!'
It works,
Ive come to work out it takes them a week to get used to new rules/routines.
When ever they refuse to eat dinner, I make them a cup of warm milk with honey before bed,
They have a huge appetite for breaky the next morning!!!
One dinner cooked, one week to get used to the new routine, ( ok sometimes it takes two weeks ) and theres a happy mummy in the kitchen.......... fingers crossed x x x

Melinda said...

I am amazed at children who eat ANY vegetables. J.T. is so picky about the texture of his food. If he doesn't like the way it FEELS in his mouth, he won't it. Nothing too crunchy or too squishy.... it's driving me mad!!

I think "the experts" (who I swear are all childless) say to just fix one meal for everyone, and if they don't eat it, put it in the fridge for later. But dinner time tantrums aren't really tolerable, so I always cave and end up fixing the kiddies something they will eat.

When you figure it out, be sure to let me know!

Anonymous said...

Like Juliette, I don't make two dinners. But I discovered that making a buffet of bits and pieces worked really well when my kids were little. They fed themselves as there was often another baby, and I was happy with them using their hands and making a mess as long as they were eating and not throwing food around.

Often this just meant that they were eating the same things as us, just deconstructed: a small pile of rice, a little cup of stew, some grated cheese, a few olives, some squares of bread and butter - not too much of anything because the quantity of food might put them off.

Once they were all old enough to feed themselves they had to have as many spoonfuls as they were in years, and like, daysgoby, then they could make themselves a sandwich.

Good luck with it - if you can get it licked now, life will be much easier!

kim at allconsuming said...

Having learnt the hard way, this is the rule.

You all eat the same but the compromise is you eat early. Otherwise he has little dinner at like 4 - some cruskits or rice crackers or something.

You just give him what you guys eat. You all sit together. You don't do any of the 'eat up' or 'just one bite' or 'try it for mummy' or any of that crap. He eats it or he doesn't. The end.

Obviously your dinner menus have to be varied, palatable to a young person but with some easy wins for him - so in a stir fry you'll put some bits of corn and broccoli he can recognise and pick out and eat. You'll have one night a week when you give him fish fingers... but you all still eat together.

Let him stand at the kitchen bench when you're making dinner - often Jasper will eat more that way than what he'll consume at dinner, but I know he's eaten a few bits of meat as I've carved it etc or nibbled on some carrot or something.

Seriously, Jasper is not a good eater - we're still very much in the beige food group (bread with butter, cruskits with butter, rice crackers, plain boiled rice, plain pasta) but every night he gets exactly what everyone else gets. I don't make any fuss or mention if he eats it or doesn't and I notice that he does at least try everything, even if he doesn't eat it.

And I give him some pentavite every other day...!

Do NOT get tough. All you will get is tears and a problem that will take YEARS to resolve.