My son loves food. Or so I thought.
Right from the beginning, he made it really easy for me by latching on well (for breastfeeding). Then when we started weaning, he would open his mouth wide to receive the food. I didn’t think this was a thing to rejoice about until a mum shared her experience of her son who wouldn’t eat solids AT ALL – as in, he refused to open his mouth!! So after initially starting with homemade purées, we moved on to more textures and finger foods and still my son ate.
I realised recently that all these experiences had lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought, no expected, that he would continue the same way. But I was wrong.
Now, mealtimes that don’t involve milk have become a real challenge. Master Nate is very decisive and he’s letting us know that he will only eat if he likes the look of what’s been offered. He will literally stare at the food for a few seconds before deciding whether to taste/try/eat what’s before him.
Let me set the scene: I prepare a meal (insert any meal that comes to mind) and take the plate out to him. He looks at it, I put some in his spoon and move the spoon towards his mouth; if following his initial assessment he does not want it, he will do one (or all) of the following; cry, turn his head away from the food and wave his hand at the spoon so it doesn’t reach his mouth. One day, he even ran away to hide behind the sofa when I offered him yoghurt! Seriously?!?
I won’t say I’m at my wits end but it is a challenge. Foods that he used to enjoy before, he refuses now. Papa Nate says he has very good taste buds like him. No comment there.
Whilst I do not want a child who is a fussy/picky eater, I’ve accepted that it’s just a phase that will (hopefully) pass. It’s my responsibility as the parent to find ways to encourage good eating habits. So I am patient, offer alternatives, plead at times or sometimes I just leave him. Sometimes, even after great protest, he will eventually eat the food like nothing had happened.
As an adult, I know there are things that I absolutely will not eat and will not even try (like sushi). And I know I’m not alone. I have a sister who sometimes doesn’t like mushrooms or fish, another who doesn’t like sauces and one who is open to trying all types of food.
Whilst it can be frustrating for a parent, I think it’s helpful to remember that toddlers can’t yet rationalise concepts such as food waste, world hunger or mummy being too busy to cook different meals. I refuse to forcefully feed The Boy against his will as I think this could lead to further problems down the line (aside from the obvious dangers of doing so). My cousin hates the smell of warm cereal (cornflakes) till this day due to negative childhood experiences where she was forced to eat it against her will.
I’ll end with this Buzzfeed article I just came across which made me smile. I am not alone (might even submit my own entries).