Just Charlie G

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Meet Lola.

Lola

Don’t be fooled by that butter-wouldn’t-melt beautiful face. Whilst she isn’t the naughtiest child that’s ever lived, lets just call her spirited. But I’m not here to talk about her cuteness and cheeky behaviour, I’m here to talk about her eating habits.

We need to start at the beginning with this one though. My other daughter, Chloe, was a terrible eater when she was a baby/toddler. It was partly to do with sensory issues, everything she ate from 6 months onwards made her sick. Even baby rice. She was well over a year old before we managed to get her onto solid food, and for a long time after that eating was a big issue in terms of not trying things, eating very little, still being sick with certain foods and so on. I found the whole experience incredibly stressful, back then I had no concept of the sensory issues we would see in the future, I just thought she refused to eat. Health Visitors kept insisting she must eat, but never had any suggestions for me re how to make it happen. She wasn’t ill, she didn’t get too thin (possibly because I continued to breast feed for a long time) and eventually at approximately age two, she started to eat properly, started to try everything that was offered to her and everything settled down. Now at age 8, she never stops eating, she has a varied diet, will try everything once, and when she says she doesn’t like something, she genuinely doesn’t.  And so after worrying myself sick about it for the first two years of her life, I swore I’d never do that again. It all sorted itself, with or without me worrying, I vowed when Lola came along, that we’d just work at her pace, I wouldn’t pressure, I wouldn’t stress, confident in the knowledge that things would sort themselves out in time.

Unfortunately, things seem to have gone the opposite way with Lola, I don’t recall having any issues weaning her, and although she’s always been cautious when it comes to food (sniffing everything first), as a toddler, we never struggled to feed her.

Now however, age 5, we do seem to have a problem. Lola will eat Bran Flakes, Baked Beans with bread (but only tesco’s own baked beans), peas, carrots, chicken, roast potatoes so long as they don’t have any brown on them (you know, the roasted bits!), toast so long as it doesn’t have any brown on it (you know, the toasted bits), spaghetti bolognese (but only mine, not out of a jar and no one elses because it doesn’t taste the same), ham sandwiches (but only one type of ham and sometimes she says she doesn’t like that), cucumber, Tesco’s ready meal Tikka Masala, milk and bananas. That’s pretty much it. It looks more when I write it down actually! She eats things at school that she refuses to eat at home (burgers, yorkshire puddings and chips for example) and there are some things she’ll at home but not anywhere else.

She won’t eat pizza, chips, fish fingers (all the things that would be helpful if she did eat so I could actually feed her some time), usual “kids” stuff. Nor will she eat anything thats brown, whether it’s supposed to be browned or otherwise.

Now, at this point in time I’m still calm about it, when I’m cooking food for the family I know she won’t like, I just give her beans and bread (safe in the knowledge she’s had a cooked meal for her school lunch), or a ham sandwich. But it is starting to be a bother. Staying at Grandparents for example, it causes them stress because they don’t know what to feed her and going to other childrens houses or parties, can be embarrassing when she refuses everything.

Every now and again she gets brave and asks to try things, but it’s nearly always a yuck.

So I’m wondering what to do now? Do I keep going, hoping that she gets braver as she gets older, or do I start getting tough. Lola’s tantrums are really something to behold and I’m already tired and stressed so much of the time with Chloe’s issues (more on that in another post sometime) that I take the path of least resistance, partly to avoid causing myself more stress, and partly because I’m still hanging onto the hope that like her sister, she’ll just grow out of it.

So my question to you, if you are reading, what do you think?

Thank you for reading.

5 responses to “The Picky Five Year Old”

  1. loveaudrey83 says:

    Oh she reminds me of Jesse! You’re much nicer than me though, I never cook Jess anything different, so if there’s a meal he refuses to eat, it’s tough!

    Having said that, I know he never goes hungry. My two have always been more into breakfast than their evening meal, so he always starts the day really well. He’s a fan of snacking, so I keep that as healthy as I can. Over the course of the week I try to have a balance between meals I know he’ll eat and ones I expect to cause a tantrum. I haven’t got the energy to fight with him every day!

    We’re quite strict that if he doesn’t at least try something he doesn’t get dessert. If he’s tried something without a fuss, that rule becomes having to clear his plate. I don’t think what we do is right, it’s just what we do. There are plenty of meltdowns, on both sides!

    My sister was terribly fussy as a child and I know it caused my Mum a lot of worry. She’s much better now, but her tastes only really evolved in her teens. Seems a long way away!

    Franky xxx

    • justcharlieg says:

      Ah Franky, yes, this is what we did with Chloe at first, but it never worked, it only ever resulted in tantrums, until she was so far gone she was never going to eat. Lola though, is a different child altogether. I do the same as you, in that I cook half meals I know she likes, half that I know she doesn’t, but where we differ is that on the days I know she doesn’t like for example, I will just do her something she does like, because I know she’s had her cooked meal already. Or I moderate it, so our sausage egg and chips becomes sausages and beans for Lola, that sort of thing.

      I’m interested though, you know when you cook and Jesse refuses to eat, does he ever taste it and say he does like it? When Lola is occasionally brave enough to try, she always says yuck. We make a big deal of saying well done for trying Lola, and she doesn’t get anything else. But if you think it works and he does try and like new things I think its time for me to crack down. My fear is of making her try stuff, having tantrums, and that it won’t work anyway, so it was for nothing, because she tries things and still doesn’t like them. I just can’t decide if its better to push the issue and attempt to broaden her horizons, or to keep going as we are, knowing she’s well fed, and letting her try things when she shows an interest!

      I’m also partly scarred by memories of being forced to try things, a cheese and apple pasty in particular has scarred me for life, and the things that I didn’t want to eat then and didn’t like are things I still don’t want to eat now. That said, I was much much better than Lola. Thanks for replying, I’d love to know if you think your method is working? Do you think he’s coming round? x

  2. loveaudrey83 says:

    We’ve seen a definite improvement in the last 6m, but that may just be as he’s getting older anyway. One thing that’s definitely worked is repeatedly serving things. For example, I made canelloni with a spinach and ricotta filling. Anything green is like a red rag to a bull with Jess, so the first time he point blank refused to eat it. Massive tantrum. The way we tend to handle this {on a good day}, is to ignore him. He’ll whinge and whine, but we tell him there’s nothing else and carry on eating and talking. Most of the time he gets bored and ends up picking at whatever is on his plate. When he sees Izzy getting pudding, he’ll usually be persuaded to at least try the meal.

    Anyway, the second time I made canelloni, I pointed out that it was made from pasta and there was cheese on top. He picked at it a bit, but ended up eating most of it apart from the filling. Finally, the third time I served it, I said he should really try the filling just to make sure he didn’t like it. I also told him that it tasted mostly of cheese. He made a bit of a fuss, but he eventually tasted it and was really happy when he discovered that he did in fact like it! Kids are funny, hey?!

    We’ve definitely found new things that he will eat by slowly encouraging him to taste things. He recently tried bombay potatoes and loved them! Maybe try looking for food that’s similar to things Lola already likes, talking through what’s different, letting her pick out the bits she doesn’t like etc. Also, I know it can be stressful, but letting them help you cook always seems to help!

    • justcharlieg says:

      Thank you! Very helpful. I can’t imagine a day where Lola will eat spinach and ricotta canelloni. I have to admit, I’ve started to wonder if there are sensory issue at play here too (obviously not just based on this one issue).

      I think I might start adding meals, one at a time, and seeing how she goes. Thanks!

  3. loveaudrey83 says:

    Oh and I know what you mean about being force fed. I can remember having my nose held to make me eat something! I think letting him leave the table having eaten hardly anything at all is as mean/forceful as we get, but as I say, I can only do this because I know he’s eaten well throughout the day. If he’s hungry enough, he’ll find a way to ‘cope’ with what we’ve given him!

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