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I Don’t Like It! Toddlers and Frustrating Food Battles

Over the years I have struggled a little with the fussiness of both of my daughter’s, more so with the three year old than the eleven year old in recent times.  I was heartened to read that the science people have discovered that being fussy about food could be genetic, so perhaps it isn’t my fault after all? (Is Your Child a Fussy Eater? Guardian Article) I’m a bit torn on how I feel about fussiness and I think that children fall into two distinct camps.

1. I don’t like it – I have tried it, I think it tastes horrible, I don’t like the texture

2. I’m not even going to touch it – I have decided that I do not like the look of it and I will never ever let it pass my lips!

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I would say that both camps are related to fussiness but (like my mother before me) it drives me mad when either of my girls say they don’t like something without even trying it. On the other side it can be just as disheartening when you’ve made a fabulous meal they take one bite or spoonful, put a face on like you have tried to poison them and declared something is disgusting or as both as my girls have said ‘sgusting’. I have fallen into this trap a number of times whilst my daughters have been attending nursery. I go to pick them up and the nursery nurse declares very enthusiastically that my child has eaten not one but two bowls of chicken curry today. I go home, dig out the most child-friendly chicken curry recipe I can find and present this fine gourmet experience to the waiting child. They either look at it and say they don’t like the look of it or taste it and we get a repeat of the ‘have you poisoned me mummy?’ face. I soon came to realise that in order for this to work, I would need to hire in a group of 15 three year olds each time I served something new. They would sit with my child eating with great gusto and declaring how yummy the dish was. Nursery peer pressure is a wonderful thing. Eventually my eldest even stop eating nursery chicken curry, having declared that it made her shoulders go up and down so she better not eat it again.

Each time the girls have refused a meal or to even try a taste of something,  I have to admit a little tiny piece of me dies inside. Part of this is because it makes me feel like I have failed in some way. As parents we want our kids to have healthy balanced diets, but sometimes the little tinkers don’t play ball. There can also be some real competitiveness between parents as some mums and dads seem to wear it as a badge of honour that their children will eat anything. It’s as  though having a child who doesn’t turn their nose up at a mere morsel is down to fabulous parenting (which the research mentioned earlier may be casting some doubt on). I have lost count of the amount of times I have listened to tales of ‘Peregrine’ who not only will eat absolutely everything, but is practically on his way to his first Michelin star. In response I nod, smile sweetly and gently try to hurry up my daughter who is happily eating a Dairylea sandwich ( tuna is too fishy and ham is too bouncy ok!!!)

I can honestly say that food is one of the most stressful areas of raising children for me. I don’t get stressed at mealtimes as I’ve adopted a policy of not turning mealtimes into a battlefield as that can lead to problems too. I do however, find myself worrying from time to time about the narrow nature of their diet and what I could be doing to improve it. I’ve tried all of the fun things that making vegetables look like faces and sandwiches like teddy bears, but all to no avail. Maybe my kids aren’t even truly fussy, but it’s true to say that there is an awful lot of pressure out there about what we should and shouldn’t be feeding our children. In reality there are tons of things that they do eat,  but I always home in on something they don’t like. Raisins have always been a personal  bête noire for my children. So much so that I have renamed them ‘smug’ raisins. That’s because if I’m out and about in the presence of other mums and kids and we all get our snacks out, you can guarantee I will be in the minority with my Pom Bears and all the other mummies have ‘smug’ raisins. They scowl at my factory produced non-organic snack in almost as much contempt as if I was feeding my child roadkill, whilst they extol the virtues of their organically produced, baked under a Californian sun, shriveled up grapes. Even after over 11 years of raising children I still always keep a hopeful pack of raisins in the cupboard, just in case. I mean you never know, do you?

fussy-food-battles-siena-says-com

It has occurred to me that we fail to apply the same logic to kids as we do to adults. One of my friends (who is 42) doesn’t like peas and I accept this, I never try to force her to eat them, so why am I trying to do this to my 11 year old? The husband doesn’t like sweetcorn, but I don’t insist on serving them up 30 times until he likes them. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage our kids to enjoy new tastes and textures, but sometimes we have to give in and accept that just like us there are things that they don’t like and maybe never will. Instead I need to focus on the fact that both of my children like a wide range of other vegetables and move on. As a child there were plenty of things I wasn’t so keen on. I missed out on pizza for quite a few years because I mistakenly thought that the base was made from omelettes and I didn’t like them. I’ve never been able to eat anything with dried fruit in so fruit cake, mince pies and Christmas Pudding have never featured in my diet. They actually make me wretch so I reckon that’s a good enough reason not to eat them. Bizarrely though I love scones, Eccles Cakes and stollen?! Don’t ever offer me Pea and Ham soup though, it seems as though we are never destined to be friends.

In the end it probably doesn’t matter as most children end up widening their food repertoire as they get older,my eleven year old certainly eats a wider range of foods than she used to. Next time someone mentions to you about your child’s supposed fussiness you can smugly refer to the new research and declare that it may well be genetic. I know I’m going to. And if anyone would like 492 snack packs of raisins, I might be able to put you in touch with someone who can help.

Ps. I couldn’t possibly comment on the rumour that seems to be going around about the fact that my eldest may have once contented herself with two Yorkshire Puddings and some Haribo for Christmas Dinner. As if I would let THAT happen!

 

Note: This a very tongue in cheek look at children’s fussiness, obviously some children have genuine issues with food and that is not what I am referring to in this blog post 🙂

I’ve linked up with

This Mum's Life

and

Dear Bear and Beany

and

Mudpie Fridays

and

The Pramshed

 

 

 

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23 comments

  • thismumslife

    November 4, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Aaah, our stories are very similar, at least now I know I I can blame it on genetics!! Both of mine are ridiculously fussy, but will apparently eat anything at nursery! I too have gone down the road of recreating these nursery delights at home (the nursery have produced a cook book of all their meals, so I know I’m making it to the exact recipe,) but the children still pronounce it to be the most hideous thing they’ve ever eaten… Sigh!! I had an antenatal ‘acquaintance,’ who I’m sorry, I just can’t bear to see anymore, who would only bang on about how awful processed food was, and how it’s disgusting that some parents let their children even try chips/crisps/chocolate, and how her own children just adore all vegetables-raw and cooked, and any fruit, and have categorically stated to her that they much prefer water to juice. She once criticised my choice of food for my fussy eaters, so I made sure I always had raisins with me (the only healthy snack mine would actually touch!) when I was seeing her, and she once informed me that raisins were a million more times likely to rot my children’s teeth than any other fruit-she had the research to back it up-and it was awful of me to be giving them to my children. It was at that point I realised I just couldn’t be around her anymore (although I could ask her for the ‘research,’ so you can hand it to the smug raisin mums…!!!)
    It is a massive worry, and my little boy was recently diagnosed with anaemia, and I had a patronising lecture from the consultant about what constitutes iron rich foods. I’m quite well educated, and I’m very aware of what contains iron, but if she wants to come around and force feed him leafy green veg and red meat, she can be my guest!! Like you say, we just have to hope they get over it one day!!
    #bigpinklink

    1. Siena Says

      November 9, 2016 at 9:07 am

      Ah it is such a struggle isn’t it and like you say you know what they should be eating, but whether they will eat it or not is an entirely different matter! Well I never knew that about raisins, do you think if I whisper it in Siena’s ear she might start eating them once she knows there are off the good list?! If my 11 year old is anything to go by they do get better, she will eat a lot of stuff now and we are definitely over the Haribo and Yorkshire Pudding phase 🙂
      Thanks for commenting xx

  • ljgjghfhfrfdrgdgrdrgdgdg

    November 4, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I hear you mama! We have huge struggles with ‘picky eating’ here. Fab post #sharingthebloglove

    1. Siena Says

      November 9, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Thanks for you comment. At least these things get better in time!

  • Helen Miller

    November 4, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Oh how I know that battlefield! My daughter is good at trying things but once she’s decided she doesn’t like it, thats it, it’s out of bounds. And yes, she’d gobble up food at nursery that she won’t touch at home!

    I too get that sinking feeling when you’ve prepared a lovely home cooked meal, you place it in front of them to get that look of disgust followed by a ‘eeeuw’. I’ve tried to get better at remaining calm when this is the reaction to a meal. I really don’t want it to be a battlefield. Just as you get secret eaters scoffing biscuits behind a cupboard door, I’m a secret curser, I look calm whilst heading to the sink with untouched plates of food cursing under my breath.

    As for raisins – they make a mess of your car anyway. I was glad when my daughter suddenly decided she didn’t like them.

    1. Siena Says

      November 9, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Ha ha I do the secret cursing thing too! I’m all ‘oh ok honey, you tried it/looked at it, that’s the main thing’ but inside I am fuming! That is a whole new positive spin on the dislike of raisins, for the pure hygienic upkeep of my car, I may ban them altogether 🙂 I actually think it’s the worst when they like it and then all of sudden for no rhyme or reason they decide they don’t like it anymore!

      Thanks for commenting xx

  • Laura

    November 5, 2016 at 12:15 am

    Aww, at least she tells you “i dont like it” She has a reason! My 3 year old pushes his plate away and says “No!” with the grumpiest face you’ve ever seen, then says “I want Coco Pops” seriously, he would have Coco Pops for breakfast, lunch and Tea if i let him!!! Gotta love toddlers! #Sharingthebloglove

    1. Siena Says

      November 9, 2016 at 9:12 am

      The thing is he is probably on to a winner there, I think that grown-ups would be a lot happier if they could eat Coco Pops all day too 🙂 Toddlers are just the best 😉 although the Tween stage is just as much ‘fun’ ha ha.
      Thanks for commenting xx

  • Susie at This Is Me Now

    November 5, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I really wouldn’t worry at all – kids are so funny with food, it’s like a right of passage to growing up. When I was younger I never liked carrots chopped in batons as I always had them in rounds! Likewise my daughter won’t eat the Pear that’s chopped up at plaggroup different to how I do it at home! So maybe there is something in the genetics!! I’m going to quote that next time I get a funny look, though I have to say most my friends aren’t judgemental about food, we are all in the camp of some days they will eat well and some days they will be fussy, it’s just life! #SharingtheBlogLove

  • Mummy & the Mexicans (@ruthhilbrown)

    November 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    This is the most stressful part of parenting for me too at the moment. I’m currently struggling to get my two and a half year old to eat well but she seems to be getting fussier and fussier every day. Even a month ago I could still get her to eat carrots, but now she refuses them. Sometimes she’ll eat something very well but if I try to give her the same thing the next day she won’t touch it! I just hope it’s something she’ll grow out of. #BloggerClubUK

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Yes I think that is what happens when they first start eating solids they eat a fairly wide range of foods and then as they get a little older, they realise it’s quite fun to say no to things and they hold the power in the food relationship (or so they think!) I think they do grow out of it and you just have to keep persevering. Thanks for commenting x

  • Topfivemum

    November 5, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I’ve just linked up a post on my fussy eater, so was drawn to yours to see if I could find some inspiration! It looks like we’re in the same boat, though. I’m stumped too. Pre-kids I always looked at other families and their fussy toddlers thinking it was something the parents weren’t doing right. Ha!!! Who was I kidding?! I’ve done everything I can to try and make mealtime fun and varied, but nothing works.

    I’m trying to no longer let it get to me though. Today, my daughter refused her lunch. Rather than make her sit at the table and try to co-erce her to eat, I let her get down from the table and she went to have her nap. An hour later, she was awake and hungry. Bloody annoying. BUT I knew she’d eat when she was finally hungry so I just let it go. I really don’t want to have a daily battle on my hands.

    I’m just starting to wean my second baby now (give me strength!) and I’m hoping this fussy eating thing isn’t genetic in our case, otherwise it may just push me over the edge LOL. #sharingthebloglove

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Oh sorry you didn’t find the magic answers you were looking for. But at least you know you are not alone. Yes I was the same pre-kids you just give them the food and they eat it and don’t pander to any fussiness. Yeah right, that lasted about a day in my house. That is the worst when they don’t eat and you know it’s going to disturb a nap or something grrr.
      Yep I think you have to pick your battles although it always seems like everyone else’s child will eat everything.

      Best of luck with the weaning and thanks for commenting xx

  • Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons

    November 6, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I’m lucky with my son that he’s generally a good eater, although he is the typical fussy toddler and his preference is for fish fingers or chicken nuggets. I don’t tend to stress about food too much – if he doesn’t like what I’ve given him, I won’t force him to eat it, but I won’t get him anything else either. I guess that makes me a bit of a mean mummy, but I know he’ll make up for it in the end. Although the magic of nursery peer pressure drives me mad too – the number of times I hear how he’s eaten pasta, something he won’t touch with a bargepole at home!! Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      No I think you are right there, let’s face it they won’t starve and as someone else commented they will eat when they are hungry. Pasta is a funny one, both my girls have loved it but I can understand some children not liking it at all. I’m just relieved as we seem to live on it ha ha. Thanks for having me and thanks for commenting xx

  • dearbearandbeany

    November 8, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    My eldest daughter will try everything and is a great eater. She has been most of her life, except that weird stage they go through at age 2 where they only eat certain meals that you just rotate! My youngest is a fussy eater and I think she takes after me. I also don’t make meal times a battlefield, but I worry about it often. I hope every day that she will grow out of it, but it definitely the thing that stresses me out the most. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Yes I think even if you choose not to have battles about food, it still worries you in the back of your mind. It doesn’t help when you see stuff on TV etc about kids being malnourished or eating the wrong things. The pressure is out there. I think they do grow out of it and you just have to keep offering a wide range of stuff and eventually they give it a go.
      Thanks for having me and thanks for commenting xx

  • thebritishmaple

    November 14, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I could’ve written this! My first is terrible yet my second is the complete opposite! You just can’t win at this mum-game! #ForTheLoveOfBlog

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      At least mine have both been consistent and have been fussy little darlings! You’re right you can’t win, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Thanks for commenting x

  • The Pramshed

    November 18, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    I’m with you here hun. My daughter eats at nursery well (she’s only started this week though) however at home she likes to turn her nose up, or throw it on the floor. I’m sure it’s down to peer pressure at nursery making her eat. But as adults we don’t everything, I don’t eat fish, whereas at nursery my daughter will eat fish twice a week. I hope that eating gets easier for your toddler soon, and you’re taking the right approach to it by not getting stressed. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Yes this is it I just don’t understand why we get stressed about them not liking things when we are the same. Granted there are probably more things that they don’t like when they are younger and they will broaden their tastes as they get older, but still it does seem like a battle for the sake of it at times.
      Slowly but surely they get there, I think (I hope ha ha!)
      Thanks for having me and thanks for commenting x

  • The UnNatural Mother

    November 19, 2016 at 6:19 am

    My son isnt a fussy eater as such he is more of a selective eater. When he is in the mood he will eat anything and then other times he refuses to eat anything but jam toast. As you said he will grow out of it but some days i think he’s going to turn into a jar of jam #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Siena Says

      November 22, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Ha ha I like that selective, yes you are right it does depend on the mood too. I am with him with toast and jam though, proper comfort food that can be eaten at any time of day! Thanks for commenting x

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