This time last year we were up and rolling on the whole Baby-led Weaning ride.
With a baby with a history of refusing to let anyone put anything in her mouth (seriously, no Calpol unless she was holding the spoon – and certainly no bottle) I dreaded the thought of weaning.
Baby-led weaning sounded like a far more fun – if messy – approach. One that wouldn’t see me suffer a nervous breakdown anyway.
I was very enthusiastic. I saw my baby eat cool stuff. Proper food. It was a bit weird and that was why I loved it. I wrote articles about it. I interviewed the Baby-led Weaning gurus on more than one occasion. I was a total convert.
And here I am, with a two year old child who has fads.
A few weeks ago at supper she pushed her plate away and said, “No Mummy! YOGHURT!” before tipping the contents of said plate on the floor. She tried the same tactic the following evening. I got cross. Never before had I been faced with a child of the fussy variety. I started breaking every rule in the Baby-led Weaning book.
“You will NOT leave this table until you’ve eaten at least THREE MORE SPOONFULS young lady!” I reprimanded. And then I gave in and let her have a yoghurt.
Once the flood-gates were open that was it. “No pudding until you’ve eaten your main course! Every. Last. Mouthful,” I frowned. “Eat your greens!” I scolded. “No you will NOT get down until you finish what’s on your plate,” I chided.
In short, I became a dinner lady from my own childhood. It’s amazing how ingrained these habits are. I stopped trusting that my daughter knew when she was full. I started turning mealtimes into a battle that I had to win.
After 18 months of happily trotting to the table, Frog started having tantrums about eating. Just the odd one, but as a foodie from the age of 6 months, this was odd.
So I made a radical decision a few weeks ago. Back to basics. Back to the Baby-led Weaning books.
I brought her mealtimes forward half an hour, so she wasn’t tired. I made sure I always ate with her, rather than sitting opposite staring at her. I offered fruit for pudding, but put it at her place setting next to her main course of food. I ignored what she ate.
And she ate.
She ate and she ate and she ate.
This is her two weeks ago, on a family trip to our local pub for her birthday. She ate pan fried scallops with Asian inspired slaw and ginger. That starter was far more interesting than the pasta and tomato sauce on the kids menu:
And last night? We had fishfingers, chips and peas, with lashings of ketchup. (We like to mix it up a bit.)
My toddler still has the odd tantrum around mealtimes. But now I’m confident enough to accept it’s because she’s tired and she’s not interested in the food.
There’s nothing she won’t eat, but there’s plenty she’ll refuse on certain days. Sometimes yoghurt is the in thing, sometimes it’s curry or paella or piri-piri chicken. Whatever. She knows what she likes and she knows how hungry she is. If she doesn’t want what she’s offered, then fine. But there’s nothing else on the menu. So that’s that.
And guess what? Food is fun again. It’s so fun, the toy kitchen bought for Christmas is back in use…
This post was written for this week’s Gallery at Sticky Fingers. Head over there to read the rest.
Circus Queen says
You mean to tell me that when Talitha is two she might STILL be chucking food on the floor? 8-/
Reading this post is such a relief. We’re going through a fad of only dry food at the moment and it’s been doing my head in.
Great to hear that you’ve ridden out the fussy phase – for now! We did BLW (of a fashion) with The Baby, and she is so, so much better at eating than the spoon-fed Boy was at her age. The mess still makes my toes curl, though…
Ugh the mess – yes, that’s a downside!
Hollie Smith says
Really, really interesting post Molly. Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking for ages how interesting it would be to track down mums who did BLW three or four years ago (I guess it wouldn’t have been very popular at that point), and find out how good their kids are at eating now! From what you say here, it seems that you really need to keep on following the theory indefinitely for it to work – but if you do, it does! Way too late for me and my fussy, fussy girls I’m afraid. But such a very good philosophy… x
It’s interesting isn’t it? To be honest, I think it’s back to the whole nature / nurture thing really. Parents with kids who aren’t fussy and who did BLW are bound to want to take credit for some of that. I must say that my mum weaned me and my sister in exactly the same way back in the 80s. I was not fussy at all and ate pretty much everything, but my sister was the complete opposite. I’m sure some of it is just down to nature too. I have a friend whose little boy was weaned the BLW way. He’s now nearly 4 and is a great eater – but also has the odd faddy day just like all kids.
Looking for Blue Sky says
I wish this had been available when my kids were younger! I knew not to make it into a battleground, because I remember hearing about my mother’s tears (caused by me) but all my plans for healthy diets fell away over the years once the kids started going to other people’s houses and getting a taste for pizza and nuggets and the rest! WHY do they like that stuff so much? It doesn’t go on forever though, dd1, who is now 19 eats most things now, but for years getting her to eat dinner was VERY hard work. Love the pics in this post too 🙂
I remember this time last year, priding myself on the fact F hadn’t yet tasted chocolate and thinking she’d have no partiality towards it because we hadn’t attached any emotional significance to it with the whole, “You’ll only get pudding if you eat all your main” way of thinking. I get that giving some foods as a reward makes them more attractive and desirable – it’s a case of what you can’t have you want more. That said, she’s now 2 and LOVES “choc choc”. Plus pizza is pretty tasty – can’t blame your daughter really! x
I’ve noticed that Z eats a lot more when he is sat on a proper dining chair with us at the dining table because he wants to join in. Its not great trying to hold him in place, wriggler that he is, but it means he’ll at least eat a few mouthfuls. He is still a terrible eater at the moment though. I keep hoping its a quick phase. Just a quick phase. A quick phase…
I’m sure it will be. It’s bloody exhausting when they won’t eat properly though isn’t it? And so hard not to get stressed about it – and then pass that negativity onto your kids. I’m sure Z’s phase will be over soon – I have my fingers crossed for you! And I’m equally sure F will go through another fussy phase before long too.
Nice article. And very helpful too.
Two of Everything says
I love this approach – totally relaxed and then they can’t try to push your buttons! We have the same approach with our twins and are hoping they continue to eat as they do now – fingers crossed… It’s brilliant that your little girl ate that meal in the pub, sounds delicious!
It was – but she equally likes fish and chips and chocolate!
you put real food in the toy kitchen, I take my hat off to you!!! Actually you have it so right, i used to stress with Chl and Dyl and now with Erin i just let her eat what she wants. A less stressful mum and happy child and tbh it works out pretty balanced. For a while in spica she only ate toast but she had enough on her plate (!!!) without arguing about food. She might ask for pasta five days in a row but she is growing and is happy.
I think a relaxed approach is always best – and far less stressful. Mind you, it’s not so easy in practise when you’ve slaved over a meal for ages only for it to be chucked in your face, so to speak!
This could be the thing. When Squeaky’s at nursery, lunch is at 11.45, and tea at 3.30. And her daily record sheet comes back with “all” or “most” written against most meals, “some” against a few, and never “none”. When she’s not at nursery, unless it’s one of her chosen few meals, it’s none, or little for most, some against a few, and most or all only if it involves scampi or pizza. TImetable changes are needed, I think.
It worked in our house. But I also think they often behave differently at nursery than they do at home. I know F always eats more when she’s eating with others. So at the childminder’s, when they all eat together (6 kids) she polishes off everything. But at home, if it’s a meal on her own if I’m not hungry and don’t want to eat that early… then, yeah, you guessed it. But we found bringing it forward sometimes helps. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s just kids isn’t it?!
oh that’s a good point about early meals and tiredness – we all eat together at 6.30 generally, but H did get fussy around the 2 year mark, refusing peppers – she announced she likes them again the other night at almost 3… I put it down to toddler contrariness too!
Ohh and I want chips now – yours look delicious!!
Toddlers being contrary? Who’d have thought it?! x
Middle-Aged Matron says
Why couldn’t you have told me this seven years ago.I fed my daughter on nutritious home-cooked gloops of liver and cabbage and such like and now, at nine, she wont touch any sustenance that I’ve had a hand in making. Maybe she would have eaten the nutritious black thing I created tonight if I’d made her mealtimes earlier as a toddler!
Yeah, definitely. Of course she would… *wanders off sheepishly pledging to avoid any dinner party invitation from Anna Tims*. Seriously though, who bloody knows?! One day yoghurts the thing, the next it’s cous cous. You Can. Not. Win.