Having been around many children for many years I have seen all kind of eaters, from the gorger’s to the pickers but it’s the ‘fussy eaters’ that evoke so much conversation. There is this inbuilt need in us adults to assure our little fledglings are getting their five a day, their correct carb/protein balance. It’s nurturing, it’s making the child the best they can be, it’s the satisfaction in knowing that you have provided the essential ingredients (pardon the pun) to set your child on the right path to healthy eating.

So, what if your little one won’t eat the ‘baby trees’, or the ‘naannas’? The guilt starts to set in and before you can say “mashed carrot and swede” you feel like you’ve somehow failed as a mother. You see your child visibly shrinking before your eyes; they see the concern in yours and there begins the vicious cycle that becomes Meal Times!

Of my 4 children, I have one who would eat every morsel offered, I have one who lived solely on jars of egg custard for a year and was literally sick on his plate should I ever try to get clever and sneak a pea into his mouth. I have one who has practically become a vegetarian due to her revulsion to the texture of meat and a toddler who survives on a diet largely based on carbs and cheese, and has never really (and still doesn’t) have his full daily recommendations of milk.

All we can every do for our children is the very best we can do, we cannot force feed them; we cannot starve them out until they eat what’s recommended to us. The bigger issue we make out of food, the bigger the issue will become in the future and that is more dangerous than them missing out on a few of the healthier options.

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of offering a couple of different alternatives at meal time, any more than that and you run the risk of your child catching on that if they keep saying “no” you’ll just bring something else more desirable. Feeding, if you let it will become one of the biggest battle of wills that may meet you and your child in the early years. Nip it in the bud. Don’t entertain the whole food tug of war. If your gorgeous little friend only wants to eat crackers and cheese or yogurts and cherrios then so be it, offer it up every meal time with a smile on your face and a spoon full of multi vitamin as a chaser. They will soon get bored and become curious about other foods, especially if they see you eating and enjoying something different. Ask yourself……what child can resist something that someone else has got?

I’ve always lived by the rule of thumb that no child will starve themselves, if they’re hungry they will eat. Every time you eat something offer some to your little one, if they turn their nose up, no big deal try something different tomorrow and so on and so on.

Every morning when my 1 year old throws his shreddies overboard, I clean it away make myself some toast and cut off a square for when he starts asking for mine….as always happens.

The more relaxed you are around feeding time, the more relaxed your child will become, you have many years to nurture your healthy eater don’t try to rush it into the first couple of years, enjoy exploring all foods. If you look at your own eating habits you may notice that some days you’re hungry and experimental, some days you’re only in a snacky mood and want to fall back on your comforting favourites. Babies/children are only human too their wants and needs change with their moods and this is reflected in their feeding habits.

An update on my growing eaters; Mr Non Fussy is now 17, 6ft 2 and not an inch of fat on him…….Mr Egg Custard is 14, 6ft 1 and of average build…….little Miss Veggie is 9, head and shoulders above her peers and of average build…..Mr Carb Overload is on exactly the same line as his friend Pheobe who is a great eater and can down a bottle of the white stuff in seconds!
The point that I’m trying to make is…..chill out, try not to get fixated on the whole feeding issue, enjoy your baby/children. Sure in a perfect world we’d all eat a healthy varied mix of goodness but on the occasion whereby this just isn’t going to happen know that you’re doing your best and that there’s more to life than avocado!!