Even for a Nutritionist, raising a fussy eater is an emotional roller coaster.
I’ve two wonderful girls, so similar and yet so different, and they have taught me a lot about the differences between nutrition on paper, and nutrition in the real world.
My eldest was a dream baby to wean – always happily tucking into the latest green pureed goop I’d spent hours lovingly preparing. She went through her pre-school ‘fussy’ years living in Italy, happily gobbling up olives, mussels and any other interesting delicacy that came her way.
So, had baby number 2 not come along, I confess I might have wondered what all the fuss was about. You follow the guidelines, feed them a wide variety of nourishing food and your baby flourishes. Don’t you?
Oh no, apparently not.
With the littlest one, food was spat, thrown and generally rejected - unless it was pureed pear.
And preferably from a jar, none of that organic home-made stuff for her please.
And so I quickly learned that, even with all the knowledge and case studies I had in my head, and doing everything that ‘worked’ last time, every child is very different. Yet as a mother, parent or carer you can end up questioning your every move whilst trying desperately to get it right.
This comes to mind as this week I’m helping a number of Mums with fussy eating kids. We talk about best practice, what the evidence says works. Exposing your child to foods up to 20 times, not bribing with pudding, or cajoling to eat just one more mouthful. Remaining calm. ‘Don’t worry, provided your child is tracking a normal development curve, if your child is hungry, they will eat’.
It sounds wonderful, serene and easy. On paper.
In reality, it’s hard work. You’re desperately trying to follow the guidelines, but inside crying, (or just plain angry), that the tiny love of your life won’t eat what you know is good for them.
You spend hours trying to come up with new ideas and funny names for foods, whilst running between a job, keeping the house under control and getting to Baby Music Time with your hair at least brushed, even if your clothes look more Bombsite than Boden.
And yes, like you, I know what I should be doing, but sometimes I just can’t help myself…..’Come on Sweetpea…..just finish your broccoli and you can go and play’
So, this is a bit of recognition for all the Mums, Dads and carers out there doing their best and feeling like they’re perhaps not measuring up. The fact that you’re going through this angst means you care, and that is probably the best thing a child could wish for.