Picky Eating & why I hate it

When we had E christened, we had everyone back to ours for a BBQ. E was tucking in to everyone's food and surprise was voiced at how well she was eating and at what she was eating, foods like sundried tomatoes, BBQ meat, pepperoni and salami, olives.... you get the idea.  

Fast forward to now and it is a very different story and has been for some time. I can't remember when it started but I think it was around the year and a half mark.  Up until then, we had no problems, she would eat a meal of her own - cottage pie, soups, stews, spaghetti bolognese, curry, roast dinners, fruit, veg -  and then share ours. Now, it can often be a real battle to get her to eat anything. Here's why I hate picky eating:

picky eating, child is a picky eater

'Dinner' : bacon, bread and butter, soreen, dried mango, (vitamin on the side aka special sweet)

1 - She will eat the same things over and over again for weeks at a time before deciding "... I don't like that Mummy its disgusting..."

We find she goes through stages of what she will eat too and then I guess she gets fed up of it before deciding she no longer likes it. We've had phases where the only things she would eat where worms (aka noodles), pizza, sausage, bacon and toast. We also have phases where she will eat everything we give her that she has asked for and ask for more and then there are days where she won't eat half of it. 

2 - Kicking up a huge fuss about trying something - anything - new and then quite enjoying it.... but not wanting to eat it

I don't know whether it is laziness or textures. For example, she was feeding T a yogurt and got some on her hand and I told her to lick it off. She was reluctant but did so and said that it was 'yummy' but when I asked her if she wanted some, she refused.

3 - Kicking up a fuss about eating before deciding to actually eat

Tonight is a good example. She asked for bacon and then decided she didn't want it. I told her she had to eat it and gave her a few chips on the side with a couple of other bits as well as the toast she asked for.  As soon as I gave her the plate we had a mini tantrum about it, before she picked up a chip and start to eat. 

4 -  Asking for something for dinner and then refusing to eat it

This happens all to frequently for my liking and as much as I try to stand my ground on it, I often have to put things in the fridge to try and use again. Wasting food annoys me, as does wasting my time in the kitchen! 
5 -  The lack of a 'proper' hot meal

Currently she won't eat a proper hot meal. She's never tried fish fingers and won't eat anything like baked beans, scrambled egg or potato waffles. Needless to she won't eat vegetables!  She was eating bananas but has now decided that she doesn't like them either. Its only recently that I've managed to get her to eat a handful of chips - I've never heard of a child not wanting chips! 

So what does she eat? Here's how a typical day might look: 

Breakfast - brioche with dry cereal (she's eaten exactly the same for the last few weeks)

Lunch - Ham or cheese sandwich, dried mango and raisins, crisps or crackers

Dinner - Bacon with toast or soreen malt loaf

Snack - Breadsticks, crackers, cheese or dried fruit (something like Bear Paws or YoYos)

Needless to say, she doesn't necessarily eat it all and often she'll ask for something, e.g. dough balls, and then refuse to eat them.

6 - Well meaning advice

The eating habits of toddlers seems to be quite a popular one when talking to other mums. Some of the advice I've been given by well-meaning friends and strangers:

Cut out all of her snacksI've been trying to cut out snacks in the hope that it might make her hungrier at meal times but it hasn't made any difference at all other than a few days where she has been super grumpy because she's hungry.

Cut out all sweets and treats - I've been told to cut out all sweets and treats but that has made no difference either. It doesn't seem to bother her if she isn't allowed anything. We've told her if she finishes her dinner she can have some smarties but she says she doesn't want any and is happy to go without. Its so frustrating!  

Let her go to bed hungry - Unfortunately I can't do this one. We've had a handful of occasions where she has eaten nothing of an evening and has woken up being sick so its a case of eating something is better than nothing. 

As frustrating as it is, we try not to make a big deal out of it and to remember that its likely a phase (albeit a long lasting one), that she will grow out of it and eat when she is hungry. We've learned to make sure that we always have certain foods in and to make sure there's something there that she will eat in case she refuses anything else. We always ask her what she would like to eat, suggest foods to her and put a small amount on her plate to try. She mostly refuses but will occasionally try new things.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you can't make a toddler eat if she doesn't want to.  I think the whole picky eating thing is so much harder than anything else I've encountered. On the whole, I know she's healthy enough and will eat when she really wants to but its so tough. 

If you have any helpful advice or would like to share what worked for you, I'd really love to hear from you!

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