There is a banner waving gently in the breeze outside our window, it curls around itself and when it unfurls again you can see the words writ large in bright red letters...
DD HAS FINALLY EATEN SOME MEAT!
Ok, so I lied, there isn't really a banner, but there should be because we are celebrating in this house! Finally, after five, yes five months, DD is eating meat again. How did this dramatic event come to pass? Well, I had a revelation last week after keeping a food diary of her fussy eating habits for just under a month. She is at her hungriest at breakfast and lunch, with the latter being her biggest meal of the day, and she can take or leave dinner altogether. Sounds bloody obvious to me now, but I think I was blinded by my own panic and frustration at her limited diet. Anyway as a result of this I realised that trying to get her to eat a portion of our food a.k.a. 'new food' at dinnertime was a complete waste of time. I reckoned she was also most likely to try new foods at lunchtime, when she was actually hungry.
And so last week, instead of the usual bits and bobs I'd been popping in front of her (bread, cheese, yoghurt, cheerios etc, the things I knew she'd eat) I baked a batch of Tuna patties and popped a couple in front of her one lunchtime with a squirt of tomato ketchup. I picked one up myself, dipped it in the sauce and took a bite. 'Yum!' I said. And then I took a deep breath and walked away. Well only as far as the fridge, but the important thing was I ignored her. I didn't cojole her into trying them, or make them into aeroplanes and aim them at her mouth. I let her get on with it.
She looked at them, poked them a bit and looked at me. I made myself look busy moving things around in the fridge. Then an amazing thing happened, she actually picked up a patty herself and dipped it into the ketchup. Her arm arced towards her face and she licked the red sauce. I held my breath. She took a bite. And chewed. And swallowed. It was all I could do not to run around the kitchen with my t-shirt over my head whooping with joy. She polished off one and a half patties that day and I've since made her mini beef burgers and she's tried them too. And cheese and tomato pizza. This morning she had a few mouthfuls of home-made bircher museli and some fruit shake too. It's amazing.
What else has helped?
I choose now - I'm being stricter with her diet. Less processed and more home-made foods, less kiddy biscuits and more fruit and raisins, less at snack-time and more at meal times. Less sugar generally. She gets what she gets mostly and she either eats it or she doesn't.
Remove temptation - DD has her breakfast and lunch in the kitchen and so I've also covered up the clear box I keep her snacks in with paper so she can't see inside it and ask for things I don't want her to have - yes she was that smart.
No more chocolate milk - she used to have a carton of this when she woke from her nap after lunch and it really filled her up. It's an occasional treat now and she has ordinary whole milk instead.
I can't tell you how relieved I am to see my little twenty month old eating again. I was so worried about her limited diet that she's been on an iron supplement and vitamin drops for the last four weeks. And actually I think that has helped increase her appetite. Being iron deficient can stop you wanting to eat apparently. Now, I don't want you to think she's gone from not eating anything to eating everything in sight. Far from it. She still refuses adamantly to eat vegetables so I'm supplementing with a vegetable puree juice drink at dinnertime when I know she'd rather drink than eat. But it's a start, and a great one at that. Yay!
This post is part of the March Fussy Eater's Club. Do you have a fussy eater? Want to share your story or just have a good whinge about it? Pop over and share away.
Photo credit: Train tunnel by Sura Nualpradid at freedigitalphotos.net