How to feed your fussy toddler

My toddler is a fussy eater. To say that this displeases me is the understatement of the century. It’s like saying that Channing Tatum is ok-looking.

Basically, my mood is dictated by how my toddler eats. If he eats well, yes IT’S A GREAT DAY, I’VE GOT THIS MOTHERHOOD THING SORTED. I become instantly upbeat, the most enthusiastic parent in the world as I strut my stuff to The Wiggles. Everybody SING, FA LA LA LA LA!!!  Quite frankly, I put Emma to shame. Emma is the girl Wiggle for those of you not following.

If he doesn’t eat well, I feel utterly disheartened and contemplate the million and one ways where I probably went wrong when he was younger as I’m scraping the food into the waste disposal. I go to bed anxious, annoyed and very frustrated.

When I was pregnant, the only book I read was ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food’. My children were going to eat what I ate and be the type to eat out at restaurants. HA HA HA. What a cruel joke.

Instead I spend my days rambling through a series of toddler food related dilemmas in my head. Should I make a stand and put him to bed hungry to teach him to eat what he’s given? But if I do that, he’ll be hungry and then he won’t sleep through, and that’s worse. Ok, so I’ll give him some toast then to fill him up. With cheese. But now is he just going to think he gets toast when he doesn’t eat his first option? Seriously, kill me now.

And yes I have tried the following strategies for those of you itching to solve my problem:

Hiding vegetables in meals: Nope doesn’t work, what can I say, he’s a smart kid, he can find a pea like the princess in Princess and the Pea.

Skipping lunch so he’s ravenous for dinner: No way. Extreme hunger equals extreme kicking, screaming and tears, – the only thing this results in is me wanting to throw him out the window, not a toddler sitting calmly in a highchair that’s for sure.

Recreating his favourite processed food in a healthy way: Ok seriously, who can make chicken nuggets healthy? And if you think you can, I bet they taste like crap.

Eating with him / Making it fun and positive / etc : We sit there together and he thinks IT’S FUN TO FEED MUMMY!!!!! Let’s spoon food into Mummy’s mouth and laugh a lot! Then lets close our mouth firmly shut when she tries to do it to me.

And yes, I’ve tried puree, I’ve tried finger foods, I’ve tried to feed him, and let him feed himself.

It’s hopeless, at the end of the day, he eats what he wants. When he wants. He is the boss. And there is no shit show in hell I can do anything about it.

Oh, and did I mention he eats vegetables at daycare!!!??? The other day I picked him up early and he was actually eating a carrot. Instead of making me happy, this actually really pissed me off. There is just no rhyme or reason to this madness.

Three Serious Toddler Food Confessions:

  1. Frozen Chicken McNuggets feature as a dinner staple approximately three out of seven days in this house. Give or take. I do serve them with broccoli or beans but only to make myself feel better about the nuggets. He’s never touched the greens EVER.
  2. I give him those frozen meals that come in a box sometimes. You know, like TV dinners. Cottage Pie is his favourite. And yes, of course I’ve tried making my own cottage pie, he only likes the ones that come in a box. Sometimes I even cook it in the microwave. Someone report me to Child, Youth and Family.
  3. He’s allowed sugar! Sue me now! I don’t give it to him a lot, but bugger my kid being the lame one who isn’t allowed a bit of cake at a birthday party. Those Mum’s need to lighten up.

So. A recipe for Toddler dinner success:

Step 1: About an hour before dinner time, preheat your anxiety to a mild simmer based on apprehension about whether the toddler will eat his dinner or not.

Step 2: Spend 45 minutes defrosting the chicken breasts, roasting the vegetables and cutting up the cucumber. Bring your anxiety to the boil.

Step 3: Display the meal on a colourful plate taking much care to slot the food into the designated sections. Accept that your anxiety is now self-rising to vigourous.

Step 4: Present meal to toddler followed by swiftly throwing it on the floor. NB: Do NOT give your toddler the satisfaction of throwing it himself.

Step 5: Give your toddler a yoghurt. The end.

In all seriousness, my toddler eats when he’s hungry. A lot of the time, this is not after 5pm. He’s got more important stuff to be doing, like playing on the stairs and poking his finger in his brother’s mouth. I’ve decided to pick my battles and this isn’t one of them. I focus on the positive, he loves water. He thinks water is the most exciting thing to ever grace this planet and chugs it back like it’s a beer at a February BBQ. Apparently I grew up eating plain pasta with melted cheese on top. And look at me now! I drink kale and spinach smoothies. I reckon he’ll be ok.

To all those Mum’s out there with fussy toddlers, I hope I’ve made you feel better or at least given you a laugh. They will grow up and they will eat lettuce. To those of you who are sitting there smug with your vegetable-eating perfect toddlers before you, get lost, my child slept through at 6 weeks. Beat that.