Food and Children

One of the biggest issues was getting a doctor to help me with a child that did not eat.  I was told that he was fussy, so for years I persisted.  My eldest from 2 years old decided that he would not eat.  The only food though always presented options were, dry weetbix, vegemite, apple juice, milk, milo, toast, sausages, chicken nuggets, and cake / brownies. (Chocolate only though)

My eldest up until this point ate everything, fruit, veggies, meat, etc.  Now to put this in perspective, I grow a lot of my own veggies, make my own sauces, and cook from scratch.  even though this seem hard to believe when I spoke with nurses and doctors.  One comment I received was 'I am sure you add extra frozen veggies when you are mixing in the jar of sauce...'

My eldest became scared of food, we have since found out the reason which I will get too.  What I wanted to say about this though was be persistent, it does work, however can take time, very easy to give up as I wanted to so many times.  Lucky I am a good wog girl and cook anyway.

It started slowly with my eldest turning away a banana which he ate most days of the week and then it was sandwiches, which I knew he loved, next grapes (I still cannot get him to eat), and then meat, all forms except for sausages and nuggets.

Now with this, I started to get creative, I started including veggies in anything I could hide it in. Chocolate cake had sweet potato and spinach in it, his choc milk had a raw egg added, as did his vegemite toast.  Apple juice in an unclear cup, had carrot or kiwi fruit in it, etc.

Now this is a lot of hard work, keep in mind I am working full time and when I got the chance was asking for help consistently.  Nurses would say he just fussy and I should just offer what ever and if not eaten send him to bed with a 1/2 cup of milk or water.

The problem was, my son was happy with this and was literally starving himself, I went to doctors, and was told to continue, a child won't let themselves starve, he'll eat.  He ended losing about 5kg, which is quite significant when he was only 4 years old.

I finally got angry and was strongly worded when I spoke with the doctor say I am following this instruction, however he is starving himself.  The doctor told me off for giving up.  I ended up with a Paediatrician  and explained what was happening.  He said find another doctor and recommended someone.  At the same time, a friend noted a program with Queensland University program for fussy eating.  I was pretty desperate by this stage, so called and spoke with the nicest person, told her what I was experiencing, and she was stunned.  She asked if she could come and film 4 meal times for us and would send one of her students.

With the help of the new Doctor and the Psych from the program, it turned out the my beautiful boy suffered with a fear of food or textures.  A food anxiety, he was also underweight, thanks to the not so great advice I was receiving as well.  It turned out this was brought on by a stupid Day care in Brisbane that was shoving food down his throat because he didn't eat fast enough, and he nearly choked, but this is another story which, that I will cover.

So I went to a course which was for fussy eaters, however she pretty much redesigned this for my eldest, an example was she would teach things to the other parents, and for me would give me new instructions.

My eldest is now 8 and eats and / or tries almost anything.  He still will not eat banana though.  We created with help little rules about trying foods, how to remove focus away from the textures and different actions for which, I am now so grateful for.  I still use this when introducing a new food or recipe.

The reason I wanted to discuss this, is I want you to know, not to give up.  As a parent it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, bad advice and being fob off as a panic new parent when I knew it was so much more, and because he was so young couldn't vocalise this.

Rules about food for kids, try different textures from 5 - 6 months, do not smooth it out, they do have little teeth, though hidden in the gum.  The food should be soft or become soft as they eat.

Examples of good food:

Toasted breads
Cooked veggies including Broccoli trees, anything a child can hold and is not too hard.

Avoid baby food if possible.  Buy some small containers and as you cook for your family add little extra and freeze

Rice cream is dead easy to make.  Cook rice until cooked through and drain.  Warm milk on the stove and add rice and vanilla.  From here add any fruit, stewed fruit for fruit needing cooking.

Once baby gets to 9 - 12 months you can start introducing meats, again use what you have already made and cut into small pieces.

Hope this helps