What’s the second moan you’re most likely to hear from mums of toddlers, after “Why do they never sleep?”
Go on, have a think about it and I bet it will be … drum roll …”They’re such fussy eaters.”
I was blessed with a toddler who unfortunately never slept but, thankfully, would eat anything I put in front of him. I would dutifully make ice cube trays ready to freeze of every conceivable vegetable, bean or pulse and he would consume quite happily. He was never a big eater but he couldn’t have been described as ‘fussy’.
At fourteen months, when his independence (read stubbornness) kicked in, he refused to be fed and preferred to sit in his high-chair with finger foods to which he could help himself. Still no problem. I’d give him cubes of quiche, slices of chicken, chopped veg, anything he could manage with his hands. Fresh home-made soup became a bit of a logistical nightmare though!
No, my problems kicked in when he hit eight. Suddenly foods began to drop off his list of ‘likes’. A roast dinner would consist of meat and veg, but no potatoes - had he suddenly decided to follow the Atkins Diet? A beef-burger was considered fast food (even if home-made) and therefore unhealthy. Avocados were suddenly slimy and lamb and pork tasted like wet dogs.
Then we lost the pizza - standard food for most kids and a much loved treat in many households. Sadly, son’s last pizza was consumed the night before he went down with a bug that his whole class contracted. He blamed the pizza and ever since it’s been the ‘Food of the Devil’.
Spaghetti bolognaise was the next one to go. A dodgy batch at a well known pizza establishment presented us with his second (and only other ever) up-chuck. Ironic given that he’d opted for the pasta due to his new pizza aversion. We tried to explain that it was a case of food poisoning but to no avail. Not only has the pizza restaurant been struck off his list but also spag bol and beef of any other description.
What can you possibly be left with, I hear you cry. Well, at fifteen, if it wasn’t for chicken and the occasional sausage, he’d be a vegetarian.
In fact, I sometimes wonder if I took the wrong baby home from the hospital. He could quite happily live on rice, the hottest curries (home-made) poppadoms and mango juice. Where have his Asian roots come from?
Add to that tuna, cod, sweetcorn, carrots, peas, beans, noodles, crackers, pretzels and chocolate and he would think he was in heaven.
I regularly make soup, packed with all sorts of veg and he’ll quite happily slurp his way through a couple of bowls without knowing what’s in them. Who’d have thought I’d still need to be disguising food for a fifteen year old? But if it means he gets his five a day, hey-ho.
Of course the real downside of all this is having to cook two separate meals each day. Not only does he eat different foods to us, he’s also starving by six o’clock and we tend to eat at eight. Mealtimes can see me working like a commis chef with a tuna and sweetcorn pasta for one and a steak and Caesar salad for two. “Yes, Chef!”
I can’t say I mind that he’s opted for the less meat route, though. Our bodies don’t really need it and I think as a nation we tend to eat far too much.
I just wish he’d be a little more adventurous and try new things every now and again. We tell him there are so many delicious foods out there to try and experiment with but he sticks religiously to his favourites. Even then he always eats them separately, never allowing them to touch and totally averse to the idea of marrying a chip with a bean to make interesting new flavour sensations.
I guess I should have known I had a problem when, at three, I presented him with a Linda McCartney veggie sausage with mash and veg and he looked at me and quite seriously asked, “Why did you put a poo on my plate?”
So never fear, struggling mummies - the feeding thing will only get better. Or worse!
You can read about Libby and her son Max in “Diary of a Mummy Misfit”. Available on Amazon for Kindle or PC. Check out my reviews. Now also in paperback at Lulu.