PARENTS

Toddler Tales: Fussy Eater?

12/06/2012 15:34 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler Tales: Fussy eater?D shows her enthusiasm for a pot of yoghurt

Feeding a toddler is an unpredictable (and often unrewarding) task. I cannot tell you the number of times that Diana has begged to eat the meal off my plate - I remember a cheesy mushroom risotto being a particular hit - and then, when I slaved and made her the meal on a separate occasion, she refused to touch a bite of it.

I am always self-conscious this is because D can tell already I am a failed domestic goddess (I'm not just saying that, my cooking is truly terrible) and is not-so-subtly telling me to give up trying. (Yes, I am already freaking out about school bake sales in the future. Am I the parent who's going to be responsible for food poisoning 100 youngsters?)

There are some foods that are a surefire success 10 times out of 10 with D: pasta, tomatoes, yoghurt, grilled chicken, sliced ham, bagels and cream cheese, grapes and blueberries. But, since I am still attempting to go down the delusional path of responsible parenting, just because D would happily eat one food group (pasta) three times a day for every meal, every day of the week, I feel the need to make my life more difficult and vary what she has.

I'm not sure if she's becoming a fussy eater, exactly, but she's definitely developing some very specific tastes. And they seem a little haute gastronomie for someone who isn't even two yet.

Her current obsession is houmous (she's been dipping pitta bread into it for months; lately, she's abandoned the bread and just sticks her fingers into the pot and tenderly licks each one clean). From a manners perspective, this is a disaster, but from a chickpeas perspective, a massive success. So I let D get away with it.

She also has developed a penchant for sparkling water, sushi (I let her try a vegetarian piece and because I was eating it, she decided she loved it) and smoked salmon, which she discovered after spending a weekend at her grandfather's house. This had the exciting effect of adding a new word - "Sa-sa, Sa-sa" to her vocabulary - and the rather more worrying one of me wondering whether my child's food tastes alone are going to bankrupt me.

For the most part though, D is a pretty good eater and not one of those super picky toddlers who only eats fish fingers and strawberries (or whatever weird and wonderful combinations of things toddlers decide they will only eat for the rest of their childhoods).

Which isn't to say there aren't days when she refuses to eat her veg or when I decide to let her have a treat and she makes me regret it (I let D finish her Pizza Express meal with a chocolate cupcake the other week and she didn't even bother picking it up to take a bite - she just dove into it headfirst. She needed to be hosed down before we left.)

And mealtimes have become less of a battle the past couple of months because at least now D is excited to sit at the table with us (from 12-18 months, getting her into the high chair was a three-time a day wrestling match; when she was eventually strapped in, she would wail and writhe and stand up and try to jump).

Now D feels she's commanding the room when she's seated in her high-chair perch, and she loves feeding herself everything and even tries to use multiple utensils, like her baby knife and fork, together. So feeding D and mealtimes with D have become a real pleasure.

Now, when will clean-up get easier?

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