My fussy eater: 1 year old

Since the start of the year Archie has gone from eating large portions and pretty much anything to being ridiculously picky and changing his tastes on an almost daily basis! I’ve read up a lot about it and it’s very common for toddlers to go through a fussy stage at some point and although mostly it happens nearer the age of 2, it can happen before this. We’re 6 months in and Arch is still a fussy little monkey but I’ve found a few things which have helped so I thought I’d share. If you have any other words of wisdom, I’d love to hear them in the comments 🙂

fussy eater

At 11 months old, coinciding with him walking, Archie became really fussy with his food. The biggest change was him refusing anything off a spoon from us and because he hadn’t quite mastered feeding himself with a spoon we went down a new route of serving only finger foods (aside from yoghurt/ custard which he could feed himself). Before this I was making batches of pureed/ mashed foods as his main meal and serving it alongside a few finger foods.

I found the transition pretty stressful if I’m honest because unhelpfully his tastes seemed to change all the time so I never knew whether he would eat what was put in front of him. The few things he would always eat were fruit (most types) and yoghurt/ custard so it’s quite clear he has quite a sweet tooth like his mummy! It was the ‘main course’ which always seemed to be hit and miss.

I soon realised that he prefers it when food is not mixed in together but each element is served separately. For example, when giving him beans on toast I always separate the beans and the toast fingers. It makes serving normal table foods a bit tricky (e.g. lasagne, chilli, Bolognese etc.) but I do try them deconstructed….with varying results! His go-to favourite dinners are: fish fingers, homemade chips and peas/ beans; sweet potato fingers with falafel/ chicken; pesto pasta. Everything else seems to be dependent on his mood that day!

I’ve learnt to try and say as relaxed as I can about it and there are days when he surprises us completely out of the blue and tries something he hasn’t for months! Here are a few things I’ve found useful when reading up about fussy eating:

  • It’s normal for toddlers to eat less – As a baby Archie always had a huge appetite so when he first started being fussy I was really stressed about whether he was eating enough and probably overcompensated with fruit and yoghurt! But I’ve since learnt that it’s quite normal for their appetites to decrease as toddlers because their growth rate declines and they simply don’t need as much food. And particularly as they start walking, they become too interested in exploring the world around them that sometimes food can become a bit of a chore!
  • Appetites will be affected by illnesses/ teething – Archie’s fussy spell has definitely coincided with an almost constant cycle of being poorly/ teething. And again it’s very normal that once they hit a year old, they contend with one cold/ illness after another as their immune system builds. So naturally their appetites are affected by this, as we know only too well ourselves when we’re ill or have toothache.
  • Serving smaller portions can help – I used to pretty much fill Archie’s plate with food but now I just offer a small portion of each ‘element’ and then he can have second/ third helpings as and when he finishes them – that way he’s not too overwhelmed, particularly if it’s not one of his favourites!
  • It’s best to offer their favourite foods alongside new/ unpopular foods – I find this one a bit challenging when I’m offering a whole meal he’s not keen on but I do find if I put it with his favourite vegetables or some homemade chips then it helps avoid a straight refusal!
  • Follow their lead – At first I really tried to encourage him to eat the foods he would ignore on his plate but the more I made a fuss, the more he seemed to refuse! So now, I don’t make a big thing of it and just clear his plate away once he’s finished, ignoring the fact he might have touched very little! I’d also say it’s best not to try too much at once – perhaps add in just one new/ unfamiliar food each day so it’s not too overwhelming.
  • Eat with them as often as you can – When we’re eating in a group with family/ friends I definitely notice a difference here in terms of Archie being more interested in eating what everyone else is. Frustratingly it doesn’t seem to work when it’s just the 2 of us – which it is most of the time – but if I sing songs or distract him in some other way than just focussing on the fact he’s eating that does seem to help so I’d definitely say engaging with them and making it more of a social activity makes a difference.
  • Create a relaxed environment – This is similar to the above but essentially anything you can do to make them as relaxed as possible will help them to be a bit more open-minded. As soon as they feel pressured to eat, in my experience, it seems to have the opposite effect! Sometimes, we have a little picnic on the play mat on the floor and I find Arch eats so much more than when he’s in his highchair where the focus is solely on eating.
  • Try not to stress – Ah sorry I left it until last because I know it is by far the hardest one to put into practice but I’ve genuinely noticed the difference with Arch when I’m relaxed and don’t let it bother me versus the days where I feel I’m tearing my hair out and throwing anything at him just to try and make him eat! Just acknowledge it’s a phase, consider giving them some multivitamins and try a mixture of new/ unpopular foods alongside their favourites (accounting for the fact these might change on a daily basis!!).

I’d love to know about your experience of fussy eating – was it just a quick phase or has it gone on for what feels like forever? Have you changed up what you’re giving to them or just persevered with one approach? I think, like with most things, there’s not a magic fix and each child is different so I’d love to know what you’ve found has worked for you.

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Moving house with a toddler

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog recently for a few reasons – but one of those is because last Monday we moved house! Everyone always says that moving is one of the most stressful things you can do but moving with a toddler in tow brought that to a whole new level! Luckily, we received some great advice from others who’d done it before which definitely made it easier so I thought I’d share on here. And although it was stressful, we love our new home so I have to say it was all worthwhile (in the end!).

moving house

  • Hire a removals firm and get them to pack for you – It might be expensive but this is the one bit of advice I could not have been more thankful for. We always knew we wouldn’t hire a van and move ourselves (it would probably end in divorce!) but I always assumed we would pack ourselves until a few people told us to look into the option of having the removals company do it for us. And luckily, it worked out very reasonable cost-wise and meant we didn’t have to plan so much in advance in terms of making sure we didn’t pack the things we needed a few days before. Plus, I realised packing with Archie around would have been impossible – he’s like a moth to a flame as soon as anything new appears in a room and makes it his mission to investigate so having lots of boxes around would have caused mayhem!
  • Pack an overnight bag for your first night – Part of me thought I was being a bit overcautious when I packed a bag of literally everything Archie would need on his first night and day in the new home. But when we finally arrived in the new house with all our boxes at 5pm I was seriously appreciative of having everything we needed to hand – especially because despite labelling the boxes most of them inevitably ended up in the wrong rooms!
  • Ask someone to help look after your toddler – My mum and dad very kindly offered to help us on the day of the move and having another pair of hands to help with Archie was a godsend. Naturally with all the activity going on, Archie was highly intrigued and kept trying to get in on the action with the removals team! So having someone else there to distract and entertain him was a must in hindsight.
  • Pack a bag of food for the day – For the adults, we ate on the go and grabbed what we could but for Archie I packed him quite the bag of supplies for the day so he had enough food to keep him going.
  • Accept your toddler’s normal routine might go out the window – Archie’s nap was never going to happen on moving day despite my best efforts to get him to drop off in the car. Clearly the intrigue and excitement was too much for him so we went with the flow and just tried to make sure bedtime went as smoothly as it could.
  • Set up their new room as close to the old one as possible – I know this sounds obvious but if you make sure the major elements of the old room are the same as in the new one then the environment will be more familiar to them and it should help them to settle. I’ve been amazed at how easily Archie found the transition to be honest and I’m sure this is a big reason why.
  • Once the removals firm have left, focus on making a couple of areas of the house safe and toddler friendly – Clearly you will want your whole home to be safe for them eventually but it’s likely to be a good few days before you’ve got through enough boxes for this to be the case. For us, aside from his room, we prioritised the kitchen so that as soon as he was up in the morning, we knew he had somewhere safe to eat breakfast, chill and play.