“Oh, they’re a picky eater? Well, you’ve just got to be strict with them”
“Don’t spoil them”
“Let them go hungry. They will soon give in”
“When they see other kids eat, they’ll eat”
Some of the wonderful and pointless advice I have received over the years. And if you have a child who has difficulty with eating, then you’ll understand me when I say that there are two camps on the topic of kids and eating.
My kid had no problems and I think that’s because I’m a good parent. Do what I did and you won’t have a problem.
My kid eats but I want them to eat more healthily. They ate the carrots yesterday but today they threw them on the floor. Oh my god, my kid has an eating problem!
We talk about this a lot and give advice to others whenever we can.
It’s nuts. Eating is something that all animals do naturally, without event thinking about it. But my kid has real issues with food and the process of eating. So how the heck do you teach an activity that is instinctive? Yeah, that’s what we are trying to figure out.
We get advice all the time but rarely get listened too.
And ok, there is a third camp. A camp of people who feed their kids, their kids eat, mostly, and they don’t worry about it too much. But they also tend to just get on with it and don’t give meaningless advice to others.
I’ve been in Camp 2 for the last 8 years. It’s been a long road. It’s tested my patience. I’ve questioned my parenting hundreds of times. I’ve let the whole thing go (my daughter had a feeding tube so what the heck) and I’ve worked at it like a demon. I wrote my side of the story on how to actually help your kids to eat in this post 8 ways to get your kids to eat
And in 3 words? Give It Time.
But today’s post is a celebration. A milestone has been achieved in our household.
F, my daughter with the incurable kidney disorder, the one who drank Maggi flavour enhancer, neat(!), for about 4 years, the one who didn’t eat more than crumb size bites until she was 5, the one who projectile vomited at the touch of a banana, the one who had to learn how to move food to the back of her throat so she could swallow it, well she ate a baked potato. With tuna mayonnaise. And a little bit of salt and butter.
A complete meal.
Not bits and bobs. Not a collection of random food stuffs. Not just a single item like tuna or a plain tortilla wrap dipped in ketchup (yes, that really was an acceptable meal for her for a long time).
A complete meal.
She took a complete, normal sized bite. You know, the amount of food you can get on a teaspoon and that any other kid of 8 would eat. You know, where the food actually fills your mouth completely.
She didn’t vomit or gag.
She just ate it. Said it was delicious. Then took another bite. And another bite. And another. Until it was finished.
I cried. I held my tears inside because, well, she would just think her mum was a freak. Can you imagine taking a bite of a baked potato and seeing your mum cry because of it? She’d call a doctor.
But inside I cried with joy.
She ate! a complete! meal!
I want to add exclamation marks everywhere because all the words are so exciting and so important!!!!!!!!!!!!
And you know what else? She loves spicy tuna maki. And eats the whole thing. Not just picking a few grains of rice out and drowning them in soy sauce (because really, that’s how she used to eat them). SHE EATS THE WHOLE THING
I know there are so many other battles still to face. So many other things she needs to learn how to do to look after herself, and I’m not even talking about her medical routine. But she can eat. She can finally do that one thing that so many of us take for granted. She can eat.
For all of you who are facing this challenge, a child with difficulty eating, I just want to say:
Hang in there. You’re patience is just perfect. You’re impatience is natural and sometimes will give you the push your child needs to be challenged. And take time to celebrate the milestones. Because there are many along the way. The first bite. The first time the food stayed in. The first time they say “can I try that?” Enjoy them all.
Who would have thought that baked potato with tuna mayonnaise would make me cry with joy?