As I write this, my husband is trying to get Aria to eat chicken and butternut squash tagine. Lovingly made last weekend, this delicious meal doesn’t seem to appeal to my darling daughter’s tastebuds. How do I know? She’s behaving as if he’s trying to feed her poison, by squealing and wriggling, her face bright red as she tries to escape from her highchair.
This isn’t a rare occurrence and there have been many tears of frustration over the last 6 months or so since we started the weaning journey, and that was just from me!
From the beginning, we’ve made all of Aria’s meals from scratch, using the Annabel Karmel book and making up a few of our own along the way. I think this has made it even more upsetting when she’s refused to eat them, as we’ve put a lot of effort into making sure she has the best we can offer. I’ve felt, at times, like it’s a personal insult when she’s refused food. Sounds crazy doesn’t it?
As I’m sure mums reading this can sympathise, trying to get your child to eat a variety of meals is a challenge. There have been several days where Aria will refuse to eat anything from a spoon, only wanting to eat finger food. Then for a few weeks she’s loved everything we’ve offered – from cottage pie to salmon and broccoli with pasta. Now, we’re going through a fussy stage and I’m trying to remain calm.
Although I’m certainly no expert, I wanted to write a post that other mums could relate to and offer a few tips I’ve found have helped over the last 6 months of our weaning journey.
1. Offer finger food at every meal (and an extra spoon!)
Aria is very independent and loves to feed herself, including finger food and eating with a spoon, although her aim isn’t usually that great! I try to offer finger food that’s easy to hold, including homemade fish goujons, slices of cheese, cucumber sticks, homemade salmon footballs and sweet potato wedges. I also find this is a good distraction, as is letting her hold her own spoon, whilst I slip some food into her mouth unnoticed!
2. Use distraction
Aria loves Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom so we tend to have this on at meal times as, quite often, she is engrossed she will let me feed her. I know not everyone will agree with this method, but it often works!
3. Make meal times fun
Nobody likes to eat alone so I try to time our meals together as much as possible. Aria’s more likely to eat if she sees us eating, although she often wants what we have rather than her own food, and it makes it more social.
I’ve also recently discovered that Aria will take food from her spoon if I let her pig puppet ‘feed’ her. Strange but true!
4. Stay calm
Easier than it sounds but take a deep breath…..or ten. I found, not only was me getting wound up when Aria wouldn’t eat making me feel exhausted, it wasn’t making meal times a pleasurable experience for either of us. The more frustrated I became, the more Aria refused to eat. Now I just think – she won’t starve, so maybe today she’s just not as hungry as the day before. Like us, she’s not a robot when it comes to how much we want to eat on any certain day.
What stage are you at on the weaning journey and what are your tips for staying calm?
Let me know in the comments below or tweet me at @Em_L_Smith
Thanks for reading,