I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve always struggled to get my oldest to try different foods. I have always refused to call him “fussy” because I think it’s unfair to label a child as fussy, which is a label that will stick and become a self fulfilling prophecy. It’s more that he’s suspicious of foods he doesn’t know, and he’s still learning confidence to try things.
And it’s not always try NEW things, it’s try things you know and love but presented to you in a different manner. For example, if give him a boiled egg (known in our house as a dinosaur egg) in an egg cup with toast “soldiers”, he will demolish a full plate of 2 eggs and 2 slices of bread. However, recently he was given that same egg, mashed up in between the bread (egg sandwich), there was no chance of it passing anywhere near his lips. But I have learnt with Arthur ways around this. I’m going to try it with the egg sandwich next to test my theory further. Get him involved in the process. If he plays a part in taking the dinosaur egg, helping to take the shell off, mash it and spread the bread, then he will have more than just my word that “it’s the same thing as your dinosaur egg”! I’ll let you know how this test goes, but I’ve always had success with getting him involved in cooking in the past, as I have blogged about before.
That success might not look like him suddenly joining us in devouring a plate of stir fry, that might still be in my dreams. That sucess looks like him being happy to have things he doesn’t like on his plate. It might look like him scraping the potato off the top of his shepherds pie and eating it (something he wouldn’t have touched before). It might look like him being ok that he has got some bolognese sauce on his pasta and he’s still going to eat it, even though before he would have rejected that piece of pasta as yucky. And that sucess might look like him tasting a blackberry when we are picking them. Ok he didn’t like it, but the confidence to try things is massive. I would never pressure him to have another bite of something he didn’t like. But I always explain to him it’s good to try things otherwise we don’t know what we like. He recently discovered that he loves grapes, he’s partial to a jam sandwich, and when in character as peter rabbit, he can even tolerate a raw carrot.
Which brings me onto school lunches. Arthur just started primary school in September. I knew he would get free school meals being in the early years of school (and knowing that hasn’t been taken away from us just yet!), and so most of the children would obviously be having this option, well because it makes sense! I was a bit anxious as to how he would react, but decided the best thing to do was not send him in with his “safe” packed lunch that he had at Preschool of cheese sandwiches, and to throw him in at the deep end with hot lunches. I thought that 1) he wouldn’t know he had the default cheese sandwich option if I had never given him that option and
2) he was much more likely to eat food if most of the other children were sitting down to eat it.
So after the first day of having lunch at the school, back on his settling in day before summer, I tried to hide the anticipation in my voice as I asked “did you have lunch at school today?”. His reply “yes I had a jacket potato, with beans on the potato and cheese on the beans” filled me with relief and little surprise! At home if I put the beans on the potato, he would just refuse to touch it. Everything had to be separate on his plate. What a miracle school lunches had been and it was only day 1! Since then he has happily had foods touching or mixed together on his plate, and even had beans ON toast the other day. Not beans next-to-the toast, and I will only eat the toast if it has no bean juice on it. This is a small step but a very important step in his eating journey.
I don’t know how much of his actual lunch he eats at school. He always tells me he was “too slow to eat it all”. Arthur doesn’t like food when it’s hot, and always waits till it’s nearly cold before he starts it. So I tell him that he will have to tuck into it a bit quicker tomorrow. I know he will get the hang of it! But it’s made a huge difference to how he eats at home in a very short space of time. He even looks at the options and chooses which meal he’s going to have with me, which is nice. He has a lovely range of food available, school lunches really have changed since my day. He even had salmon fish fingers the other day! And of course, the other change we have had since starting school is that he’s really hungry by dinner time. He even empties his whole plate of dinner sometimes, before he would pick at the bit he likes the most and not touch the rest.
So small steps, but steps in the right direction! We will look back and smile when he’s an adult and eats everything under the sun, like his Mum and Dad do!