“I want something else”
Please say I’m not the only parent who hears these words mere minutes after her toddler has ‘finished’ her dinner!
Imogen has always been so good at eating. She’s usually liked trying new things, just sometimes has needed a little encouragement. I know there’s of course going to be those things she will not like for a while, (maybe even ever)… such as peppers, but on the whole, if it’s sliced up small enough, in another meal she’s wolfed it up. So over the last couple of months this new refusal to eat pretty much anything I’ve put in front of her has been a bit of a shock. I’ve been so smug and naïve!
At 2 and a half Imogen has become such a fiercely independent young lady. She’s putting on most of her clothes herself, she’s choosing what she wants to wear, what she likes and dislikes, so I guess it’s only natural that she would be trying to choose what she wants to eat. Of course anyone who didn’t know the repercussions would want to eat nothing but chocolate and biscuits, but trying to get it through to a toddler that this isn’t possible is not easy is it!?
I tried different techniques: gentle persuasion, cartoons on the TV, no TV at all, music, sitting next to Imogen for emotional support, eating all together at set meal times, eating out in public, negotiation, and the more desperate approach of bribery with dessert/cake. Nothing was working!! This toddler had me wrapped around her little finger and she knew it. All those meals she used to love… spaghetti Bolognese, moussaka, sausages, chicken nuggets… Imogen was now telling me “I DON’T LIKE IT! I WANT SOMETHING ELSE!”
WHY????!! You liked it a couple of months ago!
I was even considering putting my daughter in nursery for the entire 5 days a week because every time I’ve gone to pick her up, the darling has eaten double portions of all the meals they’ve been serving. At least, I thought, she would be eating! But no, in all honesty I enjoy my time with her and that wouldn’t be what I wanted really. I also can’t imagine having the finances to do that.
So I’ve tried something new.
I bought the Fred Dinner Winner Kids’ Dinner Tray, with dinosaurs on, for my little dinosaur lover. If you’ve not seen these dinner trays they look like board games, with a little windy path to the hidden prize at the end.
I also printed out a little sticker rewards chart which has gone on to the wall next to where she eats.
The dinner tray has gone down well. My only comments on it really are that Imogen hasn’t got her head around eating from the slots in order, but on the plus side, she has been eating it all. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll get the idea around it being like a board game, but right now I think it’s appealing because of the dinosaurs and the surprise at the end. The prize slot is a little small, so what I thought I might do is maybe draw a small picture of a yoghurt pot etc on a folded piece of paper, so she knows what her surprise is when she opens it up. It’s just too small for anything really other than a couple pieces of chocolate. When Imogen has eaten her dinner we have the exciting job of adding a star to the reward chart, and it shows a reminder that she has been eating all week. So far, it has been working, but I don’t know how long it will work for. I’m hoping that if we make it our new routine hopefully Imogen will start eating better. We also need everyone else to be on board, i.e. the grandparents who have a tendency to give children what they ask for!
If you have any dinner time tips for getting a fussy or bossy little one to eat, please share them here for everyone to see, we’d love to hear them! 🙂