kids

Tell me you have a fussy eater without telling me you have a fussy eater.

Aptagrow
Thanks to our brand partner, Aptagrow

I have four sons aged 5 to 12, and you know the most common thing people say about feeding my boys?   

“Oh wow four boys, it must cost an absolute fortune to feed them?!”    

My response is usually something along the lines of: “Actually, you’d be surprised how cheap a rotation of chicken nuggets, carrots and rice wheels are!”.

Before I had my boys, I envisioned mealtime with my family would be a calm and joyful time where we would all sit around talking about our days. 

Having four little boys in one room at 5pm can feel more like… feeding time at the zoo than what I pictured before kids. My boys move constantly, spill their waters, sometimes fall off their chairs, and just getting them to come to the table to eat can be like herding wild monkeys. 

I’ve learnt a few things through the years on navigating their fussy eating. Here are my 4 observations that ring true when you have a fussy eater under your roof.

1. You feel like every kid is probably eating oysters and anchovies except yours.

I used to feel like I was so alone with my picky eating sons. 

If you even have one friend who says, “oh, little Zahn just loves when we feed him oysters and anchovies for his snack time and the bonus is its soooooo high in protein,” then you might know this same feeling. 

This comment might be said while I am convincing my child that the pasta in the shape of a tube is not in fact poisonous and it will taste just the same as the spirals he loves. 

What I have learned over time is most of my kids’ food fussiness followed this pattern: 

  • Age 0 to 2: My baby eats everything I offer. (I am nailing this!)

  • Ages 2 to 4: My child will not eat anything apart from plain crackers, cheese and chicken nuggets. (I am not nailing anything!)

  • Age 5 and onwards: (Tries more stuff. Can be hit and miss, but I’ll take it. Phew!)

I’m pretty sure most kids follow a similar pattern. Except maybe Zahn. 

My kids' food must not be touching. AT ALL TIMES. Image: Supplied.

2. You get HEAPS of unsolicited advice.

Unless you plan to come over and sit through the sh**show that can be 4 kids under 7 at dinnertime, maybe keep the advice on how your kids are amazing eaters… to yourself. Unless I’m peppering you with my own questions.

I’ve been told by so many people that they simply just do X and Y and their kids “eat anything placed in front of them”. 

The thing I have noticed is, sometimes these people usually don’t have young children anymore and what I am wondering is: surely they must have forgotten what mealtime was like? 

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3. There is nothing more soul-crushing than when your child’s lunchbox comes home uneaten.

The definition of telling you I have a fussy eater without telling you I have a fussy eater is going to all the effort of making a sugar free, nut free, and wheat free banana muffin to send with my son to his preschool. 

And it coming home uneaten.

Agh, the sadness. (Let’s be honest, it probably didn’t taste amazing anyway. But still!) 

4. Turns out connection and time make all the difference.

Image: Supplied.

My youngest son is 5 now, and he just started Kindy. We have finally gotten rid of all our highchairs and bibs, with plastic plates and spoons fast becoming a thing of the past.

Many nights we are all sitting down to a family dinner together, and miraculously some nights – no one cries or spills their water! Imagine that.

We love to talk about the best thing that happened in each of our days. It’s fast becoming one of the highlights of my own day. An experience I never, ever could have pictured coming so soon. 

The big takeaway I’ve learned from my own experience: fussy eating fades. 

But, eventually mealtimes can become a great way to connect. If you yourself are willing to try new things, and you show your kids that being together is more important than finishing everything on their plates… 

That, can last forever.

Aptagrow is a food for special medical purpose and must be used under medical supervision. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and have not been endorsed or verified by Nutricia. Individual results may vary.

Gen Muir is an Obstetric Social Worker, parent coach and mum to four boys with a passion for helping parents on children’s behaviour and emotion in the first five years. Gen has worked with over 40,000 parents though her role at a maternity hospital and through private online programs. You can find her on Instagram or on her website.

Feature image: Supplied.

Aptagrow
AptaGrow is an age-adapted nutrient drink range for fussy eaters from 1 to 10 years. One glass gives a third of their daily intake of key nutrients* for growth and immune function and it’s designed not to spoil their appetite. Buy some AptaGrow for your fussy eater at Chemist Warehouse today. *Based on the NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values; key nutrients including iron, zinc & vitamin D. AptaGrow is a Food for Special Medical Purposes. Use under medical supervision.