Breakfast for supper? No problem (or…how to cope with fussy eaters)

If there’s one thing that being a mum has taught me it is that, just when you think things will never change, they suddenly do – often overnight. In fact, I’ve noticed that it’s often just when I start thinking, “OMG Minnie is NEVER going to potty train/sleep through the night/learn to read” that something shifts and it all falls into place.

The problem is, though, that changing overnight thing can cut both ways…as I found out the hard way when Coco started teething.

Having been through it already with Minnie, I thought I knew what to expect when it came to symptoms of teething, namely: teething rash, an insatiable desire for Bonjela gel and teething ring. Although Minnie, who has always been a pretty adventurous eater, had a hard time as a teething baby, her eating one thing that wasn’t affected.

Coco had other ideas. In fact her response to the symptoms of teething was to batten down the hatches and treat all food with extreme suspicion – even the failsafes that she’d previously devoured.

But, suddenly, carrots, avocados, broccoli were all off the menu – and all over me, as her charming response when I give her something that is not in the circle of trust is to, literally, throw it back at me! My theory, for what it’s worth, is that she was put off certain foods because it hurt to eat them. Then she got a sort of mental block about foods she wasn’t CERTAIN would be pain free.

Turns out (surprise surprise) that since every child is different they all react differently to, say, the symptoms of teething.

So that is how I found out that children who are teething, can, quite literally overnight, become picky eaters. It’s just that, having had a ‘good’ eater first time round I found myself getting my knickers in a bit of a twist when Coco was point blank refusing to eat nine out of ten things I offered her, or at least that’s what it felt like. And the fact is, when your child won’t eat, it is stressful! I found myself practically crying when Coco started refusing pretty much all vegetables (I actually found myself Googling “can children in Britain actually get scurvy?’).

It was my lovely mum who saved the day. This is a lady who, at one point had four children under four so it’s safe to say that if you have a parenting dilemma she has been there, done that, and got the T-shirt. So when I found myself wailing down the phone that Coco will only eat pasta and pizza she just said, “Well if she wants pizza give her pizza all week – next week it will be something else.”

As I was picturing a future with the fussiest child in the universe it was so helpful to be reminded that almost everything is ‘just a phase’.

I have to say, my experience with Coco has been a bit of a hubris moment too. I’m not saying that I was smug about the fact that Minnie was such a great eater. But when other mums said their babies were fussy I didn’t exactly judge them… but maybe I thought that maybe they hadn’t made enough of an effort to offer their kids new food.

OK, maybe I did judge - a bit.

My experience with Coco has been an excellent reminder of the importance, when it comes to parenting, to count one’s blessings but NEVER TO JUDGE!

It’s also a helpful reminder of the fact that every child is different. Sure, of course you have an influence but only up to a point. And that’s actually really reassuring when you stop to think about it!

If your baby has turned into an overnight fusspot, my advice is: keep on offering new food (but don’t spend hours preparing it). Don’t force it. And don’t worry if they say no.

In the meantime, try focus on the positives. Coco has added eggs and porridge to her repertoire. So my new mantra is, “Breakfast for supper? No problemo”.

PS Food aside, there are some times when teething babies just want to have a good old chew. Don’t forget that Matchstick Monkey is 100% silicone and freezer friendly so can go in the fridge or freezer and will always stays cold without sticking to your baby’s gums.

Aaaaaaaand relax!