Hello!

My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 7 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Munchkin - My Little Fussy Eater!


"Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy"
(Author Unknown)

Those were the days. The days when I had a perfect little girl, weaning at 4 months old, and happy to try absolutely any foods that were presented to her! Like many others, Munchkin really was the model baby when weaning. There were very few foods that she would turn her nose up at, and she appeared to be a child that genuinely enjoyed her food. Mealtimes were exciting for all of us, watching her try and take pleasure in experimenting with new textures and flavours.

Munchkin at 6 months enjoying her first Baby Rusk!

At the start, I will admit that the foods we fed to Munchkin were shop bought. In the early stages of being a new mum, I did not seem to have the confidence to make up my own foods for her, although I had every intention to before she was born! 

"I'll give her every vegetable and fruit that I can, and I will blend them up into a variety of delicious purées, and Munchkin will love them all!"

In reality, at least at the beginning, I would find myself in the Baby Food aisle in our local Morrisons, checking out their huge selection of jars, pouches and packets. In reality, I never seemed to have the time to make up all my own foods for our daughter. In reality, these 'already prepared' meals were convenient and a 'safe' option. I would check labels and ingredients, and I would compare nutritional values on the different packets. I liked to think that I knew what my child was eating, although, I suppose, no one can ever be 100% certain on the ingredients unless the food is home-made from scratch. I do, however, feel that a number of brands get the nutritional balance just right in their pre-prepared foods. Our personal favourites were Cow & Gate and Organix. They were always Munchkin's first choice, and even the snacks they offer were higher on her list of favourites than other brands. Even today, at 2 and a half, she loves Organix Oven Baked Carrot Sticks which are recommended from 7 months!

When Munchkin was about 18 months old, we started to see a developing 'fussy' streak gradually appearing. All she wanted to eat was pasta and cheese! Shopping became a struggle. We would go to the supermarket and the Greengrocers together, and look at all of the vegetables and fruits that were available, and it was clear that she had an interest in them. She was aware of their names, and always commented on all the bright colours. We came to the conclusion that she 'liked the idea' of having these different foods, but the actuality of the situation was that they weren't pasta or cheese, so they would just get pushed to the side of the plate.


I worried terribly that Munchkin wasn't getting the nutrition that she needed. I consulted Health Visitors and other professionals, none of whom seemed too concerned. "She'll get there ..." they'd say, but I wasn't convinced that she would - not without a little intervention, anyway! After all, guidelines about the kind of food and nutrients children need in their diets seem to chop and change regularly! Vitamins, various supplements that are available for our kids, Omega 3 - what will come next ...?

This was the point at which I decided to enrol ourselves on a well known course of parent / child sessions that focus on healthy living through nutrition and exercise. From these sessions, my priorities and attitudes towards her eating habits changed direction. Instead of worrying myself that she was getting plenty of food inside her tummy at dinner time, I was more concerned that she was eating the right amount of the different food groups, and instead of letting myself get stressed that she wasn't eating, I learnt that it was more important to stay calm to keep meal times relaxed. I gained a great deal of knowledge I never previously had regarding portion sizes and realised that the amount of food I was putting on Munchkin's plate was probably too much, creating a sense of defeat in her before she even picked up her fork!

Portion sizes are an essential priority to us now!
Nowadays, it is most important that Munchkin gets a good balance of different food groups and also that she learns to enjoy her food! This has been the biggest struggle. Problem is, she is so lively and full of energy all of the time, it's difficult to encourage her to sit still for long enough to eat a whole meal! It is important that we eat as a family, and that she sees vegetables on ALL plates (even on daddy's plate, who is not  fruit or veg eater, but makes an extra effort for her benefit!) Dessert is often an incentive for Munchkin to sit nicely during meal times. The promise of bananas with custard or a yoghurt will often help to focus her at dinner. 



As Munchkin is only 2, her knowledge and understanding on nutrition and healthy eating is limited. We try to explain to her which foods are 'good for her' and which she needs to consume in moderation, but this is a tricky subject for a toddler to grasp. After all, if it tastes yummy, how can it not be good for you?! She does understand about not turning her nose up to foods that she has never tried before though. There was a time, not too long ago, that all unfamiliar food was bad! The one response we would get from her is, "I don't like that!" before she had even tried it. Now, however, if she is offered a food she does not recognise, she says "Mustn't say NO to new food!" and she will give it a try. In this department, I feel we are progressing, which is something!

We would love to hear your thoughts and feelings on all or any of the points listed below. Any tips you may have when dealing with fussy eating in young children would also be gratefully accepted! With Mini Munchkin due to arrive any day now, it would be lovely to feel that we could have an easier job second time around!

  • How do you shop for kids' food?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What do you worry about?
  • What do you look for in food?
  • What are the most important things to you when it comes to kids and nutrition?
  • Which brands get it right?
  • What do brands say/do that annoy you?
  • Where do treats and puddings fit in? What challenges do you face there?
  • What do your kids say/think? Do they comment on their diet? Do they ask for certain things? Do they know about nutrition?
  • What do you think will be the 'next big thing' in nutritional benefits? 

All input and/or experiences would be lovely to read here!



Although a fee has been offered for the writing of this post, I have only been provided with a list of guideline questions to answer using my own experiences. Therefore, everything you read in this post is 100% personal to The Munchkin Patch!

22 comments:

  1. I shop myself for our family meal ingredients - choosing the local butchers, bakers and grocery stores whenever possible. These option also work out cheap than Tesco did and the ingredients were nicer.

    We all eat together and I make 90% of our meals from scratch. Emmy's favourite foods are broccoli, carrots, peas and sweetcorn. She hates meat but gets her goodness elsewhere so I'm not too fussed.

    Well done munchkin for trying new foods

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    1. We like to use local retailers too now and try to only use the supermarkets for the other essentials. We find the nutritional quality is much better. We have problems getting Munchkin to eat meat too, but we think a lot of that is laziness as it takes a lot of chewing! But she's healthy and certainly not lacking in energy, so she must be getting enough of everything she needs! x

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    2. With our 1st born I made all his meals and was happy he was eating a healthy balanced diet. Fruit and veg were eaten readily. Then as he got older he became more fussy and fruit favoured veg. Even now veg is very low on his agenda at 4yrs. I do however try to give him 'Hidden veg' from time to time! He does tend to eat more crisps than I would really like but generally his diet is balance and he is always on the go so I'm not worried about the crisps right now! His younger brother was given a mixture of homemade food and shop brought baby food (plum and Ella's kitchen on the whole or Organix) and since the age of 1yrs eats what we all do. They are generally very good eater's although the younger one eats very little fruit and veg! We shop online at Tesco but the eldest knows his foods on the shelves and has learnt a lot at Pew-school. BTW both boys love pasta too :-)

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    3. Thanks for your input Jo! Munchkin is just starting to accept veg on her plate. She has always liked sweetcorn, but all other veg has been a challenge until recently. Offer her a banana though and she's your friend for life, haha! She LOVES bananas! She is partial to a packet of crisps but isn't a fan of sweets, unless it's chocolate. We keep it to a reasonable minimum though. After all, the last thing I want is for her to grow up binging on the 'luxuries' in secret, hehe!! x

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  2. At two my son's favorite foods were baby carrot sticks, cheese and tortillas. He was a picky eater all the way into his teens, and now at 20 he has been a vegetarian for 4 years!! So keep setting a good example and doing what you can and they figure it out eventually.

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    1. It's funny how their tastes and habits change over the years! Munchkin's dad always ate fruit and veg when he was very young and never had an issue with them. Then he started being told at the dinner table "eat your meat, then you can go play", so immediately vegetables were a non-essential and were just delaying his leisure time! Then as the years passed, he developed a dislike for anything fruit or veg! Sometimes, even as an adult, he can become very lethargic and often questions his diet and whether it has an adverse effect on his day-to-day health! Thanks for your thoughts Teressa! x

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  3. My little girl is 18 months and I've never had a problem with her eating up until last week and all she wants is snacks now she does love fruit, milk and yogurts which I know are good for her but worry she oesnt eat enough meat I try to give her a mix of home cooked foods as well as the shop bought ones we usually buy Heinz mums own dinners as they are her favourite

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    1. Milk was always one of our concerns. Munchkin was still having a beaker of Formula each night before bed after her 2nd birthday, as she refused to drink cow's milk and was not getting a great deal of calcium elsewhere (apart from cheese of course!) Nowadays, she will drink cow's milk if it is lightly flavoured with Nesquik powder or in a hot chocolate before bed and loves her yoghurts, so we're not so concerned now. The meat issue seems quite common though I see! Thanks for your comment x

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  4. My 4 year old eats well if i offer her smething new she always says "we always try something once and if we dont like it thats fine!", its amaazing how many new things she has tried even if she doesn't like the look of it. She does eat sweets, cakes etc and is always asking for treats becuase her friends get them and I do find sweets work well for bribery oops. The one thing we do struggle with is breakfast, she wont eat anything except corner yoghurts which i think are too over priced and tend to only by if on offer. She is 4 and we are trying to now teach her about her food choices in terms of the effect on her body and it is paying off as she went to the shop today with her older cousin and saw those candy spray things and said all by herself im not allowed them as they have too much sugar.

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    1. I think we're all guilty of offering the 'sweets as bribes' bargain to our kids at times! But it's good when they try new foods willingly! We have a struggle with breakfast too as Munchkin doesn't seem to like cereals or anything that claims to provide a good source of 'slow release energy' which is ideal for their first meal of the day. All she ever wants are cheese sandwiches!! We'll get there I am sure!

      And well done to her for recognising that the candy has too much sugar! Might not happen every time, but a step in the right direction, that's for sure! Thanks for sharing your thoughts x

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  5. Food can be so tricky especially when you are trying to please more than one person. I am very lucky that my children will eat virtually everything, infact my eldest two have a better appetite than me!!! The thing I struggle the most with is variety as food prices seem to be peramanently on the up so trying to buy on a budget can be difficult. I try to plan my meals for the week before I go shopping, I tend to buy a lot of the supermarkets own brands as I find them to be just as good as the well known brands. My kids get treats/ puddings but not on a daily basis, how could I not let them have these kind of things when I have them myself :)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I totally agree with your point about puddings. I was never denied them as a child, just given them in moderation and my mum was always conscious of what puddings consisted of. I also agree with your comment about food prices. Sometimes it is difficult to get everything that is fresh, organic or locally sourced as it can be so expensive x

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  6. I make her food at home - a bit of rice made into a kind of boiled mash with carrots, bits of chicken , spinach, potatoes etc. She loves it. Its called 'pish pash!!

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    1. How lovely! Really glad she enjoys her food, and this does sound like a good combination for little ones. Maybe I will be a little braver and more experimental with Mini Munchkin! Thanks for your input, Jes x

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  7. With 5 kiddies, I had many different eating habits to deal with. One wouldn't eat veggies, the other fruits, another only liked mac & cheese with little pieces of beef hot dogs. I would worry all the time, that they weren't eating right, not enough and how could I help them understand the importance of healthy eating. I honestly think mine started having better eating habits at school age. My one son eat veggies like they were hot cakes, as a baby the green ones too!! Guess what at 12 he hates veggies especially the green ones!! :(

    I think it's natural to stress, worry etc as a parent. But as I've learned now some of my worries weren't needed.

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    1. I'm starting to think that way too. I was always so worried that Munchkin wasn't eating right, and I feel that this tension would show during mealtimes and was probably having a negative effect on her attitudes. Now we have relaxed a bit, she has too, so we can hopefully move forward with that. It is funny how tastes can completely transform over time though! Thanks for your comment, Debbie! x

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  8. My son is 3, and we tend to feed him whatever we're eating, with a few foods (cheese, cereal) available for him that he can eat if he doesn't like what we're having. I don't worry about anything. I'm a vegetarian, so we eat mostly whole foods, and try to avoid anything that comes from a can or a box. I don't really trust any brands. They're there to make money... not keep us healthy. In general, we don't buy much junk food, but when we do, it's just a fun treat, and I don't feel guilty about it. I think the next big thing will be people moving towards a less-processed, more whole foods, and plant-based diet.

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    1. Thanks for this Lisa! I like your thoughts on whole foods, and would love to move more in that direction. Just need to convince the other half that he DOES like fruit and veg and he won't melt into a puddle on the floor should he eat a tomato!! The 'brands war' does seem to be exactly that sometimes. One big competition to win the consumer over. Unfortunately, they often conquer in the convenience stakes, which so many families rely on. It's good to hear your son is eating well! x

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  9. As a mother of two children (3 and 1) and a Dietitian, my blog is dedicated to this topic. I hope you stop by and check out www.healthybabybeans.com.

    My advice is this- division of responsibility. It is the parent's job to offer your child healthy meals that are prepared safely and served at regular times through out the day. It is your child's job to decide how much and if they will eat at all. The trick is pair favorite foods with new foods, keeping to a schedule so they know when the next meal is coming and providing NO pressure to eat. It is a hard concept but is based on scientific evidence. It is teaching your child to self-regulate and trust their body.

    When I introduce food to my children, I do so away from the table. I let them help prepare the veggies and we play with them on the floor. They become familiar with produce without any pressure to eat it. Most of the time, they do try it b/c it is the natural thing to do.

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  10. You've done your daughter a huge service by learning how to eat healthy and make good choices at such a young age. I struggle with my boys who are 12 and 9. They are super picky and often refuse to try something new. I love Clancy's advice on introducing your child to new foods!! Good luck!

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  11. thanks for sharing..

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