Fussy Eaters And Phase Transitions

I was reading a post on Dadventurer today, all about toddlers who are fussy eaters and different ways to get them to eat, and it really struck a chord with me. Why? Because my little princess is one of the fussiest eaters I have ever come across.

Eating healthily is a big thing these days, and my other half is constantly trying to find new ways to get my daughter to eat my vegetables… Or meat… Or pretty much anything other than her microwave baby meals, cheese, and bread. Seriously, if you put food in front of her, she’ll push it away and say “no” in the sweetest little voice you’ve ever heard. She simply won’t have it, and won’t even let you put the food in her mouth to try the taste.

However, if you were to then put a plate of bread in front of her, she’d demolish it (and we’re talking 6 or 7 slices here). And that got me thinking about how we had it really easy to transition her from drinking milk all the time to having juice and eating.

The Transition

We thought it was going to be really hard to get the little one to give up on her dummy and her milk-focused diet. We expected a lot of crying and tantrums about it, all day every day. After all, you always hear stories about how difficult it is to get a child to give regular bottle feeds. We prepared ourselves for the worst.

Yet when the time came, and we decided that she needed to move on from having the exact same dummy she’d had since she was a newborn, things went very differently. You see, we first thought we’d get her a newer dummy, designed for slightly older kids. We thought that she’d make the switch to that, and from there we should slowly drop the amount of time she got to have the dummy until she would finally give up on it entirely.

Instead, she put the new dummy in her mouth for all of 5 seconds, spat it out and cried for about 4 minutes. Then, everything just stopped. It was like someone had just turned on the Child Safety Barrier so that we wouldn’t have to hear the constant screaming. She just stopped, instantly, and then started playing with her toys again. She didn’t even look at the dummy! And since then, she hasn’t been interested in it.

It was really quite similar in the end when it came to milk, although we were worried it would be a lot more difficult at first. Whenever we would have dinner, we would sit the little one down in her hair chair, right next to me. Then, as we ate our food, she would drink her milk. We’d constantly try to offer her some of our food (if it was suitable for her), but she’d just turn her head away and go back to her bottle.

Even if we gave her food when we weren’t eating, she wouldn’t take it. So we both started to worry that getting her to eat food rather than solely drink milk was going to be a real challenge.

Then one day, we sat down for dinner as always and passed the little one her bottle. She pushed it away. We tried again, and she pushed it away again. So I tried a bit of our food, and she swallowed it whole! Then she reached towards my plate, so I gave her some more. This time, she chewed it and she tasted it, and she just smiled. Since then, she’s been eating her food with no problem.

It’s just difficult to get her to eat other things now…

The Time Will Come

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the way my little princess switched from her dummy or milk, it’s that a child will do something when they’re ready for it. You can try and push them towards doing something as much as you want, but if they’re not ready then they won’t. For example, we keep talking to my daughter and trying to teach her words, but because we’re doing that in two different languages, it’ll take longer for my daughter to talk. But you know, she’ll do it, and she’ll do it when she’s ready.

It was the same for walking. We were really worried that she’d only just started crawling when she was 13 months old…. But then, after crawling around for about 3 weeks, she just stood up and walked. There was no tumbling around or falling over because she couldn’t balance yet. That day, we were all in the living room, myself on the floor next to the sofa, my wife on the beanbag and the princess crawling back and forth between us.

She’d just got to my wife when she turned around, looked at me, stood up and walked all the way across the room into my arms. It was just so completely random!

And That’s All Folks

So yeah, maybe the trick is to show them and lead by example. Then, when they feel like they’re ready, they might just surprise you by just doing whatever it is you are trying to get them to do. It’s like that saying; monkey see, monkey do… They will copy you and your behaviour, mannerisms, and speech. We all know this already.

Maybe the best way to help a child learn is to show them, and not try to force them… I’ve seen too many people who will ignore their child’s crying until the child tries to walk to them, instead of crawl. That, to me at least, is really horrible… The child obviously isn’t ready. So just be patient with them.

However, going back to the Dadventurer’s post, i think trying different fun and enjoyable ways to show your child, rather than forcing them into it, is much better! I love the idea of the “catching the worm” and “feasting with the Gruffalo. Ideas like that are great, as you’ll be able to have fun with you child whilst also leading by example. And then, when they’re ready, they’ll just pick it up and do it themselves!

Maybe I’m wrong, but from my experience, if a child is ready to move into their next phase of development, they’ll do it by themselves anyway.

What do you think? How did you transition from dummy to no dummy, or milk to solid foods? Let me know in the comments below!

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Hello there! I’m Gareth, the 16-Bit Dad; a retro gaming blogger, Twitch Streamer and Autism Parent. With a focus on great games, a wonderful Stream community and help for other Autism Parents, I review games, play them with the community and share my learnings about Autism!

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