The dip dip diaries: Living with a fussy eater

“Getting your child to eat a meal has to be the single, most stressful part of parenting”

One of MMTs friends, over a cuppa, March 2016

Such a simple statement, but so, so true.

If you have ever been reduced to tears over a spaghetti bolognese, or held your head in your hands over a fishermans pie, you know exactly what we’re talking about.

Our first daughter really wasn’t ever too bad on the whole. We did, of course have low points. Like the day I spent 90 minutes preparing a miniature, baby sized fish pie from scratch, then decided to serve it with a side portion of carrots. I should have maybe taken a small victory in the successful consumption of the veg, but all I took was a life lesson to never again cook a meal in miniature. I couldn’t even take solace in the fact our dinner was sorted, as the tiny pie was pushed aside with disdain.

Now, a fully fledged four year old, the only problem we have with Tigs is getting her to STOP eating. She’ll wolf down a roast dinner, a salmon steak, a mountain of brocoli, corn on the cob, an entire fruit bowl, a MaccyD’s…whatever you put in front of her really. Her whiney chorusing of ‘hungry’ is like a broken record throughout the day, requiring loads of distraction and mental stimulation to divert her away from the kitchen and towards the toys in a bid to not contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic (but equally not induce a body image complex). Definitely ready for school, that one.

We should have known that her baby sister, who you may recall never really liked milk, was going to be a whole different ‘Kettle of fish’. The writing was on the wall from the very beginning.

As we Rugby kicked the formula out of the door, and thought we’d come through the weaning days relatively unscathed, we find ourselves in a new parenting nightmare. A fussy eater.

My theory of her having a tiny stomach (being a 2nd percentile baby) and needing to eat little and often, was thrown out of court by the health visitor. The official line was that we need to make sure she comes to the table hungry at meal times.

Well she certainly seems hungry as she screams for an hour while I prepare her meal. But, when the damn meal is ready, she seems to lose interest.

The lunchtime selection of bready things, ham, cucumber, cheese, fruit has all gone a bit Pete Tong too. Her sisters endless appetite leaves me trying the little one with a bit of this, a bit of that. The ending result is a huge pair of eyes (in a tiny head) peeping out from behind a mountain of barely touched food, while her sister asks “can I eat that? She doesn’t want it”…

I know all the mistakes I’m making. Overwhelming her. Underwhelming her. Making mealtimes ‘an issue’. But it’s so hard not to feel the frustration rising.

Who knew that ones mood could be so severely affected by what another person did, or did not eat for dinner. The household aura at the witching hour can be so heavily influenced by what went down at tea time.

 The girls seem to be developing not only opposing appetites, but also tastes. With one loving nothing more than a home cooked sloppy meal of pasta and sauce, or shepherds pie..and the other wanting a dry meat – veg – carb meal, nothing possibly touching each other.

There is one thing however they do have in common. And it has to be Heinz. No, really, it does. Our three year old sniffed out the Aldi equivalent ketchup in a millisecond. Thankfully the reduced sugar version has gone unnoticed as yet.

I don’t know how I let this happen, but a 16 month old surely shouldn’t be demanding dip dip with her scrambled eggs yet should she? I suppose it’s the sibling thing – they see, they want.

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At first we thought it may be a good thing to encourage her to get a little down her, but now it’s clear. She’d happily just eat ketchup for tea. So we’re fighting the battle, but she’s not going down without a fight.

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I think I might actually be turning into Mrs Pig off of ‘Mrs Pigs Bulk Buy’. It’s a tactic I’m keeping in the back burner, if things get really desperate.

But for now, we’ll keep going. Offering her whatever we’re having. Celebrating the good days and skirting over the bad. Persevering. Smiling through gritted teeth. Praising the successes, and glossing over the fails. Seeing the weekly calorie intake as a marathon, not a sprint.

x MMT

Images from this post taken from Mrs Pigs Bulk Buy, by Mary Rayner, Published in 1981. One of my favourite childhood story books.

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50 thoughts on “The dip dip diaries: Living with a fussy eater

  1. The Adventures of Beta Mummy Reply

    Ugh I have the same issue, except my older boy is the fussy one, whereas the little one eats everything in sight. It is driving me nuts!

  2. bridiebythesea Reply

    This is brilliant and sums it up to a tee. It’s so hard not to get frustrated as you just want them to eat! Hope you find a happy medium so you’re not cooking too many separate meals – Bridget (Bridie By The Sea)

    1. MMT Reply

      Thanks Bridget. She’ll get there I’m sure, seems to want to mimic her sister in everything else so hopefully not too long till she cottons on! Learning from the best ha ha. X

  3. crummymummy1 Reply

    It is hard not to get stressed out about it, especially when you’ve spent all that time preparing a meal. Good luck! #marvmondays

    1. MMT Reply

      Trying to resist serving up chic chip brioche and ketchup instead of slaving over a rejected meal!! We’ll get there…. Thanks for stopping by x

  4. min1980 Reply

    Yes, yes and yes. I feel your pain. I wrote something very similar about Piglet just yesterday. It sounds like he and you second daughter are very similar!

    1. MMT Reply

      Although breaking news; She loves a Nandos! Like mother like daughter…

  5. relentlesslypurple Reply

    I could have been writing this myself! Both girls are quite fussy although Eva (5) is constantly hungry and wants to eat non stop! (as long as its what she likes) Both girls are obsessed with dip dip on their food which drives me mad!

    1. MMT Reply

      I guess it’s one of your five a day?… Maybe?… Well it may contain something like an actual tomato?! Thanks for stopping by. Good luck my friend! X

  6. Rhyming with Wine Reply

    We have exactly the same problem in our house, but it’s our eldest that’s the picky one, which means that the little man still has time to turn and acquire the picky! *sobs* Our most recent trip for a McDs as a hol treat…. He sat and ate a mini pot of ketchup just using his hand as cutlery. That’s it! Meh.

    Good luck lovely!
    Dawn x
    #marvmondays

    1. MMT Reply

      Sounds very familiar!!! Xx

      1. Rhyming with Wine Reply

        Just popping back through #coolmumclub lovely. Thanks for hosting xx

  7. Robina - babylists.co.uk Reply

    Argh, poor you! I was a VERY fussy child and now I have a baby of my own, feel so sorry for my poor mum. She even had to write to my school to say I was a vegetarian (I wasn’t), But I soon got over it and would eat anything in sight so hopefully your little one will do the same. Good luck #bestandworst

  8. Little Book of Sick Reply

    So far my baby has been eating most thing…I’m dreading the picky days.im sure they will arrive. Good luck with the dip,dip battle xx

  9. Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap) Reply

    Our gremlin went off so many things but overall she is ok. I wish she ate more fruit and have got sooo stressed in the past. Now I let it wash over me…offer her things and if she refuses she gets down and doesn’t eat. Luckily this is now rare. Keep offering the foods lovely and one day she will get there. As long as you are calm she will see that. Good luck and thanks for sharing with #bestandworst x

  10. dadbloguk Reply

    Our three year old has some fussy eating habits. Thankfully, however, both kids are wild on fruit. We can easily get their five a day into them. Just don’t ask about the rest! Very best of luck to you and thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

    1. MMT Reply

      Feeling a bit of a fraud reading all these comments as I watched her tuck in to breakfast number three…what a difference a couple of weeks makes! Our two are both little fruit bats, I guess it’s easy to get stressed when they are having off phases, and maybe, just maybe I set my expectations too high sometimes. Thanks for linking up John.

  11. occupation:(m)other Reply

    Oh I can sympathise, who knew crying about Spag Bol was even a thing! Um, I don’t really have any words of wisdom…I think you’re right to recognise that making mealtimes stressful can make them, you know, stressful but it’s very hard to avoid isn’t it. Sounds like you are on it mentally with variety and picky things and meals and ketchup xx #coolmumclub

  12. Becky @ Educating Roversi Reply

    We’re going through a simile thing with tea time. Other meals are fine, it’s just this one that can be hit and miss. Mini R has just found “Dip Dab” but associates it with chips mainly so we’re safe in that dept. Good luck! It’s not easy and does get stressful! #CoolMumClub

  13. Whinge Whinge Wine Reply

    My two have always been excellent eaters so I never really understood the pain of fussy eating… and then my toddler turned two. She is good some days, other days she won’t touch it. It’s infuriating isn’t it! She wouldn’t eat her spag bol (her favourite!) yesterday but fortunately the baby and the dog were willing to oblige so it didn’t go to waste. She had a biscuit instead in the end. Do whatever it takes is my motto. It’s infuriating, I can’t imagine having this battle every day since weaning began. I have utmost sympathies for parents of picky eaters.
    #coolmumclub

  14. beautybabyandme Reply

    Bless you hun you must be pretty stressed with all this! I’ve got this yet to come and am already nervous about it!! Stick with it you’re doing fabulous xx #coolmumclub

  15. Squirmy Popple Reply

    My daughter has recently gone from eating anything I put in front of her to only wanting to eat Organix snacks and Weetabix. It’s kind of doing my head in, especially because she’s so tiny, like your daughter. I’m trying to tell myself not to focus on the day to day but look at the overall picture – some days she hardly eats anything, but sometimes she eats loads. I just wish she as more into her veg…#coolmumclub

  16. Kat Eat.Love.Live Reply

    Snap on the fussy eater front. I have had many days where a marathon cooking session has resulted in toddler meal refusal and me heading for a breakdown. I’ve gone from the parent who really doesn’t want her to get a taste for certain things to one that some days says, as long as you’re eating, I don’t car what it is! We love reduced salt ketchup in our house too! X #coolmumclub

  17. Tall Mum in Manchester Reply

    My niece is such a fussy eater, to the point that last time she came to stay she wouldn’t eat a different brand of strawberry jam because it had lumps (strawberries) in it, and was picking the tomatoes out of a Dolmio sauce (one that she usually eats). I found myself frustrated with her very quickly; have no idea how I’d cope if it was a daily thing – was glad I could send her home. I guess you just have to keep going when they’re your own. #coolmumclub

  18. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    OMG so been there time and time again…and again! Happens to the best of us love. One day, they will be normal eaters. I hope! Lol I just realised in my stoopid cold and runs brain I wrote a thanks for linking up comment on the previous post DOH!!! Sending love and no sick germs to my lovely co-host xx

    1. MMT Reply

      Ha ha, thanks for hosting! 😉 Funny enough feeling a little icky today, although maybe that’s the sleep deprivation?! I didn’t think a bad sleeper could get any worse?! Hope you’re feeling a little brighter…

  19. Something About Baby Reply

    I was that fussy eater as a kid – I don’t know how my mum coped having to cater for the different tastes of 6 children, as reading this post it doesn’t sound fun! Thankfully Alfie seems to have taken after his dad in that he’ll eat anything and everything (accept broccoli…he has issues with broccoli), but as we’ve only been weaning for 3 months, there’s time yet for him to turn into a fusspot like his mum! Hope things get better as she gets older #coolmumclub

  20. sarahandlouisemumstheword Reply

    Oh gosh! Can so relate to this!! -And we call ketchup ‘Dip Dip’ too! My kids seem to think it is a ‘portion’ of their meal rather than a condiment. They have so much of it. (Bad mother guilt alert..) But if it helps the veggies go down so be it! Great post xx Sarah and Louise #coolmumclub

  21. Nicole Reply

    My little fellow wasn’t and isn’t a fussy eater on the whole, but yes, he’s had his ‘phases’ and those were trying times! So I can totally empathise with you. And you’re so right, it’s weird how our moods get affected by what our babies/toddlers eat/don’t eat! I sulk and complain even though Little Man seems quite content going without.
    PS: On that note, I’ve noticed it’s just us mums who fret over pushed-away food and toddler not wanting to eat. Dads don’t worry so much and just give them what they want (like milk or cookies) annoyingly saying that fills them up too. Grrrrr….

    #coolmumclub

  22. babiesbiscuitsandbooze Reply

    I am genuinely not looking forward to weaning and it is creeping up on me very quickly! It seems really stressful for all involved to be honest, and my little boy has been really easy to breastfeed so I just know it’s all going to fall apart when I try and get him to eat actual food. Eek! Let’s go back to that old parenting mantra; this too will pass? #coolmumclub

  23. This Mum's Life Reply

    Your youngest and my youngest could be separated at birth!! I also started the ketchup thing earlier than I should, just to get something inside him, and now when I say to him ‘what do you want for breakfast/lunch/dinner?’ The answer I get is ‘sauce please.’ When I say, ‘yes, but what do you want with your sauce?’ I get a reply of ‘nothing. My sauce.’ Sigh…! Neither of mine eat very much at all (they’d live on chocolate and ice cream if allowed,) but their main nutrition comes from Cheerios, scrambled egg, raisins, and bread. They’ve totally given up on fruit now. I’ve gone through the whole spectrum of being frustrated, upset, annoyed, but I try not to worry too much anymore…. I’ll keep offering and educating, and hope they make the right choices one day!!
    #coolmumclub

  24. Louise Reply

    Oh I feel your pain on this one – so hard when little ones are picky as it’s such a basic need to make sure they’re well fed. Can you count ketchup as one of the five a day – after all it does have tomatoes in it! And what is it with little ones being able to tell when you’ve brought a cheaper brand – mine are exactly the same with baked beans. Good luck with encouraging your little one to try a wider range of food – even if it does have to include “dip dip” too and thank you for taking me right back to my childhood with your pictures – I used to love that book! 🙂

  25. Becky Pink Reply

    Ugh we had this with our eldest. The tears I have cried over her lack of food. Weaning was an absolute nightmare and I ended up giving her jars as it was so heartbreaking watching her drop all my purees straight onto the floor. BUT she is now 5 and so. much. better. So please take heart! She’s still a but of a fuss pot (and she doesn’t like her foods to touch each other) but we do have a good variety of meals she will eat finally, and she even eats her school dinners. So let’s hope it’s just a phase… I really hope so for your sanity xxx #bestandworst

  26. wendy Reply

    I feel your pain! I have a fussy eater too and it is the most frustrating thing ever. He would also just eat ketchup (red as he calls it) all day long if I let him. I just constantly keep saying to myself “it’s just a phase, please let it just be a phase!’.xx #coolmumclub

  27. Debs Reply

    So hard when you’ve prepared a fresh meal for them only for them to look at you in disgust and either totally refuse or just launch it onto the floor. Can we use the 5 second rule? I have spoken to friends who say that it was “just a phase” for their little ones and now they eat everything. Lets hope it’s true for us all! My almost 4 yea old was great as a baby, but then turned fussy. He would eat waffles and peas every night if he could 🙂

  28. Mum in Brum Reply

    Ah I am feeling your pain right now! Taylor has always has such a great appetite but all of a sudden she’s decided she doesn’t really like all of her ‘old favourites!’ The only thing she loves at the moment is dippy eggs and soldiers…luckily she doesn’t have an older sister to show her the ketchup but I have dad for that (thanks dad). I’m pretty sure the dog eats most of her lunch…Like you I just give her bits of this and that (usually because she’s shouting orders at me from her high chair and I can’t make a meal quick enough!) I’m afraid of giving her a whole plate of food as I’m pretty much the entire thing would end up on the floor within 10 seconds…amazing how much they can control you! xx #coolmumclub

    1. newmummyblogcom Reply

      Sounds familiar, some days I really can’t find food quick enough either 🙂 H knows the word “more” and either finishes what she wants (leaving or throwing the rest), then then points towards the kitchen, stares at me and says “more” incredible clearly. She’s in a phase of no veg, which is driving me mad, and some days eats something and other days not, so it’s hit and miss arghhh!

  29. crummymummy1 Reply

    Back again from #coolmumclub – thanks so much for the mention this week and glad you liked my competitive tiredness post!

  30. newmummyblogcom Reply

    I so so so understand this, apart from the older sister requesting H’s food as she doesn’t have one – the floor appears to be her’s! I thought i’d cracked it when she loved broccoli… that lasted a few weeks, and for the last 4 months I’ve been repeatedly giving it to her thinking, today will be the day. No. Today is not the day. Today is never the day.

    Great post, and pics 🙂 #coolmumclub

  31. Agent Spitback Reply

    AHHHH!!!! I can so relate to this post. I am STILL stuck at this phase with my youngest. He will not eat anything I cook or offer. I have just about given up. Like you can say we can only persevere. I literally throw a party when he finally likes something I cook but then he will easily change his mind two weeks later. I hope he will finally eat something nutritious when he’s at his own wedding party?? LOL Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  32. Helen Reply

    Arg, feel your pain. We have exactly the same as you – the bigger one eats like a pig at a trough and the little one only wants ‘locklit’. #fail So good good luck my friend. Remember – they won’t be asking for heinz dip dip for their wedding breakfast! 😉 xx #coolmumclub

  33. My Petit Canard Reply

    Oh gosh, how stressful! I cant imagine anything worse. But then I dont think you’re alone, it sounds really common and in fact I have a friend who is having a similar struggle with her two year old. I really dont think you can do anything other than what you have been and are doing, persevere and hopefully over time things will change! Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays. Emily

  34. Life With Waldo Reply

    Oh my, you certainly have your hands full. Clearly this is s situation many parents are relating to. My 15 month old isn’t too picky so I’ve been lucky so far, but we’ll see how that holds up. Good luck and I hope your little grows out of this stage soon! #coolmumclub

  35. butterflymum83 Reply

    Oh my God yes. This is such a distressing issue. I try my hardest not to let it bother me but it’s really hard. My son isn’t too bad but certain things he won’t touch and it’s really annoying. At nearly 3 now though he understands that if he doesn’t eat what’s in front of him he won’t get anything else until the next mealtime, I’m afraid I’m quite strict on that. Thanks for sharing x #kcacols

  36. Silly Mummy Reply

    Mine are like this. Eldest would always eat most things and wants food all the time. Youngest is very hard to get to eat. My eldest is obsessed with ketchup too! #coolmumclub

  37. Jessica Foley (@ModernMomsLife) Reply

    Visiting from #coolmomclub
    My first is the fussy eater. She’s 7 now and we still struggle with this. We’ve found a few veg that she’ll eat but she’s a meats and breads girl. My second (4 years old now) is the always hungry kid, but she’ll refuse things because her sister won’t eat them – even though we know she likes it. Frustrating!!

  38. […] was inspired by the Fabulous MMT in her brilliant post – The Dip Dip Diaries : Living with a F... agentspitback.com.au/1245/bit-everything-week-22
  39. Morgan Prince Reply

    I think that’s really all you can do hun, it’s a tough time having a fussy eater but it does go away eventually. BP was a terrible eater when he was young but now eats everything. Like you said, don’t make a fuss about it and hope that eventually your little one starts to experiment with more food. 🙂
    #coolmumclub

  40. veryhealthycaterpillar Reply

    Carry on offering and being a role model at dinner time. Your older daughter will soon help your younger daughter to come out of this stage and she will be eating what’s offered to her. It’s very much part of their development to become a bit fussy while they learn new tastes and textures.

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