As you all know, we’ve battled with a ‘fussy eater’ for the majority of parenthood. Lambs eating issues became apparent when he was around 10 months old. He simply refused food unless it was crackers, breadsticks, toast or crisps. With the exception of some fruit and yoghurt.
Dealing with a fussy eater, in my opinion, is one of the most difficult things a parent can experience. Whether they are fussy due to health issues, or teething, or they have an eating disorder. Or maybe they’ve just decided they hate all food. Whatever the reason, watching your child go for days, or even weeks, without a proper meal is heartbreaking, and to be honest, bloody exhausting.
At the end of last year Lamb was offered one to one sessions at the children’s clinic to encourage him to be comfortable with food. These sessions are normally for children with additional needs, like ASD, but after struggling for so long, out HV referred us and we were offered the sessions.
In these sessions Lambs keyworker would encourage lots of different types play and activities that would have some relation to food. Whether it was a wooden puzzle, sorting plastic food, or playing with water and cornflour, everything had a subtle connection.
I truly believe these sessions were the starting point for Lambs new confidence with trying food. After the sessions started, the pre-school began noticing him try his food while he was there. He still didn’t try food at home, but he would at pre-school.
It’s now been about 8 months since he had his sessions and the list of foods he eats is amazing. He’s still not at the level of a ‘normal’ 4 1/2 year old, but he’s not living off breadsticks and crackers anymore!
His favourite meal is sausage, mash and green beans. He loves carrots, peas, sweetcorn and cucumber. Very recently he started eating pizza and ham sandwiches. He loves waffles and chicken nuggets and he even ate salmon nuggets at pre-school!
As you can see we’ve come so far and I owe it all to these sessions, but mostly the staff at his nursery/pre-school who worked incredibly hard at encouraging him to eat. I will be forever grateful to them.
Arts & Crafts and Messy Play Using Food
To continue on from the advice given at his session, I’ve decided asked some fellow bloggers to share some ideas on how you can use food in arts & crafts or messy play. These aren’t just for kids who’s are fussy eaters. It’s good for all children to be happy around foods and lets face it, what 1 year old doesn’t want to sit in a bucket of beans?!
Al from The Dad Network is a huge fan of incorporating food into play. “As a family we love messy play and we try to incorporate some form of messy play in to each day. We often use food as part of the play. We started this when Ted was weaning, encouraging him to explore the different smells, textures and tastes of the food. As he has grown older we’ve continued to use food as it’s so much fun and is so versatile.”
Hard pasta shells are good, you can paint them and glue them to paper plates to make faces. www.allthingsamy.co.uk
Paint stampers made out of limes or oranges or anything when cut to leave the segment shapes. Celery root base, peppers, corn on the cob rolled etc to jazz it up a bit. Or just use a potato but cut it crimped etc for different effects. www.readyfreddiego.com
Cook spaghetti and dye it different colours for sensory colour messy play. You can cut potatoes in half and cut shapes into them, for stamping paint play, too! www.tattooedtealady.com
Dry pasta pictures! Sticking pasta, painting pasta, anything they want to do to make lovely pictures! You can even make frames by decorating the border with pasta! http://mayflowerblogs.com
Music shakers – half filling empty bottles with rice, pasta, dried chickpeas etc – the different foods make different sounds. www.bettertogetherhome.com
Homemade baby and toddler friendly paint using flour, hot water and food colouring. Also, following on from the stamp suggestion above, potato stamps are an old classic. http://howtorockatparenting.wordpress.com/
And if you don’t want lots of mess all over your house, why not try messy play in the bath!