Some time ago, I shared that Noah was an extremely fussy eater, who only ate plain pasta, and a few selected fruits. I received many comments, both on the blog and privately, from readers who shared their personal experiences and gave me plenty of advice, which I really appreciated. It was really good to know that there were so many other children with strange quirks like Noah too!
Looking back, Noah has never been very interested in food. When we started him on solids at six months, he wasn’t keen to open his mouth for the spoon, and didn’t grab my hand to pull the spoon towards his mouth at all, unlike what many of my friends’ babies did. In fact, he swatted my hand away a few times, and spilt the cereal on the floor. I guess food just didn’t really appeal to him back then, and even now, he hardly asks for food, preferring to ask for milk instead when he’s hungry. (You can read about my breastfeeding journey here.)
Even though Noah has never enjoyed drinking soup, I decided to try boiling some soup for him again, because so many people told me to try it. I kept the ingredients simple: chicken, spinach, and carrots, things that he had eaten before, and were generally ‘mild’ in taste, since he usually prefers plain food. First, I offered it to him in a spoon. He sniffed at it, made a face, and pushed my hand away. I then put some of the soup into his old sippy cup, and gave it to him. He took one sip, and spat it out promptly. C suggested that I put it into the fridge to chill it a little, since Noah likes drinking cold water, and after it was sufficiently chilled, I handed Noah the cup again. I held my breath as he took a sip, and swallowed. ‘Success!’ I thought. Nope. He shoved the cup back at me after that one sip, and refused to drink any more of it.
That night, I decided to boil his pasta in the soup, as I thought he wouldn’t notice. Ha! He spat out the pasta immediately, and after a few rounds of picking the pasta up from the tray table, I went to rinse the pasta in plain water. Mr Fussy could apparently still tell that the pasta was ‘different’, and continued spitting out whatever I managed to put into his mouth. Finally, I gave up, and offered him a packet of yogurt and two slices of cucumber instead, which he ate with no problems. That was all he had for dinner that night.
A few weeks after that post, Noah suddenly refused to eat his plain pasta, and I panicked. He survived on biscuits, yogurt, grapes, cucumbers, and whatever table food he wanted from our meals. I noticed that he liked plain rice and broccoli florets (not the stems), so that’s what he ate for some meals. I had some frozen salmon and broccoli porridge from the last batch which he suddenly stopped eating previously, and decided to try giving it to him again, with the help of YouTube as usual. To my delight, he actually ate it without protesting.
These days, he has slightly less than a bowl of porridge, and on good days, he has a bit of yogurt after that. I pack as many ingredients as possible into his porridge, to make it as nutritious as possible. I cook a large batch of porridge each time, with ingredients such as broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin, cauliflower, and salmon, before adding some beef and pork puree, which I prepare separately in my steamer-blender. The remainder is frozen in small containers, for his meals over the next few days. I also mix some chia seeds and quinoa into his porridge, and he either doesn’t notice or mind, as he eats the porridge without any complaints. I make the porridge thick, so that it can be rolled into balls, which allow me to feed him more easily, especially when he was younger and would only eat if I fed him with my hands instead of a spoon.
He still needs to be distracted to eat, but I’m just very thankful that he’s actually eating something other than plain rice or plain pasta. He loves fried food, and enjoys the fried spring roll which I buy from the food court as a treat for him. He doesn’t eat all of it, of course, but I’m glad he’s even eating it, since he’s so fussy. On some days, he will ask for rice, so I give him either white or brown rice, with broccoli, and sometimes, with a bit of carrot or baby corn.
Porridge with quinoa and chia seeds
Porridge rolled into balls, which are easier to shove into his mouth
Personally, I don’t think it’s a lot, as he doesn’t eat breakfast at all, and doesn’t snack much. He has five to eight feeds of breast milk daily, and if he does snack, it’s usually a slice of cucumber, or one or two small biscuits. We’re making a tiny bit of progress, in that he’s more open to trying different types of food, and will, on occasion, eat a bit of chicken or pork.
At our last appointment with the PD, she expressed concern over Noah’s super slow growth (he is in the 10th percentile for his weight, height, and head circumference), and suggested that we try three things: give him five small meals a day, remove all distractions, and reduce his meal-time drastically, from the usual 1-2 hours to *gasp* 20 minutes. I also have to stop nursing him so frequently, as he clearly prefers to have milk instead of food. At the end of each 20 minute meal, I should stop feeding him, regardless of how much he has eaten, and refrain from nursing him until his next meal. The idea is for him to feel real hunger, so that he will stop being so fussy, eat whatever he’s given, and quickly.
After some discussion with C, I decided that a more realistic amount of time would be 30 minutes, and that I would still use books, toys, and YouTube videos (he’s into Tayo the Little Bus now) to distract him, at least for the time being. I started on the 30-minute meal routine when we returned to Adelaide, and this was the result.
30-minute lunch: rice with broccoli and baby corn
After half an hour…
I sent these two photos to C, and he laughed, because it looked like Noah didn’t eat anything at all. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue with this routine, because Noah fell sick the next day, and has been down with a runny nose and phlegmy cough since then. It’s tough to get him to eat quickly when he sneezes or coughs out entire spoonfuls of food, all over the table and floor!
Our PD told us that many fussy eaters outgrow this phase when they go to school, so hopefully, he will eat better by the time he goes to N1 next year. I’m really looking forward to the day that he will eat a wide variety of food, finish a meal within half an hour, and without any distractions.
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