I don't really know how we got here, but we're at a stage with Ethan where dinner time is pretty much non-existent to him. I mean, it's exists.. He's always cooked a nice meal. He's always encouraged to sit with us up at the table, whilst we eat together as a family and he will sit there with us. But he just doesn't want to eat.
I don't know what it is about dinner time.. Breakfast and lunch don't seem to present as many problems. It's just something about dinner for Ethan. Although, maybe it's not just dinner time. He goes to nursery two mornings a week and on these days he's served a hot cooked meal for lunch, which he often refuses to touch. Of course, every time they tell me that he's refused to eat, my heart sinks. So maybe it's cooked meals that are the issue. But regardless, of that, it's an issue.
I've tried so many different options with him. We cook a lot of meals from scratch but he doesn't want those, so I've tried offering him things like Smilies, chips, beans, mini pizzas and such, but he's still not interested. I've thought maybe he's worried things are too hot, so I've waited until everything has cooled down to serve it to him, but he's still not interested. I've offered him a snack plate instead of dinner, with fruit, mini quorn cocktail sausages, cheese, etc, but again we've not had much success - he'll usually take jut a few bites.
I've thought that maybe we're filling him up during the day, so we've tried to cut back on the amount before dinner. But that doesn't seem to work either. He used to be such a foodie, but now he seems to have a complete lack of interest. I was worried that maybe the flurry of chocolate and treats at Christmas has played a part, but we've cut right back on any chocolate or treats unless he eats a meal first, and that hasn't helped. Going back, I think that I can relate this all back to when Ethan got unwell, but that was months ago and he's totally better now.
Pasta is a favourite of his, like it is with most children of his age, but the amount he used to eat, he won't eat anymore. Maybe his has stomach shrunk? I really don't know, I'm no professional.
I tell myself that it's not just Ethan and a recent video that Channel Mum published on their channel reassured me that I'm not the only one with a child as fussy as Ethan is. And of course, in the back of my mind I already knew that. But I can't stop feeling like I've done something wrong. It doesn't stop me feeling upset. I just want my little boy to eat. I want to go to bed at night knowing that Ethan has all of the vitamins inside of his body that he needs to grow healthy and strong.
And now I understand what I probably put my own Mum through when I decided I would only eat chips and pizza as a teenager. I don't look at Ethan and think he's unhealthy - he has great healthy snacks during the day and he loves fruit. But I can't help feeling the pressure. I tell myself that I've done what I can, that I can't force food in to him. I've cooked him a nice meal, I've followed the health visitors advice. If he doesn't want to eat that's up to him. And it is up to him.. But his health is my responsibility as his parent and so I feel like I almost can't win.
There's no manual when it comes to parenting.. and so the big question of whether or not to offering him anything else instead remains unanswered. If he tries something and clearly doesn't like it, I'm happy to offer an alternative. But if he won't at least try, I'm more reluctant to offer something else. But then if I offer nothing, I feel bad for sending my little boy to bed on an empty stomach. Not that he's often very bothered.. but I am, as I want to know that he's had enough of the different nutrients he needs for the day.
Dinner time has become a bit of a battle, I can come across as relaxed and not make a thing of it as not to spread any meal time anxiety on to Ethan. But inside it does make me feel anxious. It does make me feel upset. I really just want my little boy to at least be willing to try..
Have you been/are you going through something similar with your little one/s? Do you have any meal time tips that you can share?