Technically, I didn’t. Oliver is a genius when it comes to the Art of Eating.
Common scenarios when we go out to eat includes:
“Wow! He can feed himself!”
Er, of course, he’s 4. Doesn’t he look 4?
“He eats his vegetables!”
Ah, that’s because his parents eat them as well.
“He’s so well-behaved! Will sit down quietly to eat his meal!”
Well, thank you?
The funniest incident was when we were attending church one Sunday, and Oliver was eating his packed lunch as he missed his breakfast (don’t ask). There I was, all embarrassed that we were letting the boy eat in an auditorium, but at the end of the service, a lady came up to me and asked, “May I know what you cooked for your son? He was eating it so deliciously!”
It turned out she had problems getting her children to eat and wanted to know exactly what I prepared that got my son eating as if it’s the best thing he’s tasted in life. She was looking at me like she’d finally found a guru to solve her children’s eating woes and I was sorry to disappoint her by confessing, rather sheepishly, that it’s really not my doing. My husband can vouch that the pasta he ate was as bland as Meiji crackers. You know, the plain, unsalted ones. He would know, since it’s the leftovers from our week night’s dinner (In my defense, that was two years ago okay, when I was still anal about too much salt and sugar in his diet).
Truly, it’s Oliver’s natural born talent at work.
My son lives to eat.
I’ve always had a slightly nagging thought that his ravenous appetite stemmed from his firstborn days, when I couldn’t get him to latch properly and he went almost four days without feeding. So he’s probably eating with a vengence.
Reminiscence aside, I retracked what we’ve done with Oliver regarding his eating habits and came up with a few points that might explain his behaviour.
1. I’ve been letting O self feed from 9 months onwards. Meaning, he gets to pick up food from his tray with bare hands, play around with them and aim to put it in his mouth. Messy, yes. However, I’ve read that it helps with independent feeding. Of course, the introduction to a feeding system in his childcare centre played a very crucial part.
2. Vegetables. O has been exposed to a variety of greens since 6 months onwards. You can see my weaning guide here. There were hiccups, when one of his new classmates, who disliked vegetables, joined the class and O picked up the habit of refusing greens. The attitude was quickly snuffed, when we told him plainly it’s either he eats his food together with vegetables, or don’t eat at all.
And. I. Was. Serious.
From experience, O would know that I’m never one to just throw threats around.
If I say “If you don’t keep that toy right now I’ll just throw it away” and a minute later it’s still lying there, into the bin it goes. And it never comes back. Of course I’m careful about the choice of toys that can go. Usually, I’ll point to the one that is slightly broken, or roughed up.
3. We actually sit down to eat. At a proper dining table. No TV, no tablet, no phone etc. Basically, nothing to distract him from his meal. This was partly ‘cos I had a “no TV before one year old” policy prior and it sort of stuck. I found this paid off tremendously in the end. O has great concentration on his food (before he’s full) unlike when I was young. I’m one of those annoying kids who refuse to eat and my mom had to chase me around to feed me.
Breakfast is kind of the exception. Daddy K allows him to eat at the sofa and sometimes O just eats standing up, in the kitchen. Speaking of which, O has now mastered the art of preparing his own breakfast.
He will call Daddy to wake up, and while K is still half asleep in dreamland, O trots to the kitchen, opens whatever breakfast I’ve prepared (mostly it’s bread or cake), gets himself a bowl to put the food in and then closes the box/plastic and places it back.
It actually happened without us teaching him. The first time he did it, K asked me whether I was the one who put the food in the bowl. When we realized what happened, we were doubling over in laughter.
K was so amused he took a video of O’s morning routine:
So yeah, although we guided him, I think his natural inclination to food is still the biggest reason he eats almost anything.
Have other tips on fussy eating? Do share with me here!