Turning A “Fussy Eater” Into An “Everything Eater”
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Before I became a mummy to adorable twin brats, my experience with kids was limited to interactions with kids of my friends and family members. Whenever any of the other mums told me that their child was a picky eater, I would listen and nod sympathetically and say, “I understand!”, when in fact, I didn't understand how hard it is to be a parent of a fussy eater. I’d very smugly think to myself that my kids were going to be different. They were going to eat anything and everything. I would follow the correct processes for weaning and feeding.
Yes, I know; by this time, all those mums with kids who are picky eaters are shaking their heads and laughing at me. Laughing at the irony of the whole situation, that at 23 months, despite me doing everything I could, my kids were the pickiest eaters in the world!
I’ve always been a real foodie, and being pregnant didn’t change that in the slightest. Once I got through the miserable first trimester and the nausea and vomiting associated with it, I ate anything and everything I could lay my hands on- from dry fruits to spicy food to pasta to khichdi and much beyond. After my kids were born and the embargo period of 40 days was up, I continued to eat everything normal, hoping that the taste of all the food that I was eating would be introduced to my boys via my breast milk.
When I started giving them solids at six months, I didn’t want to give them cereals and instant food. Instead, I fed them fruit and vegetable purees, mixing and matching tastes and spices so that they got the hang of everything they should be eating.
Whatever I cooked for my husband and me was initially blended and ultimately mashed and given to the boys. They were little champs, my boys, and seldom refused anything I tried to feed them. They had been weaned off breast milk by this time; they now drank cow’s milk, albeit from their feeders.
My strategies of feeding the boys seemed to be working so well that I fell into the category of smug mums, who are proud of their kids no matter what they do and say. I felt I had deserved it, and my hard work was paying off.
But of course, I had not predicted that it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride for a long time. Just around their second birthday, the boys learnt to shake their heads and emphatically say, “No! I don't want this!” and suddenly everything changed. My boys started saying no to most things. They didn’t want the fruit smoothies that they loved till a couple of days ago; they shook their heads at the vegetable khichdi I put in front of them and gagged when I tried to feed them oats. Little pieces of roti or bread would go flying out of their plates and down from their highchairs.
My worst nightmare had come true. My adventurous little eaters had now become the horror of horrors - Picky Eaters! I tried every trick in the book to stop this behaviour. The boys started eating less, and consequently, started losing weight.
In my mind, I knew that this was just a part of being a toddler. Their newfound sense of right or wrong was manifesting itself in the food placed in front of them. They were learning to assert themselves and their choices, a task that would keep them safe as they grew up and became “adults”! In my heart, though, I was hurt. Feeding my picky toddlers and trying to keep them from having meltdowns if I put something they did not like in front of them made me frustrated, stressed, and just so exhausted.
I tried and used so many techniques to reverse this picky eating phase. I got their father and my parents to help me feed them when they were around. I thought being emotionally less involved in the process of my kids’ eating would keep me sane. It did not!
I realised that family dinners were a slight relief. The boys ate so much better when we were all at the table and eating together. My husband and I both worked like a team to get the boys to eat. We had to distract the kids and force-feed them constantly, which made me feel emotionally drained.
Around this time, alarmed at their weight loss, I decided to visit my paediatrician. They were two years old then, and the first thing my doctor told me to do was to get them off the feeding bottle and onto milk in glasses or sippers. He also recommended adding a nutritional health drink to milk, thereby enhancing its taste and giving the kids the nutrients they were missing in their rapid growth phase.
And the search began.
Armed with this advice, I started researching nutritional info, stats, children’s growth, etc.- keying in all these keywords. I frantically hunted for the best health drink for my boys.
All my mummy friends and Google, of course, helped me in my research. I narrowed down the list of health drinks by studying various pros, cons, and probabilities to Junior Horlicks, which was advertised as a nourishing health drink - rich in the goodness of natural ingredients like milk, wheat, and malted barley, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals.
The next day, once the boys came home from school, I was armed and ready, with two new sippy cups decorated with their favourite cartoon characters and my packet of chocolate flavoured Junior Horlicks.
As usual, when I asked them if they wanted milk, they held out their hands and waved No, No, No! And I very coolly told them, “Oh ok. Maybe then Papa and I can use these new cups, wow! They are so nice and bright; I love them!” At this point, tempted by the brand-new cups, they said, “Ok, Mumma. Little Milk only. But in new cups. Throw the old ones!” SCORE!
A Win – Albeit Small!
Mumma had struck her first deal. But there was still more to come. I had to get them to try it. I quickly opened up the bottle and said, “Wow, look at this! Papa has got us such a yummy chocolatey powder! It smells so nice!” and yes, they took the bait and came sniffing like little puppies. “Wow, Mumma! This smells yummy.” I used this to my advantage and said, “Why don’t we mix a little of this in the milk? It will make the milk yummy!”
SCORE AGAIN! Mumma was on a roll. They were visibly excited, and I, even more so! I made their milk, mixing Junior Horlicks into their milk, which they slurped down gleefully, without a tantrum!
Junior Horlicks# contains nutrients like choline, iron, iodine, etc. These are known to support brain development. Also present are calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K & protein, which support physical growth and development. It also contains nutrients such as Vitamin E, A, Selenium & copper, which support healthy immune function.
A tasty, daily dose of nutrients!
And that was that. The first hurdle was crossed and with such ease and excitement! I kept pinching myself to see if this was real, that my picky eaters had taken to this glass of goodness with so much excitement, but it was real. I was ecstatic that not only would they be getting their daily dose of nutrients, but this would also help in healthy weight gain!
Quite unsurprisingly, because the boys were getting their daily dose of nutrients and proteins, their body system became well settled, and they started eating better as well! They now like to experiment with all kinds of food, and I’m just glad that all the efforts that I put in at the beginning of their lives are paying off now.
#Junior Horlicks is a nutritional food supplement that helps meet your child’s nutritional requirements as part of daily diet. This product is not an infant milk substitute or infant food for less than 2 years old. This product is not a meal replacement.