Food for thought.

I have always been a bit obsessive mindful of DS’ eating habits, paying close attention to the food groups and making sure he had a balanced diet from the word go. Some might consider my behaviour a bit abnormal, I mean, I have been known to stand in the yoghurt aisle for a good fifteen minutes, noting each pot for it’s sugar, salt and saturated fat content.

Knowing this about me, my seven year old sister was a little anxious about staying at my house this weekend. She’s that kid you see in the TV programmes, junk food galore, shunning every vegetable in sight. My mission was to break her down, remove the crisps and replace with fruit and well balanced meals.

It wasn’t as difficult as I first anticipated. I allowed no room for discussion, outlining that her dislike for one thing or another just did not matter. Sometimes children and adults have to do things we don’t necessarily want to. It’s important to embed this young, teaching children to get over things easily, otherwise you end up with an adult who has learnt to be spoilt like me.

I made eating fun, getting DS and my sister to race against each other – who can eat the fastest, who can find the carrot first, who has the biggest chunk of salmon. If they grew tired of the games and receded back to moaning about their meals, I would not even acknowledge that either had spoken. I like to be hard but fair in my approach – speaking to children matter-of-factly seems to work well.

Some would view the spectrum above and believe the best position would be to place themselves in the middle – well balanced, a bit of everything. The stigma of mothers who stand firmly on the right end of the spectrum, is over presumptuous and gives excuses to those who wish they could have done better. Mothers who obsess over healthy eating slave away in the kitchen, they create children who are gagging for a bit of chocolate, alienated by their peers and when they are older they’ll over indulge.

It’s not true. It takes me 20 minutes tops to make DS’ lunch every time. We eat the same dinners. It is just as quick to pick up an apple as it is to grab a packet of salt ridden Walkers. Children who go without are resigned to this fact. When they are older, they will become equally as apathetic. Something went wrong for the children who do over indulge.

Hopefully my prudence will spur my sister on to eat with variety and encourage DS to continue his love for healthy foods. I don’t think I can convince her to steer away from junk food entirely – I don’t work miracles.

Please, Sir, I STILL Want Some More.

Since my last nursery post on the 9th September, I am saddened to say nothing much has changed. DS is still coming home hungry despite my incessant complaints to the nursery. Wednesday 21st September sets a fine example of how his nursery fails to address DS’ needs.

Needless to say, my boy came home starving that day. DS has been eating two full Weetabixs since forever, yet somehow, he had only managed half of one on Wednesday. Following breakfast, he had a pathetic minimal snack which he obviously ate all of. He most probably did not reject lunch, but was neglected and left to fend for himself. I can only imagine the worst because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. DS has always been a hungry boy, to the point that he tries to lick the bowl clean, failing that, he puts his face in the bowl instead.

This incident does not stand alone, as illustrated in my previous post, this is a regular occurrence. The food DS eats with me is not a one-off, I place him before myself and always ensure he has the best meals filled with nutritious goodness. Today he ate a whole bowl of porridge for breakfast, followed by three quarters of an apple and a cracker for his snack. For lunch he devoured a bowl of smoked haddock, spring greens, spinach, carrots and leek with cous cous. He is currently eating half a banana after he gobbled up whole croissant for a snack. For dinner he will share our roast beef with potatoes, carrots and whatever else I throw in the mix. It is incredible how little he eats at nursery in comparison to at home.

After much upset, DH wrote a response:

This is not new information to them; when he started nursery we made them very aware of our angst. DS started at twenty months old in an aged two to three room, with children who were capable of feeding themselves without aid, spoke clearly and were able to communicate their needs. DS can string a few words together and can demand things like a car and a ball. He would not demand food, water or a nappy change though – those things are not fun. He needs to be sat down and fed, given water accordingly and changed regularly without being asked. Adults often speak to children as though they should control themselves and have their own answers, however I believe children of all ages should be told, not asked; especially not rhetorically. I have witnessed one or two nursery workers who ask the children if they would like food and the conversation always goes along the lines of, “are you going to eat that?” .. “no” .. “fine I will take it away”. What kind of ‘looking after’ is that?

If it was a matter of survival then yes, I will hand it to them, they are doing a brilliant job. However, I am paying extortionate fees for my boy to be well looked after and I expect a certain level of standard. I do not scrimp and save, work my arse off all week, just to come home to an unhappy boy who has been neglected by people who are meant to be his carers. The staff are meant to bond with the children, engage them in learning activities, encourage them to read, and above all, energise them with nutritious foods. I do not see this happening, or at least, I am not hearing about it. Their 2010 Ofsted report states they should improve to ‘further develop the regular, two way flow of information with parents to maintain and support communication with parents and users of the service‘; a year on, a shabby school book they ordered especially for us because other parents receive feedback verbally does not constitute as a ‘regular, two way flow of information‘ I’m afraid.

Please, Sir, I Want Some More.

Over the past couple of weeks, DS has been settling into his new nursery. There have been a few hiccups to say the least, but that is to be expected in a new setting. Sometimes though, I feel such errors could be avoided if they had thought about their actions or used their common sense.

'wet and creamed' refers to DS' wet nappy and the moisturiser they applied to his eczema.

Take his meals for the day as an example (please refer to DS’ notes pictured on the right, click to enlarge). Daddy dropped him off at 9AM after DS had breakfast at home, yet they still gave him rice crispies; breakfast is usually scheduled for 8AM at nursery, do they think we starved our child from the time he woke (5AM)? Regardless of this, rice crispies is hardly a filling breakfast to set you up for the day.

We had asked for bread to be given when DS fails to eat at least 3/4 of his lunch; DS loves bread and it is a good solid substitute for any missed meals. From the information provided, Common Sense would tell you not to use a substitute as part of the main meal, as inevitably the other part would not be eaten. Another thing Common Sense would certainly point out is if you are stupidly going to give him bread as part of the main meal, change the substitute.

‘Snack’ and ‘Tea’ has been left empty as DS was promptly rescued by Daddy after his dentist appointment. For the rest of the day, he had a pear, a hot cross bun and homemade lasagne for dinner.

Now for comparison, let me enlighten you on DS’ meals for today (Friday 9th September).

Breakfast – porridge (all)

Snack – A whole pear and two buttered crackers (all)

Lunch – Mince, sweetcorn, marrow, broccoli in a tomato sauce with rice (I made too much, he ate his usual portion and a little bit more. I stopped him before he burst)

Snack – A whole apple (all)

Snack 2 – Crumpet and a plum (all)

Dinner – Roast consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, an onion and cauliflower and cheese (all)

He also had four poos today and only one yesterday at home, which only parents would really understand the significance of that.

I have a hungry boy on my hands and clearly the nursery is not delivering. I worry for my boy, whether he tells them he is hungry, whether he is ignored or whether he just does not have the appetite for the revolting food they supply. It is not the nursery workers’ fault in entirety; I understand they are young, childless and are unable to fully empathise with us mothers. But it is management who oversee these workers and should enforce better customer service, more attention given to each child’s individual needs and encourage initiative. He had the same difficulties at the start of his previous nursery, which means things can only get better..

Bad Mouthing.

I love watching Jo Frost’s Extreme Parental Guidance, not because I find it useful, but because I find myself agreeing with her tactics and it reaffirms what I already know. Not to say that I am some kind of Super Mummy (however if you wish to refer to me as this, I would not object), but it is within my personality to criticise my own actions and always find improvement until I reach what I perceive as perfection. I always seek for more and am very stubborn in my approach.

One of many examples I could give on how my stubborn only-child self comes in handy, is demonstrated during meal times. DS usually scoffs his Weetabix for breakfast, however as we progress through the day, he occasionally becomes more difficult. I have built up a tolerance to his rejections, as he pushes the bowl away and repeatedly says ‘no please’. As a parent, I realise he is a baby and does not fully understand his wants and needs. The key is to remain positive, smile and strike up a conversation to maintain the interaction between you both. This provides a distraction – other things I try are toys, objects (eg. keys etc) as DS can differentiate between his own toys and ‘adult’ objects, books and/or CBeebies. I do not think it is necessarily bad to allow him to watch television whilst eating at this stage, it gets the job done and the television is off as soon as he is finished. Another one is allowing him to feed himself; the problem with this is sometimes the food is sloppy or if you give DS pasta, he will only eat the pasta and leave everything else. In this situation, I always feed him the other parts first, before allowing him to feed himself.

I have a trick up my sleeve for every game his plays and usually after approximately 10 minutes, he will resign to being fed. He does want the food and he does enjoy it, but initially he is unable to understand. It is not always a battle with him, there are various factors, like teething, which can alter his mood and appetite. He generally is a very big eater and I make it my priority that he has a little of every food group in one day.

I am very pernickety when it comes to what foods I will allow DS to have. I obsess over the nutritional value of each item he has, checking labels for salt and sugar content before deciding whether it is good enough for him. I refuse to give him anything pre-made (including jars like bolognese sauce etc), sweets, chocolate, crisps, chips, anything frozen (except peas and unless I have frozen it myself). Some may say I am a little anal about his diet, however I think it can only be a good thing to be concerned, you would be worried if I wasn’t. For the majority of his meals, they are freshly made. His lunch is often shared with Daddy’s and his dinners are the same as ours; of course we make him a separate dish when we decide to have the cheeky take-away. I often think that DS has a better diet than we do.

It was not always easy to find the motivation to prepare fresh foods, I have trained myself for almost two years now. It is like everything else in life – it starts of hard and you are unwilling, but as you build up a daily routine, the satisfaction of feeding your baby goodness takes over and it just becomes natural. I use to follow Annabel Karmel as she makes delicious  recipes that are so simple to make, however nowadays I tend to just throw an assortment of veg together along with some carbs and meat.

I hope Jo Frost touches more on the subject of food and eating. It is tragic we see mothers who use MacDonald’s ‘Happy Meals’ as a daily meal, fuelling their children with sugary and saturated snacks before offering them potato smiles for dinner.

Yummy in my tummy.

Morning – Milk

Breakfast – Porridge Oats made with cow’s milk
Milk

Lunch – Potato, sweet potato and carrot mash (including butter and cow’s milk) with spinach
Milk

Snack – Toast with fresh avocado spread on top and avocado slices

Dinner – Haddock, red peppers and onion with cous cous
Milk

I love a whole day of being Mummy : )