Ryan is one fussy eater. If he had his way, he would have taken milk for all his meals. He has shown very little interest in food. There was a period of time we just gave in to his whims- simply offering milk as substitute for all his meals. It was not exactly the best choice, considering it was really low in nutrition value for an active boy but we were really tired of fighting with him over meal times. Meal times could be so frustrating and messy.
The last fever bout made us re-evaluate our meal decisions for him. Dr Vasanthi reminded us that milk alone was insufficient for Ryan and he was falling sick very easily. Ryan needed healthier and more nutritious meals. Of course we knew that. The whole episode was a sign that we could not hide from the problem. We had to make Ryan eat.
Cut the Milk
First up, we had to cut Ryan’s 6-8 servings of milk to just once in the morning and once at night. It was a torture for him and us. He cried and begged for his milk but E was really firm. E offered him alternatives- Milo, Ribena, yoghurt, juice but just no milk. Ryan went crazy! He started kicking his legs up in the air, his face went red and his tears fell freely. It was a heart-breaking sight. There were several times when I wanted to give in but E refused. There was nothing I could do as I knew he was right. Large intakes of milk reduce children’s appetites. So, Ryan had to starve first that he would eat more proper food during meal times.
Bringing him out for food
As we knew that Ryan loves noodles, we brought Ryan to places where they serve great noodles to pique his interest in food. It was any sort of noodles- beehoon, kway teow, yellow noodles… He does not shown similar interest in rice though. Through these outings, we will remind him of the socially acceptable dining etiquette does not include screaming and jumping around. There is some improvement- he is able to sit longer at meal times before he gets irritable.
(He loves the noodles from Ding Tai Feng!)
Getting him involved in the cooking process
I tried to get him involved in the cooking process. So far, he is getting really good at making French Toast as we have done it several times. We tried baking chocolate chip cookies as well- but it was really messy. We have also tried making pizza bread. That was simple and fun. Will share all these kitchen adventures on the blog soon!
Trial and Error and lots of fresh ingredients
After reading my good friend, Salena’s blog, I realised that I needed to catch up in terms of cooking for my kids. Salena was whipping up all sorts of wonderful meals for her son, Mika. And he was devouring them with great delight. Being inspired, I started cooking for Ryan, taking note of his likes and dislikes and how I can get him to try food.
I believe that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for everything. During the “maid-less” week, I prepared, cooked and served Ryan his lunch and dinners. I am so thankful that he is taking to them really well. He loves the macaroni soup that I prepare! In fact, he requests for it all the time. All these tiny milestones encourage us and me to buy more fresh ingredients like tomatoes, ikan bilis, prawns, fish and so on for his meals. (Yes, our fridge used to stock up mainly frozen food. *guilty look*)
Eating together, as a family
E and I usually eat together at our dining table. Sometimes Ryan will join us on his IKEA high chair. And it will be messy because we usually do not have the habit of feeding him and he will be throwing food all around. The small difference in height between the high chair and our dining table does not help as well as it means Ryan was in an uncomfortable eating position.
In order to make Ryan more comfortable, we have changed our dining area to the pink Little Tikes table. (Side note: This Little Tikes table is a hand-me-down from Kimberly. Please don’t ask me why my parents still kept it in their store room. In fact, they have kept so many of our old toys from our childhood and we have passed it down to Ryan! So this pink table is officially 17 year old! Ancient much!) Ryan and I will sit on the chairs, E will be on the sofa while Baby Gillian just chill out on one of her chairs. E and I also use the same IKEA colourful plates, bowls and utensils to accommodate Ryan. I think all these small measures helps in making Ryan’s meal experiences more positive and enjoyable.
It is helpful to turn off the television during meal times as well. This way, Ryan can concentrate on his meals. We also use this time to talk to him about food(e.g Do you like the taste of the fish? What colour is this vegetable?) and random stuff.
Right now, I can safely say that Ryan is on his way to be more dependent normal food. Milk is just kept to twice a day- once in the morning and once at night. He still cries in the afternoon for milk. I have to keep my promise to E by being firm on not giving him these milk breaks. Our meal time journey with Ryan has not been easy, but we are learning something new about our boy, patience and determination everyday.