Well, it is certainly true that it is frequently around about this age that parents start to regret having told everyone that their child loves food and is such a ‘good’ eater.
Very often it can seem like overnight they go from eating everything in sight to refusing everything on offer and apparently existing on air.
But the reason they start to become more selective is very rarely just because they have become more stubborn or wilful.
Because what is not common knowledge is that up to around the age of 12 months the rate of a baby’s growth is extraordinary. In fact, they tend to triple their weight, which (apart from in the womb), happens at no other stage of development.
Children eat because they are growing and not in order to grow – only in very severe cases of malnutrition does eating affect growth – and body size and shape is principally determined by genes. And so up until around one year, for their size, babies eat A LOT – proportionally speaking, an awful lot more than you or I do.
And so when this extraordinarily rapid growth slows down – which is entirely developmentally normal – they no longer NEED to eat nearly as much. They are just NOT as hungry and so they naturally will start being more selective about what they choose to eat.
But if we don’t know this and are not prepared, it can come as a shock and look like they are just being ‘fussy’. It seems counter-intuitive that an older, bigger child actually needs to eat less, particularly when they even seem to moving around more and burning more energy. So we quite naturally panic and stress, and our child’s food refusal can trigger all sorts of things in us about our own childhood as well as about our ‘job’ as a parent.
And so this is very often the age that the coercion, pleading, bribing that we thought we’d never become involved in starts to creep into out mealtime repertoire. We are very sure that we know much more than our one-year old about what she NEEDS to eat, and feel increasingly frustrated that she is defying us and being ‘difficult. But unfortunately, instead of improving things it actually makes longer term ‘fussy’ eating a lot more likely and entrenched, as well as obviously making mealtimes much more stressful than they need be.
HI! I'M DR. NICOLA FARR
I'm a mama of 3 and a parenting coach specialising in picky eating and mealtime stress.
I'm passionate about inspiring parents to enjoy mealtimes & help their children develop a healthy long-term relationship with food.
DO YOU HAVE A FUSSY EATER? ARE YOU FED UP WITH MEALTIMES?
Click here to apply
to join my
6 week, one-to-one, Fuss-Free Eating for Life coaching programme