A Nibble Tray Experiment

I feel like all I do when discussing what Hooper eats is complain about what he didn’t eat or how long it took. So I’ve reached out to Sarah (Sarah Dyer, not our dog silly), whom I mentioned before, and suggested that we do a post swap and pay a little visit to one another’s blogs. So, you know, you can hear someone else with a horrible eater complain. Sarah writes about the frustration of feeding her little Stanley in much the same way I write about Hooper. Only when I see her posts of what Mr. Stanley is eating, I’m jealous. He seems to eat pretty well. But I know all to well that it’s all about what happens in between the before and after photo. I’m talking about the struggle people. You can’t photograph the struggle. It’s like taking a picture of someone before running a marathon and after. Yeah, they did it, but can you feel the burn in their legs or the deflation in their lungs. No soiree. So despite my jealousy over what Stanley appears to eat, I have nothing but sympathy for the struggle in between. So with no further adieu, here is the lovely and talented (check out her illustrations) Sarah who bravely did her own nibble tray experiment…
My name is Sarah and Ashley suggested I popped over from my blog ‘Sarah Illustrator‘ to say “Hi” and to give my take on the whole feeding a picky little eater. I found such a love for this blog because Ashley writes so honestly and with such humour. There are a lot of blogs out there that have no real substance, but this one definitely isn’t that kind. Anyway I digress. The main reason I’m here is that Ashley and I seem to have bonded in the internet world over our troublesome eaters. I started these posts a while back on my blog but quickly realised I was trying to fool myself (and maybe my readers) with a perfect idea of what my little boy Stanley ate. The real truth was most mealtimes are a battle. If he does want to eat I mainly have to spoon feed him and at almost 21 months I think he should be able to do that himself. He is generally fussy about things and always wants to get down after about 10 seconds of being in his high chair. I then spend the time like Ashley running around the house shovelling more mouthfuls of food in his gob, or letting him play with his cars at the table to distract him into more mouthfuls.
Since starting these more honest food posts I’ve received some great advice. One of the best bits was to look at what he was eating over a whole week not just a day. In recording a before & after shot of his food I’ve also realised his eating has improved and really isn’t that bad. In fact I think I’m beginning to make real progress with him. He is trying more and more things and getting quite adventurous with his tastes. It makes for a happy Mummy to see this. Recently Ashley did a ‘nibble tray experiment‘ and so I decided to do my own. I like the idea behind this feeding attitude and think it makes a lot of sense. I think I will try to do this type of relaxed feeding at lunchtimes, letting Stanley pick at what he fancies and then do a more ‘proper’ meal for his evening dinner.
This is what our nibble tray looked like. I used a paint palette to get the little sections.

I, like Ashley, included things I was pretty sure he liked and a few foods he’s only had occasionally to test him out. He was pretty excited when I put the tray in front of him, and there was no instant request for a toy to play with. Good start I thought. He straight away went for the cashew nuts which is a food I don’t think he’s EVER eaten before….I’d already put money on the egg or cucumber going first. I was soon to find out that these would be the last thing he’d eat. This boy does like to keep me on my toes 😉

I did have to try one of everything on his tray. I don’t mind doing this though. I never put food on his plate I wouldn’t eat, and he is good sharer which I think is important to encourage.

We were doing pretty well. Every now and then I had to ask which one he was going to try next, and he would say “that one” and then go ahead and eat it. If there was a slight lull again then I would ask him again what he fancied next and list the food on his plate. He’s quite a parrot with his speech so he enjoys listening and then saying the word he wants to eat next. “Owive”. This continued well, only a slight distraction in standing up for a bit and a light attempt at escaping over the highchair and onto the table.

Amazingly though he ate it. ALL of it! As you can maybe tell from the photos it did get DARK towards the end of the meal it had taken that long! I should have been clever and done a before and after of our clock like Ashley to show you. We started around 5pm (I tried it for his dinner that day) and he finished just before 6pm! I was happy enough though – I’d been sensible and made a cup of tea to sit down with before we began. In all though for us a major success. No distractions needed other that chatting about his next mouthful. No cars, no TV no silly music and me dancing like a loon. No begging, no pleading, no dashing round the lounge after him.

I’m sure I worry more than is necessary. My mother thinks I’m mad and says he eats very well. Perhaps sometimes just the tedious nature of doing it 3 times a day is what gets me down. He is my first child, I have a few friends to compare myself to, but perhaps like a lot of things with motherhood we all expect the best and then beat ourselves up when we don’t get it right – or it doesn’t quite go how ‘the books’ say it will.
Thanks to Ashley for letting me do a guest post on her beautiful blog. Hopefully I’ll be back here if this incident hasn’t ruined our new friendship!
You can pop over to Sarah’s blog to see my “Honest Food” post. 

6 Responses

  • Looks like both of your little ones eat pretty dang well to me! I’d love my own nibble tray on a daily basis. You ladies are great moms! Don’t worry about your little guys. They both look super healthy!

  • Great post Sarah! Thanks for sharing. Your nibble tray looks like the perfect ammo if I ever need to go to battle with my soon-to-be toddler.

  • He’s so cute! Genuine question, no judgment or snark: what happens if you just say, fine, you don’t want to eat it, go hungry? Will he eventually eat the food you put in front of him? Or would he literally starve himself until you give in?

    • I’ll give my answer, though I’d love for Sarah to answer this too. Hooper would starve. It’s a challenge to get him to eat even foods that he likes. Just last night at dinner I asked my husband what he thought would happen if we let him out of his high chair when HE says he’s “done”. My husband replied, “we’d only have one son because Hooper would be dead”. I’m sure he’d eat eventually and sometimes I think I need to adopt this attitude. Maybe I’ll try it for a week and see how it goes, as an experiment… cuz’ I am sick of spoon feeding him and I am sick of the struggle. I was a picky eater myself, however, and I confess that there was no way my parents were going to dictate what I ate and when I ate. I was as stubborn as they come. So I guess I fear adopting the “fine, don’t eat” attitude for fear that he will be the same way.

      • I don’t think he would starve himself. I think he just wouldn’t eat much, possibly demand a snack later or just eat up all his next meal probably without any bother. My main problem (and it is very much my own silly one) is that I’m obsessed with ‘filling him up’ so he sleeps. I had a nightmare with lack of sleep for the first 10 months of his life where he almost broke me with not sleeping at all well at night and never napping in the day for longer than a couple of 20 minute stretches. People told me to fill him up more, so he slept. This of course never really worked but it’s something I’ve never been able to let go of in my mind! I’m pretty disciplined with most other things he does and by no means a push over but when it comes down to food I give in even though I know I shouldn’t. I need to be brave really and try a ‘cold turkey’ approach and see what happens. It might even help break this crazy lady attitude I have to filling up the poor child!

        • Sarah this is EXACTLY my issue with Wilf, I am obsessed that I need to feed him up for sleep reasons. Not that is has ever worked. I wish we could have chatted more about this when we met as Wilf is now 9.5 months and I often day dream about more than two hours sleep in a row.. xx


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