For the past few days, I have been feeling very bummed out, incompetent, not trying hard enough and generally feeling powerless. My daughter just won’t eat as I would like her to. I need help. She had a healthy appetite as a baby. She was round with folds and we used to call her ‘Michelin tyres.’ I had to bath and clean in between her folds everyday. She was that kind of baby every mother would be so proud to have because she was looking ‘healthy’, according to our African mentality. Anytime we went for weighing, she was always above the normal percentile for children her age. I exclusively breastfed her for 6 months and when I started her on solids, she was such a pro. She refused Cerelac and porridges or anything with a smooth texture and preferred potatoes, rice, chicken, carrots, broccoli, cucumber and the likes. She loved fruits and would always cheat me with my smoothies. She preferred to eat adult food than ‘baby food.’ I was very happy and proud that my daughter ate fruits and vegetables. You know how hard it is to get them to eat that. Even as adults, we struggle but this girl would chew on cucumber like it was chocolate. Chocolate, sweets and anything sugary was a no-no.She never had any of that because I didn’t want a sweet tooth baby.
Today? … hmmmm. We lived in Nigeria till she was almost two and then we had to move back home. You know how stressful that can be. We weren’t settled in our home yet and having to resume work almost immediately and cooking her meals became a challenge. She always had a bottle of formula first thing in the morning and before bed, however, she suddenly refused that and preferred Milo instead. From then on, she became ‘wiser’ and picky. The once chubby looking girl started getting slim and tall. Her food also became monotonous. It was rice, spaghetti, yam, Cerelac and Milo. She loved yam, which was weird. Then she also got introduced to chocolate. For security reasons, I shall not disclose the culprits here. She loved dark chocolate, eewwww, then now milk chocolate. Her favorite is the Lindt chocolate balls, the red one. Expensive taste!
I noticed that she liked communal eating. At school, her teachers always said she had a healthy appetite and would even tell her friends to finish their food. However, it’s a different story when we are home. On a good day, she would have dinner by 5-6pm but now, I have to literally beg her and lure her with all sorts. When I try to introduce new things, she would say, “mummy I don’t like,” “ ewwww, yucky.” She won’t even taste it first to see if she will like it or not. As for this trait, she took it from her father. Quote me anywhere. Let me put French fries and chicken nuggets or pepperoni pizza in front of her now, and she’ll gobble it down in minutes. Like father like daughter. One time I tried sweet potatoes and she seemed to be enjoying it. After about four bites, I opened my big mouth and said “this is sweet potato, mmmmm yummy.” There norrrr, “mummy I don’t like sweet potato.” My heart just sunk! You just ate the thing and now that you know the name you don’t like? Are you kidding me? I was in shock and just sat quietly for a few moments, staring at her in confusion and wondering what had just happened. I asked what else she wanted to which she replied, “yam”. Distinguished readers, ladies and gentlemen, for every fork of yam she had, she didn’t hesitate to say, “mummy this isn’t sweet potato, this is yam.” I could have cried that day. I decided to also mafia her the next day. I took this same sweet potato, fried it and gave it to her. She ate it because in her little mind, it looked like French fries. Next time!
On weekends, it’s even worse. After she’s had her Milo at about 6-7am, she can go without food till afternoon. When she doesn’t want to eat, she’ll intentionally say she wants Cerelac and as soon as she sees it, she will close her mouth and refuse to eat. Her punishment for that now is, if you don’t finish your food, you aren’t leaving the table. Does she care? Hoh! She can sit there till you naaa you tell her to get up because the sobbing and different variations in her high pitch crying will irritate you the more. On most days, she would fall asleep on the kitchen floor after throwing herself on the floor, kicking her legs and crying. All because of food. Go and see children starving on the streets and you’ll see how privileged you are. There are days when she won’t eat anything apart from Milo and bread and egg. She would rather prefer to snack on juice, biscuits and Pringles.
I’m in this WhatsApp group of mums where we share recipes and what our kids eat and anytime I see other mums’ pictures and recipes, I feel so sad, like a failure 😔. I’ve bought tombrown, hausa koko, tigernut powder, rice powder,corn, grits, custard, dates syrup, more fruits and vegetables and followed all sorts of toddler recipe pages all in a bid for my madam to just eat. One mum on the group shared some appetite booster and I have made up my mind to buy it. Please don’t judge me, I need her to eat. Like why is this difficult? You know what’s even more painful, I used to not like eating growing up. I was so skinny and my love for food only blossomed in the university. With this daughter of mine, I always feel like I’m paying for my sins. Lord, why? I’m reminiscing on all these eating habits and now I blame myself.
I wish I had introduced her to other porridge’s apart from oats and Cerelac. I wish I had given her more potatoes, fish, mpotompoto (cocoyam or yam porridge) and other things. I feel I could have done better. I was a first time mum in a different country with little experience and did what I knew was best but I guess it wasn’t good enough 😔. Help me please. Pray for me. 🙏🏽