Monthly Archives: February 2017

My Child Won't Eat

How To Cope When Your Child Won’t Eat

My child won’t eat! I’m sure this is something all parents experience from time for time. For some, the periods of fussy eating are short lived. For others, like me, having a child who is a fussy eater seems to be part of the course.

I’ve read so much advice on encouraging fussy eaters to eat. But what if it’s more than just fussy eating? And how does the parent cope with the feelings of frustration, worry and guilt brought on when your child just won’t eat?

When I was pregnant with my first daughter Susie, I didn’t really think much about feeding beyond the (sometimes) three-hourly milk feeds I soon became familiar with. I did have visions of myself wearing a pretty pinny, cooking up nutritious meals which my curly haired child would wolf down with delight.  That was before I knew anything about children (and mine in particular).

From the moment Susie was born, she never had a big appetite. I remember reading  the guideline amount on the side of the formula carton. She never even came close to the recommended amount. Some days she would only take a few sips from each bottle. I was beside myself with worry. I whisked her to the GP who, after examining her and stating that she was perfectly happy and healthy, said to me, ‘Have you considered that maybe she just isn’t hungry?’

How can a baby not be hungry??

At the time the GP’s statement pissed me off. Other parents I knew were reporting babies who drained their bottles and screamed for more afterwards. I think Susie only ever drank a full bottle once or twice. But 6 years on, now I really know her, I see that the GP was right. Some days, she just isn’t that hungry.

Soon we progressed to solid foods and I quickly binned my idea of the pinny, nutritious meals and delighted toddler. Susie quickly asserted which foods she would not tolerate at all. Some days she seemed hungry and would eat more. However she never ate something she didn’t like, no matter how hungry she was. And a good meal for her was at least half the portion eaten by a ‘normal’ child. Some days she would hardly eat anything at all.

I read and digested all the advice. Try new foods fifteen times I was told on a regular basis. Blah blah blah. It didn’t work. Susie was determined in her fussiness. Early on, I could count the things she would eat on two hands. Over the years that list has diminished to one hand.

It became a battle of wills. I began to feel sick to my stomach as each mealtime approached. I started to absolutely hate feeding her – the anxiety I felt about her health and the feelings of failure as a mother were too much. There is a sizeable dent in our kitchen bin from the day it bore the brunt of my frustrations and I kicked it.

As a mother, feeding your child is one of your most important jobs. I was failing at that and I felt like an awful parent. There was no way Susie was getting everything she needed from her diet. I voiced this concern to a health visitor, who said her weight was fine but recommended supplements (probably to calm me down more than anything).

Now at age 7, not much has changed.

Except me.

Mealtimes are a much happier these days. This isn’t because Susie has suddenly started to love food, but because I’ve stopped beating myself up about my ‘failures’ in this department. I’ve calmed down and learned to accept her for who she is.

There is much advice available for dealing with fussy eaters. But I found that there is a lack of advice on how to deal with the feelings of anxiety and failure the parent feels when their child won’t eat.

I wish someone had told me the following when I first started making colourful purees and proudly freezing them in ice cube trays:

My Child Won't Eat


I tried my hardest to introduce Susie to a variety of foods. I spent hours cooking, blending and freezing different meals. Most of them ended up thrown on the floor in disgust or at the bottom of our dented bin.

Susie’s fussiness and apathy towards food is part of her personality; it has been there since birth. I can see that now.

I have a friend who did everything by the book – baby led weaning, meal planning, getting her kids involved with cooking etc. She cooks the most wonderful and varied meals for her family daily. One of her children will eat anything; the other is incredibly fussy and hardly eats any of her delicious dishes. The lesson here is that if your child refuses to eat a variety of foods, it is part of who they are.

You need to stop blaming yourself and find ways to work with it.



It took me a long time to accept that I had little control over Susie’s eating habits.

Just because I spent ages cooking a meal and asking (begging) her to eat it didn’t mean that she would. In fact the more attention I gave it, the less she felt compelled to eat.

More often than I care to admit, my feeling of helplessness and worry exhibited themselves in anger. I would shout. I would cry. But getting angry and yelling, ‘you will sit there until you finish it!’ never once helped. It made mealtimes even more fraught.

Eventually I learned to accept Susie for the child she was and not the child I wanted her to be. I made myself chill out and gave her what she wanted (within reason). If all she would eat was a bowl of plain pasta and a few peas then that was better than nothing.  Since I stopped feeding Susie’s fussiness with negative attention, mealtimes have become much more relaxed.

It isn’t how I dreamt family meals would be. But this is how they are. Since I accepted this it has made us all a lot happier.



It took me a while to realise that Susie is not a three meals a day person. She prefers to eat little and often. Her tummy obviously doesn’t tolerate a lot of food in one sitting, so now she has about five or six micro meals every day. Each meal may be a sparrow’s amount but it all adds up.

This way of eating is so alien to me that it took me a long while to understand how Susie’s body worked.

My Child Won't Eat


I generally steer clear of articles telling you what you should and shouldn’t do as a parent. When dealing with fussy eaters there seems to be an abundance of said advice. If you try the various suggestions and they don’t work, it just adds to the feelings of failure.

Most of the recommendations I tried never worked. A few worked at certain times, but not always. When I began to realise that my role was to understand her relationship with food and encourage her, instead of trying to fit it around pre-conceived notions of what and how she should be eating, life became easier for us both.


Now at age 7, Susie is skinnier than the average child her age (though not underweight). She’s rarely ill and I have never understood how that is. There are lots of foods she still refuses to eat but she has widened her horizons since starting school.

I’d be lying if I said that I was happy about her diet, but I have given up trying to force her to eat. I have accepted that while we all tuck into our Christmas dinners, she will nibble on a pizza. I’ve made allowances for the fact that when we go out to eat; she will dine on a piece of unbuttered bread.

I do have hope for the future and I’ve finally let go of the guilt I felt for years. She is healthy and happy and I know I’ve done my best, even if my best wasn’t always right.

How I Cut My Energy Bills In Half

During the thick of winter, when the days are short and temperatures have plummeted, it’s inevitable that energy bills will creep up. Two years ago, after receiving a worryingly high gas and electricity bill, I decided our family needed to make some drastic changes. Here’s how we reduced our energy bills by more than half.


It may sound obvious, but I wasn’t aware just how much you could save by changing energy supplier. We had been plodding along with the same old supplier out of laziness more than anything. I thought switching would only lead to a few pounds saving and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered.

Until we had a problem with our supplier and switching became a matter or principal. I went on a comparison website and was amazed by how much I could save. We switched to the cheapest supplier and suddenly our electricity was half price and our gas cheaper by a third.

My advice is to check out comparison websites regularly and switch whenever you can get a better deal. There are even websites now that make the switch for you whenever they find a cheaper deal, although I haven’t tried this yet.


In our house, if no one is watching the TV it goes off. Lights are turned off when nobody’s in the room. Care is taken with water use.

I’ve also taught my daughter, aged 7, to be careful with the energy she uses. For example, when she brushes her teeth she knows to turn the tap off. She also knows that if she leaves a room, she must turn the light off. It has helped that her topic at school this term was ‘Eco Champions’.

Sitting down together and making a plan on how to save energy as a family will greatly help to reduce those bills.


Not only is this good fire-safety practice, it will also save you pounds on your energy bill. If you leave your TV on standby, it’s still using 50 percent of its energy.

The same goes for washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers, microwaves, coffee machines etc. In our house, when they’re not in use, we turn them off at the wall and unplug them.


Most people wander around their houses in winter wearing a thin shirt with the thermostat cranked up to 20 degrees. Our first port of call is to put on more layers before the heating goes on.

Apparently turning down the thermostat by just one degree can save £85 per year.

Dare I suggest a onesie?!


Before we moved house, I used to bath the kids every day and often separately for convenience. While one was at school I bathed the younger one because this made my life easier. However, in our new house, we were slapped with a water meter and the increase in cost was intense (triple what we had previously been paying without a meter).

I knew we had to do more to use less water. One way of doing this is to shower the kids instead of bath them. They didn’t like it at first but they’ve got used to it now. I give them a bath together once or twice per week when they have time to play in it. But even then, I only fill it as much as I need to.


We’ve become pretty energy savvy in our attempts to reduce the bills. There are plenty of ways to do this.

Make sure the dishwasher is full before you turn it on. The same goes for the washing machine. Don’t overload them but also take care not to use them until you have loaded them fully. Two loads of washing where one would suffice is just a waste of money.

Buy draught excluders and make sure all windows are shut before you switch the heating on. Close curtains to keep heat in. If you don’t use your fireplace, block the chimney with a pillow. Look into other ways of insulating your house such as loft and wall insulation to make it better able to keep heat in.

Use energy saving light bulbs. Fix dripping taps. Only fill the kettle with the exact amount of water you intend to use (did you know the kettle uses a lot of energy?) Turn down the washing machine temperature to 40 degrees and use the quick wash.

When you need to replace appliances such as washing machines and boilers, make sure you choose the most energy efficient ones as possible.


Record your meter reading each month so you can see how you’re doing. Make sure you submit your readings to your energy supplier to avoid paying an estimated bill.

We had an estimated bill one month when I forgot to submit the readings and it was grossly inaccurate. I won’t be making that mistake again.


All households will be offered a smart meter by 2020, at no extra cost. A smart meter not only sends meter readings to your energy supplier for you (ending the problem of inaccurate, estimated bills) but also allows you to see, in real time, exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. If you’ve ever tried to work out your energy bill, you’ll have seen how deliberately complicated it is. Smart meters put an end to all that.

You can find out more about smart meters here. Everyone will be offered a smart meter by 2020 but contact your supplier to see if you can get one now.

If you don’t want to wait until 2020 for your smart meter, you can buy an energy monitor for about £25 (although some suppliers give them away for free). An energy monitor is a handheld device, which allows you to see the amount and cost of the energy you’re using. This will then enable you to see where cutbacks can be made.

By following all of the above, our energy bills have reduced by more than half. For a family of four, this has made a huge difference to our wallet. The greatest saving came from switching supplier but all the other small, energy saving actions we take mount up.