My Child Is A Fussy Eater And It Is Okay!

Why is there this constant need to prove that if a child is of a certain weight and height, only then is he/she the epitome of normalcy? Let us change this narrative.

My second son was born early. Not early enough to be termed premature but early nevertheless. Labelling him as a “full term baby” never really helped then, it doesn’t help now. He was extremely small at birth. So small that he was off the WHO weight/growth percentile chart.

From the minute he was born, feeding him and issues surrounding food have been constant and consistent. It doesn’t matter that he is two and a half years old now but what will never leave him alone is a stream of comments and remarks about how thin he is.

A fussy eater

My son is a fussy eater. Make that a very fussy eater. In fact, every day, three times a day, my husband and I spend most of our time wondering what he will eat, whether he will eat or not and so on. I have learnt how to take my son’s lead, stop when he says no and continue to offer various foods in the hope that something might catch his fancy on a particular day.

I can never force anyone to eat, no. Nobody in our family was labelled lanky until he was born, of course. Personally, I have always been on the other end of the percentile chart, dealing with comments about weight gain and how “healthy” I am.

Note the euphemism. So when this child miraculously entered our lives with something that we had never ever encountered before, we were thrown off guard and massively so. We were disillusioned.

Stop shaming children for their weight

Fat shaming and passing judgement on those who are on the heavier side, is clearly looked down upon. In fact, chubby kids are sought after aren’t they?.

But, what about that lanky kid refusing food after food, plate after plate whilst you try your best to offer him a healthy balanced diet?

That kid who is made fun of for lack of body mass. Sarcastically being called Mr. Muscles, Mr. Puniverse and Weakling not just by other kids but by grown-ups as well. And it is really very infuriating, not to mention frustrating that this appalling behaviour is normalised.

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Stop judging mothers for their child’s weight!

There are many instances where I am asked in jest if I eat up his food, don’t feed him enough. Oh he must be so light and on and on, and I am expected to just laugh in response to these comments.

Now let’s turn the tables a little. What if I were to say something in jest about a chubby child? Now that would be looked down upon wouldn’t it? I am repeating myself but the point that I’m trying to make is why do we feel the need to comment on somebody’s weight? Let alone a child’s?

Why this constant need to prove that if a child is of a certain weight and height only then is he/she is the epitome of normalcy? Why do we want everyone to fit into these so-called ‘acceptable’ body standards that society has somehow manufactured over the years? and to which we are adhering to sometimes willingly and at other times unwillingly?

Weight is not the only measure of a child’s health

Weight is not the only measure of a child’s growth and development. Of course it is a very important one but we as a society have become obsessed with feeding to the extent that we measure success on the basis of how much or how little a child eats and consequently weighs.

And oh! A lanky kid doesn’t always indicate poor eating habits. Let’s educate ourselves before passing flippant comments shall we? We need to understand that there may be other parameters of measuring a child’s development apart from weight. Is the child hitting their milestones? Are they hitting those milestones on time?

Are they crawling, talking, walking appropriately for their age? If they are hitting all the milestones on time and are happy and healthy then you have nothing to worry about. Read that again. Read it every time you worry about your lanky kid.

Finally, let us show some empathy. The next time we drone on about what our kids ate, how much, when and where be mindful of her. Yes, her. That one mum who is quiet and has nothing to say. She doesn’t want to know. Trust me on this one.

Image source: iaruck on pixabay

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About the Author

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Snehal is a freelance writer and poet based in London with her husband and two young children. Her writing primarily reflects her motherhood journey, memories of her own childhood and the essence of everyday moments. read more...

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