Archive for March, 2017

Things not to say #2

pastie boy

I heard this exchange last week between a father and his four or five-year-old boy after they’d just boarded a train with hot pasties in paper bags from the station cafe.

Boy: I only eat the bit round the edge. That’s my favourite bit.

Dad: What? Just the pastry round the edge? But the bit in the middle is the best bit. Daddy LOVES that bit. Mmmmmm. [Makes orgasmic noises while taking over-enthusiastic bite of his own pasty.]

[Boy continues to eat the pastry round the edge with sideways glances at his dad to see if he’s noticing].

Let’s face it. That whole ‘daddy-lurrrrrves-the-bit-in-the-middle’ or ‘mummy-lurrrrrves-brussel-sprouts’ tactic aint never gonna work! Even a one-year old can see through the hammy acting. The pasty’s THAT good huh, dad? They know 100% that it’s just another way of us trying to get them to eat something – and that gives them something to react against.

Yep, that pasty just became way more than a pasty. It became one big, fat, juicy handful of power and attention. Power to wind you up. Attention for not eating it. What’s the chance of the boy venturing into the middle bit now? Nil, I’d say!

Let’s rewind and see how the conversation could have unfolded in a way that didn’t make matters worse.

Boy: I only eat the bit round the edge. That’s my favourite bit.

Dad [bites tongue with all his might]: Oh, right.


Have you read Things not to say #1?

Things not to say #1


I eavesdrop. A lot.

In the supermarket, in a cafe, on a train, I hear the things that parents say to their children about food and eating. The ordinary, everyday things that feel like the right thing to say.

But are actually the wrong the thing to say.

In this new series, I will be sharing some of these snippets with you and explaining how they encourage – not discourage – fussy eating! Here’s the first one:

[In the supermarket. A mum and her three-year-old daughter. The girl bounds over to a big freezer, opens the door and reaches for a bag of peas enthusiastically.]

Mum: No, no, put them back darling. You don’t like peas.

[Child puts the peas back and closes the freezer door.]

In the fight against fussy eating, the words ‘don’t like’ are Very Bad Words. Avoid them like the plague! Why? They give your child this message:

There are two types of food: The ones you Like and the ones you Don’t Like. This is a fixed thing. It doesn’t change. (Oh, so be sure to approach new foods with caution – just in case they turn out to be one of your Don’t Likes!)

Clearly this girl had rejected peas before – maybe once, maybe many times. Either way, this doesn’t mean she won’t eat them tomorrow, or next month, or next year – given the chance. Children’s palettes change and develop – and some days, like us, they just don’t fancy something. What we don’t want is for them to put a food into the Don’t Like bin in their head forever: I will never not ever eat a pea again (to use Lola’s lingo from Charlie and Lola!).

Instead, we want to keep everything fluid, flexible, on the menu. Perhaps this girl would have happily eaten peas the next time they came her way.

Much less likely now.


Now read Things not to say #2

Win a copy of the book!

Getting the little blighers to eat book cover


If you’ve got a fussy little blighter, like the Getting the Little Blighters to Eat Facebook page at the bottom of the page.

Then for a chance to win, email the word FUSSY to

This competition is now closed. The winners are Sarah Costello, Pollyanna Harvey, Lauren Bromfield, Sarah Alex and Feajay.