Way back in 2011, when Big Robot was 2 and Little Robot was just a baby, I wrote about Big Robots eating habits. He was, what some might call, a fussy eater and I certainly thought of him that way for a time. He fit all the right criteria. He started refusing foods he previously loved which began limiting the range of foods he’d eat. In addition he’d refuse to try anything new and, if you did coax him to try, he’d cough and gag with disgust as soon as he’d put the foodstuff in his mouth.
He used to shovel pasta in his mouth by the handful when he was 1, why does he look like he’ll puke at the thought of eating it at 2? He used to gobble up pears when he was 6 months old, why does he cry at the thought of any fruit now he’s older? Can we ever go out to eat as a family without scouring menus for acceptable foods? Will he always be this fussy?
It worried and frustrated me at the time but it seems it was rather normal. Many children go through a fussy eating phase starting around the age of 2, there’s even been scientific studies on it. Including a study observing food choices and energy intake between the ages of 2 and 3 where they found during this age range the variety of foods reduced but energy intake actually increased. Which leads some people wondering if fussy eating is actually children being wired to favour the energy dense foods their bodies need. I’ve come across other information about children being wired to be wary of plant foods and certain tastes during this age range. As if this wariness may have evolved to protect them back when a newly toddling early human baby putting a strange plant in their mouth might have had dire consequences.
Whatever causes this phase, it does seem to be just that, a phase. When Little Robot also started food fussiness at a similar age to his big brother I barely batted an eyelid. It certainly was a lot less worrying second time around. He was eating and eating enough. So I didn’t worry too much about the variety and now he’s 4 we’re coming out the other side of the fussy phase. Big Robot is 6 and well and truly past it. He’ll try anything set in front of him now without crying and gagging at the mere thought. He knows that if he tries it he might discover he likes something new. He also understands that if he tries it and hates it then it’s only a moment, not the end of the world, and we won’t give it to him again. He even eats pasta again and that’s something which, when he was two, I never thought I’d say.