The more I’ve spoken about fussy eaters on my Instastories recently, the more I’ve realized I’m not alone in my struggle to get my eldest child to eat a healthy, balanced diet. But the tide has started changing in our home and the single biggest change has been recognizing her sensory personality.
What is sensory personality?
I learned all about sensory personality and how this affects weaning in babies when I listened to a talk presented by Meg Faure at The Baby Show & #MeetUp last weekend and I had an a-ha moment in the process.
All of this info can be found in Meg Faure and Kath Megaw’s book – Weaning Sense, so if you’re struggling with a fussy eater, I’d highly recommend it.
What makes us unique individuals is that each person filters sensory input to varying degrees.
Since we all filter sensory input differently, this underlying process affects our personalities.
The sensory personality can be divided into four different types, the social butterfly, the slow to warm up, the sensitive and the settled.
While listening to Meg’s talk, I was easily able to identify Ava as the sensitive type. When weaning her, I realize with hindsight, I made a lot of mistakes. She would gag for everything and as a result, I gave up and chose the path of least resistance. The result is that I now have an almost 9 year old who lives on bread, sugar, and meat. The only veggies she would eat are peas and corn and the only fruit, an apple. I have worried so much about the long-term impact this would have on her health but I had no idea how to fix it.
Recognizing her sensory personality was the first step in the right direction.
I easily recognized almost all the signs of the sensitive baby and also elements of the slow to warm up baby in her and so this past week, armed with this new insight, I started the process of reintroducing or re-weaning her.
It’s been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Firstly I think because I can now understand her and her sensory personality better, so I can recognize her genuine fear over eating something new, something she has openly expressed with each new introduction in the past week and secondly, because now that’s she’s older, I know her currency so I can encourage certain behaviors in her with better results.
What We’ve Added This Week
My child has astounded me. This week, she has, with some resistance initially and then with growing enthusiasm, eaten cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, butternut, beetroot, and asparagus.
All of these foods she has absolutely flat out refused to eat in the past and when I’ve tried to force her, she’s gagged and vomited and thrown such fits that I land up screaming and going batshit crazy. I’ve tried in the past, even blending the veggies and trying to hide them, but she’s smart and she quickly picks up on what I’ve done and it’s always been a fail.
The Butternut Example
Was a classic example, she walked into the kitchen and saw me with a butternut and immediately started resisting, telling me she wasn’t going to eat that and she’d rather starve. Instead of losing my shit, I told her that she would need to eat just two pieces, which she begrudgingly agreed to do. Well, guess what, after her expressing how afraid she was to eat it, and me remaining calm, she tasted a piece and informed us it was delicious. And now she eats it happily.
My Tips For Re-Weaning
So many people have asked for more info on how we’re doing it and it’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Read Weaning Sense so you can understand your child’s sensory personality better.
- Go slowly – go at your child’s pace, Ava has been receptive so we’ve speeded things up a little.
- Don’t force them to eat everything on their plate, but do encourage them to try everything.
- Teaching Ava to start with her veggies and finish with her protein, which is how I eat, has helped.
- Make dipping sauces (yogurt and dill worked really well for Ava)
- Negotiate on the things they don’t like, for example, you don’t have to eat ALL the asparagus, but you do have to eat one piece on your plate.
- If it’s a strong flavor item, then encourage them to have it with a piece of meat or something they like on the fork.
What I’ve Noticed So Far
One of the most astounding things I’ve noticed after just a week of encouraging this way of eating is that Ava’s stomach looks far less bloated, obviously with the drastic reduction in high carb foods and real, fresh, homemade meals as opposed to processed crap, has already started to impact on her body.
I am so proud of her efforts!
I know we are a long way from winning but we are making progress daily and this makes me so happy.