Hello there! My name is Grace Willis, I have 5 year-old twins, live in the UK and I started Happy Little Eaters to write posts and share information on how to improve mealtimes with your kids with the ideas and techniques I have picked up along the way. I now have this website so I can keep my written articles in order and easy to access!
- Why did I start Happy Little Eaters?
When my son was just three months till around 6 months old, he started to refuse his bottle. It was a deeply distressing time for my husband and I, we just wanted our little baby to feed and grow. This was drummed into us the minute he was born! My son was premature (not drastically) but I was very conscious of feeding him every three hours as advised by the hospital staff and got obsessed with it to be honest. At 6 months old, we went to see a paediatric dietician. Something very surprising happened. I picked up my son to show the dietician his reaction when I offered him his bottle of milk (head turning and refusal) and he drank it happily for the first time in ages! It turned out it was likely we had been putting too much pressure on ourselves (and our son) to feed him. He was simply being overfed. He had developed an aversion to his bottle because of this. Just writing this is making me feel sick and emotional.
A horrible feeling of guilt came over me that day; thinking back to all the times I was so stressed trying so many things like changing the brand of milk, the teat and environment of where I would feed him to see if it made a difference. I console myself now by remembering it was all done out of love and concern for my son, but nevertheless, it was a hard time. As soon as I walked out of the paediatrician’s door, my shoulders dropped and I realised I simply needed to back off and to take a step back. To offer him his milk regularly but respect when he was full. He certainly wasn’t losing weight.
Five years in and my son still has an oral aversion to certain tastes and textures. Even giving him medicine is virtually impossible at times. At 2 years of age, he was diagnosed with Selective Eating Disorder or ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder). I suspect he has always had this and it is not just simply ‘fussy eating’. Fortunately, due to seeing this paediatric dietician in his early years meant I was equipped to deal with my son’s aversion to many tastes and textures and he has come out the other end completely unscathed and unaware of all of this. A Happy Little Eater you could say. :-)
I learnt so much from our paedatrician and figured that if I was going through this, there must be other parents out there that could benefit from everything I have learned and picked up along the way.
This whole experience made me realise that mealtimes didn’t have to be stressful if we let our child dictate how much they decided to eat and I just want to share this message really.
Food is an emotive subject. We just want our kids to be nurtured, thrive and grow, but there are other calmer, gentler ways of getting there. Most children hit a fussy patch, it’s knowing how to manage this that counts. I feel lucky we got the professional help when we did and learnt about self-regulation of appetite, nutrition, the consequences of bribery and myths surrounding mealtimes.
My approach to mealtimes is child-led, in so much that my children decide when they have eaten enough, not me. I am keen to share the information I have researched and other tips I have come up with myself to anyone who will listen! Thanks for reading my story and getting this far!
I am currently studying to be a nutritional coach. I am a mum, first and foremost. I have now helped over 50 families on a 1:1 level achieve calm and increase their child’s variety of food. A lot of what I talk about is psychological and the mindset needed from a parent’s view for calmer family mealtimes. I rarely mention the child. Any information on my page which is nutritional or factual is verified and checked by several professionals that support my page, most notably, Judy More and Dr Venita Patel.
I hope you enjoy reading the articles I have written on my page and here’s to happier mealtimes for all!
Grace @ Happy Little Eaters