Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

My child will only eat bananas!

(34 Posts)
GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 14-Jun-11 18:36:29

(This is another Ask a gran question sent in by readers of the Radio Times.)

Help! Our 3 year old will only eat yogurt, chips and bananas. From the age of one he was given normal, home-made family food, but has gradually rejected everything and it’s become a huge drama every
mealtime. I’ve given in as I don’t want to create more of a problem around it. How can I improve his diet?

grandmaagain Tue 14-Jun-11 18:56:43

sorry don"t have an answer but if its any help we have GD just the same!!
we just keep introducing new food but it is usually rejected, patience and perseverence I think is the only answer.

JessM Tue 14-Jun-11 19:16:31

He is just using food as a way of controlling you and he is succeeding. Offer him what everyone else has. Ignore him. If he doesn't eat it just put it in the bin without comment and keep talking about other stuff. It's the ignoring bit that is going to be difficult for you, because you are hooked into the cafeteria game and, probably, feeling anxious about doing a good enough job of feeding your child.
Ban the yoghurt, chips and bananas. Don't have any in the house. Let him miss a meal, or even two. He will not fade away as a result of malnutrition. He will get hungry and start to eat once he realises that you have lost interest in playing the cafeteria game.
Alternatively you can keep playing the game and end up with a school aged child who eats only two or three things.

MrsJamJam Tue 14-Jun-11 19:34:49

I agree with Jess but would counsel that before you embark on this course you need to be feeling determind and committed, because if you cave in under pressure you could make the situation worse. You need to have convinced yourself that your child will not starve if meals are missed out, and be prepared to put his rejected food in the bin without any comment.

When our grandchildren visit, of course we try to make any meal child friendly. Then food is served at the table and the children can choose what they would like put on their plate from what is on offer. There is no pressure to eat anything - e.g. no 'you must have some vegetables with that'. Even if they eat no main course, they are still offered pudding when it is served to everyone else. (Not like childhood in the 50s!). Any unused food goes in the food waste bin without comment. This seems to work perfectly well. No-one is starving, and they all still want to visit. I have noticed, though, that they are more difficult with their own parents and I think that is because they know I'm not emotionally involved with their eating so they can't use it to control me.

Eating is a very emotional issue which children can use to gain control. Have you looked at what other areas of life your son might be able to control his life in? e.g. choosing what to wear in the morning - however strange - choosing which bedtime story etc.

Joan Wed 15-Jun-11 13:51:56

I don't understand the question. How can a three year old choose his meals? He should just be given the food items YOU choose to give him, and nothing else.

susiecb Wed 15-Jun-11 13:53:32

Ignore it, most things are a phase and throw away those bloody childcare books - rely on your instincts as a mother and if you have some older relatives who have brought up chiuldren listen to them instead.

jackyann Wed 15-Jun-11 14:06:33

When a question like this is posted, it is difficult to know how to respond, because this kind of behaviour can arise from:

A simple, boundarytestiong "phase"
Harassed parents simply giving him what they know he will eat & not having the time or energy to expand his horizons
Him wishing to control the situation (very good posts about that above)
Very, very rarely, a kind of developmental disorder that makes him want to live his life along certain structured lines. If that was the case, you would notice some other behaviours like doing things in a particular, ritual order or getting upset if things are moved or changed. If you think you notice this, ask the Health Visitor or nursery to observe.

At 3, he is likely to be at some form of pre-school, and I wonder if they notice this? Maybe not, as banana is usually on offer at snack-time!

I notice that Mrs.JamJam's post talks about children - plural - I often find that if this is a bit of a phase, or boundary-testing, other children help a great deal: they don't stand for the nonsense, and they take the pressure off. Sometimes when one or 2 adults are eating with just 1 child, every little thing gets noticed.

jackyann Wed 15-Jun-11 14:08:48

PS: I pressed "post" instead of "preview" which is why the spellling is awful, and I didn't add, that if the time-scale is as the original question implied (ie: gradual, over 2 years) it is less likely to be a "phase"

riclorian Wed 15-Jun-11 15:41:16

My grandson would only eat marmite sandwiches and fish fingers until he was 5 yrs.old . My thoughts were the same as most of you , that he should eat what was put in front of him -- I kept very quiet on this one, only advising my daughter to speak to the Dr abouut it .His advice was ( as he was fit and healthy ) to let him eat what he wanted . After starting school he soon decided that he wanted to eat the same as his friends !!He is now 27yrs . 6ft tall and into most sports .So is it worth the worry ?

crimson Wed 15-Jun-11 21:42:15

My daughter would only eat marmite sandwiches [as far as sandwiches go; she ate a fairly balanced diet when it came to meals] Because I thought she was being silly I put a tiny sliver of cheese in a sandwich and gave it to her so I could say 'see, you ate cheese in your sandwich today'. She totally gagged on it when she tried to eat it [bit like the princess and the pea...].

Grandmacool Thu 16-Jun-11 10:07:01

My grandson is something the same, a real pain about food.

My grandaughter eats almost everything, she always looks for healthy foods and loves when I make her a nice yoghurt dip with fresh veggies..

baggythecrust! Thu 16-Jun-11 11:01:02

susiecb, great answer! Until very recently everybody except the very rich had a limited diet. Poor people across the world still do and yet world population is still growing.

Sue61 Thu 16-Jun-11 15:23:34

My daughter is using baby-led weaning and it is fantastic. She puts everything her and her partner eats in front of him (he's 13 months now) and he tries everything. Some things he loves and some things he hates. And his tastes are constantly changing - having adored blueberries, he's now gone off them. And to see him tucking into a corn on the cob is a delight. The rewards - no battles at mealtimes - he decides. When I think of all the aeroplane games and other acts of bribery (no pudding if you don't eat your dinner etc) I played to try and get my children to eat - it was stressful and now I realise, misguided. I was proud of how I prepared all their meals from fresh ingredients and blended them. My daughter never blends - it turns flavour into tasteless mush - her way is so much better. Mealtimes are always fun and he is learning what he likes and doesn't like and makes good choices. I love what is describes as intensive parenting - it treats babies as real people with likes and dislikes and allows them to grow naturally. Just offer him a variety and let him choose.

Myfanwy Thu 16-Jun-11 15:58:52

So many children have eating so-called "problems" at this age that it's clear that adult expectations are at fault rather than the child's choices.

I can remember finding some foods painful to eat (Cheddar Cheese stung!) and some slimy and repulsive (tinned spinach in American food parcels). I loved other foods so much that I never wanted to eat anything else. Most children will grow out of idiosyncrasies. One of mine ate only apples, dry bread and plain yoghurt for what seemed like years with no discernible ill effect. Challenging my willful toddler by taking these foods away would have broken me long before it put the slightest dent in his determination. Offer other foods in tiny quantities every day and never make a fuss; the child will survive and so will you.

crimson Thu 16-Jun-11 17:26:13

I'm sure someone did some research on this years back, and they found that, although children seemed to be eating a somewhat lopsided diet on a daily basis, when it was looked at over a period of time it turned out to be very well balanced.

MissesM Thu 16-Jun-11 17:36:01

I would go a couple of weeks without buying yoghurt, bananas and chips and then your child would have to eat something else. Get a variety of things in that are full of goodness and make sure he knows there is nothing else. Your child will not die of hunger believe me! You need to be strong and win this battle for his sake.

mischief Thu 16-Jun-11 18:00:27

This is something I actually have experience of. When I was a child I would only eat bananas. I mean absolutely nothing else. So my dear Dad gave me bananas for every meal, mashed up in sandwiches, fried, in omlettes etc and it didn't do me any harm. I think I just got fedup with them for every meal in the end. Now I will eat everything except tongue and tripe.

Try giving them all on one plate for every meal, he/she'll soon get sick of it.

My daughter would only eat spaghetti bolognaise if it was served up in separate dishes. We think it's hillarious now and she doesn't understand why she insisted on it at the time. Fads and phases are just part of pushing the boundaries and learning.

Lynette Thu 16-Jun-11 19:23:52

And the problem is?

Lynette Fri 24-Jun-11 12:29:28

Sorry to sound flippant but actually bananas and chips are good for energy! And yoghurt is good for calcium and you can sneak the fruit into the yoghurt so we are missing protein and veggies...hmmm veggies forget it until he is much older. What about pasta and tomato sauce ? My kids lived on it. All fully grown now.

Thought about a macdonalds? Or sitting with family in any cafe, offering him what you have, making the occasion social with no pressure. Not watching him to see what he eats. Like the daughter of Suzi61, I guess he will try stuff if there is no stress around. He can sense that you want him to eat. He doesn't know why but hey what a brilliant attention getter!

Pizza? Making his own pizza ? Making his own anything in fact? Slowly, slowly he will catch on .
Just don't make an issue of it. If he is running about, sleeping ok and seems on the ball, he's fine, isn't he?

So you put other stuff with his favourites for his meals? Like a piece of chicken and chips followed by an apple and half a banana? So he will eat the chips and the banana? Is that what is happening? So gradually make the dinner less of chips and banana.

But one thing from my own experience: if what is offered is refused, don't fuss about making anything special for him. Just leave it. Ignore it. At the next meal [ and try to keep the in between snacks down] he will eat a bit more.

arum Fri 24-Jun-11 16:15:07

You have two choices, it´s up to you and how you want to handle this. Allow the child to continue with the bananas and yoghurt. And allow chips ONLY as a special treat, like dessert. Bananas and yoghurt are very nutritious, so don´t worry about im not getting a balanced diet

And bananas are a meal-in-one, with so many nutrients, why bother if he only eats that?

When sticking to the bananas and yoghurt diet, then leave him be, to eat as he wishes, while the rest of the people at the table eat and enjoy their meat and veggies. Sometime or another, he will realise that there is more to life than simply bananas and youghurt. And, really don´t bother about the chips, there is very little nutritional value in them, so use only as a treat, once a day.


you can go the hard line, and serve only what is on the table, and watch with a sad heart how he eats nothing, all the while you are worrying that he is hungry and not getting anything to eat. Do not give in to the banana and yoghurt pleas. As others have said, he may start eating other food when he realises that he is going to get nothing else, and no one is reacting to his demands for yoghurt and bananas.

If it were my child, as a mom, I would have had my worries about this diet. But, now I am older, I would definitely let the child exist on his bananas and yoghurt diet, because I now know how healthy that combination is. Just see that you buy natural yoghurt with live cultures (probiotic) with no added sugar.

I think, that your grandchild will, on his own, start asking to taste other foods. Just don´t push it. When he sees that it is no big deal only eating bananas and yoghurt, he may find this becoming very boring.

Bananas and yoghurt are covering his basic nutritional needs.

Good luck

Synonymous Fri 24-Jun-11 16:58:29

When my husband was a boy he would only eat sausages so his parents decided to teach him a lesson and that is all they gave him. He loved it and happily wolfed down all the sausages that came within his orbit but the parents got fed up and then stopped buying them without mentioning it. Funnily enough he then ate whatever was served!

My nephew came to stay with us one summer and wouldn't eat anything at all. It was very hard but we just went along with it and made no comments at all. It took three days before his food strike was over and then he ate anything and everything.

Goodness knows what was going through these children's heads but sometimes you just have to be totally relaxed and go with things until they naturally come to an end. Often it is nothing to do with food but is only the attention that they want so perhaps it is worth giving loads of attention in a completely different sphere.

My GP once told me that a healthy child can survive for a good month without food so long as they are well hydrated. Kids are always tougher than us mere adults though so I doubt we would manage as well!hmm

jangly Fri 24-Jun-11 17:55:02

I know a certain young man who lived for many years on a diet of three meals a day of - Ready Brek. (plus the odd packet of crisps and chocolate biscuit). And I do mean many years. In fact, it was his girlfriend at uni who first managed to get him onto "proper" food.

He didn't suffer at all physically, quite the opposite in fact. But, that diet was high in protein and calcium plus the vitamins added to the cereal and from the milk. I think you need to add some iron in some way (perhaps from a children's tonic). He is getting protein and calcium from the yoghurt, fibre from the bananas, vitamin c and loads of energy from the chips. I would say don't push it, don't make a fuss. So long as he thrives physically, let him be. If you make a fuss it will make it worse.

jangly Fri 24-Jun-11 17:57:49

Chips are a perffectly good food for a growing kid. Cook them in rapeseed oil and leave the skins on the potatos.

jangly Fri 24-Jun-11 17:59:19

Geraldine. is this all going on in the Radio Times at the moment? I stopped buying the mag a few months back, but I think I may have to start again. smile

vintagebubbles Thu 04-Aug-11 16:14:55

My niece (a much longed for 'only') ate very little but bananas as a child but when she came to stay with us I just said that with three children of my own I could't cater for everyone's likes and dislikes and if she didn't eat what was produced at mealtimes that was her choice. She soon started trying other foods when she became really hungry and apart from reporting to her mother on her return home that aunty was 'very strict!' fitted in with our family meals after a couple of visits.