Tuesday 23 January 2018

'Women sent me hate mail about their right to breastfeed'

Amanda Brunker with her sons Setanta and Edward. Picture: Kieran Harnett/VIP Magazine
Amanda Brunker with her sons Setanta and Edward. Picture: Kieran Harnett/VIP Magazine
Amanda Brunker and sons

Amanda Brunker

After last week's highly contentious piece on a woman's right to not breastfeed and not feel guilty if it doesn't work out for her, I've chosen to avoid causing any more drama... for today anyway!

For the record, I was misquoted in many publications as saying that I have a problem with women breastfeeding in public. Total lies. I wish all nursing and bottle-feeding mums the best. We're all doing what we can for our babies, and whatever decisions we make individually is okay. Closing the door on that, I'd like to further discuss the topic of feeding… of the solid kind.

Whether your child is six months or six years old, many of us experience difficulties with coaxing our children into eating a balanced meal. We've all spent afternoons covered in more food than what our child has ingested, so don't despair: you're not alone.

There are two very valuable lessons I'd like to pass on today. Firstly, never give up trying to introduce healthy foods to your child's diet. Persistence is key. Secondly, if your child is refusing nutritious foods, don't cave in and give them junk just to feed them up. Let them go a little hungry. Your child will not starve, so don't let them bully you into submission - a bit like the women who sent me very personal hate mail over their right to breastfeed their children 'til they were at least eight! But, we'll leave it there…

I was militant in my approach to feeding my kids from the start. I couldn't say exactly when I started introducing real foods to my sons, but I vaguely remember it was in and around the four-to-five month mark. They were both hungry babies, so it worked for them.

Little by little, peas, broccoli and many more foods that I personally hate were offered and refused. I used to cry at the wastage. But by reintroducing foods again and again, the kids would eventually take to them.

As a fussy eater myself as a child, I wouldn't wish that on my own children. And now, through constancy and occasional bribery *coughs*, my boys can go anywhere and eat anything. It's a great gift to them and one less headache for me.

So what if you're already a parent to a walking, talking, feisty, picky eater? Don't feel disheartened. Yes, you have a battle on your hands, but you can win the war if you chose to put the work in.

Remember, it's never too late to change your child's diet, or your own for that matter. But I would recommend a softer, softly, softly approach if your son or daughter has eaten little more than chips and sausages for the last 10 years.

It's definitely not ideal and it's not something my kids eat, but in extreme cases, if you need to stick something like ketchup (vom) on their broccoli to bribe them to eat it, then so be it. But wean them off the sauces over the course of meal times and eventually they will eat it fresh without the drama.

And yes, it's okay to blend veggies into sauces in the early days. But kids need to learn the importance of eating proper foods and the earlier you can do that, the better it is in the long run.

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