First off, can I state that I haven't set out to indulge in a little mid-week Gina Ford bashing? That's too easy and it's been done to death. Having said that, every time I hear her mentioned, I can't help but remember my friend ritually burning The Contented Little Baby Book because her baby hadn't read that she was supposed to be napping every day at 9 and 2 and wouldn't play ball.
When I saw that Gina Ford had written a book on fussy eating, I was curious to find out what she had to say. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised. Her advice is, on the whole, sound and she is much less prescriptive than I was expecting. This book isn't heavy on content but if you're a busy parent, maybe that's a good thing. It's teeny - a little square book with big print, literally half of which is filled with case-studies, FAQs and recipes. If you're after an in-depth exploration of picky eating, look away now.
In Top Tips for Fussy Eaters you will find a solid overview of a child's nutritional requirements at different stages. Some of this bordered on the obvious -I don't know many parents who need to be told to feed their child five portions of fruit and vegetables a day or that skipping breakfast is a bad thing. However, if you don't feel confident about what to feed your child, this is a useful resource. Equally, the recipes would be great for someone who is new to cooking.
I agreed with most of what Gina Ford's advocated, such as
- Offering a varied diet
- The importance of family meals
- Avoiding excess snacking
- Not offering alternatives if food is refused
- Taking a relaxed approach and not pressuring a child to eat
- Regular, structured mealtimes
- Not bribing a child to eat
The only thing I really questioned was how she treated eating just like any other behaviour, so 'bad' eating is ignored and 'good' eating, praised. I have written elsewhere about the problem with treating eating as a behaviour to be modified, and why praising a child for eating is a mistake. I also felt that her suggestion to include children in adult meals by the time they are three is odd - why not include them from the start?
The book ends with a few useful websites and some further reading, although amusingly, all the suggested reading is by Gina Ford. Strong on good nutritional advice and offering a common-sense approach to feeding children, this is the book to buy if you want a quick and accessible take on picky eating.
Top Tips for Fussy Eaters by Gina Ford is available from Amazon, RRP £6.99 / $11.95