If your kids are anything like ours, they can be picky little eaters. Sometimes it’s a certain food, texture, or even color that they won’t touch. Other times a food they used to love is suddenly “yucky.”
So, what’s a parent to do? Hang in there! You’re not alone...
Claire was born on the smaller side (5 lb, 9 oz) so we have always been concerned about her weight. When we started feeding her solids she was a great eater. I made most of her baby food and made sure there was a variety of choices. For a long time her favorite was avocado (a great one for a little baby needing to gain weight!). She was doing really well and happily ate almost every option I gave her.
Then the time came to transition to more chunky foods so she could learn to chew. This did not go so well. She refused to chew and instead would gag on every bite. Most kids get through this stage and eventually learn to chew the food. Claire is not most kids.
She is now almost 3 and still flat out refuses to chew certain foods. Of course, smooth foods are her favorite (yogurt, applesauce, etc). and she loves crunchy things (Ritz crackers are the current favorite) and actually does well chewing them. But, soft foods such as noodles or rice, she will not chew. I have tried absolutely everything at this point too.
We have always had the rule of: It’s ok not to like something, but you have to try it first. So, she is great about trying new foods and absolutely loves “brokie cheese” (broccoli cheese soup), so there is no issue there. It’s just the texture issue with chewing. I’m sure at some point she’ll “get” it, but right now it is super frustrating!
When Evie was a baby I made all of her baby food because it was so much cheaper. And I made her everything. I found this great website that offers not only recipes but meal plans so that you know how much your child should be eating at what age. It was great. Evie was right on target with weight and height (granted she was on the big side at 95 percent for both height and weight).
Then when she started eating less pureed food and more solid food, she started getting pickier. She stopped eating broccoli, she didn’t like carrots, she didn’t like green beans, and so on. Mostly with vegetables. And then it started in with the meats. She only likes certain kind of chicken and turkey, she won’t touch beef and she’ll only eat pork if I pretend its chicken (Mommy has gotten very good at pretending!).
Now I have a short list of things she will definitely eat, and luckily it’s all pretty healthy (everyone in the Mom Squad knows Evie will eat a turkey and cheese sandwich any day. In fact, a turkey and cheese sandwich has been referred to as an Evie sandwich) but I’m trying so hard to expand her palette considering the closest thing to a vegetable my kid eats is ketchup.
My husband and I are fairly adventurous eaters, we’ll try anything once and I want my kids to be like that too. It’s important to us that they can find at least one thing on any menu that they’ll eat, whether it be Indian, Mexican, Thai, whatever. I’m lucky that she is healthy and growing and thriving, I’m just hoping one day she’ll discover the deliciousness of a good chicken tikka masala or pumpkin curry!
So the new rule in our house is she has to take at least one bite of what Mommy and Daddy eat for dinner or else she doesn’t get to either play with a toy she likes or watch a show she wants to watch. So far it’s worked and she’s tried and liked things I never thought she would. Of course she doesn’t like everything, and that’s totally fair. She’s not going to like everything, and that’s ok with me! As long as she tries it, that’s all that matters to me!
When Sabine was a baby, she was a pretty adventurous eater. There were very few things that she just flat out didn’t like. Even as she started on solids, I was amazed that she seemed to enjoy pot roast and broccoli and pretty much anything else that Daddy and I were eating. I used to pride myself on having such a great, and happy eater.
Fast forward two years, and now I’m lucky if I can get her to eat anything outside of blueberry bagels, hot dogs or mac ‘n’ cheese. I guess it could be worse, at least the hot dog has protein, but I really wish she’d like something from the meat group that isn’t processed to death. I’m happy to report that there are some vegetables that she loves; green peas and carrots, in particular. But even that isn’t as great as it sounds. She only likes her peas frozen... and usually on frozen waffles (each square in the waffle is filled with a pea).
I have none to blame but myself for the frozen peas; I used to give them to her when she was teething to alleviate her gums. I guess it worked well in one way, I mean, she loves peas. And, I can’t imagine that the vitamin content in frozen peas is any less than in steamed or boiled peas... I hope. Carrots are her other favorite, but any other vegetable is DOA when it comes to her palette. Occasionally I’ll get her to sample a new vegetable here or there, but generally speaking it’s a lost cause and extremely frustrating.
We pretty much have a love relationship with fruit. Mainly strawberries, grapes, apples, and bananas. Oranges aren’t her favorite, but she’ll drink orange juice like it’s going out of style. But, once again, getting her to try anything new is pretty much an effort in futility.
In an attempt to broaden her taste a bit, we recently enacted the “one bite rule”: she needs to take at least one bite of something new. If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to finish it, but she needs to at least try. That rule first went into effect on Christmas day; she took one bite of Oma’s Au Grautin potatoes and spit them back out at me. Same with green beans. She may not have eaten them, but gosh darn it, I got them in her mouth!
I recently stumbled upon a trick to get her to try something new. The other day I offered her a PB&J (something that she generally doesn’t seem to care for either way), and she accepted (the Angels sang)! I then had the ingenious idea of cutting the sandwich into shapes (thanks to Nicole for the new cookie cutters I received at our Christmas swap party!)! I made her butterfly and dragonfly PB&J sandwiches and she went NUTS! She finished both sandwiches in their entirety! Since then she’s requested the sandwiches at least one other time.
She also loves bagels with colored cream cheese (Thanks to Teacher Wendy at Los Gatos Parent Nursery School for this one!) I tried to get her to eat a quesadilla last night by telling her that Dora and Diego eat them (hey, it worked for bananas - once she found out that Curious George loved them we were all set), unfortunately, it didn’t do the trick.
Despite the frustration of feeling like she really doesn’t eat anything remotely good for her, I’ve read and heard from various sources that it’s okay. She’s not going to starve and, as long as she’s eating something, even if it’s Cheerios three times a day, she’s getting the nourishment she needs to thrive. I’ve also read that it takes offering something 11 times (yes, you read that right) before a toddler will sometimes even try a new food, let alone decide whether or not they’ll eat it again. So... hello New Year, hello new eating habits (I hope)! And, if not, well... as the saying goes, “Mama tried.”
Having a picky eater can be incredibly frustrating, but don’t forget, they are little people too. They are not only figuring out how to push the boundaries (and driving us crazy at times!), but are also just figuring out their sense of taste. It’s ok to not like some things, we just need to make sure that they get a balanced diet and maybe even try some new foods along the way.
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