Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Toddler is a Picky Eater!... Let's Fix It.

Shouldn't really be the frightful admission I make it out to be, should it?  But let's face it: it stinks.  It's horrible to have a picky eater.  I feel like I failed.  I love food - all foods! - and this picky-eating nonsense is cramping my style.  And what about his health?  How can a child thrive on Cheeto's and juice boxes alone? 

It is normal.

Repeat after me: it is normal.

I guess it has a vast array of causes, this affliction we suffer... anything from the assertion of independence to the toddler's innate need for routine and sameness and aversion to change and the unexpected.  Some experts suggest that toddlers are simply too busy and curious to be bothered by the mundane act of eating.  Those same experts also claim that kids won't starve themselves.  I'm convinced the experts don't have kids and haven't seen a 3-day food strike and the resulting temper-tantrums of exhaustion and the parental fall-out when we finally cave and allow a child to gorge himself on french-fries and M&M's.  This crap is stressful and emotionally draining. 

A few things that "They" recommend regarding mealtime and our picky eaters:
- Don't turn mealtime into a battle (Um, Hubby, are you reading this?) because the last thing you want to do is create negative connotations for your child with meals... instead, keep it light and talk about positive things and remain cheerful.
- Serve simple meals and offer your kiddo small portions and a small plate.  *However, my experience is different here; my son gets insulted if we give him a "baby" plate or "baby" utensils... so I have to give him food on a "big" plate and he must use a "big" fork.
- Don't incentivize eating.
- Praise, praise, praise!

Now, when I first approached the idea of blogging about toddler foods and offering up recipes and working with you all to help our little ones get good nutrition, I was torn between whether to tackle the problem in a manner similar to Jessica Seinfeld and her Deceptively Delicious recipes that sneak nutrition into everyday foods and whether to just find new ways to present food in a "my willpower is greater than yours"-esque manner.  In the end, I chose both.  I am not entirely sure that Mrs. Seinfeld's method would help our picky eaters or just create more problems in the long run since the whole goal here (for me, at least) is to cure picky eating.  Her recipes are great, but don't do a lot to break the dependence on spaghetti, mac and cheese and hot dogs.  But, then I had to recognize that picky eating might not be a life-long and chronic condition and that it will probably resolve itself in time and I'll end up with a family of foodies in a few years so the main focus should be to get all the nutrients in the kids as I can now

So, I'm combining the two.  The way I'm going to present this whole toddler food thing is this: I'm going to pick a food or a meal that my kid likes.  Or liked.  Or finds not revolting... you get it.  And I'm going to offer up ways to a) make that food more nutritious à la Jessica Seinfeld and/or b) create something similar that is healthy - or at least healthier.  Does that make sense?  I'll have a linky thingy so you can offer up your own toddler recipes or even toddler food ideas if you want.  Share with us what your toddler DOES like... what works for you, what tricks you've got up your sleeve... We need all the help we can get!

We will conquer picky eating!  Or, at least, we will find ways to work nutrition in despite picky eating!

**DISCLAIMER:  Please use caution when introducing new foods to your child.  Consider your own child's food allergies and sensitivities and use appropriate substitutions when necessary.  Thanks!


Pam, mom, honey, said...

i agree, my daughter just learned she LOVES frozen peas. which means poor them frozen out of the bag. she had it at a friends and i thought she meant frozen cooked peas. no she just wanted to eat them frozen. if she eats it I do not care

Katie said...

Ahhh, and the food battles begin. So far Laura is a good eater, not that I am even beginning to take credit for this...much like you should not feel guilty for a picky eater. I will definetely follow these posts, and add anything I can. One thing about the Deceptively Delicious thing...I saw her talk about her book and one thing she said that made me like the premise of the book is that she puts the healthy purees in the food, but she ALWAYS still puts a veggie on the plate. She said she wanted to encourage good eating habits, but that way she knew they were getting the nutrients even if all she could get was a bite or two (if that) of the veggies on the plate.

Kate said...

You're such a good mom, Melis. Seriously. I never made my kids try new stuff and now I have onereally picky eater. The other two are ok though. Maybe I should sneak some veggies in their food...

Melis said...

Katie, really? Awesome! Okay then I'm totally on board! I'm going to try to make things as healthful as possible - like J.S. - and you're right - serve choices along side so that maybe we can expand our kids' willingness to eat new stuff...

Love it! I'm going to the library tomorrow to check out a copy of her book to really get an idea for how she does things!

Alli said...

I found your blog from Mckmama's blog-I am glad I saw this post! My 2 yr old has been an a downward spiral for a year now! Its so draining!!! I have taken him Children's Hospital for a food clinic, and a therapy place for food thereapy-they told me I am doing everything right but he is just stubborn! They told me to make sure I have tried a food atleast 15 times-ummm I have literally tried fruits, vegetables and cheese over 500 times. He wont eat them! I like to cook/bake and make dinner for our fmaily to sit and eat everynight. I have tried all those purees, sneaking them in. Problem is-he doesnt eat anything consistently to sneak it in there! Hmm what could I hide in ramen? Cant wait to read more ideas from you!


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