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!
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