You know you have been that mom staring at that little face, eyes locked, waiting for that food to come flying at you. And then it happens BAM! You get peanut butter and jelly in the hair or my personal favorite yogurt all over the floor. They sneer at strawberries or pout at peas, what’s a mom to do!
If you have a picky eater you know what we are saying. Sometimes kids are just impossible when it comes to mealtime. So, have you ever had a picky eater on your hands? How did you handle it, how did you help it? Give a mealtime trick often used in your house!
The Hot Mess Mom – In my house mealtimes can be challenging. I need to make something that the 8-year-old will eat and the almost 2-year-old will eat. I would have thought that the toddler would be pickier than the 8-year-old but it seems that my daughter is the one with the picky pallet these days. I cook what I know my kids will eat even if that means making them something different than what I make for my husband and myself. I know that sounds crazy but I do what gets the best results. We recently had mealtime frustrations with our son because it seemed as though he just didn’t want to eat. He was fighting us on getting in the highchair and even though I would make him food that I know he liked, he would fight us on feeding him too. Then we realized that he is becoming more independent and he is not interested in being fed anymore but feeding himself. Once I loosened the apron strings a little bit and allowed him to feed himself he was a happy camper. Now, more than half the week he will climb into his high chair by himself and wait for me to put his plate on the tray table. He is so good about eating and usually finishes about 70% of what I give him. The only problem left is when he is done, he wants to get down immediately and if we don’t then he throws the food on the floor and there goes the whole plate. My advice would be to cater to what you know works for each child. I know that my son is going to eat most of his food in his high chair but when he wants down he needs to be able to get down and most likely he will finish the rest of his food about 20 minutes later. That’s what keeps his belly full and a more peaceful dinner time so that’s what works best for us.
The Scrambling Step Mom – When my daughter started the “picky” phase, I talked to my pediatrician about it. I thought for sure that I was the only person on the planet with a child that only wanted goldfish for breakfast, or liked something one day and despised it the next! To my surprise, it is completely NORMAL!!! So how do I make sure she is getting the nutrients she needs, and does not live on fruit snacks? She told me to leave little piles of food all around the house (in the areas she plays). She said to stop forcing “meals”, and just let her pick all day. She assured me that she would grow out of it. I have found that when my daughter is teething, meals go out the window. Setting out little snacks of fruit, crackers, cheese, etc., has really worked for us. I always said I would NOT be the mom to make my kids something different because they refused to eat what we made for dinner, but man did that change! My 8-year-old stepdaughter has to eat what we make for dinner, but we are less harsh on our 18-month-old…..For now!
The Naturalist Mom – All my babies have had hearty appetites, each having their own particular favorites. There was a time when c1 would eat ANYTHING. As he has gotten older he started developing texture issues (banana, mashed potatoes, etc.). C2 is more my vegetarian child. He will eat any vegetable, fruit or starch thrown his way. He is not a huge fan of chicken and steak on the regular. With animal proteins, he goes in phases. He loves beans so that helps too. C3 will eat anything at this point. If it can be consumed she’s gonna go for it. All three have different eating habits but I was not raised with a short order cook nor do I intend on being one. Cooking 3-5 separate meals is not ideal in our busy schedule. I am sensitive to certain dislikes and as long as something comparable in nutrition can be exchanged I will try and make anything. I get creative in recipes and sometimes I am able to slide non-favorite foods in once in a while. Children can be quite quirky, but they can learn to manipulate for the sake of just not wanting to eat this or that. So we’ve identified those moments too. We also come up with creative names and ways to present food. For example, I once heard broccoli referred to as dinosaur trees and from that day forward, c1 has never had an issue consuming what makes dinosaurs big and strong. It’s just a matter of finding what works for your children, knowing the difference between a true dislike and an “I don’t wanna” and sometimes making those certain foods only options.
The Perfectionist Mom – I currently have a very picky eater on my hands. If you ask me she barely eats anything that is not fruit, dairy or junk. If you ask my husband and doctor she is a pretty good eater. I guess fruit, dairy, and grains is a pretty common toddler diet. We do still try to introduce different veggies and meats into her diet all the time; but those usually get fed to the dog, via being tossed on the floor. We have tried all of the traditional suggestions of sauce it up and make it fun and even bribe her; they never work. The only thing I have found that works even a little bit is when we sit at the dining room table as opposed to eating separately. When we do that she is so curious as to what we are eating that she will at least try it and some of those things have gone into her diet. Crescent rolls, guacamole, sour cream and black beans are all due to that. Also, the few bites of sausage she has taken in her life have come from watching mommy and daddy try it first. The one thing we do which I know a lot of people think is ridiculous, I think is smart, is continue to give her the purees in the pouches. I know that a TON of parents give their children the applesauce in those go squeeze pouches but I figure as long as I am giving her a snack why not throw some spinach, sweet potato, or peas in the mix. This way, yes she might be eating baby food but it’s got more vitamins and nutrition than plain applesauce, less sugar and will keep her balanced until this picky stage is over.
The Not-So-Single Mom – Everyone says, “They will all go through that stage” and I kept telling everyone I did not want to just expect that my daughter would stop eating everything. She did stop eating certain things and refused to try new things. There seemed to be nothing I could do. I gave in, and went ahead and just gave her what she liked because I was tired of getting up in the wee hours to a crying toddler because she was hungry. I finally learned that bribery is not the end of the world. My kid LOVES stickers. If I have the right ones, I just bribe her to “take one bite” and then she can have a sticker. Sometimes she ends up with a sticker for each bite, sometimes just a few because she truly likes the meal, I just have to keep her interested in it and avoid her looking at it and thinking, “Wait, I don’t think I like this”. Luckily, she did not refuse everything all together, but it’s always a chore if it’s something new or different…or something we don’t have all the time. Honestly, I don’t like to fight with her. Just this morning she wanted yogurt…and she absolutely REFUSED to eat my yogurt, she had to have hers…the one in the Mickey Mouse container. I gave in, honestly, does it matter which yogurt she eats? Not really, as long as she eats it! I have also done the “when you’re hungry later, we will warm this back up” line when I know it’s something she likes. That worked a few times, and a few times she still refused and I just had to give her something she liked so she didn’t go to bed hungry. She’s too young for that just yet. So, for now, my two year old gets bribed with stickers or the promise of something fun and sometimes even with a cookie if she eats her meal. And so far, we aren’t fighting about it too often.
Do you have any tips for dealing with picky eaters??? Please share your ideas, tips, tricks and maybe a recipe or two in the comments!
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