Thursday, April 11, 2013

More tips for picky eaters

The more I watch Allie, the more I see how toddler’s eating habits can be so funny and so… well, weird. One day she’ll eat every single piece of food that’s been placed in front of her, even if I can tell it is way too much while serving. Another day she’ll be served all her favorite things, like wheel-shaped pasta (that we call “wheels on a bus pasta”), carrots with hummus and a hot dog, and she won’t touch it. I don’t understand why, so I stopped questioning it and just settled down with the fact that toddlers must just be like that. If Allie is hungry, she’ll eat, but if she doesn't eat anything, I’ll offer her the food a few times and if she still won't eat, then just be it. I’ll give her a few berries and whatever else she feels like eating and will be ready for a real big breakfast the following morning.
I’ve written about picking eating in a  few posts on this blog, but since it’s such a hot topic for so many parents, I keep coming back to it, as I discover new ways to handle it. What inspired me to write about it today is a funny thing that happened the other night. Well, not funny really, just interesting. MJ and I were having a totally adult kind of snack: we were having some wine with some very kid-unfriendly cheeses, like blue cheese, some very aged Gruyere and some other very “stinky”  (stinky is a good ”cheesy” way) varieties and we were dipping them in my new favorite thing in the world – truffle honey (thanks to my sister-in-law who introduced me to it. It’s out of this world delicious!)  Sure enough Allie saw us enjoying it and asked to have some. I let her try a piece of cheese thinking she’ll spit it out, but no!
“Yuummmyy!” she exclaimed and proceeded to grabbing another piece and dipping it in the truffle honey this time. She LOVED every single thing on that platter (except for the blue cheese, that I hid quickly. (probably wouldn't be a very good-mother thing to feed your toddle blue-colored cheese). And no, she didn't try the wine, she knows that it’s “mama and dada’s juice only”.
So here is a few tips on what really works for us when it comes to picky eating:
  • Serve different foods separately. Whoever invented those “sectioned” kid plates really knew what they were doing.  Every kid-related source out there will tell you that most kids like they food being served separately (by color, texture, food type, etc…). Allie doesn't really get excited about the food that is being served all mixed up in one dish (like pasta with some complicated sauce or a salad). She likes to have her foods separated in her 4 section plate: veggies, dipping sauce, meat and some starch. She will eat a soup, or beef stew or something like that when she’s very hungry, but my best chance to get her to eat is serving foods separately.
  • Mom and Dad should enjoy the food that your children are being served too. Sit down to dinner together and demonstrate that you are eating the same thing she is being offered. Enjoy your meal. I actually have to be sort of tricky with Allie when it comes to the enjoying part. She gets suspicious if we over exaggeratedly enjoy the food, look at her and say things like “Oh my god, this is so delicious!!” With Allie I find that she’ll get really curious about the food if I enjoy it by making the “enjoying faces” and maybe noises without looking at her and pretending to be doing it for my own sake. Then she’ll definitely try it.
  • If you serve something new to your child and she doesn't appear to like it, it’s completely fine. But don’t label that food with “ doesn't like it” sticker forever. Keep trying giving her that food again and again (maybe in a day, maybe in a week, or even a month). The chances are she’ll eventually like it. Certainly, it doesn't apply for every single food out there. We all have things we don’t like and probably never will, but with your little ones don’t get rushed to that conclusion without letting her try new things at least a few times.
  • Try giving her a new fork or a spoon. Maybe it’s a spoon with her favorite character on it. Or maybe it’s mama and dada’s spoon. It usually get things more exciting!
  • Find creative ways of serving the food. Arrange it on a plate in a fun way. Try presenting to her something like this. Or try feeding her in a creative way like this.
  • If your baby is just starting to eat solids, it's a good idea to diversify what you feed her, so she has a nice variety of different tastes to get used to from a very early age. Take a look at this pureed fruit and vegetable recipes.

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