I genuinely wonder how my child is managing to grow and gain weight when he seems to exist on goldfish crackers alone. Now, that’s a slight exaggeration; there’s the occasional banana and he does like bagels quite a lot, but he’s no mini-foodie. The Food Network will not be offering my toddler his very own reality show—this much I know.
When I was pregnant and even in my son’s first few months, I swore up and down and side to side that he would have a completely organic and healthy diet with the occasional treat … like homemade chocolate chip cookies that we baked together with whole-wheat flour using applesauce in place of sugar. I was a fairly sleep-deprived crazy person back then, basically. Now, it’s not that I wouldn’t love for Kyle to eat nothing but produce and whole grains, but it’s just not a battle I’m willing to fight. For one, I vividly remember eating nothing but peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for months as a child, and I turned out to be a fairly adventurous adult. I also think the less an issue I make out of what he eats, the better it is for the both of us in the long run.
I still have set a few household “food rules,” though, and maybe they’ll help you if you also have a picky toddler.
- I try to make some of the bad stuff at home. Yes, my kid would eat goldfish crackers morning, noon, and night, but I feel far less guilty about giving them to him if I’ve made those crackers with my own two hands. (Like this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.)
- I make one dinner. Now, I will not make Kyle sit in his high chair until every green bean is off his plate. (For one, I have a stubborn boy. He’d sit there all night, and then I’d never get to watch Gossip Girl. What? We all have our guilty pleasures!) But, even if he refuses to eat the green beans, I’m still serving them. I have already said to him (many, many times) that there are no menus in our house, so no one gets to place orders. I make one dinner, and he chooses whether or not to eat it.
- Eat the good stuff yourself. Sure, “eat your vegetables” is a great mantra, but I think repeating it ad nauseum isn’t as effective as just eating some vegetables in front of your kid. Those kids of ours are sure observant, even if we occasionally forget that because they’re running into walls and eating power cords. But, they are watching, and this method is how my very picky child came to try (and like) hummus (what he calls “dip!”), gnocchi, and mango. Sure, he still asks for “goldfish!” when he wakes up from a nap, but I think practicing good habits leads to passing on good habits.
I still have a lot to learn on the subject, of course, so tell me: How have you dealt with a picky eater?
You can follow Jennie Canzoneri on her personal blog, She Likes Purple. Have a question or a comment? She’d love to hear from you!