P is for Parenting: The Curse of the Picky Eater
Anyone who has been around a toddler can tell you that they are notoriously picky eaters. Tiny, stubborn, insanely frustrating eaters. What they will eat one day, they will turn their nose up at the next day. And try something new? Forget about it. My first born would eat anything I put on her highchair tray as a baby. Avocado? Loved it! Pureed cauliflower? Sure! Fruit, veggies, meat, dairy, anything. So I was totally unprepared for the toddler stage…
Are you familiar with the famous Dr. Seuss book Green Eggs & Ham? “I will not eat them with a mouse. I will not eat them in a house. I will not eat them here or there. I will not eat them anywhere. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-am.” Every time I read this book, it makes me giggle thinking about all the ways I have tried to get my kids to eat.
I am by no means Dr. Seuss but here is my version:
“Would you eat it from a bowl? How about if I left it whole? In a cup or on this plate? Just one taste would be so great! If I cut it in a heart? Please just try this tiny part. Would you not have such a fit if I put some syrup on it? In a tiny treasure chest? Playing with food is just the best!”
Please, kid, can’t you just have ONE bite?!?! Ha, ha! I know you know what I’m talking about, right?
I used to get so stressed out thinking about what my toddler had actually eaten in a given day. Can she survive on animal crackers alone? My wise and gentle family physician gave me such helpful advice about this topic. She reminded me that picky eating is usually about control and is a normal part of toddlerhood. She suggested that I not focus on her food intake from a single day, but instead think about what was consumed over the past week or even the past month. Has she had some fruits and vegetables? Some dairy? Some meat or protein? If so, then we are probably doing alright. This concept was so freeing to me. When I think about the big picture, she probably is getting a fairly balanced diet. Not perfect by any means, but good enough. And every once in a while, she will actually try something new.
Of course, there are times when picky eating and poor nutrition indicate a health concern. I am certainly not a doctor and do not wish to give any medical advice whatsoever. Please consult your physician if you are worried about your toddler’s eating habits. But, for me, the permission to let go of the daily stress and stay focused on the bigger picture was a mealtime game changer. I still do wild and crazy things to make food fun and interesting for my kids, but now it is because I enjoy it. I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to fun food ideas for kids. Find it here: https://www.pinterest.com/AvasAlphabet/food-ideas-for-kids.
What creative strategies have you tried to get your picky eater to try something? Please share! As parents we can use as many tricks up our sleeve as possible! Best wishes and bon appétit!
My posts are partying at these fun Link Parties and Blog Hops!