I guess it’s only right that some of the things I did to vex my mother when I was a child is coming around to pay me back.
Though I don’t remember what I ate when I was my son’s age, I do remember being a picky eater through my formative years. I know that many toddlers and preschool age children can be picky, but I’m sure that my three-year-old takes the cake.
Actually, though, he doesn’t take the cake – he won’t even try cake. Or cookies. Or ice cream. Or anything that you might imagine someone his age would eat without a problem. I guess if there’s any positive aspect of his picky eating it’s that he won’t try junk food either.
Before he was born, I was determined that he would be a good eater. I ate a very healthy diet during my pregnancy, and I tried my best to eat a variety of foods, including vegetables. I abstained from chocolate, coffee and, of course, alcohol. When he was born, I continued these good habits because I was nursing him. I had read that babies can taste some of the food you eat, so this can influence their preferences later.
When he began eating solid food, I made some of the food myself. He liked the baked sweet potatoes that I pureed, and he especially loved pureed green peas. (I’ve never been fond of peas.) I bought little jars of the green peas and filled a shelf in my cupboard with them.
Once a mother I know remarked that kids won’t be picky if you only offer them good foods. Obviously, she is just lucky and got some good eaters. I don’t believe that for a minute. Because what do you do when you eat good food and you feed your child good food, but then he begins to refuse eat each item, one by one, until you have almost nothing left in your kitchen to feed him?
It wasn’t long before my son refused to eat any vegetables. The green peas were the sole veggie for his palate for about a year, and then one day he refused them and never looked back.
We always offered him new foods, and sometimes he would like something and eat it for a while, but then he would decide he didn’t like those things either. I remember tortellini with pesto sauce was one such item. Now he won’t touch it.
A friend of mine e-mailed me recently to ask if I had any good recipes that my son liked because her daughter of a similar age is a picky eater also. Unfortunately, what my son will eat does not require any recipes. The most complex food he eats is mac and cheese from a box, and it has to be that exact mac and cheese made exactly the same way each time. This rules out any mac and cheese that we might be able to order at a restaurant.
Someone loaned me one of those cookbooks written for picky eaters, and it had many healthy concoctions with veggies hidden in the recipes. Since my son will not try anything, I knew it was useless to go to the trouble. The only thing that he will eat that I could possibly hide something in is a simple burrito with black beans and cheese. A while back I tried putting a little bit of pureed veggies in there – he stopped eating them.
Lately I’ve been more frustrated by his refusal to eat the good things that he usually always ate like cheese, nuts and black-eyed peas. This doesn’t leave him with many other options.
I have read that children can be picky eaters, but parents should not worry because kids have a way of getting what they need. But if any of you have some good suggestions or a few words of encouragement, please feel free to send me an e-mail.
Fortunately, however, he has always eaten fruit. He especially likes apples and pears, and the one constant that has remained with him since he was a baby is his passion for watermelon. When he was little, his father made sure he had some watermelon everyday, and we have the funny, messy watermelon photos to prove it. We just went this past winter season without any watermelon, so I wondered if my three-year-old would remember and still like it this summer.
Joyfully, when my husband brought home our first watermelon of the season the other day, my son was thrilled, and I saw the satisfaction in his eyes as he ate it. He even remembers what he used to call it: “wawa.” Thank heaven for watermelon.
Shelli Bond Pabis is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What has worked for us is to simply put the food in front of them and let them eat it, or not. Feed them healthy food that is great in nutrition and try to incoporate all the different food groups when possible for dairy, meat, fruits veggies etc.. They get hungry and they start eating much sooner than you would think. We offer treats sometimes if they eat all the food on their plate, but the "treat" is typically fruit with a little whipped creme on top to make it a "dessert". Of course there is the occassional fast food or ice cream/candy but it is very limited and spread out. Cokes and the like are never allowed.
On a side note- I love mashed potatoes. My 6 yr old hates them. He still has to eat a small portion every once in awhile. You as the parent knows what is best for your child and we don't let them make the decisions.