I was so hopeful when Allison started eating food. Rice cereal was awesome, and she LOVED peach, sweet potato, and carrot puree. When she stopped eating those, she got her vegetables through the cute little pouches. Eventually I moved her to table food, and she scarfed down rice and beans, and scrambled eggs were like her favorite thing. Then shortly after she turned one, it was like a light switch went off and she just refused almost everything. My child was turning into the dreaded picky toddler! I wondered what I did wrong, because all the OTHER toddlers were doing great. I actually recently made a list of things she’ll eat, and looking over it I’m sad that there’s not much of a variety.
- Muffins (English muffins and the sweet ones)
- Biscuit and gravy
- Greek yogurt (Sometimes. Yes, just plain yogurt.)
- Toast (Sometimes with cream cheese)
- Block cheese and string cheese
- Most fruits, including bananas, strawberries, blueberries, applesauce (but not apples!)
- Pizza (and pizza quesadillas; she eats those like she hasn’t eaten all day)
- Cheese quesadilla (Sometimes)
- Chinese buffet (Oh my goodness, this girl can pack Lo Mein noodles)
- French fries (But not sweet potato fries)
- Grilled cheese (Sometimes)
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (FINALLY!!!! This just recently started and she’ll actually eat a whole sandwich.)
This is basically her main diet. There is basically NO protein in there. She’s like a vegetarian that doesn’t like veggies! If you look closer, you’ll notice that a lot of these items are just plain, single items. Meaning, if I make something that’s mixed up like pasta casseroles, enchiladas, soup, etc., she won’t touch them. Makes my life much harder.
What I’ve ended up doing for now is giving her separate breakfasts and lunches from us. John and I eat leftovers every day for lunch, and if Allison won’t eat it for dinner, there’s no way she’ll touch it at lunch. So breakfast and lunch are items that I know she likes and that are reasonably healthy, and dinner is whatever we’re eating plus at least one thing I know she’ll eat (like applesauce). I’m pretty lenient for the first two meals, but I’m refusing to make her a special dinner because I want to encourage her to try new things. If she ends up just eating applesauce for dinner, I won’t force her to eat anything else.
I read something online that’s really stuck with me, and that is it is my job to decide what and when Allison eats, and it’s her job to decide how much, and whether she eats at all. As long as I’m providing her reasonably healthy items throughout the day, I’m not worried if she decides not to eat dinner at all. Forcing her to take a bite of something, or clean her plate, is just asking for trouble later on when it comes to her relationship with food. I don’t want her to feel like she has to overeat to make me happy, or that she has to eat something she doesn’t like. Right now she’s gaining weight and is healthy, and that’s all that matters to me! That may not be your parenting style, but that’s okay! We all do what we have to do make sure our kids are healthy and growing. If Allison wants to eat nothing but crackers all day, so be it! As long as I’m giving her other healthy items to choose from too, I know I’m doing my job as a parent.
One thing I’m trying to do is make her food fun! For example, I bought these miniature cookie cutters for her sandwiches. She won’t eat it if it’s just cut into four squares, but if it’s a pretty flower or heart shape, she’ll gobble it up!
I also hide vegetables in her food. She loves the banana muffins I make, so sometimes I’ll add grated zucchini to them and she doesn’t even notice. I’ve also added chopped spinach to my pizza dough and more zucchini in the pizza sauce, and carrot pancakes are a favorite of hers! I still offer her the vegetables in their pure form too, in hopes that she’ll eventually try them. But for now, I’m okay with making sure she gets at least a little nutrition by hiding veggies in her food.
Do you have a picky eater? What kinds of things have you tried to get your child to eat? Any suggestions are welcome!