I want to start off by stating that I am not a baby or child expert. I am simply stating my ideas and suggestions through my own experience with my son. I am also not trying to offend anyone, but merely helping those who are going through the same circumstances as I am.
With all of that said! Isn’t a picky eater or a problem feeder one of the most hardest things to deal with? On top of the tantrums, the teething, potty training, sleep training, etc..Us parents also have to train our child to eat healthy and nutritious meals too?! Yes, we do! Before we had kids, a lot of us would probably skip meals, eat junk food, and not consume 5 servings of fruits & vegetables. I was guilty of that. I was also guilty of being picky on certain foods, especially vegetables! When I was pregnant, I knew I had to change my eating habits and nutritional ways. No more junk food, sugary juices, and fried food! Very hard to do, but it can be done! Of course, I still sneak in sweets here and there though.
Let’s talk about my son’s eating habit timeline:
Birth-5 months old: 100% breastmilk!!
5-10months old: 75% breastmilk and 25% formula. Nathan was served pureed/mashed fruits and vegetables with some grains (pureed oatmeal, brown rice, or quinoa) — At 5-6 months Nathan was willing to try new food, but never had the patience to sit on his high chair so meal times were always a battle. He hated sitting on his chair, and we used the iPad as a distraction. Yes, I know it’s not good for babies to have electronics while on the table, but at that time we were desperate for him to eat because we didn’t want him to solely rely on just milk, or starve.
10-14 months old: 75% Breastmilk until 12 months old, and 100% whole milk from then on. Nathan was served more solids but chopped very small or finely. At 10-11 months he ate a lot of soups and purees still, but was offered rice and pasta here and there. At 11-14 months, he was eating rice and pasta, but hated bread or sandwiches. He also would not eat any meat. He would not even eat chicken. He would eat a little fish if mashed into his rice. During this period, Nathan was THE PICKIEST EATER EVER! He did not want to eat anything! We blamed a lot of it on teething, and his impatience sitting on the high chair. He loved keeping all his food inside his mouth for a long period of time, and at this time 4-5 bites would be an accomplishment. His pediatrician was so concerned that he was not gaining enough weight, so we has on a medication to increase his appetite, which did NOT work well. It made him too drowsy and missed his meal times because he was so sleepy. We stopped using the medication immediately. This was the hardest period because I was running out of ideas on what to feed him. A lot of food was getting wasted because he rejected it, and it was so stressful because he would cry and cry during meal times. He also would not eat at daycare!
15-18 months old: Nathan was offered the food we had on our table and whatever I cooked for dinner. These included, baked fish, pastas, rice dishes, noodles, ground turkey, etc. He was slowly starting to eat more, as I lessened the amount of milk he was drinking. But, he had his favorites. We always have spaghetti, noodle soup, or ground turkey every week to guarantee he will eat. He was picky on some meats, but will eat fish. A little impatient on the table, and couldn’t sit through meal time without the iPad.
18 months- Today: Nathan drinks whole milk, fresh pressed juices, and a lot of water. He eats what is served, some fruits, and a lot vegetables. iPad was taken away from meal times cold turkey at 20 months old, and he is patient to sit through a meal. Nathan loves spaghetti still, but loves rice dishes more. Still hesitates on some foods, especially breakfast items or beef, but will eventually eat it after a couple more tries. Nathan loves chicken, salmon, spinach, zucchini, quinoa, and brown rice the most. His favorite fruits are mandarin oranges and strawberries.
As you can see from the timeline, I struggled feeding my child. Even though I tried setting a good exampling towards him by eating fruits and vegetables, it was still hard to feed him a balanced meal. The biggest and most important tip I can share to parents who have picky eaters is to have PATIENCE. Patience is soo important, and the best way you can overcome this tough battle. Without it, it is so easy to let your child fall between the cracks and let him eat what HE wants to eat. We all know if they had it their way, they would probably eat cookies, junk food, and drink bottles of milk or sugary juices all day long!
As parents, it is our responsibility
to nourish our child mentally, emotionally, and physically. It all can start by the food that they are served. Feeding them the right kinds of foods will help you feel good about your parenting, and in return it will help your child feel good about themselves. Even if you are picky yourself, you cannot be picky for your child. As adults we are picky on things we know we do not like or allergic to, but children are not born knowing how things taste without actually trying them. Thus, how can a child not like something just because their parents do not like it? That is my biggest pet peeve. People being picky for their child. I do not like broccoli and carrots, but I know it is nutritious for my child, so I still serve it to him. I can drink juice with kale or beets in them, but I can’t stand to eat, but I will still serve it to Nathan for it’s nutritional benefits.
“NEVER cater to a picky eater, it just prolongs picky eating. If a child says they don’t like a food – keep serving it on a regular basis. Serve what the family enjoys and let the picky eater accommodate to the family’s tastes.“ — 100 Days of Real Food
Here are 6 tips on how to turn your picky eaters and problem feeders around:
1) Keep meal times positive: one of the biggest my mistakes was making Nathan sit on the table for a long period of time, even after Robert and I were done eating. We made him sit on the table until his plate was empty. BIG mistake. This just made him so unhappy and impatient. If Nathan was refusing to eat, or was fussing to get out of his chair, I would try to give him one more bite, but if he refuses again I know meal time is just put on hold. I take him out, give him half an hour or so, and try again. When Nathan is eating, but decides he doesn’t want anymore after halfway through, I just let it go. I let him control how much he wants to eat, because healthy eating habits come when children have control over what they put into their mouth. That is, however, you give him the options. So make sure they are healthy options!
2) Change your routine: Schedules and routines are important for toddlers, however, always making them eat at the same time of the day when they are not feeling it will just make them frustrated, in which makes us frustrated too. To save all the unnecessary stress, I make sure Nathan doesn’t run on empty stomach all day, so I do give him snacks in between meals. Especially when I know he did not eat a big meal. Also, I thought using the iPad would help him eat because it would distract him from his impatience on the table, but that was another mistake I made. It made him think that meal time was play time, thus I needed to change that. We took away the iPad cold turkey during meal times, and it was so difficult during the first week, but it was worth it in the end. It gave us more interaction with each other, and he ate more because he was more engaged with his plate and not his iPad. What also needed to change was his milk bottle consumption. I used to immediately give him a bottle of milk after his unfinished meals, but that was just giving him a lee way. It did not give him a chance to be “hungry” again for the second “try” of his meal. This is also a problem feeder issue, that can also be fixed with a lot of patience.
3) Make it fun!: Lead by example!! My little one wants to do everything I do! So I let him help me in the kitchen, especially when it comes to juicing. He helps me all the time making juice, and this makes him so happy! It makes him excited to try what we just made. He also loves helping me mix things together, but I do not let him near the stove. Please use caution when trying this tip. He always wants to help me cut things, but of course I cannot let him use a knife. So I bought him the Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set
This made him extra excited because he thought he was “helping” mommy in the kitchen! Also, lay out 3-4 items in front of your child and let them choose. Let them explore, play, taste, and touch the food to see if they like it. If not, better luck next time! Furthermore, let them choose their utensils and dinnerware set. My little one wanted robots, and that really gets them excited to eat.
4) Incorporate the food he likes with everything you serve! Nathan loved blueberries, bananas, and strawberries. Serving these with his meals, made meal times so much easier! I would alternate the bites. One bite blueberry, then one bite of his meal, then one bite of his blueberry again, and so on. This really ensured he had a balanced meal. Especially, when he hated chicken. Then, eventually he started liking items he first refused. To me, it’s okay to reward your child every so often. If your kiddo likes cookies like mine, I would sometimes give him cookies during meal times so he will eat. I did not make it a habit though because I did not want him to think his reward will always be cookies. I did always praise him every time he finished his meal, or tried something new, or even when he would finally take a bite. Those are all accomplishments too.
5) Get creative and “hide” the fruits, vegetables, and meat. Whatever it is your tot doesn’t like, try to “hide it”. For a while, I couldn’t get Nathan to eat vegetables so I would chop it up sooo small, or puree it and mix it into his foods. For example, I’ll puree carrots, sweet potatoes, and other veggies and mix it into the alfredo sauce to make it look like “mac n’ cheese”. Chopping up chicken and veggies very small and mixing it into rice making a fried rice is always a win! Right now, Nathan is quite picky on a lot of fruits, that is why I make juices put it into a cup of his choice!
I can control the size and texture with this tool. When he was younger, I made the foods smoother and fine, but since he’s 25 months now, I chop it where there’s still a lot of texture, but small enough to “hide” certain meats and vegetables. I get a lot of recipes from pinterest! You will find a lot of great recipes to help your picky eaters get their servings of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
6) The last and final advice I want to give parents with a picky eater is: DO NOT give up. Giving up and giving in is soo easy to do, but it’s our children who suffers in the long run. Like I’ve said earlier, it is our responsibility as parents to bring up are children to the best of their potential. There’s soo many times I just want to give up and cry because I feel like a failure. I felt like a failure because I did not know what else I could do to feed my child, but there is no such thing as “giving up” when someone calls you mommy. So, I try over and over again, until I succeed! Every day is still a gamble depending on Nathan’s mood. That’s why I try to switch it up, but also have his favorites for back up. There will be so many times you want to give up and just give your child a bottle all day, but our children are a reflection of us. If we continue to try, they will also continue to try. If we give up and give in, they will too. Therefore, it’s up to you as a parent to decide.
I hope this post was helpful or beneficial to a lot of you. I know the difficulty, and I’m with you every step of the way! Please message me or comment below if you have any questions, or want to tell me how you diminished your child’s picky side. I would love to hear it! I’m going to create a separate post about healthy foods for picky eaters very soon! Thank you for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful week!!
Til Next Time,