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March 15, 2006

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» Oh, the Changes he'll make from start-up dad
He used to hate getting into his chair at dinner, for instance. Now when I say, "ready to eat?" he runs giggling to his seat so fast it gives me a twinge of guilt that we've been starving him. Maybe he was laughing when I tickled him in the vain hope... [Read More]

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Hygiene Dad

Our son is a picky one as well. He latches onto one food and practically eats that for a whole week... which was fine until black beans week (that didn't work out to well on the other end). However, he's never starved.

Feeding kids under 3 is a definite lesson in Darwinism.

AdventureDad

Our son is not a picky eater but after reading your post I'm afraid he might turn into one eventually. I don't think you're doing the Peanut any favors by cooking her multiple courses. Actually quite the opposite. You're most likely in fact spoiling her tremendously.

At an early age it's of course very important that they eat but later on they will eat what they need. By that I mean you child will not starve to death and if she really needs to eat she will eat what's served (unless it's something weird). She might not eat much for a few meals, of a few days, but if she's in fact hungry she will definitely eat.

I would advice you to continue cooking your nice tasting food but drastically cut the amount of courses. I think you'll be doing her, and yourself plus bosslady, a HUGE favor in the long run.

AD

Leanne

Don't stress out, MD. You're too cool for that. Just remember one thing: she'll eat before she starves. Everything else is just gravy.

Melissa Kaufman

I just read an article about you in my local paper and thought I'd come over to read your site. Very entertaining stuff.

I'm a mother of three kids. I think you'll find that kids go through all sorts of stages with respect to being picky/non-picky about the foods they eat. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Since your daughter stopped eating well so suddenly, have you considered the possibility that she's going through another round of teething? If so, try giving her cold foods as opposed to cooked foods. It will soothe her gums and minimize the discomfort.

Just one tit...from one parent to another!

RBrown

As the token SINK (single income, no kids) poster, I have absolutely nothing to add except that I think it’s interesting that all us big kids trying to regulate our diets to get and/or stay healthy and lean use many of the same methods posted here. No snacking. Small meals with lots of healthy variety to prevent boredom. And my personal favorite, spoken during woeful nights of fasting preparation for some lame date that would later flake out: I will not die if I go to sleep hungry.

Good luck. Peanut is lucky to have such a gourmand dad. BTW, I’ll eat those couscous fries if she doesn’t.

frenchies in canada

I don't know how you do yourself, but in France we give our kids strictly 4 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, 4o' clock snack, dinner), and NOTHING else, more or less when they turn 4 o 5 months old. I found out that in Canada most of the parents are convinced that their toddlers need little snacks every couple of hours...which is really not good for appetite and stomach health...Maybe you can try the french way?
But anyhow don't worry too much, they go through phases, but if you make a big issue out of that it will become like a game for her, a way to get all your attention...

Veronica

In addition to all the fab (and contradictory) advice coming your way, you might want to check out all the feedback at finslippy on the 3-year-old version of this dilemma. The relevant posts (400+ comments, if memory serves) are here and here.

I am of no help, as I have a two-year-old who would happily subsist on nothing but Yo Baby, string cheese, and Goldfish crackers.

L.

I wasn`t even going to bother answering this, because my daughter is 9, and a horrible eater.

But then I noticed -- you linked me at the bottom, and included me in those your specifically asked for advice. So I am now obligated to 'fess up that alas, I have none.

My sons eat like hogs, but that wasn`t always the case with the older one. I swear that when he was the Peanut`s age, he lived for over a year on just milk and cheese-flavored goldish crackers. Sometimes he didn`t seem to be eating at all -- and yet he would poop! So I figured he must be like one of those parasitic jungle plants, that absorb most of their liquid and nutrients from the pungent air around them.

Susie

Dude I remember that post about her eating foie gras and LAUGHING at you. With deep respect but stil.. I LAUGHED. Cause Liam is only a couple months older and I was doing the same thing. "Oh he eats this and that and blah blah blah" Now? He eats 3 vegetables: broccoli, carrots, and corn. He eats many fruits but not the same ones he ate ages ago. I reinforce what others said about grazing. I'm not into forcing someone to eat. I offer, he takes it or leaves it. There is almost always a bowl of cheerios out for him. They grow and thrive. Somehow. I bet she eats more than you think (more than other children). In fact I was just at the doc for Liam's 18 month appt and asked about a vitamin because he was only eating 3 vegetables. He was trying not to laugh at me. Liam is 30 lbs and 34 inches tall. 18 months. Peanut will be fine.

Working Day Dad

With The Child we let him eat what he wants for dinner (of the food on his plate), but if he doesn't eat well at dinner he gets a nutritious snack. Most of the time he will eat the snack at least. If he doesn't then we chalk it up to a slow growth rate and he goes to bed hungry.

If he does eat well at dinner, then he can have whatever he wants for snack (usually puffs - not going to get fat on those things).

We have also just started to potty train, so he doesn't get anything to drink after dinner.

What is weird is that the child loves fruit. Can't get enough of it. If we put down some pot roast pieces with pizza on the side and a little bowl of apple sauce the apple sauce will be gone before he even looks at the other stuff. Not that I'm complaining.

Tawnya

Okay, so it's taken me a few days to get onto this topic and I'm sure I'm going to parrot a few others that have commented because I didn't get through all the comments, but I have lived through the picky eating trenches and have lived to tell the tale (I say that with fingers crossed, muchkin has more food whims than any pop diva).

Peanut won't starve. She won't. It's an impossibility so put that out of your head. The best advice that was given to me (by her paediatrician) was this...when she's hungry, she'll eat. And she'll eat whatever you give her.

And guess what? It's true. We're now in a really good place with the food issue. Munchkin's still not the best eater but she's now willing to give everything on her plate a try. Even bok choy and tofu. Hated bok choy, loved tofu..who knew?

The other morsel of advice that rung true for us was to ignore it. Don't sit at the table begging her to eat, don't cajole or hide food or any other trick. When she starts to play with her food or throw it, say to her, "It looks like you're done. I'll take this away now." She'll either ask for it back or let you take it. A few times of that, she'll learn to eat a a reasonable amount in a reasonable amount of time.

And I'll be the first to admit that I did use one trick that seemed to work and that was naming the food after one of her favourite book or television characters. I've served everything from Dora Sweet Potato Fries to Itsy Bitsy Spider chicken and salad.

The other thing I did was serve her favourite foods and hide the 'good stuff.' She loves spaghetti so I started sneaking grated zucchini and finely chopped spinach into the sauce (trust me, food processors are worth their weight in gold). At least I know that even if she doesn't eat a lot of it, she's at least getting food that's as healthy as possible.

Okay, this post is WAY TOO LONG but hopefully it helps! Good luck and trust that she knows what her growing little body needs to eat to survive and yes, even thrive.

Melissa

You know it's funny, that post of your haunted me when I was dealing with my picky eater.

Only briefly scanned the other posts but didn't look like anyone suggested that you just simplify.

Lose the feta and spinich and just give her some scrambled eggs. She's more likely to enjoy a little comfort food than a gourmet extravaganza and it will give you that much more time to just be with her.

The thing that got me through the stress of it all was remembering something I read about no toddler ever starved to death around readily available food. They'll eat if they are hungry.

Lisa W

Hi there, I'm not much help in the "how to fix the picky eater thing" - I've got three kids and they eat whatever I feed them (two are teenagers so they basically eat anything that isn't nailed down). I just wanted to let you know that I wish you luck in helping your Peanut overcome this. I am a University student and we had a guest lecturer from the new "Childhood Obesity Clinic" here in the city; he related to us that it is often the children who are tagged as "picky eaters" or the babies who are deemed as "failures to thrive" when very young who end up coming to see him when they get older. This seemed a little incongruent to me until he explained further: because of their pickiness, we tend to give them only what they like, fearing that they will not grow or they will starve. This perpetuates the "pickiness" and often children don't chose "broccoli" or "Spinach" as their foods to be lovin' - therefore the foods they choose are often not the best or optimal for being the preponderance of ones' consumption. This can lead to weight problems as they get older. He told us that kids do not need to eat as much as we think they do - to keep offering a variety of foods throughout the day and that they will eat when they are hungry. Sounds like I'm offering a very simplistic version of what to do and I am, but it's a starting point for you to look into. I'd talk to a developmental pediatrician with some experience with childhood obesity; they may be really helpful to you.

Good luck with this...

bitemycookie

as usual, the latest one to the party.

a. amazingly beautiful plates. A+ for variety and composition.

b. the only time foo ever ate any meat at all was at citymama's house for a korean picnic about 10 months ago. she has practically been a fucking vegan ever since.

c. we just got back from the pediatrician last week. foo is in the 20% for weight because she won't eat anything but cottage cheese and avocado. BUT! BUT! the pedi also said that at about 16-18 months, they all (mostly) become hella picky eaters and stay that way until about the age of 3.
just keep offering her food (and letting her waste it ; ) and keep variety on the table at all times -- at least that's what we've been told.

oh, and regarding the you and the doctor? secret lovers. i know you are.

sandy

Oh wow MD.. I am going out on a limb here .. against the grain of advice previously given and provide my 2 cents worth. I definitely agree with the power struggle concept and that is where I do not like to find myself, but hey, reality can usually kick you square in the behind and find you 'struggling" in a different way. What is so wrong with snacks? I always had healthy snacks available for my toddler. She ate and grazed at her will. Mealtimes were lighter affairs (not a large serving). She is now 7, healthy, loves her fruits and veggies as snacks..along with yoghurt and cheese. She is not overweight. She enjoys a large variety of foods and does not ask for the fast food varieties either. When she was little, I never made her sit at the table (attention spans of little ones does not really accommodate that in my opinion). She was happiest cruising around..nibbling here and there and I let her be. Now she enjoys dinner at the table and hearing tales of how she used to be (her little sister will soon be entering that phase and I do not plan to change a thing!!)
So there you have it.. might be very bizarre to many .. but it worked well for us. There is lots of time to be grown up.. only a little time to be young.. I would give peanut the variety over the week.. let her try new things.. and don't worry MD..she will be perfect. I like to call this the exploratory phase and don't be surprised if she chooses to eat those hotdogs every day for two years..just keep offering the other things too.
sandyhayleymaura

Devra

Here are some ideas to try or tweak or ignore based on what you think is best for your Peanut...

1. Try cookie cutters to make interesting shapes for cheese and sandwiches. My kids really liked having "shaped" food during their pickier periods.

2. Everything can be rolled in a tortilla and eaten. Seriously, my son's fave sandwich for the longest time was a tortilla spread with mustard and mayo and then rolled up. I thought it was gross, but he loved it and he ate it.

3. serve it with a sauce, sprinkle or dip. Sometimes this adds interest. Ketchup can be your ally, as can barbeque sauce.

4. If Peanut doesn't like tortillas another option is you can flatten out a slice of bread using a rolling pin, and roll stuff up in that as well.

5. keep portions small, no bigger than the eater's fist.

If you are still stymied feel free to email Aviva and me and we will continue to try and come up with stuff that you can tweak, try or ignore. ; )

Devra

Just thought of another, mix up the meals, you can also try serving "breakfast food" for dinner, and dinner for breakfast.

Pizza is also a perfectly okay breakfast food and it counts as "college prep" whenever you serve it up.

Cara Fletcher

I should try this course too because my two children are picky eaters and it's really tough to handle them at home.

michael jones

I want to start some picky eater diet and i am happy that i've found that article! It is really good one! Thank you for it!

michael jones

Very good post! My kid is a picky eater and now i will try some new dishes!

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MonaVie

Honestly speaking I think I should try that tofu and popcorn with my kid. maybe, just maybe he will be curious with the tofu and eat it too.

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