I have a confession to make. I’m not proud, but it’s true: I was one of those people that believed my baby was going to behave perfectly. I expected him to behave with manners, never a nuisance, basically a well-adjusted adult in the body of a infant. You know, a very realistic idea of motherhood.
I expected him to behave with manners, never a nuisance, basically a well-adjusted adult in the body of a infant.
I expected him not to act-out in restaurants, not put his dirty fingers all over the counters and windows, and I expected him to eat every single thing that I made him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can only laugh at what my expectations were before I had him and feel shame at my high expectations.
At four years old, picky eating is the biggest struggle in my household currently. I had some success with “temporary solutions,” as his pediatrician refers to them.
One of the more effective “temporary solutions,” was giving my toddler foods I knew he would eat when he was refusing the meals I made for him. For example, if he refused the healthy dinner of sweet potatoes, chicken and vegetables I made, I would make waffles and give him either yogurt or a peanut butter and jelly oat bar. I knew that although he was eating a sweeter dinner, he was actually eating, and in my mind that was better than not eating at all.
I knew that although he was eating a sweeter dinner, he was actually eating, and in my mind that was better than not eating at all.
After finding out my mistake, I began doing more research on ways to help him overcome this picky eating habit. I picked up some tips that I felt will work for him and recently started to implement them.
My toddler had a hard time learning to eat in the beginning. I worried too much about that and instead of eating meals together, I would run around after him while he was playing, and feed him. I just wanted to make sure he was getting all of his nutrients. That wasn’t forming good eating habits and daycare noticed.
We’ve started exclusively eating meals together at the dinner table. He’s always been one to mimic what other people are doing so eating together is helpful. If he sees me eating, he will also begin to eat.
He’s always been one to mimic what other people are doing so eating together is helpful. If he sees me eating, he will also begin to eat.
Make healthier versions of your child’s favorite foods.
If your child likes pancakes, add some fresh fruit on the side. If they like noodles, throw cut-up vegetables in to the mix. Add color and make it fun! It’s easy to skip this step as it creates more prep time, but doing this will hopefully create a love of vegetables and healthy foods. (Without them noticing!)
Don’t buy (many) pre-packaged, unhealthy foods.
Okay, let’s face it: This one is hard. I love snacks, chocolate, and cheat days! My husband bought kid snacks before we ever even talked about having kids. He still eats them like they’re going out of style. We have Go-Gurt, Goldfish, Pop-Tarts, Chips, Lunchables, etc.
Moving the snacks and unhealthy food to a shelf where your child will not see it will make them forget you have it.
This tip is the hardest but will likely be the most effective. Moving the snacks and unhealthy food to a shelf where your child will not see it will make them forget you have it. Out of sight, out of mind. It’s still important (for you both!) not to cut out treats altogether and eat them in moderation.
Don’t pressure your child into eating.
The most interesting piece of information I received from the pediatrician was not to pressure my child into eating. Sometimes it can take anywhere from seven to 10 times for your child to be open to a new food. Place that food on your child’s plate no matter what, and introduce them to new foods by letting them use their senses, like touch and smell, in addition to taste.
He’s being picky and won’t finish his dinner no matter how long you sit at the dinner table? That’s fine. He will eat one day.
This one sounds unconventional but works! Recently, my family was out to dinner and I noticed my son pointing to two of my dips; barbecue sauce and honey mustard.
He’s never been introduced to dips before so I put a little bit of barbecue sauce on his chicken, which is normally a struggle for him to eat, and he gobbled it up.
I thought if he did this with the chicken, let’s see what he does with his veggies. I started dipping a little bit of barbecue sauce and honey mustard with his veggies and when dinner was over, most of his food was gone.
That was the most successful meal that he’s had to date.
Since then, I give him a little bit of dip with his dinners or with new foods that he refuses to eat.
I’m still learning as I go and just because these tips work for me now, doesn’t mean they will work for me in a month. Kids are constantly growing, their taste-buds change (fingers crossed) and all of my solutions will likely need to be tweaked in some way. After all, raising a child is trial and error! ★
Joanna Bavilacqua is a full-time work from home mom. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, two-year-old son and 13-year-old Yorkie. When she’s not working or hanging out with her family, she likes to plan vacations, try new restaurants, scroll through her favorite Instagram accounts and then go on unnecessary shopping trips for home decor.