Looking for the Emily Ley Planner giveaway? Head on over to the Welcome and Planner Give Away Post.
When the triplets were little they would throw handfuls of food on the floor because they refused to eat it! I still refuse to serve rice after one incident of 3 platefuls of sticky rice on the floor! Have you ever tried to clean up sticky rice. Oy!
I was so overwhelmed when I would feed them a meal! I gave into their fight all the time (what?! they ganged up on me! ) Of course I knew what was good for them, but I also was bone tired. And I just wanted to sleep at night- for crying out loud!
So, I fed them what I knew they would eat, so they wouldn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Tough thing is once you get in this cycle where you feed them what they demand, it is hard to stop it. Instead of parenting them and choosing good choices, I let them dictate meal time.
But here is what I want you to know. I did not do this from a place of defeat. I did it more from a place of survival. I knew I was choosing this choice at the time. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Not perfect, but not bad.
And I told myself I was going to change what my kids ate when they could understand better. And, I did follow through. If I could help you avoid some of that crazy toddler pickyness, I would love to! If you are in the middle of pickyeaterville, know you CAN change where you are, eventually! But, also just embrace where you are. I was waiting for them to be at the age of understanding that what mama asks of them, they need to obey. And even meal time can be a place of obedience. (Um, that sentence just spoke to MY heart!) That, for us, happened some where between 2 1/2 – 3.
Let me add, some picky eating is the child’s temperament, but some is the parent. (I totally own up to that!) Most kids go through picky stages, and dealing with one picky eater is difficult. Food is one of the things children do have control over. And boy is it frustrating when they start using that control!!
Some things we did to help with the picky eater phase:
- I put what I made for dinner on their plate even if I knew they wouldn’t eat it. Once they were past the flying fistfuls of food stage (aka they *know* better), they had to try at least one bite. I did have Warner throw up on me one time when I made him eat peas, but I kept at it. Not at that meal, but the next time peas were served, I said, “Let’s try again!” (I totally faked my excitement and prayed he wouldn’t barf on me again!!) We started with two bites at one meal and I rejoiced over that. The next meal was also 2 bites. Then we worked up to 3. It must have worked! He now eats peas amazingly well. Maverick has had a 2 year battle with raw carrots. He ate 3 the other night at dinner!
- We also played this gift-from-heaven game called “whooooo’s the sharky?!’ I told them sharks had sharp teeth and would chomp their food up really well! Then I would say “whooo’s the sharky’ about 75 times in all sorts of voices at every meal before offering a bite. They would pretend they were a shark and chomp! chomp! chomp! it up! This was once they were about 2 1/2 years old.
- This may be a little unconventional but I was determined for them to get better food into them! I would spoon feed it to them. Some how by me asking, ‘Do you want mama to help you?’ softened their little hearts. Even when they could do it themselves. It broke down their power of ‘3’, as well. (example: Crews says, I don’t like it!! And the other two refusing to even try it!) I sometimes still spoon feed my children. Especially my picky eaters! I know the goal is independence, and sometimes I loathe shoveling a bite of food into a perfectly capable 4 1/2 year olds’ mouth, but it gets the job done (healthy food in their tummies). And I can see my work paying off as they feed themselves most of the time now!
- Added this in a little later: Finally, we set a timer! If, we have a pokey eater or terrible complainer, I put the timer on for 10 minutes and say whatever you get finished in this reasonable amount of time, is all you get for this meal. Usually, it only takes one time for them to not finish their food and to be hungry. Then, they get the job done. Mean? Maybe for an evening, but like I said, I know they have been nourished through out the day. I’m going for the over all picture of having them eat well. This worked for us!
What I did with Haven:
- I didn’t feed her rice cereal as a first food! Shocker! I nursed her with out any added food until about 7 months. Then I offered her teeny tiny bites of food, starting at about 6 months while she was sitting in her high chair. Started with avocado and soft, cooked veggies, & eggs. I think this is called baby-led weaning. I just thought one day that people did not always have baby food! I did not need to be so dependent on that stuff. Let me add, I never would have been brave enough to do this with my first child. I was certain I would break my child if I did not go by the parenting books I read. Or by what my doctor said. She didn’t break!
- I also gave her some of the baby food pouches (Elle’s Kitchen- found at Target) starting at 7 months. I let her do a lot of self feeding, and she has never used this as defiance against me. I spoon fed Harper and the boys until… um, I still sometimes spoon feed them!
- She sat in her high chair at meals with us and watched us eat. With the boys, we fed them first, and then we ate either before or after we fed them. They did not get to see us eat! We were in survival mode! Now I see the importance of them learning to trust what food is good by watching us!
- She only ate baby food for about a month before being on all soft table food. Of course, the main nutrition was coming from nursing, so I wasn’t worried.
- I did not limit what I let her try. If I had a bite, I would feed her a bite.
- She LOVES all food & the more ‘savory’ it is, the more she says ‘yum! I yike it!!’
One more thing, to help have a more successful dinner, I try not to feed my kids 2-2 & 1/2 hours before dinner. I know they have had nutrients from breakfast, lunch, & snacks even when they begin to beg for food an hour before dinner. Hunger isn’t a bad thing. It is a good thing showing health. Also, I have learned that when they ask for food, most of the time they are bored, not hungry.
Hope this helps bring a little peace to your home at meal time!