Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Feeding a Picky Eater

I have mentioned a few times recently about my 1 year old becoming a bit picky as an eater. I have some struggles with this, as I have often thought to myself that a kid will eat what you give him/her and if you don't try new things or always give them the animal crackers they ask for or give in too easily, then it becomes more of a parenting issue than a kid issue. At this stage, my son has to get his food from me (since he can't get it for himself yet) so it is up to me to get him a variety of healthy foods in his diet. And he was doing amazing at eating lots of variety and at trying new things, until about a month or so ago.
He started this thing where he would clinch his mouth as a new food was coming toward him, allow it to touch his lips, and then make a nasty face as if it was the worst thing in the world (even though it never made it into his mouth!). I think Thanksgiving was the first we tried some new foods, got this new response, but were determined to not let him make the decisions about what he was eating. We tried the same foods about three times throughout the day, never offering another option. He never took them. He had some milk, and went to bed fine that night. When he woke up the next day (hungry for sure) he ate all the same foods he had refused the day before.
This is when I decided I would try any new foods (and also foods he was not as excited about) first thing in the morning. This has worked great!
I have also decided that I am not giving up on getting new and different foods into his diet, but I have decided that I will make healthier versions of some of his favorite foods (like oatmeal) and will add ingredients he wouldn't normally eat into foods that look more familiar (like muffins and pancakes). In this way I still feel like I am the one in charge of what he is eating, I still do not offer alternatives if he refuses to try something, and I feel that he is getting a wider variety of foods without making every meal a fight.
So, the lessons I have learned and tips I would share (and I am happy to accept other tips and lessons learned):
1. Try the less exciting foods in the morning.
2. Hide the foods I want to save for later in the day or special occasions (he loves bananas SO much, but once he sees them he won't eat anything else!)
3. Add new and different fruits to yogurt since they become slightly hidden, but also get eaten in the mix with a favorite food.
4. Add more fruits, proteins and vegetables to foods that seem more familiar but include different ingredients: oatmeal from scratch, muffins with fruits/vegetables, pancakes with fruits/proteins, breads with fruits/grains, etc.
5. Don't give in and offer alternatives when he won't try something new or makes a face. I keep trying the same food at another time, but know that if I back down and offer a favorite after he rejects something, we will quickly learn this easy pattern in how to get what he wants and then he will be in charge.
This is what Works For Me. For more great ideas and posts, check out We Are That Family.
What have you learned in feeding a toddler? What other things can I try as my toddler continues to grow and as I am planning for my next son who will join us in a few short weeks?


  1. Way to go! I love that you kept offering the food and even let him go to bed without another option. I think that is great parenting 101!

  2. thanks! it is hard sometimes, but necessary too!