April 8, 2009

The PICKY Eater

I am very excited to say I have had my very first blog request!! It deals with an issue so many of us parents face… THE PICKY EATER. Now I will give a disclaimer and say that I do NOT know the answers to everything, but I can tell you how things work in OUR family. These ideas may or may not be right for your family. Here is what was written to me:

“I have an idea for your blog. Discuss what you do if your kids won't eat their dinner. Maybe you don't have this problem, but my kids are picky eaters. We try to have a policy where if they don't eat their dinner and complain about being hungry, they have to eat a piece of fruit (usually apple or banana) before they can have anything else. But I need some other suggestions! Lol”

First off, it’s best to avoid this issue altogether (of course!! LOL). We do not have picky eaters for the most part, and my husband and I believe it has A LOT to do with the fact that we let our babies taste all kinds of foods from VERY early on (usually around 2 months). They’ll be in our lap and have tastes of whatever we’re eating… a lick of spaghetti sauce, a taste of chocolate, BBQ sauce, etc. Whatever we’re eating, they’re tasting! Of course they’re not eating a whole meal at 2 months old. Just a tiny taste. (Another disclaimer, if your family has a history of food allergies, then DO NOT do this!!) We also don’t do much baby food at all once they’re of eating age. It’s almost all table food. :)

But what to do when you have a toddler that doesn’t want to eat anything??

I am not a short order cook, except for lunchtime, where the kids get a tiny choice. They pick what sandwich they want usually limited to two choices (PB&J, turkey sandwich, grilled cheese, etc.). Breakfast and dinnertime, they eat what I make.

Now of course you must judge every situation as it arises, as it’s not a one-rule-fits-all type thing. If I try a new recipe and NO ONE likes it, not even myself, then we make something else. For the most part though, they eat what I make. There will be nothing to eat after dinner. (I only make dessert on nights that everyone ate well for dinner!) They do not have to finish their plate, and they do not necessarily have to eat everything that is served (unless it’s something new and I want them to try at least one bite).
I basically want them to eat a decent amount of the main dish (which for us is almost always protein of some sort). I don’t care too much about them eating any sides.

Now IF they do not want to eat anything at all, we have a dilemma. First, we must figure out their motive. Is it because they genuinely dislike the food (which everyone can relate to, but is still very rare) or is it because they’d rather have their favorite PB&J instead?? If it’s because they genuinely dislike the food, I tell them they can wait until everyone is done, and then I’ll make them a little snack later.

On the other hand, if they just want something else, then that does not fly around here!! For my husband, it’s a big respect issue. Mom works hard to make this meal and get it on the table, so you better eat it (with no complaining!!). We tell them eat, or get nothing else. They will go to bed with nothing else. I’m not a softie when it comes to lesson teaching, either. This will be hard at first if you have a history of giving them a snack later. You must be consistent, because giving in just ONE time will pretty much start the process back at ground zero. ;)

That RARELY happens around here though. There are a couple things that help avoid this:
-No snacks between lunch and dinner. (Unless for some reason dinner will be late!)
-I try to make things everyone will enjoy

If my child was constantly wanting yogurt (or insert whatever other food the child always wants) instead of what I was making… then I wouldn’t be buying yogurt anymore. “Sorry sweetie, we don’t have any yogurt!!”

They will not starve themselves. Yes, they will make themselves GO HUNGRY, but not starve. Breakfast comes quickly. ;)

That’s how we do things around here. Feel free to comment with your own ideas!


Lindsay McConnell said...

This is exactly how I do things, and will continue to do things, because I think it's important so that you don't raise children that will only eat corn dogs and french fries. Once in awhile we discuss what we're going to be eating...and she gets to throw her ideas out there....which is always pizza or a sandwich, lol. If she doesn't eat her food....too bad. If she doesn't eat her food...she better not ask for anything at 8pm when she decides she does want something. I firmly believe in the "i'm not a short order cook" thing...so I do it now, and i'll do it when I have multiple children.



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