If your not up to speed, a little over a week ago I posted about being the wonderful mother of a super picky child (See: She's Anything But A Foodie)! Well, I've decided to chronicle our journey of parenting a picky food eater, but I promise not to bore you with a play by play update like I did with bottle weening (See: Bottle Battle Blogs Days 1-5). One of the goals of my blog is to connect with other parents, and to reach out to other new moms who might be going through similar situations. I like to always hear that I'm not alone, and I'm sure other moms do too. So, just like with bottle weening, I want blog about our ups and downs of this picky foodie stage and hopefully someone else out there may be able to use some of the things I've done to get through their our journey. I don't ever pretend to be an expert. I am just a new mom, trying to navigate my way through toddlerhood without having myself committed!
After my first blog post about Emma and her pickiness, my child seemed to have a revelation and proceeded to eat much better than she had the month prior. Isn't that how it always is with kids?! You think you have a BIG problem, you reach out for advice, and suddenly the BIG problem resolves itself and it turns into something very minor! Well, Emma is still picky, but has resumed some of her better eating habits that I talked about in the first blog. I am quickly learning that there are few things she really seems to dislike: anything with sauce on it, noodles, "real" vegetables, most cereals, and juice. These are only a few of them, but you'd be surprised just how much these few things really cramp our food options at home.
For instance, we eat spaghetti and hamburger helper each at least once a week. I am not a gourmet chef, never have been, and I am all about quick and easy when it comes to cooking. I tend to get bored when something takes longer than 30 or 45 minutes to prepare, and that is why spaghetti and hamburger helper are two staples around these parts. When I make a "meat dinner" where a meat is the main course, I will typically serve it with a cooked vegetable or salad and occasionally a noodle or rice side which Emma readily refuses. I am also a big cereal eater and eat cereal most mornings, and I have been feeding Emma fruit or making her scrambled eggs since she won't eat cereal with me. The juice issue is a non-issue. Neither Randy or I drink juice and for us she drinks plenty of milk and tea to stay properly hydrated. So, now that we have determined the food that are big issues for us, here is what I've been doing to help Emma get the nutrition she needs.
1.) After nap time, Emma gets only 1 or 2 cups of milk and it has to be before 4:3o and once she has had them, she can only have tea or water until after dinner. We are doing this because even though we have bottle weened, it seems that Emma is still getting most of her nutrition from milk. It used to be that she wouldn't eat her lunch or dinner, because she had drank so many cups of milk and the milk was filling her up, just like a bottle did. So for us, regulating her milk in take has been the best option and has seemed to make her more likely to eat dinner with us.
2.) I am picking my battles when it comes to how many "meals" she eats in a day. My husband and his family are not big breakfast eaters, I am learning that Emma is the same way. Also, Emma and I do not always get to sit down and eat lunch, because she is taking her nap during the traditional lunch time. I will usually offer her something when she gets up, but sometimes that isn't until 3:00 or almost 4:00 depending on how long she sleeps! So, when it comes to breakfast and lunch, I am not pushing the issue. I usually make her eat apple sauce or a piece of fruit the morning, but she usually isn't hungry until 9:30 or 10:00. I am also still going to give her baby food vegetables during lunch until I can get her to eat other lunch time foods like peanut butter sandwiches, soup, or even leftovers. For us, getting Emma to eat dinner with us is important to us. We try to sit down and eat dinner together as a family every night, and its important to us that Emma be a part of that. Therefore, we have chosen to only push sitting in her chair and eating what mommy and daddy are eating when it comes to dinner.
3.) After doing some reading and taking some advice from friends, we have decided to quit making "eating dinner right now" such a fight. We realize that Emma will pick up on our negative attitude when she won't eat, and we want dinner to be a positive thing. So, instead of "fighting" with her about it (constantly spanking her and putting her in time outs), we've decided to always offer her exactly what we are eating and if she won't eat it then she doesn't get any snacks and no milk until bedtime. I have a lot of reservations about "starving" my almost two year old into submission, but I realize that missing a dinner her or there isn't going to kill her. She is a very healthy child, and it is important for us to stick to our guns and not make exceptions for her just because she is picky. I am not a short order cook, and Emma needs to realize that, even if that takes putting her dinner aside and offering it to her again an hour or two later. She needs to understand that dinner is a family affair and everyone in the family eats the same thing for dinner.
4.) I want to try to offer Emma something new everyday! I am kind of picky myself, and I don't want Emma to be the same way. So, I've resolved that by offering her a new food or a food we've previously tried everyday, she will hopefully expand her palette and try something new. Today we tried Lucky Charms and a peanut butter sandwich. She only ate the marshmallow pieces out of the Lucky Charms and she refused the peanut butter sandwich, but at least she tried the Lucky Charms, right?! I don't think it will always be a success, but hopefully we will have just as many good days as bad ones.
So, as of right now, this is my plan. It may not seem like much, but for us, this seems to be what is working. I am still open to suggestions and advice! I will take all the help I can get!