If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may know that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to be better about Meal Planning and helping the Happy Buddy wean off of baby food purees.
And the Happy Buddy’s Resolution was to eat everything that I put on his plate – without any hesitation or complaint.
I may have made that up. 🙂
I have been doing well on my end of the resolution – doing my best to provide the Happy Home with semi-healthy and well-balanced meals, but the Happy Buddy has been falling unbelievably short on his end of the bargain. 🙂
I can count on one hand the number of foods the Happy Buddy will eat without a fight.
In fact, there are so few things that my precious son likes that sometimes I think I am going to go bananas if he doesn’t eat something other than a banana!!
Why is it that he won’t let a delicious homemade waffle, juicy strawberry, or perfectly steamed green bean come near his mouth, but yet he shoves his entire foot in there as if it is the tastiest thing on the planet (precisely what I caught him doing in his car seat the other day on our way to church)?
And this week the Happy Buddy has taken it upon himself to refuse many of the foods that he has previously eaten with great joy and abandonment – thus leaving me bewildered and him going to bed quite hungry night after night.
I have sought lots of counsel on the matter. Friends have advised us that he will eat when he is hungry – but we often go days on end without him barely eating anything because he simply doesn’t want to try the food that we put before him. He is quite a determined Happy Buddy!
A character trait that I know God will use for His glory one day, but for now, how do I shepherd his little heart toward healthy eating?
I find comfort in knowing that “this too shall pass” and that in light of the grand scheme of things, this is quite insignificant, but I’m a mom. I still worry a bit.
I worry that he’s going to be malnourished, get sick, or even that his picky eating is the result of something I did wrong along the way – one of my newer Resolutions is to memorize Romans 8:1. 🙂
Even the Happy Hubby the other night while the Happy Buddy was in his highchair screaming so loud that I thought our neighbors might come over to check on us because he didn’t want to eat the scrumptious Chicken Goulash with whole wheat noodles and cooked carrots I had so lovingly prepared said, “Babe, when he’s a teenager, we’re going to be longing for these days when our biggest trials were how to get our son to eat.”
He is right indeed, but in the meantime we can’t help but wonder what to do in these situations. Do we just give him chicken nuggets and bananas every night because we know that’s what he will eat? Or do we keep offering the things that we have been and hope that one day he will catch on?
Advice and prayers welcome! 🙂
One of my other Resolutions was to read through the Bible with the Happy Hubby. After completing our reading of the book of Exodus, I have also been wondering…
What did those Israelite Mommies do when their children didn’t want to eat manna anymore?
OK, I SO needed to read your post. We have one who eats everything in the house, but his older brother has gone on an all juice diet. Every concern we have about him, you’ve voiced perfectly. So … I’ll be tuning in to see what all your Happy Readers & Fans have to say about this.
Meanwhile, this is one of my top 5 favorite sentences in your blog so far:
“What did those Israelite Mommies do when their children didn’t want to eat manna anymore?”
You rock, Julie!
My daughter had a repertoire of 3 foods she would eat rather consistently. Her pediatrician encouraged us that as long as she ate a good meal once every 3 days she’d be getting what she needed. I did make sure she was on vitamins. The doctor also encouraged that we continue to get her to eat new foods, saying it takes 10 exposures to any food to know if you like it or not. I would also suggest making at least one thing you know he’ll eat, even if only once a day or maybe if you know he will wolf down a pbj, give him one for lunch every 2 days or so. At least then he’s getting exposed to new foods but that mama panic is stilled by knowing he did just eat a sandwich yesterday. It does get better though. My daughter is still somewhat ‘picky’ or limited but she now eats and actually enjoys many foods that she REFUSED to allow to touch her lips when she was first being introduced.
Happy Home Fairy
This was great advice, Ginger. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! He sure does love his peanut butter sandwiches – it’s nice to know that it’s okay to give them to him more than I have been. And I love that your daughter has improved so much! That gives me so much hope!!!! Thank you for stopping by!
We have the same issue with our 2.5 year old. I won’t fix her a special meal. I just continue offering our meals and she eats when she’s hungry. I know she’s still growing, so I don’t worry about it too much.
Happy Home Fairy
Great advice, Heather! I always need the reminder to not worry!
I feel your pain! Its so hard when we are right in the middle of things to think that there will ever be an end! =) My oldest is a model child when it come to eating…he eats EVERYTHING, so when my second child came along I assumed he would do the same, WRONG! Logan should get some kind of a reward for refusing to eat! But we decided a long time ago (he is 4 yrs old now) that we would just keep presenting him with what we wanted him to eat and trust that consistency would pay off. I wish I could tell you he eats everything now, but he doesn’t. He has gotten way better though! We can tell when he is going through a growing spurt because like a miracle he eats so much and then out of no where he is back to being a picky eater =) Sometimes, even when we do our part they don’t do theirs…just trust that God WILL do His part…so stay strong and consistent!!!
ps…Noah is ADORABLE!!!
We had very similar problems with our oldest. He refused to eat anything at first. For the first year of his life his ONLY food was breastmilk. He refused a bottle and all other food. At one year I had to stop nursing. It was making me ill to support so much child! I sought help from everyone I knew and it seemed like no one understood. People were always telling me that he would eat when he was hungry, but he wouldn’t. He would scream and make himself throw up if I put any food into his mouth. We took him to an eating therapist and to a pediatric gastrointestinal specialist. I used to pray that whatever was wrong with him would be fixed, but it didn’t happen that way. I needed to work with him and help him. It took time and effort and I still think of it as one of the most trying experiences of my life. He is now 5 years old and enjoys eating all sorts of different things. He goes to school and plays with friends. I would say keep up the good work and don’t give up. It may take time, but eventually he will figure the whole eating thing out.
Happy Home Fairy
Jessica! That must have been so awful. I am sorry that you had such a rough season with your little one. Oh, these trials that strengthen us as mommies! I know from reading your blog that God has done just that with you. You are a wonderful and loving mommy that I admire! Thank you for sharing your experience. It gives me so much hope to know that things will get better and that God will use it for good!
Oh, they ate manna all right — because that was all they had to eat!
We’ve all faced this. Just keep after it — keep trying and being fun and flexible about it. I know you. You’re good at fun and flexible!
My son wouldn’t chew up anything for the longest time- come to find out he had a crossbite. There wasn’t anything anyone could do and we just had to wait it out. Eventually his bite started to straiten out and he now doesn’t do the ‘chew and spit out’ as much anymore. I found that sitting down and eating with him made him more eager to try things and that it really was a day by day decision. 🙂 Toddler’s have about 100 more taste buds than we do so foods have much stronger tastes to them. As they get older, they will like more and more of the ‘healthier’ variety. Keep up the good work!
Happy Home Fairy
Delina – you are so right. Who would have thought that their little mouths held such power with all those taste buds?!? I am sorry that you had such a tough experience with your little one’s crossbite. That must have been so difficult! You are a Mommy Warrior! How I appreciate you sharing your experience and encouragement with me – I especially liked the advice to sit with him and eat. That really does help! God bless you!
Well, he sure looks happy, healthy and adorable! Good luck with your dilemma!
Last night my 5 year old ate homemade mac n cheese for the first time… and lo and behold LIKED it!!I used to ask ‘what kid won’t eat mac n cheese?!’ This pretty much counts as a miracle for us because, even though he started out as a 2 and 3 year old who ate everything,at 4 he became impossible!he survived on peanut butter:)I have 3 older children who eat everything.They often tried to convince him things were yummy.. sometimes a friend who enjoys a food is helpful,but he is stubborn and not easily swayed. I got the cookbook Deceptively Delicious,and, while a great concept, only a handful of recipes were approved by my clan.A few are totally awesome!also try smooties?!Sprinkles in yogurt? or put foods on popsicle sticks…or call em superman peas?some days it may fly, other days your sweetie may just not be convinced.Keep trying day to day kids change habits:)..i keep telling myself:)
Happy Home Fairy
Girl, I SO identify! The HAppy Hubby and I are always walking around saying, “What kid doesn’t like PIZZA for crying out loud??” or waffles? or mac and cheese (we have the same issue!)?? Your comment was great because I ordered jessica seinfeld’s book too! 🙂 We sure do have to get creative and try every option, huh?? I really appreciate your encouragement, too. I think the bottom line is to be faithful to do what’s best, pray for perseverance and leave them in God’s hands! 🙂 I sometimes ask God to just miraculously give the Happy Buddy some vegetable nutrients somehow from his Cheddar Bunnies. Haha! Thanks for stopping by!
Our oldest Kendall was worst she barely liked baby food and then when went regular food it was even worse.
I remember many frustrations and crying for both of us.
To this day she difficult. If its not mc’ds or sonic chicken nuggets or candy or cake then rest is a battle.
Occasionally we get her to eat pizza and for while and on occasion she will do mini corn or bagel dogs, and buttered pene noodles or spagetti.
Anything else is a battle she likes fruits but veggies forget it.
Breakfast isn’t so bad just getting her to decided same at dinner so we just had say forget you not getting a choice if you can’t decided when we first ask you then we make choice for you.
Getting her eat anything else that’s different then the norm or if when someone nice brings a meal that’s a baked dish or same as something we eat forget it.
So your not alone, it maybe be difficult now but as Kendall gotten older gotten better atleast it seems it even if limited palet, but also if he likes something and he will eat it over and over I say stick with it, better than you both stressing and crying. I had to get over it, he will eat when hungry and yes if means you say this what you get or nothing else to you then you do that. We do that with Kendall and that usually works.
Our second is much better eater will eat just about anything, newscast foods are a little harder but regular foods for lunch and dinner are no problem and she likes strangest things like spicy cury, so hope for your second, lol
Happy Home Fairy
Haha, Vanessa! That made me laugh! I now know what to pray for for that #2 if God brings us one! Thanks for stopping by!
Here’s a link to an article about this topic. http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133629227/to-win-toddler-food-battles-take-a-softer-approach?sc=emaf
Rightly or wrongly, our “policy” has been that I fix healthy breakfasts & lunches that I know the kids will enjoy. Snacks are healthy choices as well. At dinnertime, I make one meal for all of us to “enjoy.” ;o) I make sure there is at least one thing on our plates that the kids will like, even if that means I throw some yogurt on there, even though it doesn’t really “match” the meal.
When the kids are under 2, if they refuse to eat the dinner, I do provide something else so that they don’t go to bed hungry. But now that Robbie’s 2, if he doesn’t want the perfectly good food on his plate, then he can just wait till breakfast. Isaiah is 4, and we require him to eat a certain number of bites of each item on his plate before he can decide if he wants to eat the rest of it or not. So tonight he ate 5 bites of pork tenderloin, 1 roasted potato wedge, 1 roasted carrot, all his strawberries, and a gogurt. I know some families who match the required bites to the age of the child: if you’re 3 you eat 3 bites, 6-yr-olds eat 6 bites, etc.
Somewhere I read that kids actually eat more if you put a lot of the food item on their plate… i.e., if you know they’re only going to eat 1 bean (because you make them), give them 5… maybe they’ll decide they like it and eat another one before they realize what they’re doing!) This feels wasteful to me, but it actually works sometimes. :o) And, of course, on occasions where I’ve only put 1 of something on his plate, Zay will say, “I liked it!” and I’ll eagerly say, “Do you want some more?!” and he’ll say, “No…” And I always think, DARN IT! He might have just gone ahead and eaten it if it was there!
Our pediatrician says that fruits and veggies are basically equal at this point in their lives… meaning that while my kids eat most fruits and 1 or 2 veggies, and I’m depressed about it, the doctor is pleased.
My boys do much better with separate meat and veggie meals vs. cassaroles & soup. All that mixed-together-touching stuff of cassaroles just reeeeally grosses them out, so I do tend to stay away from cassaroles. And I do occasionally make them something they’ll like if we’re having a very “adult” meal… spicy/asian.
We very rarely have dessert, but if we do, we ask that Isaiah eats above and beyond the “required” bites. So, if he has to eat 4 bites of something, he would need to eat several more bites of it in order to have dessert.
We also have a policy about not complaining about what Mommy made. This by no means stops the complaining from happening, but sometimes he has to leave the table for a time-out for being rude about the food.
One last tip: if you do the required bite thing, but you put extra bites on his plate, I suggest counting so you know how many there are total and how many will be left after he eats his required amount. Because otherwise you have to pay attention to him the whole time to keep track of how many bites he’s had… either because he’s not quite good enough at counting or because he’s trying to get away with less bites. :o) It’s nicer to be able to focus on pleasant conversation and just glance at the plate later to know if he’s eaten enough.
I read this blog http://www.dinneralovestory.com/ and at least one of the authors’ children is very picky, and I’ve enjoyed good tips & commiseration from them.
Don’t give up, keep offering nutritious choices, don’t let it become a battle or a power trip with you pleading… Just try to be nonchalant about the whole thing. He won’t starve!!
Happy Home Fairy
Laurie – that was the greatest advice! And coming from one whom I admire so dearly as a momma! 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to help me as we look at the best way to build our happy home. I especially liked the point about “not complaining”. You’ve helped me see that the attitude toward the provider is just as important as the attitude toward the provision! Kind of like our relationship with Jesus! 🙂 We may not like what’s been provided, but we’re called to be thankful none the less (1 Thess. 5:16-18), knowing that the Provider gives only what’s best for us! 🙂 xoxo
Wow, that was superlong! Sorry!!
I’m not an incredibly picky eater, but I am very strong-willed–and there are foods I find disgusting. My parents first tried “you won’t leave the table ’till you eat your Lima beans,” but finally gave up at 11pm (I was perfectly willing to sit there “forever”). Not wanting to go through that again, my mom instituted the “no thank you portion.” We could say “no thank you” to a food, but we had to at least try a little bit of it, even if that meant eating three peas, or one Lima bean (and since we had to finish everything on our plates, that meant just taking a tiny bit). That worked–she was obviously asking so little that I’d have felt silly refusing. And even I could hold my breath long enough to gag down one Lima bean :).
My mom also found that although I hated peas (still do), I had no problem eating them straight out of the freezer (I couldn’t taste much when they were that cold & it was novel enough to be appealing), so she just fed me my peas frozen while she was getting supper ready.
May God bless your efforts to bless your family!
Happy Home Fairy
Thank you, princess, for your encouraging words! I like the “no thank you portion” idea! and what’s funny is that i have a friend whose kids LOVE frozen peas!!! i totally tried it with the happy buddy but he was not to be fooled! haha! 🙂 thank you for the advice!!
Happy Home Fairy
Here is another response (SOOO BRILLIANT) from a Facebook friend…
Hey Julie, I realize we haven’t talked in YEARS… but I read your blog whenever I get the chance and it always makes me smile :). I read your post from yesterday and had to respond because I went through (am going through) the same thing with my two year old and I have had some success with some things I thought I would pass on to you.
When I did “the switch” on my daughter from purees to solid food when she turned a year she also resisted with everything she had and I tried EVERYTHING I could think of. Mealtime, more often than not, ended with us BOTH in tears. Everyone told me the same thing, “She will eat when she’s hungry.” But she didn’t… she threw it on the floor…. she yelled and hollered and pushed it out of her mouth with her tongue. She too, has an incredibly stubborn streak. Then an older and wiser Mommy took me aside and broke it down for me one day.
She told me that toddlers are creatures of habit. They need schedules and routine and they love familiarity. They need these things to feel safe and comfortable. They want to read the same books, watch the same movies, get hugs from the same people and yes….. eat the same food! And then all of the sudden, we switch things up on them without even asking. We take their beloved purees away and replace them with these strange and unfamiliar foods that have strange tastes and textures and come in different shapes, sizes and temperatures. And then she gave me some very practical advice!
1) try throwing the new food in the blender with a little milk and making it into a puree and see if he will eat it that way. If he will, then next time blend half of his meal and leave the other half whole. Let him eat the blended half first and then offer him the unblended half, letting him know they are the same thing and even if he only eats a few bites of the unblended half, this is a victory!
2) try creating a “new food environment” when you introduce a new food. This is the best way to get my daughter to eat a new food. If she sits in her high chair… she pretty much won’t eat anything but purees. But if I let her sit at the “big girl table” she is more adventurous… and I always make a really big deal out of what a big girl she is “sitting at the big girl table eating big girl food”. We have also had picnics on the lawn…. in the living room…. on the back porch…. in her little pop-up tent. She is always a more adventurous eater when I change the scenery. I have also had great success bringing her stuffed animals in on the action, “Mmmm, Mr. Bear is enjoying his green beans. They are so yummy. Do you want a green bean like Mr. Bear?” And again, even a couple bites of a new food is a victory.
3) I make a game out of eating! For example, in her morning oatmeal I hide raisins in the bottom of her bowl underneath the oatmeal so she has to “dig” for them. And she is only allowed to dig by eating, if she just digs for them (which she totally does), then I cover them back up again and tell her she has to dig for them by eating. I have a friend who makes a “forest” by sticking broccoli florets in mashed potatoes and telling her son he has to “cut down the forest” (not particularly environmentally friendly, but it works). I have friends who make faces with vegetables and then they practice learning their body parts by eating the body parts (vegetables) one at a time. We count our veggies and eat them together… we race to eat our veggies… we feed each other (which she loves). Anything to make eating fun and interesting.
4) Give him a new eating utensil. I have discovered my daughter will eat just about anything if I give her a toothpick to eat it with. For some reason, she LOVES to eat things with a toothpick. Also, if I give her a “big girl” fork or spoon (carefully supervised) she is more apt to eat a new food. She likes to “try” to eat with chopsticks (which she just uses like the toothpick).
5) Distraction! We have some really fun and colorful placemats. I will quick, stick a bite of food in her mouth and then before she can protest I will begin to talk animatedly about something on the placemat. Nine times out of ten she will engage and absentmindedly chew whatever I have put in her mouth. I will keep talking and then when she is finished chewing offer a second bite, acting naturally like it is no big deal while inwardly I am begging, “Please open your mouth… please open your mouth!!” Most of the time, she will open her mouth and I will continue to talk about the placemat and completely ignore the fact that she is eating. Fun and colorful plates/bowls with animals, shapes, designs is also a fun tool because then you can “uncover” things as you eat. “Good job eating your string beans! Look what was underneath?? Wow! Mickey Mouse!! Let’s see if we can find Donald Duck! I bet he’s underneath your rice!!” lol.
When all else fails (and I totally have those days…. especially if she is sick or cranky or tired) I just try to add maximum nutrition to the foods I know she will eat. If she is having a day when she will only eat banana… then I will roll some banana slices in some wheat germ for extra protein or add a dollup of almond butter to each slice. I have also had great success with protein shakes (1 cup milk, 1 banana, 1 serving protein powder, 1 tsp wheat grass) I give them to her in a fun cup with a straw and she drinks them down no problem.