All two years of his life, my firstborn has been a champion eater. He ate it ALL.
Almost overnight, he suddenly started shoving away his favourite foods until he was on a daily diet of toast with honey and fruit. Even the smoothies I used to
make him (which I would cleverly sneak spinach or kale into) were ignored.
In the craziness of keeping up with housework, errands, play dates, planning and making dinners with a two year-old and almost one-year old literally clinging to my pant legs, it is hard to know how to combat the picky eater syndrome. For a while, I worried that if I didn’t make him something that he would concede to eating, he wouldn’t eat at all and go to bed hungry and maybe wake up in the night hungry… And then there was the battle aspect of it. Dinner is already a haphazard affair in which I usually steal bites between hopping up to grab something for someone or shoving a spoonful of food in my younger son’s mouth. Coaxing a stubborn toddler to eat something he was dead set against seemed like a battle I was doomed to loose.
Until I decided it’s a battle I am going to win because enough is enough with my two year-old calling the shots on what he eats!
So here’s what I’ve started doing differently.
1. I’ve stopped making him a separate meal – that’s all there is for breakfast, kiddo.
I expected a especially cranky toddler because of this but there’s not much change except that he’s that much hungrier and more ready to eat once lunch or dinner is up.
2. I’ve started bringing out vegetables and dip for snack time.
I slice up a colourful assortment and make a point of eating them with him. I actually got an “oh boy!” today as I laid down the plate on our picnic blanket outside.
3. I avoid giving him anything to eat three hours before dinner (which is 5:30 p.m. for us).
It’s a common practice but essential. Don’t spoil your appetite.
4. Daddy and I enjoy our meals exuberantly in front on him.
This one has had perhaps the greatest impact. Not even kidding. My husband and I started really smacking our lips and commenting on how good our food was and while Shae still frowns and shakes his head, it doesn’t last as long as before. We talk a lot about “yummy in my tummy.” Shae loves the rhyming and I love how it is programming his brain to enjoy wholesome and nutritious food.
It’s a work in progress but I am encouraged to see his reluctance to eating healthy food is already waning after a few days of stepping things up. He’s not big into the leafy greens just yet but we’ll keep trying!
Do you have any tips and suggestions for dealing with a picky eater?