As a mom, I realize how stressful it can be when it comes to feeding our children.
When my first son was born, I worried about whether or not breastfeeding would work. Was the latch right? Will it stop hurting? Was the baby getting enough milk?
Then we got breastfeeding sorted out and he was eating well. Of course, then I worried about what to do when I wasn’t around. Would he ever take a bottle? Should we start trying a cup?
When it came time to introduce solids, he hated it. I tried rice cereal and he wouldn’t eat it. I cooked and pureed all my own vegetables. He wouldn’t eat them. Things got a little better when we started offering him foods with some texture – mashed banana, chunks of avocado, strips of toast, cottage cheese, cheerios.
Then he became a toddler. And, with that, became picky. I remember there being a phase where pretty much all he’d eat was yogurt, grilled cheese and scrambled eggs. I tried not to worry about this small meal repertoire because during the day, he’d eat whatever the daycare was serving. Quinoa. Edamame. Ground turkey with brown rice. Veggies.
At home, forget about it.
Throughout all that time, I always felt like everyone else’s kids were doing so much better. My friends’ babies chugged their bottles happily. They opened their mouths wide as their mom’s spooned in purees of all kinds. They tried different foods and seemed to like everything.
It’s funny how things change.
Now that Littleman and his buddies are three-years-old, I’ve started noticing that he’s getting better and better at eating a variety of foods, while the other kids we know seem to be getting worse. Last weekend, we had some friends up to the farm. We served a pretty plain dinner of fish, cooked carrots and roasted baby potatoes. All stuff that Littleman will eat. The kids (all three-years-old) sat down for dinner and, amongst themselves, decided that Littleman would take all the carrots and potatoes. The other two kids ate their fish, but only when their moms sat down and fed it to them. We haven’t fed Littleman in ages.
Then there’s his buddy who lives down the street. He’ll only eat a couple of different vegetables (and only raw) but he’ll eat things like sushi and poached eggs.
Littleman eats lots of different veggies these days: carrots, broccoli, peppers, green beans, corn, asparagus. He loves fish and ribs. He’ll eat chicken if it’s particularly tender or shredded. He loves berries and cantaloupe and apples.
Don’t get me wrong, he likes junk food too. Hot dogs and hamburgers. Ice cream. Cookies. Chocolate. (Seriously, this kid has inherited his mom’s sweet tooth!)
Of course, there are also lots of things he doesn’t like. And lots of times where he won’t try things. We try our best not to make meals a battle but sometimes it’s hard. We have a rule that he has to try things once. He’s allowed to say “I don’t like it” if he’s tried it, but not before. Sometimes it doesn’t take much convincing but other times he resists it pretty hard.
Our best strategy for getting him to eat lots of vegetables these days is to give them to him first, before the rest of his meal. I try to have something prepared before he comes home from daycare so I can feed it to him as his “after school snack.” If he’s snacked on veggies, then I don’t worry too much about making sure his dinner is balanced. He can focus on the “meat and potatoes” part of the meal without us constantly urging him to eat his vegetables.
Overall, I guess what I’m learning from all of this is that kids’ eating habits seem to be always evolving. For us, forcing food or stressing about it doesn’t seem to help. Some of Littleman’s favourite foods are things he said he didn’t like before he even tried them, so patience and persistence seems to have helped his tastes expand.
Baby Bo hasn’t started solids yet but, when he does, I hope we have an easier time than we did with his older brother. But if we don’t, at least I know now that things can (and often do!) get better. This time around, I’ll try my best not to worry so much. (The key word there being try!)