One of the biggest struggles I have faced so far as the mother of a 17-month-old has been dinnertime! I know what you’re thinking; I can see the e-mails coming in already… “if dinnertime has been your only struggle, you’ve got it easy!” Okay, it hasn’t been my only struggle. It has just been one of those, ongoing, unfixable, get-under-your-skin type of issues. That used to describe dinnertime at the Spriggs’ house. Not anymore!
I realized a couple of things that have helped me conquer dinnertime. My son is a little picky. If he decides he doesn’t want to eat something (or even try it) there is nothing I can do to change his mind. This used to really bother me. I didn’t want Jude to be a picky eater. I wanted him to be a healthy eater. So when he started turning away everything except for Gerber ravioli and chicken, I was stressed! I did some reading online and realized that I was the problem and that the struggle that Jude and I were having over dinner was a control issue. Here’s what I have learned. Maybe it will help out some of you other moms of picky little ones.
1.I can do this myself, Mom! Jude is an independent kid. He wants to do things himself and it was hard for me to realize that. I wanted to help him, by feeding yogurt or applesauce to him, but he wanted to use the spoon himself. Now, I just put a suction cup bowl on his tray, give him the spoon and let him at it! He makes a big mess, but so what. At least he gets a couple of bites into his mouth.
2.Everything tastes better with peanut butter! This is a motto I live by, and my son does too. I’ve discovered that Jude will try anything if he can dip it in peanut butter. So, when I want him to try something new, I put some peanut butter on his tray too. If he can dunk it, he’ll try it. Plus, peanut butter is a good source of protein!
3.Bring in the old with the new. I read an article about picky toddlers that said if you want your little one to try something new, you have to introduce that new food with something familiar.
4.Try, try again. I talked to a pediatrician about Jude’s pickiness and she said that you can’t just try a new food once and assume your toddler doesn’t like it. She told me that you have to introduce a new food 10-15 times before you can determine whether or not your kiddo likes it.
5.Dinnertime is a stress-free time. This was a big one for me to learn. I would get so stressed about Jude not eating, and kids can pick up on that. My stress over whether or not he was eating, stressed him out too. Now, dinnertime is a peaceful time. If Jude eats, great. If he doesn’t eat, it’s probably because he’s full. If he’s hungry, he lets me know.
Hopefully my experiences can help you other moms get through the picky eating phase. If you have any tips or good recipes for picky eaters, send them my way – firstname.lastname@example.org