Some children seem born to be wonderful eaters, trying everything and eating their veggies. Others get a wonderful start with baby food of all varieties then decide at 18 months, 2, or even 3, that only four types of foods are acceptable and all others will be NOT BE EATEN. Next to sleep issues, food issues seem to be the most discussed between parents. We see articles, blogs, Facebook posts, etc all asking the same question…How do I get my child to eat healthy foods and enough of them?
I listened to an author and mom on NPR discussing her own child’s eating problems and promoting her book, First Bite: How We Learn to Eat (Bee Wilson). She admitted to forcing bites of food out of complete desperation that her child eat something healthy. This interview resonated with me, and likely did with any parent who struggled with their child’s diet.
The answer, after much struggling and research, is this: not much, and it depends. Some parents have success with cessation of snacks, others use the “this is what we are eating” and do not provide alternatives. Some bargain; three bites before you leave the table, or in order to have fruit, or 4 bites of each food, etc. Others sneak healthy foods into others, such as putting veggies in sauce or pureeing veggies to hide in other dishes. We added pureed carrot to mac and cheese, cauliflower to chicken, and squash to most everything else. Matching color was key!
As kids get older, and with some trial and error of what works best for your child, his or her diet improves. I often wonder why moms don’t talk about “food regression” the way they mention “sleep regression.” It is so often the same: inexplicable and unexpected, frustrating, and disappointing! Patience helps, pureeing veggies into foods helped me more, but as the above food writer mentioned, kids will survive and may not always be great eaters, but (most) make it through this period just fine! And then we can look back on those moments when food was denied, even thrown on the floor, and laugh. Because as frustrating as they may be some days, these truly are the good times!