Picky Ticky Toddlers: What To Do With Picky Eaters?

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“Chowhound turns into barely a grazer. News at 11.” 

A lot of my mom friends, as well as many of our customers at LJ Gourmet complain about this problem.  It seems to happen somewhere between walking and running.  Now you’d think, because they’re running you ragged, they must need extra calories.  Turns out they don’t. The little tykes are just not growing as much as they were a few months ago.  And no this is not an Angeleno/Hollywood “be as skinny as you can” syndrome at all – it’s just good, old fashioned normal toddler behavior and it’s enough to make moms crazy!  Crazy enough to put a pancake on their head, jump up and down and sing “don’t let the sun go down on me” to get their kid to eat.

“Here, Suzie, try some pasta…no?  Ok, how about a banana…nada?  What about some yogurt?  Really, not even yogurt?  Frozen yogurt?  NO???  Ok how about a fruit roll up?  A popsicle?  Goldfish?….You Like the Goldfish?  Really?  Ahhhh, you like Goldfish.  Ok, ok here, you need to eat so have some more Goldfish.  And, ok try this Kraft Mac & Cheese….Of course you like the Kraft Mac & Cheese – You like orangy/yellow colored food type things, we’ve just discovered that.”

What do you do when you are determined to feed your child nutritious (even sustainable for the planet) food and the kid just won’t eat? She won’t eat that perfectly balanced and delicious organic meal you just made her (or ordered specially just for her).  Are you supposed to give that newly labeled “picky toddler” just something, anything to fill their tummies?

I do this sometimes.  In fact I was at the market just last night with Luca and it was dinner time and I had no food with me.  So what did I do?  I had bananas in the cart and gave him some of those.  I also had cheese so I gave him some of that.  I got some chips-like thing – some kind of fried potato pieces that were puffy and like 2 inches long.  I gave him some of those.  Now, this is not a balanced dinner and 90% of the time this is not how Luca eats.  But what was I going to do, tell my 13-month-old to hold on an hour while we finish shopping then take him down the road to a yummy cafe where we can sit down for a nice, healthy, relaxing meal together?

We’re luckier than most, because we own a company where I constantly have fresh toddler meals on hand. So if Luca isn’t in the mood for say our Chicken Fingers, I can always give him our California Toddler…or our Mac & Cheese that has sweet potato and carrot in the puree. I mean this kid eats great.  A lot of the time.  But sometimes he doesn’t.  There are some nights when he will not only throw his organic, farmer’s market-bought broccoli, asparagus and chicken (the most sustainable, and might I add, most expensive there is) on the floor or at me or at the wall, he also quite enjoys feeding it to our 80 pound lab (who I’m sure has a good 5 extra pounds on him by now).

Sometimes I find myself getting really mad.  Thinking embarrassing thoughts like “you are so ungrateful, Mister.”  I hate admitting this.  But then I come back from whatever planet that no one lives on but this illogical part of myself and I try different tactics. Giving him his own plastic fork really helps.  Sometimes asking him to feed me while I quickly plop bites into his halfway agape mouth really helps.  And sometimes the kid is just not hungry, so I stop trying.

Feeding him, just like everything else that comes with raising a child, seems to be a new adventure every day.  Ahhh…that’s a great way to look at it, no?  An adventure!  That’s a much better word than many others I could think of, and also very appropriate.

One thing I am sure of though and that is that I will keep on giving Luca healthy choices…and by healthy I do not mean low fat, no carbs, no sugar – he’s a kid!  What I’m saying is that he deserves to eat real food.  Not food that sits on a shelf for a couple of years or food made in a laboratory that you can order at the counter and get back in 30 seconds, that sells for a buck twenty nine tops.

He should be able to eat cupcakes and Mac & Cheese and Popsicles but only if they are made from real food – and if he throws it on the ground or feeds the pup, I am going to do my best to not keep putting 18 different options in front of him.  If the kid is hungry, he will eat.  And most of the time he is a hearty eater.

Heck today at the park he ate a good few handfuls of sand.  But I think it was organic so we’re probably ok.

 

 

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