I have a confession to make.
I have a picky eater. Like, really picky. Like, has the diet of Buddy the Elf some days.
“Oh, what’s the big deal? Toddlers are picky.”
Folks, I am a pediatric occupational therapist. At one point in time, half of my caseload had feeding goals. I know every trick in the book (Well, a lot of them, anyway). I know the mechanics of the mouth. I have made whole food progression plans for families.
I had grand plans for my daughter. She was going to eat a wide variety of foods and enjoy it! She was going to try new flavors and textures willingly, at least once, before politely stating that they were not her preference. I would never make special meals for her. (Let’s pause here to laugh at my naivete) Oh, was I in for a surprise with this girl!
I feel like a dentist whose child had a cavity by their first checkup.
I used to stress about it. What could I have done differently from the beginning to help her like more foods? Why are mealtimes a power struggle? Is she ever going to willingly eat a vegetable? Should I have stuck with baby led weaning longer? How many veggies can I sneak in a spaghetti sauce?
Then, I relaxed and bought her a multivitamin. She’s growing well, she’s happy and healthy, and she is able to feed herself fairly neatly. I am fortunate on those fronts.
Sometimes, we have to feed her bites of new food like a baby, which frustrates me, but it gets her to try something instead of staying gridlocked in a power struggle. Sometimes we bribe her with a bite of dessert for each bite of new food. Let’s call it a reward. We do what we have to do. We don’t push it in public or at someone else’s house, but at home, it’s game on.
You know what’s funny? I get frustrated with her picky eating, but 26 years ago, I was the exact same way. I didn’t eat beans until I got married. I took peanut butter and jelly almost every single day in elementary school. Now, I eat just about anything except meat on the bone, but that’s just personal preference.
So I have hope that my daughter will at least eat a reasonable variety of foods by the time she gets her drivers license. I’m in it for the long game, here.
My son? He will eat anything that’s not nailed down.
Any other parents of picky eaters? Do you have any tricks?