Food is such an integral part of our lives. As a conversation piece, comfort and of course sustenance. For new moms, feeding your infant and or toddler can be worrisome, frustrating and concerning. Am I giving them enough options? Am I feeding them the right foods? Should I feed them these foods? When I had my twins I threw the traditional thoughts out the window and gave them everything. Brussels Sprouts were my favorite when they were teething, as were apples, bell peppers, the whole gamut of different fruits and vegetables. From the time they could sit up unassisted and gnaw on foods, I experimented on them. With G-man I was more concerned on being the perfect mom, giving him the “right” foods and never rocking the boat. I wish I had this book with my oldest, First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, so I had some sort of compass and guide to tackle simple struggles like picky eating.
Iâ€™ve been interviewing experts about dealing with picky eaters for years and there are times when all that I have learned goes out the window! Do your best and when all else fails, take a deep breath and let it go. Donâ€™t get up and make something different, let your child take ownership and decide not to eat, they wonâ€™t starve to death if they skip dinner one night. Allow them to have some of the control, it will empower them believe it or not they will (almost always) come around.
- Lead by exampleâ€”parents have to be willing to eat and try things too
- Offer a combination of foods your child likes along with things that may be a bit outside their comfort zone
- Have a discussion about where food comes from
- Get to the farmersâ€™ marker or plant a garden
- Make mealtime funâ€”eat, talk, share
- Prepare meals together
Try not to:
- Freak out!
- Get noticeably frustrated
- Fight over meals
- Use dessert or other food as a reward
- Insist that your child eat everything on their plate
(Photo and excerpt from FIRST BITES: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers with the permission of Perigee/Penguin. Copyright Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, 2015.)
Today I do one of the “try not to” with my kids, but they are now 7,7 and 12 so having them finish their plate usually consists of did you at least eat all of your vegetables on your plate? When I was growing up I was limited on my exposure to foods, fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t even aware of farmers markets, local farmer co-ops, or the like. At the young age of 17 I was exposed to artichokes and capers. I never looked back. My children were a fraction of my age when they were exposed and that is one of their all time favorite requests, including asparagus, roasted Brussels Sprouts, stuffed bell peppers, bok choy, spinach, mushrooms, onions and kale.
What I found with my oldest is just as Dana suggests, have your kids take ownership. I let my kids rummage through the fridge when they were toddling and we discussed the different fruits and vegetables and I let them try. I also tried. I stock my fridge to this day with an assortment of foods. Such an empowering feeling to have your children try and share and tell others about the foods they like.
Seth defined that moment and humbled me as a parent when at his Boy Scout den meeting he explained the various foods on his plate as part of a nutrition project. Mind you, my little gem is barely six at the time and he explained grilled chicken or salmon as his protein, quinoa or brown rice as his grain, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, asparagus and green beans (because he clarified those are his favorite) as his veggie, strawberries as his fruit and Gouda was his choice of cheese (dairy) but he also likes almond milk. His dessert, of course, was my gluten free, dairy free, caramel apple cake. Of course, a meal would be incomplete without dessert!
When his den leader and The Chad shared this with me I felt so proud. I felt like we crested a hump. A pressure was relieved regarding the work I put into my kids to ensure they are eating the right foods and are educated about proper nutrition.
However I know I am truly blessed because my children do not lack a food allergy. Many children these days have or develop food allergies which can make meals tricky and tough to navigate, First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers helps provide helpful tips and insightful information on how to ensure we as parents are maximizing our children’s diets. The book release and copy could not have come at a better time as a friend from church was experiencing her own frustrations and concerns as a new mom. Her post on Facebook immediately prompted me to provide her with my copy of the book, to give her the tools I wish I had when I was a new mom, the tools I just figured out with having twins. If you are facing some of these struggles: food allergies, picky eaters, maximizing a vegetarian/vegan diet, or food transitions First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers should be in your arsenal of tools in the kitchen and your home. First Bites was released on February 3rd and is available nationwide and on Amazon, get your copy today and take the frustration out of navigating meals and foods for your child with amazing meal options and friendly recipes sure to transform even the pickiest of eaters.