Food is a stressful topic for parents. When my babe started solids I was a mama obsessed. I made sure the babe had veggies before fruits, balanced food groups throughout the day, all organic produce, and plenty of variety. I exposed her to a new food every few days and filled an entire journal with her input/output details lest I suspected allergies (clearly, data collection has been a big part of my life…). I spent a lot of time in front of the stove and Cuisinart, steaming and pureeing food, and freezing the puree in covered ice cube trays. I occupied an entire section of the freezer with bags and bags of frozen food nuggets. Sometimes there was little to eat in the house other than frozen food nuggets.
I like to think that my reward for my obsession was a good eater, but I suspect that largely, we've been lucky. A mama asked me to include a post on picky eating; here are a few thoughts and resources:
Probably the most liberating piece of advice I read regarding feeding was this: So long as you put a nutritious, balanced meal in front of your babe, your job is done. You are not a short order cook! Once I stopped fretting over whether the babe actually ingested enough of this or enough of that my life was so much easier. And of course, the less I pushed certain items, the more willing she was to eat them. Click here for Dr. Sears’ tips for pleasing the picky eater, the original source of my culinary liberation.
Another online article, “Picky Eaters; Born or Made?” offers perspectives and suggestions, two of which I find very important. First, do not barter about food. Drawing connections between food and good/bad behavior can have detrimental long-term implications. Second, it’s okay to be sneaky. Whenever possible I hide minced vegetables under cheese (e.g., quesadillas) or in sauces (e.g., pizza, lasagna).
And of course, good eating is a mutually beneficial arrangement. At one point I realized that I was obsessing about the babe eating enough vegetables, but that we, the parents, were doing a pretty bad job remembering to eat our veggies. We started balancing and enjoying our meals better, the babe followed our lead, and I’m pretty sure that even if the babe doesn’t eat perfectly every single day we’ll be able to stave off scurvy.