Friday, December 3, 2010

Picky Eater... Who is This Child?!

My very vest friend is living in Luxembourg at the moment (how cool!)  We don’t get to talk much over the phone, so email is our main mode of communication.  She emailed me a few days ago asking for help with her 2-year old.  He was a very good eater but all of the sudden, out of the blue, he won’t eat anything but fruit.  I had been meaning to write about how I dealt with my picky eater, so it was perfect timing!

Every child goes through phases where they don’t want to eat much at each meal, don’t want to eat at all OR just want to eat one thing over and over.

My 4-year old son William went through a VERY finicky phase and still has his moments, usually at dinner.  I am very proud of how I handle(d) it outwardly.  Inwardly, I take it personally and it makes me a little frustrated and a lot crazy.

But here is my advice, given to me by my pediatrician.  Put three well-balanced meals in front of him every single day and then let him decide if he wants to eat it or not. And he will go hungry PLENTY of the time at this age. William still skips dinner a lot. He sits there and rolls his eyes, haws and hems, but then just goes upstairs for bed without dinner once my husband and I finish.

To delve a little deeper, here are some additional suggestions.
If he asks for more fruit, tell him he needs to eat two bites of chicken first (or broccoli, etc.)  I am sure you have heard that you aren’t supposed to withhold “treats” unless he eats his growing food first.  This is an important rule to follow.  Never say that your child can't have a cookie unless he eats his all of his meal.  But you can tell him he can’t have any more cheese unless he eats a bite of “insert healthy food here.”
One other thing we did was made things we knew he loved a couple of times a week.
My son’s favorites were quesadillas and pizza, so we would cut up microscopic bites of
green beans and chicken and hide it in both. We also filled both with canned black olives b/c he loves those. If you do hide healthy foods in his main entree, make sure to always put the green bean or other vegetable on his plate as a side, so he knows that it is important to eat the healthy foods.  This won’t happen overnight, but by the time he goes to school, he’ll start learning about growing foods, sometime foods, and once in a while foods.
And finally, how do you handle "treats"? You don’t want to be too strict or your kids will obsess over the sweet yummies.  But you also want them to eat treats in moderation.  My son was really frustrating because he was always asking for a treat after every lunch and dinner.  But I never wanted to give him one at dinner, because he never ate his meal!  

Soooo, we instilled a rule that he gets a treat after lunch every day.  I give him two choices and they are usually pretty healthy (yogurt or all-natural vanilla cookies, for example.)  I did this because he is generally a good lunch eater. But we don't do treats after dinner at all unless we are at a friend's, out with family, having a special dinner at our house, etc. This has worked great for us.  He still asks for a treat some nights, but he knows not to expect it.  I give him credit for trying!

Good luck parents!

No comments:

Post a Comment