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This is How Picky Eaters Are Made
One-year-old Enoch sat in his high chair shoving every piece of food I offered off of his chair. The floor was littered with oatmeal, raisins, and bits of mushy Cheerios. I offered him a square of toast with a thin layer of peanut butter. It didn’t even touch his lips before it hit the floor.
This scenario repeated itself day after day. I sighed, heavily. Nine months pregnant with three other kids to care for I didn’t have the energy to search the cupboards for something he wanted.
I remember thinking if he were my first baby there is no doubt I would have searched the fridge and cupboards until I found something that suited him at that moment.
“This,” I thought, “Is how picky eaters are made”.
Division of Responsibility for Picky Eaters
As luck would have it I was way too tired to dig through the cupboards to find something that Prince Enoch would eat. Talking it over with my husband we agreed to offer him 3-4 foods (usually what we were eating and a couple baby-friendly food options). He could take it or leave it. Milk was still a large part of his diet so we knew he wasn’t at risk of starving.
Eventually, he learned to eat and enjoy the same foods as the rest of our family. Enoch was (and still is) our biggest child. At 17 he is tall and muscular and it is obvious he has never suffered from any nutritional deficits.
Ellen Satter calls this the division of responsibly. “The division of responsibility in feeding….encourages you to take leadership with the what, when, and where of feeding and let your child determine how much and whether to eat of what you provide.”
Tube Feeding and Picky Eating
Back in 2007, I wrote a post about how we got our kids to eat everything in response to a reader’s question about the pictures she saw of our children devouring vegetables. I stand by the words I wrote then, but in 2010 God sent a very special little boy with a unique heart. Apollo had a feeding tube placed at 22 months and had it until he was 6 1/2 years old. Watching Apollo learn to eat has given me an entirely new perspective on “picky eating”. Apollo has moved from a tube-fed toddler to a picky eater. For us, that is huge progress. It means he is at least an eater.
In the years since my original post, our family has changed. I now have nothing but compassion for parents of picky eaters and a whole lot of expertise. And in my six year journey to teach our son to eat, hour upon hour of research and I have found some amazing resources.
Books and Websites for Picky Eaters
This is a great book that I think every parent should read. Think about it, it is highly unlikely that Laura Ingall’s mom and her pioneer friends were raising picky eaters. Part of the issue has to be with how we are raising our kids. I am a big believer in training our children’s tastebuds and teaching them to enjoy healthy food. This book covers all that and more.
I really wish this book didn’t have “adoptive parents” in the title because it applies to any parent. This book was actually recommended to me by a blog reader before we knew why Apollo wouldn’t eat. Author, Katja Rowell has a great website, The Feeding Doctor. She talks a lot about how to avoid food wars (something that we have tried and succeeded to do with Apollo). Apollo’s doctors have always commented on this “healthy relationship with food”…even when he wasn’t eating. I credit the advice in this book to helping establish that.
Her basic rules include things like, “you choose what and when to eat; the child chooses how much“. Giving Apollo no-pressure options has been huge in his growth as an eater.
This book has a literal, step-by-step guide to helping your child become a less picky eater. Broken down chapter by chapter and easy to read, this book should be on the shelf of the parents of every picky eater.
From the website: “Milton is the fun way for you to teach your children about healthy and courageous eating. When you place Milton on the table during mealtime, he becomes an eating role model for your child. Ask your child to feed Milton new foods and show them how “Milton loves it”. Squeeze his adorable cheeks to show how he safely chews each bite. The uses are just about endless!”
I wrote a full review of Milton a couple of years ago. Let me just say, Apollo loves Milton, we love Milton and I wish we would have had him two years ago!
We were given one of these Flexi Cut Cups by a feeding therapist when Apollo was a toddler. The idea is the child can see the liquid in the cup which takes away some of the anxiety. In addition, these cups are very flexible so an adult can squeeze the cup to make it fit the child.
I would have laughed at this plate with my first batch of kids. Now? I think Apollo would have loved the challenge aspect of this plate.
Just another tool to make eating fun, because what kid doesn’t love to poke their food?
I hope these resources have been a help to you. Please leave a comment, I love to hear what other parents and professionals are doing to encourage healthy eating!