- As soon as my children were ready for solid food, I began serving them from our table--whatever we were eating (within reason--no chips and salsa for a 10 month old!). The one exception was my first born. I did exactly what my sweet pediatrician said in regards to feeding Olivia. Thankfully, he was fully supportive of nursing, but if he said to feed her half a jar of baby food carrots twice a day, I did it! With the rest of the children I rarely used jarred baby food. They just ate appropriate foods from our table.
- I never fixed my children a separate meal. They ate what we all ate. And still do.
- But, if I was preparing a new recipe that I was unsure of the taste or something extremely spicy, I would always also prepare a side dish that I knew everyone liked (rice or potatoes or something). That way I knew that the younger children would have something to eat, but it wasn't like I was fixing them a separate meal.
- I served very, very small portions. Tiny. Like 5 peas. A Tablespoon of sweet potatoes. My pediatrician that I loved so much when I had my first three children recommended that. He said to give the children very small portions. Large amounts of food overwhelmed them, but they liked asking for more. I always happily refilled their plates--with more tiny portions--as long as they desired.
- I asked them to try everything on their plate--even just one bite. Or one pea! Then they could decide if they liked it and wanted more, or "they didn't care for it today". That is what I would allow them to say. I taught them that it was bad manners to say, "I don't like this." But saying, "I don't care for this today" was much more pleasant. Just because they didn't like steamed broccoli one day, doesn't mean that they wouldn't like it next week.
- I had them try one bite of everything on their plate every meal. They would sometimes say, "Remember, I don't care for this today?". To which I would reply, "Oh, it takes 21 times of trying a food for your body to decide if it likes it or not. So please try it again."
- I didn't make an issue over "cleaning your plate" or "eating all of your vegetables or no dessert". I truly only required one bite, and I basically ignored them. I did not make a big deal over it. I did not ignore them in the sense that I didn't interact with them at the table, I just did not focus on whether they were eating or not. They knew the try one bite rule, and we just ate our meals and enjoyed each other's company.
- I did not use dessert as a reward (we don't have dessert after every meal anyway), but if I have a child who is clearly not eating enough of his meal, he certainly doesn't need ice cream. Sometimes Sam will ask me, "Have I eaten enough salad to get dessert?" And I just say something like, "Eat your salad until you are full of salad....and I am sure you will still have room for dessert later!" Then I ignore his eating.
- I allow my children to have a bedtime snack. We normally eat supper around 6:00, and usually the children are not asleep until 10:00. So, before "bedtime" around 9:00, I allow them to eat something. This keeps them from going to bed on an empty tummy if I have served them a supper meal that was not their favorite....and therefore they may not have eaten as much as normal.
- I do not make my children continue to try one bite of foods that they clearly have no taste for---Olivia will probably never like fresh tomatoes. I do not like pickles. Clay doesn't like rice. I am fine with that. They eat such a variety of foods, and they are such good sports about all of the new recipes that I try, that once we are well aware of a particular food they they don't like, the one bite rule is dropped.
- The last thing is I serve a wide variety of foods. I like to cook, and I have tried many recipes over the years. Some have been total flops---and we have all had to make a sandwich for supper, but through the years my children have been exposed to and have tried many different kinds of foods prepared in many different ways. We also encourage them to try new and different things at restaurants.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Thankfully, my children are not picky eaters. They are quite willing to try anything, and yesterday I started thinking about why this was so. I wondered if anything I had done over the years had contributed to their adventuresome eating. I think the biggest factor is that I have never made a big deal about food. Basically, I fix the meals, they eat it. This summer when I was revamping my recipe binder, Lynn, Heather, and I looked for cute quotes to put on our covers. This is what I put on the back of my binder, "You will eat it, and you will like it". I thought that was funny!