Interpreting food refusal

Since Sweet Potato’s unexpected acceptance of cheese and eggs, she has continued to (usually) turn up her nose at these foods.  She even occasionally refuses pancakes and raisins.  I had been wondering how a child who normally loves pancakes will all of a sudden decide she doesn’t want one, and then it struck me.  Who of us doesn’t go through a phase of liking a food, and then a phase when we’re not in the mood for it? Especially if we’ve eaten that food every day for 3 or 4 days? Of course Sweet Potato is sick of pancakes by the fourth day; so am I! And a child learning to talk can’t tell me “Mama, I like pancakes, but I’m just not in the mood today.” I suspect most toddlers can’t put that concept into words either, hence my friends’ comments that their child who liked macaroni and cheese yesterday is today saying that it’s “yucky.”

In a book I read recently (I can’t remember whether it was French Kids Eat Everything or Bringing up Bebe), the author stated that adults will encourage kids to try a food, and if the child says that they “don’t like it,” the adult says “Oh well- you just haven’t tasted it enough times yet.”  Instead of getting riled up, they accept the statement, but don’t expect it to define their child’s taste for the rest of his life. How freeing!

So, as I continue to feed Sweet Potato, and introduce new foods to her, I’m going to take these attitudes. If she refuses food that she has previously liked, she’s just not in the mood today. If she tries something once and dislikes it, she just hasn’t tasted it enough times yet. I’ll keep offering new foods. One day she’ll come around.

Advertisements

Ten things I wish I had known

aka “Words of wisdom for weaning”

1. Take a deep breath. Relax. Nothing you do out of love regarding food/feeding at this point is going to scar your baby for life. It’s okay!

2. If you decide to make your own baby food, do so with the knowledge that much if not most of it is going to be thrown away rather than consumed, and with the attitude that that’s okay. If you can’t take that attitude, you may want to rethink making the food.

3. If you “cave” and buy baby food, even the non-organic Gerber food, that’s okay, too. It’s actually rather liberating. There are good options for pre-made baby food out there, and you can still teach your child to like good wholesome food. It’s also very convenient, and you need a little convenience once in a while.

4. Save some effort and use a food mill to puree some of what the family is eating. Why spend extra time making something for baby if you don’t have to?

5. If baby refuses a food, try again later. Later could mean tomorrow, in a few days or even a few weeks.  If you forget to introduce the food again for a few months, that’s okay too. It may even work better than giving it again right away.

6. Don’t feed your baby rice cereal unless it is very thin. And if you’re waiting until your baby is 6 months before trying it, she probably doesn’t need it to be very thin, so you may want to just use a different cereal. Believe me, you do not want a painfully constipated baby.

7. Work on introducing a cup or bottle. This is especially for breast-fed babies. I don’t think it matters much whether you pick a bottle, sippy or open cup, but your child will need extra fluid as she nurses less. Make acceptance of your chosen vessel a priority to avoid a dehydrated, constipated child.

8. Children acquire new skills at different rates. Just because your friend’s son can hold and appropriately use a spoon at one year doesn’t mean yours will. It’s okay.

9. Plan on sleeves and shirts getting dirty. If you don’t think you can mentally handle this, strip the kid down before meal times, and hose her off after she eats. Or just think of messy meals as an opportunity to change your kiddo into a different, but equally cute outfit.

10. As American women, we tend to over-analyze everything. Just remember that women have been having babies with no idea how exactly to do any of this stuff for thousands of years, and yet the human race has managed to survive and thrive. Also, your child will have no recollection of any of this anyway. I think God knew we were going to make some stupid mistakes, and this way our kids won’t be able to bring them up ad nauseam for the rest of our lives. Relax and enjoy this phase. It’s going to be okay!

What about you other moms? What do you wish you had known when you were starting your child on his or her food journey?

Small victories

They say that if you keep offering your child a food, she’ll eventually eat it. I can testify that this is true! Sweet Potato has never been much of one for broccoli- at least not the florets. She’d nibble on the stems, but that was about it. But I make a point to serve her florets along with the stems, and she has started eating them!  She even went for them first when I made her a quick lunch of broccoli, chick peas and mini penne.

Another food that she wouldn’t eat (inexplicably) was raspberries.  She’d eat blackberries, and loves strawberries, but consistently turned up her nose at raspberries. But one day when I was eating them in the kitchen, she was grumpy/ hungry, so I gave her one. She ate it and wanted another. She ate as many as I would give her. How about that? Maybe the trick is not only to offer the food multiple times, but to eat it yourself, while not offering your child anything. Let your child’s covetous nature work in her favor.

Picky eaters

I know a lot of moms who think that their kids are picky eaters, and they all have a somewhat different way for dealing with the problem. Since I haven’t had this problem (yet! I’m sure it’s coming!), I don’t have a lot to offer as far as personal experiental advice. However, I have read a bit about how to deal with it, and this is a good article I came across recently that gets the main thrust of all the RD advice I’ve heard.  When you look at the rules Ms. Wallace offers, it takes the stress off. Parents, just offer your kids healthy foods, at regular times, and keep the stress level low. Give your child the opportunity to decide the rest.  Ellyn Satter calls this “division of responsibility in eating” and also says to also offer something like bread or rice at each meal- something that you know your child will like even if she refuses everything else.  Even if all she eats is bread for a couple days, or weeks, she will eventually eat something else!  I plan on using this advice when Sweet Potato decides that she only likes carbs, and I’m confident it will work.

The great appetite change

Well, I think it’s upon us. Sweet Potato is finally not finishing her meals, and refusing foods that I know she likes. Case in point: the other day I decided to use some of the chard from the garden, and some beans I had in the fridge to make us a quick lunch. SP doesn’t always eat greens, but she often does, and she loves beans.  So I sauteed the chard with a fair amount of garlic and some red pepper flakes, let it cook until fairly dry, then added the beans to wam through. I was skeptical that it would be good, since I didn’t grow up eating greens and am still developing a taste for them.

Beans and Greens

What a pleasant surprise! It was quite delicious. And I felt quite virtuous after eating it, especially because I had even already run that morning. But my sweet baby had a different opinion of our healthy lunch. Here is Sweet Potato at the beginning of lunch.

She is still figuring out how to use utensils

Here she is when she was waving her hands franticaly to communicate that she was “all finished!”

“all done, Mama!”

What did she eat? A half a muffin. Then I gave her the other half because I didn’t want a whiney starving baby in an hour. What happened to my good eater? I guess her growth, and appetite, has finally slowed. Or maybe she doesn’t prefer really garlicky food. Either way, she has definitely been eating less, and showing stronger preferences. I suppose this is okay, as long as I keep offering her healthy foods, including several good protein sources each day.

Now for a gratuitous cute baby picture:

Vampire baby!

Enjoying cherries

And here is the pizza I made the other day. I cut a small slice into small pieces for Sweet Potato, and she gobbles them up. It was a good pizza, if I do say so myself.

Pizza with sauteed onion and pepper